Many mom bloggers use Linky Tools, aka MckLinky, for our blog directories and blog hops. (I currently use it for my Mom Blog Directory.) Up until now, the Linky Tools service has been free. This is NO LONGER the case. Linky Tools is now a paid subscription.
I just checked my inbox, and I was shocked to find an email from the Linky Tools owner and creator, Brent Riggs, stating that my account will be deactivated on February 7th (Monday) if I do not sign up for a Paid Subscription.
The Linky Tools service has more than 16,000 users, and Mr. Riggs claims that he can no longer pay for all the expenses out of his own pocket. Ads and donations are not working, so he must go to a subscription service. He is asking for current users to pay a yearly fee of $24 (which is roughly $2/month). Unfortunately, we have to pay this yearly fee up front.
While $24 a year does not sound that expensive, and it’s affordable to some . . . but I am currently not making that much off my blog. (I just started in October). So this is an expense that I must devote in other areas of my blogging life.
Plus, the internet is FULL of free services, so I am in search of Linky Tool alternatives that are free.
(I am also very skeptical of Mr. Riggs’ claims that he can’t afford to keep up the service. If there are over 1.6 million entries on thousands of linky lists out there, so why not use Google Adsense, or another advertising program to pay for the service? He does have ads, and I sometimes get $1/click on Adsense. If I had the volume of traffic that Linky Tools has, I would be rolling in the dough. So I am not sure if I believe his honesty. But that’s me.)
Why I Loved Linky Tools
I loved Linky Tools while it lasted. I used the Thumbnail Linky – which was a collection of blog button thumbnails that linked to the individual’s blog. I loved how it looked. The ease of using the Linky Tools was also a plus in my book. The Linky Tools website was easy to navigate, and the list was easy to manage.
Anyone who signs up for Linky Tools has a 30 day free trial, but I’ve used the service for two months now. I have no option but either pay or find another service.
I may come back to Linky Tools one day, when I am making more money from my blog, but until then, I must search for free Linky Tools alternatives.
Linky Tools Alternatives: Step by Step Tutorial on Free Linky Services
So far in my research, I have found three alternatives to Linky Tools. They are Mister Linky’s Magical Widget, InLinkz, and Simply Linked.
Mister Linky’s Magical Widget offers both free and paid subscriptions for its users. In order to use the free linky service, you have to register. The process is pretty straight forward, however their website was unprofessional-looking and I got confused on how to set it up. I’ve decided to show you step-by-step on how to work this service.
Here’s a screenshot of the registration form:
After you fill in the form, you will receive an email confirming your subscription. Click on the link, you’ll be taken to the Mister Linky’s Magical Widget website. You will have to sign in with your chosen user id and password.
You will be taken to a page that gives you a variety of options. It looks like this:
First, you have to choose your blogging platform – Bravenet, Movable Type, WordPress.com, Blogger, SquareSpace, HTML only, Blog-City, TypePad, TextPattern, HomeschoolBlogger, LiveJournal, or WordPress (self-hosted).
Next, you choose the widget that you want. You can choose between Image-Linkies, Original Auto-Linkies, Easy-Linkies, Popup Comments, or Super-Linkies. (There is a preview for each option, so you know what you are getting.) Some of the options are free; others are paid.
(The paid subscriptions are pretty fair. A Silver membership is only $5/year; a Gold Membership is $10/year; and the Platinum is $20/year.)
Third, unless you pay for a subscription, don’t select a meme. Click “Generate Code.” You insert the code wherever you want the linky list to appear.
The downside of Mister Linky’s Magical Widget is that it’s just a compilation of links, no thumbnails.
InLinkz is similar to Mister Linky’s Magical Widget. This linky tools alternative offers a free subscription for unlimited text linky lists and ONE thumbnail linky collection. But if you want to use multiple thumbnail collections, it requires a paid subscription.
Here is what their collections look like:
Obviously, for Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies, I only need one thumbnail collection – for my Mom Blog Directory. However, if you host multiple blog hops, and you want a thumbnail linky, you will either need to pay for InLinkz, or you have to choose Linky Tools. As far as I know, there are no other options that are free for Thumbnail Linkys.
But what I like about their paid membership and why I prefer them over Linky Tools is that they offer a variety of payment plans. (Linky Tools makes you pay the yearly fee. No other payment plans are offered.) At InLinks, you can pay for one month at $1.99, 6 months for $10.99, or 12 months for $19.99. The price is cheaper than at Linky Tools, and I love that you can pay for it as you go.
Signing up is easy. The InLinkz Website is more professional-looking than Mister Linky’s. Here’s what the registration page looks like:
Once you register, you just sign in with your email and password. To create an InLinkz list, you have to create a collection. It’s fairly straight forward, and here’s what it looks like:
For my personal blog, I will be going with InLinkz as my Linky Tools alternative. I like the overall design and look of their linky tools. (Here’s what it will look like on my Mom Blog Directory. I am having to manually enter all the links from my blog directory. I can’t figure out another way to do it right now).
Simply Linked is another free linky service that you may want to look into. This linky service only gives you the option of text linky lists, but it’s fairly easy to use. Plus, the service is absolutely free. The website is also elegantly designed.
Signing up is simple, and so is creating a new list.
You will get a code to insert into your blog. The free linky list from Simply Linked will look something like this:
Which Will You Choose?
For my purposes, I will go with InLinkz. I like that they offer one free thumbnail linky list, and that’s all I need for right now.
In the future, when I decide to host a blog hop, I will probably use Simply Linked or InLinkz to host it. Thumbnails are nice, but I don’t like paying for anything extra that I don’t need. I could use that $20 extra dollars to buy groceries, or pay for gas. As long as these services continue to be free for text linky lists, I will just go with them.
What about you? Will you stay with Linky Tools, or will you go with one of these other free linky services?
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