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The Art of the Roundup

Bloggers can be curators as well as creators. A collection of links — AKA a roundup — is a great way to share content and build trust.

Beer Can Collection by Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

As bloggers, we develop our own voices and posting styles… and sometimes end up in a rut, or simply have a dry spell.

Introducing different types of posts to your blog reinvigorates your muse and your readership. One great post to have in your toolbox is the roundup — a collection of links to other posts and sites you recommend.

Why write a roundup?

Most of us blog because we enjoy creating and sharing original posts. Roundup posts don’t undermine that, they complement it. When you choose links to share with your readers, you’re not just sharing links. You’re introducing other perspectives, highlighting topics you think are important, providing context for all the original content you do create, and telling your readers more about you. The things you choose to share give us insight into what makes you tick.

Maria PopovaDave Pell, and Jason Kottke make a living by scouring the internet and blogging about their finds. They’re masters at unearthing and sharing fascinating links.

You also turn yourself into a trustworthy source of good stuff, and that has long-term benefits. The internet is a vast trove of wonders (or a black hole or horrors, depending on your mood), and it grows ever-vaster each moment. When you help readers find the nuggets of brilliance floating among the detritus, you add value to their lives. Sure, they might leave your blog to visit a site you recommend — but they’ll remember that you’re the one who told them about it, and they’ll come back to you for more.

Kinds of Roundups

There are as many styles of roundup posts are there are bloggers; one of the cool things about roundups is that you can shape them to your blog and style. To get your wheels spinning, here are a few common types:

  • A collection of your own links. A roundup can highlight your older posts or collect all your posts on a theme. They can show new readers how much excellent content they can expect to find and help current readers stay on top of everything you’ve published.
  • A list of your favorite reads of the week. A simple list of the best posts you’ve read this week (or month, or whatever time frame works for you) is a triple-win. It’s easy to assemble, since you’ve already read the posts anyway. It gives link love to other bloggers, creating good blogging karma. And these posts are shareable. (Just think: how many lists have you seen on Facebook this week?)
  • A group of offbeat stories. Yesterday, I spent 45 minutes reading about types of winter squash, and the day before, I fell down a rabbit hole learning about the history of the Trapper Keeper. We all click odd links and amass lists of bookmarked sites most people will never encounter. Share them! At the very least, it gives you someone to talk about winter squash with.*
  • A list of things you want to read or try. My bookmarks also include to-dos: recipes to cook, books to read, movies to watch, hikes to take. Share your reads-to-be; you’ll have some company in reading them, and, if your readers share their own lists, more things to explore.
  • A themed collection. Giving your roundup a theme helps you tailor it to fit your blog. Collect Thanksgiving recipes on your food blog, posts from others who’ve visited the same place on your travel blog, or great color commentary on your sports blog. Get even more specific — limit your roundup to posts by new bloggers, posts by older bloggers, posts by people of the same religious or political ilk, posts by fiction writers.

At its core, though, a roundup is just a collection of links, and a collection can be anything you make of it. These are common and generally popular types of roundups, but the playing field is wide open to anything you’d like to try. How you filter what goes into your roundup is limited only by your imagination and reading habits.

*For what it’s worth, my current favorite is the red kuri squash.

A few guidelines…

You could slap a few links into a post and click “Publish,” but then you’re selling your post — and the bloggers you link to — a bit short. Paying attention to a few basic guidelines lets you build roundup posts that are interesting in and of themselves, not just because they link to interesting things:

If you do include someone else’s photo, make sure it’s okay to use and be sure to attribute it properly. If you’re not sure how to do either, this should help.

  • Respect copyright. Sharing an excerpt of someone’s post entices readers to read the whole thing. Sharing the entire text of someone’s post violates copyright (and annoys them). Don’t post too much of another blogger’s content. A few sentences or a photo is fine; more than that is questionable.
  • Tell us why. Instead of just a list of links, tell us why the links are worth clicking. What struck you about their content? Why did you decide to assemble them into this roundup? A bit of explanation provides context, lets you frame the roundup for your blog, and communicates something about you, too.
  • Curate, curate, curate. Keep your roundups tight — ten links or fewer (and five are better). As you build an audience who are fans of your roundups and trust your recommendations, you can play with expanding, but start smaller. This also makes them less onerous for you to create; explaining why you like five links is a relatively quick proposition. Explaining why you like 25? Not so much.

Do you follow a blogger who pulls together killer roundups? Share! we’re always looking for great new reads.

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  1. I do 3 to 5 link round ups max, with a brief description of the link and why it made the list. The only difficult thing so far is remembering to note the links to post for a roundup. Good post today.

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    1. yes I have to note the links somewhere! Either bookmarking or just copy and paste on a draft post…that way you have the round up almost ready!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow…this is such a great help! The other day I read something about a roundup post in daily prompt, but that was not enough for a beginner like me. Only now I got the full idea, and can’t wait to employ the tool 🙂

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    1. I usually aim for 5 too! My next one though will probably have about 10 because I searched for reviews for an eye shadow palette from many beauty bloggers!

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      1. I’ve seen some list 3, others over 10, yet others remain steady at 5 🙂 I’ve personally not exceeded 8 but I’m thinking I should just let the number dictate itself. So long as the links are relevant and of quality, that should work, no?

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      2. That’s a fair point. I always feel quality content is the main thing to strive for.

        However, few links with a short summary would make for an easier read- especially if you are starting out!

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  3. Round ups are my way of clearing my head for more substantial posts and also for keeping my focus on the local. Mine tend to focus on what’s happening in the next month or so around Vancouver, so they violate your rule of ten or fewer links – though each category tends not to go above that limit. My favourite round ups are from 101 Cookbooks. That lady knows how to curate.

    http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/favorites-list-101714-recipe.html

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  4. I do round up posts by weekly and I choose a theme for each time! I use a generic image from my own photos for the post and I always write a bit about each link. It’s more of a text round up than just links! I call those round ups “The Style Digest” after much consideration! The latest one can be found here: http://aspectsofstyle.com/2014/10/24/digest-beauty-edition/

    Also once a month I do a round up of my instagram photos and link to my posts from this month as well!

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  5. I have done this in the past, just gathering things I liked during the week and sharing them. Though, I’d like to get better at curating them.

    I’m also terrible at saving links to posts I would like to share and end up forgetting what I’ve read. How do others keep their links straight during the week?

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  6. I’ll give this post a thumbs up. I love good roundups. I have to agree, too. Keep it down to around five or so links, and give interesting reasons why I should investigate the links.

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  7. Thanks for this! I just started a weekly roundup a few weeks ago called Flutterby. I was inspired by a great roundup by Jill Salahub over at thousandshadesofgray.com. Nina Badzin curates another great roundup at ninabadzin.com and Kristina Cerise does two, a reading list and a favorites list, at definingmotherhood.wordpress.com.

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  8. I started a separate page on my blog called The Little Red Blog, where I plan to share blogs I’ve read that really deserve to be read by more people. I also provided a brief intro to each, saying why I thought it was a good read.

    I haven’t been very active on that page and that is very silly of me.

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  9. One of the posts I enjoy the most is my “Week Elsewhere” each Sunday. I do something of my own that I originally posted elsewhere (twitter, instagram), posts from blogs in my blogroll (Cool people post cool stuff) & things that happened around the world wide web.
    Readers look forward to it and I like putting it together 🙂

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