Guide to Blog Carnivals

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So you want to share MORE content with your audience about a particular topic, but have trouble finding that MUCH content on a regular basis?

Instead of hiring bunch of writers to your blog, there's an easier way – Blog carnivals.

In this post, I'm going to share with you what blog carnivals are, how you can use them and how you can use them to boost your traffic and visitors figures. Here's the guide breakdown:

  1. What is a blog carnival?
  2. What's the benefit?
  3. How to participate in a blog carnival?
  4. How to host a blog carnival?
  5. How about guidelines?
  6. Promoting your blog carnival.

… but first, let's see the full definition.

What is a Blog Carnival?

A blog carnival is an online event where bloggers come together to write about a specific theme or topic. (wiki)

In a nutshell,

  1. The host of the blog carnival creates a blog post outlining the theme or topic, guidelines, and a deadline.
  2. Bloggers who wish to participate must publish a blog post on their own blogs that fit the theme or topic, link back to the host's blog post, and submit their post by the deadline.
  3. The host then links to all of the blog posts that meet the guidelines for the carnival.

But, keep the linking within Google TOS. Here's my point of view:

Why you should use a nofollow tag?

From a SEO standpoint, most blog carnivals ask for participants to link back to the blog carnival announcement post. The main purpose of this should be for traffic, and not for SEO. To stay on Google's friendly side, you can offer a specific piece of code people should use to link back to your blog carnival announcement, and that code should include a nofollow tag.

So what's IN it for me? Traffic and more visitors…

Blog carnivals have many benefits for both – participants and the host.

  • Participants: For starters, any bloggers who participate in the blog carnival will receive traffic from new audiences who learn about the blog carnival from one blog and then go on to read posts from other blogs in the carnival. New bloggers will get the chance to become part of a network of established blogs within a specific niche. Other bloggers in the carnival will likely spend some time visiting the other blogs to read their content and engage in the discussion, boosting each blog's traffic and comments.
  • Host: The host of the blog carnival will get additional benefits. First, they will get a lot of links back to their original post. They will also get traffic from each of the participating bloggers from those looking to read all of the posts submitted.

To summarize, your blog will get more exposure and visibility.

How to Participate in a Blog Carnival

The first step to participating in a blog carnival is to find one in your niche. Google is a great place to start by searching for keywords in your niche plus the phrase blog carnival in quotes. You will want to narrow your search by using the Search Tools box and filtering the results down to the last month or last year to find blogs that are hosting blog carnivals now.

Google search for nonprofit carnival
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From here, you will either find some blog carnivals that are currently open for submissions, or ones that have just ended. For the ones that have just ended, you will want to look at their archives to see how often they host blog carnivals and how much engagement they receive for their blog carnivals. You may also want to click through to the entries that were submitted to see if they received any engagement.

If the blog carnivals look like they get a good bit of traffic or engagement, see if the host has an option to subscribe for updates on the next blog carnival that you can participate in.

Subscription box
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While you're waiting for the next blog carnival to start up, you can invest some time in building a relationship with the host by commenting on their other blog posts and networking with them on social media. This will ensure that the host will notice your blog post submission and hopefully ensure that it is accepted into the blog carnival.

For blog carnivals that are currently accepting submissions, you will want to start networking with the host immediately using the above tactics. When you're ready to start working on your submission, be sure that you have thoroughly read the guidelines. Things to note in the guidelines are the following.

  • What is the main topic or theme of the blog carnival?
  • Are there multiple topics or themes that you must claim or publish on a specific date?
  • Should posts be a certain length?
  • Should posts include a specific type of media, such as a custom blog header image that relates to the blog carnival?
  • Does the post need to be tagged or categorized a certain way?
  • What should the post link back to?
  • When does the post need to be published by?
  • How should the post be submitted to the host?

In most cases, blog carnivals will have one theme to focus upon. In some, there might be several themes with the option to write multiple blog posts that can be submitted to the carnival.

Article
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In most cases, you will want to get your post submitted as early as possible. While you can wait until the deadline, you may get the advantage of having your post mentioned first in the blog carnival roundup based on the submission time. The closer to the top your post is linked, the more traffic it is likely to receive from interested readers.

Once your post is published, be sure to use the blog carnival to connect with the host and other bloggers by doing the following.

  • Participate in the comments for the roundup post and other participating posts.
  • Share your post (and others) on social media using the blog carnival hashtag (if provided).
  • Aim to make your post the most popular amongst those submitted by promoting it as much as possible to your email subscribers, social groups that allow you to share blog posts, niche social bookmarking networks (such as BizSugar for business-related topics), forums, and other networks whose audiences would be interested in your post.

If your post drives the most traffic back to the host's blog and they notice, that will likely guarantee that your future blog carnival submissions get top mention in future roundups.

How can I host my OWN blog carnival?

Unless, you have a lot of traffic – there's not much to get from hosting a blog carnival. Why so? Well people who are in your niche find that you blog doesn't get much traffic, they aren't motivated for it.

