I am so excited to have Kathryn Blake and Jane Wakely for today’s Author Share – taking part in and running a blog hop. There are so many different types of “Hops” out there, and so much information. These two women have a ton of experience and have offered to share their insights with us.
Katherine Deane: Thanks for joining me today, ladies. You both have great experience with blog hopping – from both sides of things. So first of all, what exactly is a blog hop, what does it entail?
K.R. Blake: Most blog hops are set up to allow visitors to “hop” from one blog to another in order to read snippets and sometimes win prizes, by clicking on links. Some hops request participants add the full participant list to their blog post so it’s easier for the reader/visitor to go from blog to blog. Some hops only ask that you add a link that will take the visitor back to the main page. As to what a hop entails, each participant writes a post on his/her blog that fits the hop theme and meets its requirements. The post remains “live” for the length of the hop.
Jane Wakely: Hi Katherine! Thanx for inviting us! Kathryn is right: A blog hop is a way for visitors/readers to hop from one blog to another for various things. Hops can be for snippets, prizes or a general get together of like minded bloggers. Often they follow a certain theme or holiday, but not always. I’ve set up my “Hops with Heart” blog to follow the seasons, and I welcome all genres/sub-genres of romance authors and book bloggers to participate. Hops not only vary over subject, but also complexity. Most allow you to visit only the blogs you’re interested in, but others have complex rules that must be followed.
Katherine Deane: Why would an author want to take part in doing a blog hop?
K.R. Blake: For free or very inexpensive promotion? A blog hop has the potential of “exposing” its participant authors work to readers who might not find them otherwise. Some authors have huge followings, and if you’re in the same list with them, their readers may visit your post as well.
Jane Wakely: I agree! Most blog hops cost very little or nothing at all, but the potential to be seen by readers who may have never heard of you is worth the time it takes to write a post for the event.
Katherine Deane: What’s in it for the reader?
Jane Wakely: For the hops I run, one of the requirements is every author/blogger must provide a prize on their blog, and I offer a grand prize as well. Sometimes other authors will contribute another grand prize, but it’s not expected or required. A personal blog prize can be anything of the author’s choosing including ebooks, swag, paperbacks, gift cards, etc. From this perspective, readers have several chances to win prizes and the potential to discover new authors as they hop.
K.R. Blake: Free stuff? Blog hops can be like free candy shops for those who want to win prizes like Kindles, gift cards. or even free books. The hop I run, Saturday Spankings, doesn’t offer prizes. The snippet each author posts for the hop is the prize. So, its focus is on the readers who like spanking stories, not prize winners.
Katherine Deane: Is there such a thing as too many hops or too often?
K.R. Blake: I think so. At least from the hop participant side rather than the visitor side. Readers want a variety of material, and if all you do is give away your work for prizes, it has the potential of sending others the message that you value your work so cheaply, all you do is give it away. At least that’s what I think. I participate in three author snippet hops a week where we offer excerpts of our work (no prizes). Unless I have a new release, I try to vary my offerings between my books, which means, on average, each book gets exposed once a month in that particular hop.
Jane Wakely: Yes, I think so. Not only are hops time consuming, but if done too often, they can become annoying and lose their purpose. I’m talking about the hops with prizes available, not snippet hops. I participate because I enjoy giving loyal readers, along with new fans, a chance to win something cool. If done too often, the target audience usually can’t keep up and the hop becomes something other than intended.
Katherine Deane: How many do you each take part in ( on the author side)?
Jane Wakely: I started my “Hops with Heart” blog this past spring, and I’m hosting five hops through the site (four for all genres of romance and one for paranormal authors only.) I have participated in two other hops this year, but I won’t do any more than that. In previous years, I’ve participated in anywhere from four to eight hops.
K.R. Blake: In addition to my three “regular” author hops, I participate in about six hops a year where the primary draw for readers is the list of prizes they could win by leaving comments on the blogs.
Katherine Deane: Where do you find blog hops that fit your specific genre? Since I am a spanking romance author, I would look for spanking friendly hops. How do I find them?
K.R. Blake: Good question. Making and running your own hop is always a potential solution. That’s what I did. In addition, I try to post any spanking or kink related events (hops, discussions, etc.) I’m aware of on the sidebar of the Saturday Spankings site. So, if you do decide to start your own hop, let me know about it, so I can help spread the word.
