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 for Write It Down at The Family Curator.
Are you ready to join the carnival, but wondering if you have what it takes to be a real Carney? Or, are you an old hand at the game but looking for a few new lines? 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.
A Carnival is Not The Circus
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.”
And, no wonder Lisa was confused. 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.
FootnoteMaven, Shades of the Departed, counts 17 months, 17 editions of Smile for the Camera, a carnival focusing on memorable photographs bringing “subjects, poses, or information we’ve never seen before.”
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. Jasia hosts the carnival and coordinates the various bloggers who take turns hosting this long-standing favorite.
Each carnival host may spend as much as two days promoting, assembling, and commenting on entries. Some bloggers make their 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.”
The COG, managed by Jasia, has grown so large that Jasia no longer has the time to write individual comments to each article, unfortunately her favorite task as a carnival host. Instead, the carnival submission form allows for a brief summary by the author, which makes it very important to complete this section. “I enjoy the enthusiasm that comes (from the authors) when I’ve picked a topic that’s really popular, she adds. “My favorite part used to be when I commented/introduced each article in each edition, 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, Jasia, and other COG hosts, must spend several hours compiling posts into the final Carnival article.
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.
Today we’ve focused on what is a Blog Carnival, and how to participate Effectively. Part 2 will include more tips from carnival hosts on How to Write a Memorable Carnival Article and examples of great entries from the archives.