Grab the Gold Ring with a Memorable Carnival Post, Part 1 was first published September 2009 and has been revised and updated for April 2010.
Carnival Hostesses with the Mostest share their favorite carnival entries and talk about what makes a memorable article, as well as describe what it takes to run a successful blog carnival in this two-part article at The Family Curator.
Blog carnivals and festivals are one of the best ways to participate in the blogging community and interact with other bloggers, and with several great events offered each month, you are sure to find a subject that appeals to your interests. Read on to learn exactly what is a Blog Carnival, and how you can join one.
What is 'Blog Carnival'?
Popular podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke confessed while interviewing carnival hostess footnoteMaven that she was a bit confused about carnival protocol for her first entry to the Carnival of Genealogy.
"I took it very literally, I thought we were doing ‘Carnival’ theme,” she laughingly admitted.
"I did a Louise merry-go-ground, a mashup of images of all the women named Louise. . . travelling around on this carnival.”
The notion of “Carnival” conjures up all kinds of visions. Some folks think of country carnivals with mechanical thrill rides, a house of mirrors, and the midway crowded with ring-toss games. Others recall the three-ring acts under the big-top. It’s a small group of bloggers, indeed, who think differently when hearing the term “Carnival.”
Carnival, Festival, or Challenge – all are themed writing events designed to bring together articles on a given subject. Typically, the Carnival Host will announce the a Carnival Theme and invite participants to submit entries. There is no formal application or registration. Yet, there are a few informal rules that help make things run smoothly.
Every Carnival Needs a Manager
Organizing, promoting, and publishing a blog carnival is a big job. Ask hostesses Jasia, footnoteMaven, and Evelyn Theriault.
Jasia, Creative Gene, is already planning the 100th edition of The Carnival of Genealogy, and can count over 2000 genealogy-related articles in past editions of this long-standing favorite.
FootnoteMaven, Shades of the Departed, counts 22 months, 22 editions of Smile for the Camera, a carnival focusing on memorable photographs bringing “subjects, poses, or information we’ve never seen before.”
Each carnival host may spend as much as two days promoting, assembling, and commenting on entries. Some bloggers make the job easier, and some make the job harder. Typically, the host will announce the subject of the next carnival and give a deadline for entries along with instructions on how to participate.
The blogger does not actually submit the article to the host, instead the article is posted on your own blog, and the link and a brief summary are submitted to the carnival host. Then, the real work begins for the host. They must take all the entries and assemble them into one cohesive article.
If the number of entries is manageable, a host may read and comment on each one individually. FootnoteMaven notes,
“I receive between 30 and 52 submissions for each carnival. I use the submitters’ photograph or avatar in the compilation. Sometimes finding a photograph requires a lot of searching.”
She then tweaks the photo in Photoshop, resizing and adding a drop shadow. Next, she reads the submission and writes an introduction. Finally, fM moves on to create the logo for the next carnival. All in all, about “two days if you don't do anything else.”
In September 2009 (when I first wrote about blog carnivals), the Original Carnival of Genealogy managed by Jasia at Creative Gene had already grown so large that she no longer had the time to write individual introduction to each submission.
“My favorite part used to be when I commented/introduced each article in each edition,” Jasia said, “but I had to let that go when the number of participants grew beyond the time I had for putting the COG together.”
Even with the carnival submission form, Jasia, and other COG hosts, must spend several hours compiling posts into the final Carnival article.
In 2010 Jasia revised the COG guidelines to limit the number of entries to 30 with ten of the best submissions selected for a personal introduction by Jasia. One entry is also selected to be highlighted as the “featured article.” Jasia writes,
"I'm asking you to put your best foot forward when it comes to submitting articles to the Carnival of Genealogy. Please don't dash off a quick post just to be a part of it. I want the COG to be a quality publication with well thought out, well researched, and well written articles. For the most part, it has been." (COG Changes for 2010)
Carnival hosts seem to love reading the articles that come their way. Evelyn Theriault says,
“putting the issue together allows me to really focus on each in such a way as to capture their individual essence. This is enjoyable, but also educational as it allows me to grow as a blogger.”
The Festival of Postcards requires about thirty hours each edition, notes Evelyn, although technical glitches can bump the time spent considerably.
Lessons from the Managers, or, How To Be a Carnival Host’s Dream Blogger
Whether you are an old-hand at Carnivals, or looking to join the fun, here are a few tips that will make the manager’s job easier and ensure that your entry is guaranteed time under the spotlight.
- Meet the deadline. Post your entry on your blog AND follow the carnival guidelines to submit your article well before the announced deadline. Don’t make the host’s job harder by asking for an “Excused Tardy.” Just be on time, if not early. Remember that even blog services sometimes go down.
- Submit everything requested by the host. Typically, this will include Blog Name, URL to entry post, Post Title, Brief Summary; it may also include a photograph or avatar of yourself. Make a list and check things off as you include them in your submission.
Part 2 in this series will include more tips from carnival hosts on How to Write a Memorable Carnival Article and examples of great entries from the archives.