Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling

The following are the things I did in hosting the first Carnival of Homeschooling. I've included the steps I think would be helpful to do when creating future Carnivals of Homeschooling. As always I invite constructive feedback.

The Preparation:

The first thing I did was to get the request out asking for submissions. I sent emails to about ten bloggers asking them to mention the carnival, and giving them a link to the main request on our blog.

Next I created a schedule of things I wanted to do, and when I wanted to do them. I kept adding ideas to the schedule over the next week. It helped to have a timeline of what I wanted to happen, and when.

I specifically invited about thirty bloggers to submit a post to the carnival. A few were authors, and one was a columnist. Over half of them responded. Many of them submitted a post, the rest who responded said thanks and they would try to submit something to a future carnival.

One of the most important things I did was to read 10,000 Birds - Hosting a Blog. I read it twice to my self, and then read most of it out loud to my wife, as she was making the last quilt for our daughters for Christmas . It is a great summary of how to put on a carnival. If you are thinking about hosting a carnival, I can't stress enough how important it is to read it.

My wife and I brainstormed for a couple hours on the theme for the carnival. She came up with the idea of using the theme of a carnival to group the various postings. Once we decided on the carnival theme, we reviewed each post and figured out a carnival attraction it would fit with.

The day of the carnival:

In a number of places I've read that with many carnivals most submissions come in near the end. Maybe it was all the pleading we did in the initial request, but most of the submissions came in before Monday. Only a couple came in Monday afternoon. So at 6:00 PM PST my wife and I started crafting the carnival. We took a break, had dinner, and went back to working on it. By 10:00 PM we decided it was done. We then posted it to our blog.

Next I sent emails to all those who had submitted a post. I asked them to review the carnival and let me know if anything needed to be changed. The next day I heard back and there were three changes that needed to be made.

Now it was time to promote the carnival:

At this point I was only half way done. The Carnival of Homeschooling was up, but now it was time to get the word out. I sent 60 emails to people who I thought were likely candidates for posting about the carnival. As reported here we have gotten a lot of traffic over the last three days. We were lucky enough to get mentioned by Instapundit and Attack of the killer robots - Clicked.

By using Technorati and The Truth Laid Bear (TTLB) I was able to find bloggers who mentioned the carnival. Here Technorati shows who has conncted to our blog. By reviewing it a couple times a day I noticed the new links. I was able to find new links in a similar manner by using this link from the TTLB. Michael Leboeuf in The Greatest Management Principle in the World says "The things that get rewarded, get done." With this in mind I thanked every blogger I could find who mentioned the Carnival of Homeschooling, to let them know I appreciated them taking the time to mention it. If we can keep this tradition I think the Carnival of Homeschooling with get more publicity.

I found it helpful to be able to check Site Meter every couple hours. If you don't have a hit counter, you may want to add one to your blog. I think it is worthwhile to know how many visits you are getting, and where they are coming from.

The following is a summary/check list of the things I recommend for creating a carnival:

1) Read the essay on how to host a carnival
2) Build a schedule
3) Get the word out about the carnival, request people send submissions
4) Ask specific bloggers to submit posts, hopefully a couple famous people
5) Read, or reread, 10,000 Birds - Hosting a Blog.
6) Brainstorm on a theme for the carnival

The day of the carnival:
1) Create the carnival, based on the theme
2) Have the carnival participants review the post

Promoting the carnival:
1) Ask the submitters to promote the carnival
2) Ask other bloggers to advertise the carnival
3) Thank people who mention the carnival

If you have any questions, please ask.

If you have any suggestions, please comment. In the spirit of The Wisdom of Crowds I think as a group we can find ways to make the Carnival of Homeschooling one of the best carnivals around.


Daryl Cobranchi said...

It'd be helpful to have a list of email addies of folks who mentioned the Carnival either before of after it went up.

Henry Cate said...

I'm really torn on this one. It would be nice to have a list of email addresses that got passed around, but I'm worried that the bloggers that would get pinged week after week would start to see it as spam.

Most of the bloggers I sent email have blogs that I followed some, and I have interacted with many of them. From reading the a couple posts on how to host a carnival I got the impression that part of what each host brought to the carnival was his person contacts. I think it makes some sense to have a top five, or ten, to contact, but not to have a large lists that gets built up over time.

Daryl I will send you a list of the top five to ten bloggers I'd contact, as a starting point for you.

I haven't made my mind up that this is the way it has to be, so if someone has some thoughts, please add a comment.