Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hosting Carnival of the Vanities

Last Wednesday I hosted the 179th Carnival of the Vanities. Though I had submitted posts to this carnival before, I was not sure quite what to expect in terms of submissions or in terms of traffic.

The submissions were eclectic, as is standard for a generalist carnival like the Carnival of the Vanities. However, there tends to be stronger participation in this carnival from political and financial blogs than from blogs on other subjects. I tried to emphasize more of the latter, with limited success.

Here is a graph of the traffic over the past month.

As you can see, hosting the carnival produced a modest spike. On February 22, the carnival attracted 190 hits. This was roughly triple the average daily traffic that this blog had received to that point.

Here are a few thoughts on hosting and publicizing carnivals:

  • Hosting a niche carnival like I and the Bird is easier than hosting a generalist carnival like Carnival of the Vanities. When most posts share a general subject matter, it is easier to group similar posts and emphasize the best ones.
  • By the same token, hosting Carnival of the Vanities requires being ready to read posts (especially political posts) with which one disagrees. This does not necessarily mean setting aside your editorial voice, but it does require being civil to people with opposing viewpoints for a day.
  • If you do host Carnival of the Vanities, expect links to pour in from the start since there is only a one-week turnaround between editions. It is vital to start reading and summarizing as soon as possible; otherwise you will be left with an overload of posts to read on Tuesday evening. My edition included close to 50 entries, which is a good deal more reading than when I hosted I and the Bird #5 in September.
  • Getting a listing in the TTLB Übercarnival is almost more trouble than it is worth. NZ Bear requires that an exact phrase be included in the post - but does not include that phrase in the submission form. A simple link back ought to be enough, especially since we are providing free content for his site. Even after the link was up, I received very few referrals from that page.
  • More generally, publicizing carnivals requires a good deal of footwork, and probably more than I accomplished in my turn at COTV. Links from highly-trafficked blogs are the key, but these require knowing which are the best to contact ahead of time.
  • A long term increase in traffic is more likely to come from a niche carnival than from a generalist one. Even the niche carnivals, though, may not create a dramatic increase right away. What they will do is raise a blog's profile among people with similar interests and increase the number of incoming links.
This week's Carnival of the Vanities is now online at the Cigar Intelligence Agency.