How to Host a Blog Carnival

Oct 17, 2012 | Better Blogging

Hosting a blog carnival can boost your traffic. Doing a stellar job of hosting will boost your reputation, too.  Jennifer V. Miller has set the hosting standard for the rest of us.

On October 10, 2012, Jennifer hosted the Carnival of Human Resources on her blog, The People Equation. Like many carnivals, the Carnival of HR rotates hosting among volunteer participants.

Shauna Moerke handles the administrative chores for the HR Carnival. She sends out regular notices to potential participants, telling them the date of an upcoming carnival, the topic (if any), contact information for the host, and the deadline for submissions. That’s the kind of work that rarely gets noticed, but without which the entire carnival edifice comes crashing down.

That reliable support makes a host’s job easier. Once the submissions start coming in, the real work of hosting begins. Here’s how Jennifer Miller handled them.

Jennifer acknowledged receipt of every submission. I’ve had carnival submissions disappear into the void or spam filters in the past, so an acknowledgement set my mind at ease.

Jennifer sent an email telling people that they were included and asking them to promote the carnival. She made that easy by including the URL for her carnival post. She also suggested ways to promote the carnival. That made it easy for people and increased the likelihood they would do so.

Here are Jennifer’s comments on the process.

“I’ve been participating in blog carnivals for three years and have paid attention to things that I see as gaps in the process. Then, when it’s my turn to host, I close those gaps to create a positive experience for the contributors. If they have a good experience, they’re more likely to promote the carnival, which of course, is the whole point– sharing information across the web.

Whether in corporate America or as a small business owner, I have always operated with the mindset of ‘be easy to do business with.’ The extra steps I take (such as the pre-set tweets and the confirmation of receipt) added maybe an extra 15 minutes to the total process. I think that extra time is well worth it. An additional bonus – by being more high-touch via email, I got to know a few of the contributors better. To me, expanding one’s network is always a good thing.”

A question that occurred to me when I read that was, “How long does this all take?” I asked Jennifer and here’s what she said.

“There were 20 contributions (all were accepted).  I’d break it down in this way:
* Reading contributor’s blog post, writing their section of the carnival, communications with contributor – 10 minutes per contributor – approx 3 ½ hours
* Overall editing of the post, writing the introduction, selecting an image for the post, uploading to WordPress – 1 hour
* Email notification to contributors, scheduling social media posts/tweets, follow up emails and replies to social media commentary –  1 hour”

That’s one experience with one edition of one carnival. Jennifer and I have both hosted Dan McCarthy’s excellent Leadership Development Carnival where things are very different. Dan gets more submissions and also receives many that he doesn’t include. Here’s how he handles things.

“the ones that make the cut are all relevant, recent, and looked interesting to me at least – about 50 percent of the submitted posts on average. I always include the regulars, those that have been submitting posts for years and I know they will come for us. With each edition, there’s always a handful of new contributors, and I like to give them some exposure.”

As with so many things in life, your mileage may vary. But this should give you an idea of what a good hosting process looks like and some idea of what you’re in for when you choose to be a carnival host.

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