Jane Wakely: I usually find hops by word of mouth. I belong to two romance author yahoo groups and when someone posts about a hop, I check it out and see if it fits my brand, then I decide whether or not to sign-up. Those hops are usually open to all romance genres, or at least mainstream books, which is where I would fit in. In order to find a genre specific hop, I created my own (the Howloween hop is specific to paranormal romance authors) and you could too! 🙂
Katherine Deane: What goes into running a blog hop?
K.R. Blake: I list Headmistress Blake as the Admin of Saturday Spankings. Sat Spanks, as I like to more affectionately call it, has rules, and I needed an avatar that would help police and enforce them. I’m not too good at enforcing anything on anyone, so I let Mistress Blake be my spokesperson. She’s been awfully quiet lately, though. So, you will need someone, and it can be more than one person, to set up and run or administer the hop. I prefer to use a site separate from my own blog to run Sat Spanks.
I use Linky List for my participant sign-up list. There are other list makers available, but I believe all of them charge a yearly fee. So, you need to pay a modest fee for use of the “list maker” on a yearly basis. Currently Linky List charges $25 a year, so it’s not extravagant.
Next, I have the actual Saturday Spankings site that I maintain by scheduling a weekly post to go live on its proper date and time, and I add the correct Linky List code to each post, double checking my dates. Then, on Saturday morning (usually around 12:30 AM) I check every link to make sure they all work, and update the link to point to the actual post. As I’m checking the links, I try to comment on as many posts as I can. I’d say, on average, I spend three to four hours a week running my Saturday Spankings blog hop.
Jane Wakely: Let’s see…My first step also involved a separate site. I used blogger so I could have the same sign-in info, but I use a completely different blog. Rules are needed, so I created them next and I tweak them as needed–usually minor things I learn along the way. Next, I needed the linky account, but I decided to use Inlinkz. Inlinkz is free unless you want to set up sign-up lists that last over sixty days. I needed that option, so I pay them an annual fee of $20.
After those initial set ups, every blog hop follows the same formula. First, I decide when I want the hop and then I check my calendar to make sure I’m available. Next, I make a graphic (or a blog button) and write up something about the hop for the blog hop site. Next I make the link list and post everything to the blog. I tweet, FB, Google+, blog, etc to get the word out.
When the sign-up period ends, I send the hoppers a big info email that includes the rules, blog button and rafflecopter code and then wait for blog hop day! On the day of the hop, I check everyone’s links and make sure they have the necessary elements included in their post. (This usually takes 2-3 hours.) Once everyone is checked, I promote the hop like crazy!
The final step is to chose the grand prize winner and then email the info to the hop participants!
Katherine Deane: Does it have to be huge, and take part over several days?
Jane Wakely: Nope, a hop can be as large or as small as you want it. If you’re running it, you set the rules. I find that four days, including a weekend, works best, and including holidays is hit or miss (depends on the holiday.) I usually don’t include them, because the point of the hop is exposure and most holidays are spent with family or outside activities.
K.R. Blake: Another good question. If the hop is offering prizes, it’s best to schedule it over a weekend, making sure you schedule your hop away from holidays, when people are more likely participating in “family” events, and avoiding conflicts with major conferences (if you’re running a reader/author hop) unless the hop is being held and promoted for the readers staying home. The snippet hops, as I like to call them, usually have a sign-up period that lasts about a week, but the posts are scheduled for a single day. There are no hard and fast rules for setting up a hop, but the hop itself should have rules that participants must follow and an individual who will ride herd to make sure everyone is staying in line (see Headmistress Blake).
Katherine Deane: Do you have to give prizes? If so, what do you give for prizes, and how do you obtain them?
K.R. Blake: Prizes are not obligatory, but if you do decide to offer them, it’s best to have them related to the nature of the hop. Spanking-related hops will offer hand-made paddles as gifts as well as gift certificates to reputable sex toy places. Because most of the spanking hops are author-related, gift cards to Amazon is a good idea along with having author participants offer prizes (like additional gift cards or one free eBook from their backlist). You don’t want to cut into the sales of your most current book, so offering a selection from your older books is a good compromise. As to how you obtain the prizes, you, or someone helping you, need to contact the prize supplier and ask if they would be willing to donate a prize for your hop in exchange for free advertising as a prize giver. Offering prizes is very time consuming, but it does gain your hop better participation.
