Blog carnivals might bring to mind lion tamers, elephants, and pink popcorn balls, but in actuality, they're pretty tame. In a nutshell (a peanut shell, of course!), a blog carnival is a group of blog postings on a particular theme. Numerous website owners and bloggers post content on that topic at a particular time – usually the same day of the week – and include links to each other's posts, or to the blog carnival host. It's an easy and fun way to share traffic and develop relationships with like-minded bloggers and business owners.
 
Hosting Your Own. It's very simple to organize your own blog carnival; you simply pick a day and theme, and publicize it through your normal social media channels, inviting others to take part and explaining the concept to them. Sometimes the themes are very narrow (“30-Minute Recipes” or “Social Media Horror Stories”) or broad. You can make your carnival open (anyone can participate) or closed (only people you invite can join in). Typically, participants include a link at the bottom of their post, linking back to the hosting blog so readers can find the rest of the posts in the carnival.
 
When hosting a blog carnival, you may want to use a free linking tool such as LinkyTools (http://www.linkytools.com/) or MrLinky (http://www.misterlinky.net/) that will allow participants to easily add themselves and their posts to your carnival link list. If your blog carnival goes well, you might choose to make it a regular event, occurring every first Monday of the month, or even more frequently. If it becomes a regular event, you might consider creating a blog button that participants can add to their site for more visibility.
 
Joining in the Fun. If you'd rather test out a few carnivals before you start hosting, you can find lists of carnivals by topic on a number of sites such as BlogCarnival.com. Or google “blog carnival YOUR NICHE,” such as, “blog carnival parenting,” for a list of individual carnival opportunities. To be a good participant and get the biggest results from your efforts, here are a few tips:
 
1.    Stick to the guidelines. Read the theme and deadline information carefully to make sure you're meeting all the requirements, including the links you must include at the bottom of your post. Participants can be rejected from carnivals, and you don't want to spend a few hours creating a perfect blog post, only to find you didn't follow the directions!
 
2.    Think about your title. Some blog carnivals have dozens of submissions, and you want yours to stand out. Usually, the list of participants includes only your blog name and post name, so an evocative, descriptive title will get you more readers.
 
3.    Do your best work. Your carnival submission may be the one and only time some visitors may be introduced to you, so show your stuff. Don't toss off a half-baked post unless you want half-baked results. First impressions count!
 
4.    Thank the organizer. Carnival hosts are not paid, so go out of your way to thank them for their work. A simple email telling them you appreciate their efforts will go a long way towards developing a good relationship with them – which may result in a different partnership further down the road!
 
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