However, when you can't find a blog carnival in your niche, or you find some that aren't that popular, then you may want to start one by hosting it yourself. To ensure that your blog carnival is a success, you will want to do the following.

Network with Bloggers in Your Niche

If you do not already have a strong audience within their niche, then your first step in launching a blog carnival will be to network with other bloggers in your niche. If there are blog carnivals happening in your niche, you will want to start by networking with the people who participate in these blog carnivals. Beyond that, you can use Google search, sites like Alltop, or premium tools like BuzzSumo to find blogs that write about topics within in your niche.

Note that smaller blogs are going to be the ones most likely to participate in blog carnivals. Blogs like Entrepreneur, Inc, Mashable, and similar sized blogs should be left out of the mix

Once you find blogs that are receiving adequate amounts of traffic (note whether they are receiving regular social shares and comments on their blog posts), you will want to start networking with the blog owner and/or popular writers on the blog. In particular, you will want to comment on their blog posts and interact with them on social media.

Twitter is usually the best network to choose for networking with bloggers, as you can chat with people without them having to friend or follow you. If bloggers are replying to comments on Facebook or Google+, those are good alternatives. The goal is to find the networks where bloggers are most engaged and interact with them there.

You will also want to look into social media groups for bloggers. Facebook offers groups for all types of bloggers as well as niche-specific bloggers. Look for the social groups where people are truly engaging with each other as opposed to the ones that are full of link shares, but no comments or engagement.

Find bloggers in your niche
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Once you've joined some great groups, network with other bloggers by commenting on their posts. In general blogging groups, you can start discussions about blogging in your niche to draw out other bloggers in or interested in your niche.

In addition to Facebook, you can look into LinkedIn groups, Google+ communities, and forums to connect with bloggers in your niche who may be interested in participating in a blog carnival.

As you build blogging connections from your niche, you should notice that your blog benefits through increased traffic, social shares, and comments. This will tell you if you are networking with the right people as a whole.

Create Your Blog Carnival – and guidelines

When you feel confident that you have a good niche blogging audience, you're ready to start your first blog carnival. You will need to come up with an overall plan for your blog carnivals, a good theme or topic for your first blog carnival and blog post guidelines for participants.

The Overall Plan

The overall plan for your blog carnivals should cover how often you plan on hosting blog carnivals, a specific hashtag for your blog carnivals, and a way for bloggers to subscribe for notices about your blog carnivals. You should establish this from the start so every blogger you bring into your first blog carnivals can get excited about upcoming blog carnivals and subscribe.

The Theme or Topic

You can plan a theme or topic for your first blog carnival only and adjust it for upcoming blog carnivals, or you can plan several themes / topics for a year's worth of blog carnivals. If you do the latter, you can post it to your blog so that bloggers who may not have a good post idea for this month's blog carnival will know to check back in for the next one.

The theme or topic you choose should be broad enough that people will be able to write unique posts, but not so broad that it loses its flow. For example, if you have a book review club, you could ask everyone to write a post reviewing their favorite self-improvement book so that all of the posts match the self-improvement theme.

If you're looking for an easy way to generate a ton of topic ideas checkout Long Tail Pro.

The Guidelines

From both a visitor and SEO standpoint, you only want to link to blog posts that are of the highest quality. One of the problems with blog carnivals in the past is that anyone and everyone who wanted to participate could, leading to long posts with mediocre content at best.

Your blog carnival guidelines should match the quality that you set for your own blog. Don't feel shy about asking for blog posts that are at least 1,000 words (or whatever is standard in your niche), that include at least one image, and that include standard formatting elements, such as headers and bolded text when app

Your guidelines should end with a specific deadline for submissions and how submissions should be sent. You can use your email address or contact form, or you can use a free Google Docs form that will put answers into a spreadsheet for easier management.

This way, instead of opening email after email, you can just open one spreadsheet each time you run a blog carnival.

Promote Your Blog Carnival

Once you have defined your plan, topic or theme, guidelines, and submission policy, you are ready to publish your post and promote your blog carnival. Here are some ways to make sure you get the word out and get the most participants possible!

  • If you already have an email list, or once you build your blog carnival-specific email list, email everyone on it when the blog carnival is announced. Then remind your email list one week before the submission deadline.
  • Reach out to specific bloggers about your blog carnival through their contact form or email address.
  • Announce your blog carnival on your social media profiles. Be sure to pin your announcements to the top of your Twitter profile and Facebook page until the submission deadline.
  • If you belong to groups or forums where people can make self-promotional announcements, announce your blog carnival in those groups and forums.

Once the submission deadline arrives, review and compile all of the blog posts you receive, then update your blog carnival page. Once your page is updated, promote it again to let people know they can come to see the entries and subscribe to get notified about the next blog carnival.

Was it a success? Determine it.

How will you know your blog carnival is a success? It will start with the number of good submissions you get. In the beginning, it may only be a few. But as you continue to run blog carnivals, the number should increase. Even if you only get five each time, that's still five blogs sending traffic back to yours. Plus, it's five great pieces of content you get to share with your audience. Both will equal a win!

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