If you’ve got a WordPress.org powered blog (meaning that you are hosting it yourself) and you’ve not heard of “the Pretty Link” plugin — then you are really missing out on a wonderful self-promotion and audience building tool.

Pretty Link is a FREE plugin that you can get from WordPress that turns any link that you post online into a self-promotion machine with easy-to-use tracking capability. Here is a direct quote from Blair Williams‘ site (the creator of Pretty Link)

“Shrink, track and share any URL on the Internet from your WordPress website. Unlike other link shrinking services like tinyurl, budurl, and bit.ly, this plugin allows you to create shortlinks coming from your own domain! Pretty Link tracks each hit on your URL and provides a full, detailed report of where the hit came from, the browser, os and host. Pretty Link is a killer plugin for people who want to mask their affiliate links, track clicks from emails, increase the reach of their website by spreading these links via Twitter, forums or comments on other blogs.”

Here is a screenshot of one of my own Pretty Links that I posted on Twitter:

That border at the very top is what the visitor sees when the click on the personalized/branded link. What’s great about this is that I can attach MY personal banner to ANY web site.

See?! I have my own brand on someone else’s blog! In other words, when I posted this link on Twitter, I was able to literally hold the person’s hand over to the site and still be on their mind as they read the blog post.

There are two versions of Pretty Link. Free and Pro. I’m currently using the Free version because I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface of its capability. Pro promises to be even better, and save you time in building the links. That is a good thing because the free version does require a bit of hopping around to build those links out. In fact, you should have EVERY link in your blog have a pretty link — every link you post on facebook or Twtitter needs to have a pretty link. And if you have other things to do like service clients and live a life – you may want to consider investing in the Pro version.

I can tell you that the more I work with it – the more I’m starting to see the potential value of paying the price – which is reasonable — IF you are already BUSY and don’t have time to click around for every link.

Getting Started on Pretty Link

  1. Download to your computer. The first thing you’ll want to do is head over to Blair Williams’ siteto get your download. I also got my download from the WordPress plugin directory. Follow the directions from wordpress.
  2. Open Pretty Link from your Menu. Now that it’s installed on your system – on your WordPress dashboard menu, you’ll see the Pretty Link plugin at the very bottom right hand side. Click on that and the click on the “Options” menu. This is where you can customize the banner either with a picture or gradient like I did. If you have some technical skill you’ll be able to make that a graphic or anything that you want. Be sure to get all the settings in order and test it out. You’ll also get the option to set your reporting preferences. I just left mine at whatever preferences Blair set – because I figured he knew better than I did at this point. 🙂
  3. Start Using it. I’m not a technical wiz and I had my pretty link running in about 15 minutes. It’s not fancy, but it has everything I need. You’ll notice that directly in your Dashboard there’s a “Pretty Link Quick Add” box right there. All you have to do is fill in the fields with the actual link, a description, etc. and let her rip. You can also go into the Pretty Link main menu (from the dashboard menu) and Tweet your pretty link directly to Twitter. This is my favorite thing to do. It’s fairly quick and it’s almost like writing a blog post without writing. I was amazed to see how quickly the stat feeder started humming on just a couple of posts.

Benefits from Using Pretty Link — So Far

I’m still new to this and I can tell you that my favorite benefit is seeing the stats on each of the links that I’d posted. I know that other link shorteners do the same thing – but Pretty Link really resonates with me. I’m able to see which headlines are more popular, which topics people hit on and how quickly they hit.

Another benefit is having my branding associated with other blogs. Whenever I Tweet or write about another blog using Pretty Link – it’s like having my own BANNER ad right there. What I’m going to do next is look at putting in better, stronger messages on those banners that focus on a call to action (that’s my mistake so far).

Try Pretty Link

I’ve been thrilled with Pretty Link so far and expect to hit the pro version shortly – mostly for the time savings.

Leave Your Tips

In what ways do YOU brand yourself with your links?

What’s been your experience with Bit.Ly or any other link shortner?

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