How to Host a Blog Carnival, Step 7: ENTERTAIN
By now, you’ve invested an incredible amount of time and effort, probably much more than you anticipated when you volunteered to host a carnival in the first place. You’ve aggregated up an awesome collection of posts, organized them in an ingenious fashion, and marketed your edition with the fervor of an evangelist. You’re about ready to put your feet up and call it a day, flush with the satisfaction of a job well-done, right? Well, you’d better think again…here come your guests!
Surprised? Remember, you’re trying to be a host with the most. What do hosts do but entertain guests? The purpose of your intense preparation was to ensure that things run smoothly at showtime. Effective promotion guaranteed that the event will be well-attended, but when it comes to a party, prep is merely prologue. Nobody judges a social event by the host’s industry before the guests arrive, but by his graciousness after they cross the threshhold.
If you’ve followed my advice up until now, you’ll find that your effort was hardly for naught. In essence, you’ve laid a wonderful platter for your guests’ enjoyment. The entertainment (content) will be center stage. All you need do now is freshen some drinks, in an entirely metaphorical sense, of course! Keep an eye on your site. Read comments if applicable. Check your e-mail. Your main responsibility once people start checking in on your carnival is to make sure they have unimpeded access to each and every post. That means you should be available to respond if something goes awry. For example, if your initial sweep for broken links (you did check to make sure each link was accurate, didn’t you?) let a bad one get through, you should be ready to fix it as soon as possible. The same applies for that unhappy happenstance when a submission gets snagged by a spam filter and fails to make it into the carnival. These things definitely occur and a good host will try to remedy the situation as close to instantaneously as possible. Alacrity is essential because the first day of a carnival is usually its most heavily trafficked period. Nobody returns to see if a link was repaired or a post added. Your responsibility to your guests and contributors is to make sure that the lines of communication between the two groups remains open at all times.
On that note, also check in frequently to make sure that your site loads as expected. A massive influx of new readers may not overwhelm your web server, but it could very well exceed your available bandwidth, especially if you have a graphics-heavy site on a bargain hosting plan. Again, if your site hangs up and a visitor gives up in frustration, that particular point of traffic is not coming back.
If you have the opportunity, you may also want to keep an eye on your referrer logs. You probably will whether I recommend it or not. But the reason you should from a hosting perspective is to see if visitors are coming from expected sites. If one of the regular referral sources fails to send over readers, a broken link may be to blame on that end.
So, your job when the guests arrive is simply to be responsive. Keep all channels open and running smoothly. Fix any problems that arise and respond graciously when visitors shower you with compliments in your comments box. Then, once you’ve observed that everyone is having a fabulous time, you can finally relax. You’ve done it! Truly, you are the host with the most.