I have a post this week in the Carnival of Personal Finance which is being hosted by One Cent At A Time.
My post is joined by a great many other relevant posts, plus an extended (and funny) post by the Grumpies, Nicole and Maggie, on how to properly wash dishes. Why exactly that last one is part of a personal finance carnival is open to question, but at least you'll know what to do when the dishwasher is broken.
In general terms, a carnival is a collection of posts gathered over the past week or so and presented all in one place.
When I first started blogging, I thought the blog hosts simply surfed the blogosphere and picked out the most worthy writing.
Umm--not so much.
The reality is that blog hosts sit back, eat bon-bons, and wait for individual bloggers to fling their authorial contributions into the vast void. If they like what flies by, or if they are just in a good mood, or nothing better appeared in their mailbox that week, your post will become part of the carnival.
Most carnival hosts are good about sending e-mails telling you whether you made it in or not. Unfortunately, these e-mails are sent out the same day the carnival appears online so if you're the kind of blogger who is organized and sent in your contribution a week earlier (you know this is NOT Grace, right?) then you just have to wait. OTOH, if you contributed 2 hours prior to the deadline (Yep! That would be moi!), you get the information relatively soon.
The general thought is that having one's post find its way into a Carnival will increase blog traffic. It does, particularly if your contribution is highlighted in some special way, but many carnivals, like the Carnival of Personal Finance, are huge. My experience is that my post appears in a long list of others, and tends to get lost.
However, a better way to use a Carnival to generate traffic to your blog is to actually host a carnival. The carnival websites have sign up lists to do that. I couldn't tell you how it works or how much time it entails because I've never volunteered. It seems to require an ability to have a clever theme and to post cool pictures--both of which are more than I can manage.
Still, I do contribute. That's because I really like reading the Carnivals, where I often discover financial blogs that I would otherwise miss, or come across old friends whose sites I haven't recently visited.
My personal favorites are the Carnival of Personal Finance and the Festival of Frugality. You can view the latest Festival here.