This two-part series on Writing for Blog Carnivals was first published in September 2009 and has been revised and updated for April 2010.
Discover what a blog carnival is all about and how you can participate. Carnival hosts also share their experiences and describe what it takes to run a successful carnival event.
Carnival Hostesses with the Mostest share some of their favorite carnival entries and talk about what makes a memorable article.
Carnival hosts have two things in common – they love what they do and have a tough time singling out “favorites” from the many wonderful entries to the events.
Carnival Entries That Make the Hostess Smile
Jasia relates that after nearly 80 editions of the Carnival of Genealogy, “it’s more the edition topics that are memorable. . . but a few articles stand out for two reasons, passion and talent. The authors are all passionate about the topics they’re writing about, and they are very talented writers. It’s just that simple.”
FootnoteMaven says, “In the case of Smile for the Camera it’s all about the photographs; the sheer joy of seeing how each participant interprets the word prompt in a pictorial submission. I’m also a sucker for a creative blog name. It always gets my attention.”
For the Festival of Postcards, Host Evelyn Theriault notes that what stands out most to her is when bloggers do something different for them, such as a geneablogger “paying attention to the postcard publisher or postcrossers adding little research blurbs to accompany their modern postcards.” She likes seeing the ways that bloggers from different niches approach the postcard subject.
When coaxed, the carnival hosts gave several examples of what they consider memorable entries, and it’s easy see the qualities that makes these articles stand out from the crowd. Careful research, humor, creativity, and good writing are all evident in the following articles (presented here in alphabetical order) –-
- Now and Then, by Tim Abbott
- Cars as Stars, by Apple
- Outhouse Tippers, by footnoteMaven
- Debunking a Family Myth, by Craig Manson
- Bavarian Beer Stein, by Donna Pointkouski
- Haunted Whaley House in San Diego, by Randy Seaver
- Paste-Eaters Anonymous, by Dava Silva
Most importantly, memorable articles are written by bloggers who dare to “be themselves” and let their own unique voice be heard. Whether you are new to blogging, or an old hand looking for a fresh perspective, it’s a refrain that never gets old, “Be Yourself” as footnoteMaven says.
“When writing for the COG, your article will be appearing alongside many others. Develop your own voice to stand out from the crowd,” Jasia advises writers. “if you’re quick-witted, go for some humor. . . if you’re detail oriented, deliver your content with source citations in all their glory. If your talent is writing emotional posts that touch people’s hearts, don’t submit anything less.”
“I am continually amazed at the effort Smile participants put into each post,” adds footnoteMaven. “There’s a lot of love going on with those photographs. You cannot help but be touched by the enormity of pride, and the value to our family history that the participants place on, often one of a kind, photographs.”
This pride of family is often the spark that moves an someone to respond to a particular carnival edition. If the theme fails to resonate, the writing can fall flat too for lack of passion. In fact, according to Jasia, passion is one of the key factors to a successful carnival posting. Without passion, the article will likely not be memorable at all.
Mini-Step: Write a Very Short Piece
Does an upcoming carnival topic appeal to you? Perhaps you have the perfect story to tell or photograph to share, but you’re still timid about joining in. Consider the words of Evelyn Theriault and “focus on writing a very short piece – a few paragraphs at most.” Don’t be intimidated, she adds, just do it.
Write a mini-article, post it to your blog, and complete the submission form or email to meet the deadline (even better, be a day or two early). When the carnival goes online, post another article announcing it at your blog, and be sure to provide links from the original article to the carnival article as well.
Mini-Step: Join the Carnival as a Commenter
Another way to ease into carnival participation is to be an ACTIVE reader. Carefully read entries to current carnivals, ask yourself what you like about the article, what you might do differently. When you find a particularly memorable article, take time to leave a comment. Comments are great writing practice and help you focus on what you really want to say, all useful in honing your own style.
Comments are also the best way to convey your appreciation to the carnival hosts and writers. A few words lets them know that you enjoy the time and effort they give to producing the event, and encourages them to continue.
Next Step: Just Do It, With Passion
“To anyone contemplating participating in a carnival,” adds footnoteMaven, “Do it! I have always found it to be a very rewarding experience regardless of which side of the post you find me on.”
“Just do it,” writes Evelyn. “
Bring your passion to your piece, and, as Jasia says, “When the passion is there, the article will likely be memorable.”
See you at the Carnival!
Thanks to footnoteMaven, Jasia, and Evelyn Theriault for sharing their thoughts on hosting genealogy blog carnivals for this two-part article. Please leave your comments for the Carnival Hostesses or the author, Family Curator.
What does it take for a carnival article to be your favorite?