Jane Wakely: No, you don’t have to give prizes unless it’s one of the rules of the hop. It is one of the rules of the hops I run (Hops with Heart) and I usually make the prizes I give away, or add something I make to a swag bundle. Others give away ebooks, paperbacks, giftcards, etc. I leave the prize up to the blogger–it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as they offer something. I’ve seen other hops where the prize had to be something specific, but I don’t do that.
Katherine Deane: Any tips or suggestions for taking part in and /or running a blog hop?
Jane Wakely: Taking part in a hop is relatively easy and can benefit both the blogger and the hopper. I think the best advice is to not make entering your giveaway too complicated. Asking a hopper to answer a question or like your page, etc doesn’t take too much time and has the potential to gain new fans. Anything more complex can turn off hoppers and defeats the purpose of fun! As for running a hop, Kathryn has made some great points. Don’t take on the project of a hop–especially one that might be large–if you can’t follow through. Other bloggers are depending on you and you need to be available to them in a reasonable amount of time.
K.R. Blake: As for taking part in a hop, try to make your entry something readers would like to read. (Easier said than done, sometimes.) For hops that offer prizes, I usually provide an excerpt and ask readers to answer a question about it. Even if I don’t ask a question related to the excerpt, II try to set up the post to make it easy for readers to purchase the specific book I’m promoting. As for running a hop, make sure you have time to devote specifically to setting up and promoting the hop. Encourage comments and feedback, and make sure you respond to anyone who contacts you with a concern or question. Hops are supposed to be fun, so do what you can to make them that way for yourself as well as others.
Katherine Deane: Please help me start a list of “spanking friendly” blog hops; and how often they run.
http://saturdayspankings.blogspot.com) – weekly hop (runs Saturdays) – 6-8 sentences
http://www.hornyhumpday.com/ – weekly hop (runs Wednesdays)3 sentences only- focuses on erotic
http://hopswithheart.blogspot.com — Seasonal hops for all genres/subgenres of
http://spankingromance.com/the-june-spanking-a-z-challenge-spanka2z/ – Summer Spanks blog hop, open to all members of the spanking community
http://sneak-peek-sunday.blogspot.com/ – weekly hop (runs Sundays) 6 paragraphs
http://mfrw-authors.blogspot.com/p/book-hooks.html#.U81DquNdX9k – weekly hop (runs Wednesdays), need to join MFRW (Marketing for Romance Writers), which is free, 6-8 sentences
http://wipitupwednesday.blogspot.com/ – weekly hops (runs on Wednesdays), Wip is open to all romance and erotic writing enthusiasts
Thanks so much, ladies!
As you can see, there is a lot of “blog hop” action out there. Do you want to take part in a few small ones; do a large one; do you have a great theme idea and want to run your own?
Go for it!
Enjoy the “hopping”!
Please comment with other recurring (spanking friendly, please 🙂 ) hops, and I will add it to the list.
And make sure to say what type it is.
And as always, comments, experiences, tips are all accepted.
Thanks for stopping by for the Author Share!
Kathryn R. Blake
Kathryn R. Blake has been writing romantic fantasies for over twenty years. In addition to her writing, Kathryn enjoys reading, traveling (London especially), crewel needle work, and playing with graphics on her web site.
Author Website: http://www.KathrynRBlake.com
Author Blog/s: http://krbnaughtythoughts.blogspot.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kathryn-R.-Blake/e/B003G5G15Y
Jane has been creating stories of love and romance for as long as she can remember. She’s a sucker for a happy ending and thinks the best thing about any movie or book is when the characters find someone to love.
Jane writes romance in the contemporary, fantasy and paranormal genres, but paranormal romance is her true passion. She loves creating worlds around sexy shifters and vamps—even if the shifter is a smelly skunk!
Jane writes sensual romance that will warm your heart, and a happy ever after is guaranteed!
Author Blog: www.janewakely.blogspot.com
Hops with Heart Blog: www.hopswithheart.blogspot.com