Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hosting a Blog Carnival

A great way to bring new visitors to your blog is to volunteer to host a blog carnival. Here are a few thoughts on successful carnival hosting. Please feel free to add your suggestions to the comment boxes.

Begin with a Subject you like
If you’ve been hesitant to volunteer to host a carnival try beginning with a carnival on a subject you are passionate about. Most likely, this is the main subject of your blog and the carnival will make a good fit with your overall theme. The carnival will be a win/win for you and your blog. You will find out about other blogs and posts on your favorite topic in addition to bringing readers to your blog.

Decide on a Theme
How will you organize the posts you receive from others?

Sherry at Semicolon used each day of the month for the Third Carnival of Children's Literature Poetry edition.

I used the virtues of Our Lady when hosting a Loveliness of Motherhood carnival.

Decide on Style
Will there be something that is frequently repeated?
Try to establish a consistent way of writing this.

For example Melissa Wiley at Here in the Bonny Glen hosted the Carnival of Children's Literature: Broken Toe Edition. All the posts are in bright blue links while the author's name and blog are in bold.

The group blog 10,000 Birds used green to highlight each of the posts for their carnival
Carnival of the Recipes: The Meatless Edition . If you stop by their blog be sure to check out their suggestions on hosting a blog carnival as well!

Badge or Clipart
Consider making a badge or simply using some free clipart which will be displayed proudly in each of the participants' posts. (antique clipart)

Dana, from Principled Discovery used airplane clip art for
Taking Flight, Week 37 of the Carnival of Homeschooling.
Dana also did a fabulous job of integrating all the links and crafting a carnival which read like a story.

Consider creating a mailing list
Respond to each entry via email. Create a list for this specific carnival in your address book. When the carnival is up at your blog, you can easily send a message via the list to each of the participants that the carnival is ready.

If you feel you might have missed a link, the email list can be a source for double checking the entries you received.

Try to Personalize
A blog carnival is basically a blog post with a lot of links. The goal of creating an inviting carnival is to try to integrate the links so that the whole reads like a narrative.

Mark Chu-Carroll of Good Math, Bad Math makes the Second Carnival of Mathematics: The Math Geeks are Coming to Town! read like slapstick comedy.

Try to read each entry and respond to the participant by making a small comment about the entry to the submitter. Sometimes, you receive feedback which helps to personalize your carnival.

The comment section offers a rich field for personalizing your carnival. Read the post and comments.

Photographs make any post leap off the page. Anne from Hawaii's Palmtree Pundit 72nd Carnival of Homeschooling is greatly enhanced by her use of photographs.

Encourage early submissions
Post plenty of reminders your blog and other blog meeting places.
Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight is very good at reminding her readers of her Nature Carnivals.

If you receive a few entries each day, it won’t be difficult to read each post carefully and make a personal reflection on the post. This will help to make your carnival stand out.

Practical preparations
Open a draft file for your carnival at your blog. Set the date on the post to reflect the scheduled date. Often the carnival time is set to midnight.

Be careful not to lose any links. I also like to keep a Word document going. I copy my blog post and paste it into word. (Helps with the spell check.)

Many bloggers have a practice blog where they try out new themes without alerting all their readers. Many blog sites offer free blog hosting, consider putting your carnival up at your practice blog and check through the links. Once satisfied, you can transfer the post (edit html to edit html) to your public blog and announce the arrival of the carnival. (In my last carnival, I used a lot of images. It was a great help to use my practice blog to iron out the placement of the pictures.)

If you don't have a practice blog, you can try out some theme/color variations in some of your regular posts before the carnival. Some alterations look different once the "publish post" button is pressed.

It's always great to have a proofreader. Ask a friend!

Try to have your carnival ready in advance so that you give yourself a little room in case your family needs you.

A final thought, if you like the idea of hosting a cocktail party but you don’t like to do dishes, hosting a blog carnival is a great option. With a little preparation and planning you can bring together bloggers, engage in stimulating conversation, get to know new people *and* leave the dish towel in the drawer!


Meredith said...

Excellent information here Helen, way to go!! I'm printing this out for my next Carnival, whenever that may be!! Thanks for all the great links to, always a bonus! Blessings!

Melissa Wiley said...

Helen, this is a great article. Thanks so much.

Interestingly, when I hosted the recent Carnival of Homeschooling at Lilting House and included a short quote from each post I linked to, I got a TON of positive feedback. People seemed to really appreciate being able to see a snippet of the posts, to help them decide which ones they wanted to read in full.