Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's a Carnival and Why Would I Want to be in One?

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.


Maureen said...

Thanks Grace not sure that I would have anything informative enough to contribute, but I love to read new blogs.....

nicoleandmaggie said...

It isn't how to *properly* wash dishes! It's how to *efficiently* wash dishes when you don't have a dishwasher. (My mother, for example, properly washes them, but wastes a lot of time and water doing so with her method.) It fits under frugality. Which is an option in the carnival of personal finance. So totally relevant.

There are plenty of ways to wash dishes that waste both water and time. This is the one that does the least, while also ensuring clean dishes (unlike the rinse things in a sink full of greasy water method that many Americans use).

We don't actually get a huge uptick in traffic even when we are an editor's pick. What happens is when The Simple Dollar or Get Rich Slowly decides to read through previous week's carnival picks and links... that's when the hits come. We also tend to get a few lingering hits from time to time even weeks after a carnival.

In our experience, Friday seems to be the best time to send if you want to be included in the CPF.

Jefferson said...

Grace.. The Carnivals are really about building back-links to your blog from other websites..

Having those links will increase your rankings and drive more search traffic to your blog posts.

I believe that the folks who read through every article on a carnival are few to none. It is all about link building.

SB @ One Cent At A Time said...

Grace thanks for linking back to the CoPF. Yes agree to Nicole and Maggie here, CoPF editor's picks are gateway to TSD and other top blogs' roundup. So keep on submitting to CoPF.

Jane said...

I've often wondered about those carnivals but so far haven't gotten involved so you're one step further up the "ladder to success" than I am. Perhaps some day when I have more time on my hands to figure out how to go about it! I'm a bit technically challenged too.

eemusings said...

I don't get much traffic from carnivals either. I recently hosted for the first time and that did result in a spike.

But as I QUICKLY learned after hosting, some people treat it very seriously as a link-building exercise for SEO - not referral - purposes.


Anonymous said...

We've been getting a lot of traffic from this post though! Thanks, Grace. :)

Revanche said...

My mileage has varied in regard to traffic generated, I don't recall ever being an Editor's Pick (maaaybe once? Probably making that up?) but I still get traffic from time to time. I think it really helps the participants when the host puts time and effort into hosting with organization and creativity.

And youre right about emailing the participants, too, if they were all sorted early on, I'm sure it would help. But since the hosts have to wait until the cutoff before they can compile the whole thing, I expect the trend is such that no one wants to send multiple emails,one per individual, when they're going to send them at all.