You don’t need to be on the A-list, B-list, or any list at all to host a carnival. However, it’s probably a good idea to have been blogging for more than a month. Hosting a carnival is a give-and-take scenario; you get introduced to other site’s readers, but you should ideally bring some of your own to the table.
The context of your blog may or may not be an issue when it comes to hosting. Generally, it seems incongruous when sites host carnivals that are completely unrelated to their general themes, and make no mistake, every blog has themes. 10,000 Birds covers a lot of topics, but at the end of the day, I’m a lot better fit to host Tangled Bank or The Skeptic’s Circle than I am for Grand Rounds, the med-blogging carnival, or, perish the thought, Carnival of the Cats. Don’t be so desperate for higher web traffic, however ephemeral, that you take the reins of a carnival far outside your genre. Not only will you fail to make an impression with readers, but your participation may serve to cheapen the carnival itself. Consider also the primary benefit of hosting a carnival, which is exposure to a new audience. These new readers are more likely to return if you offer what they are looking for. Though this is a gross simplification, it stands to reason that getting a horde of cat fanatics to come to your site won’t do you much good if you never write about pets. Reach for the readers who would enjoy your blog most.
Most bloggers are inclusive by nature, and more than a few are accommodating to a fault. When it comes to carnivals, insufficient exclusivity has the potential to dilute the brand, as it were. What I’m getting at here is that, in the best interests of all parties involved, you should police yourself. Don’t volunteer to host a carnival to which you are not suited, and please, please, please, do not submit posts to a carnival that don’t fit its theme. Just because most hosts are too gracious to turn you away doesn’t mean you are welcome at the party.
Speaking of submitting posts, you should always be a contributor before you volunteer to host. Though many carnivals may not require past participation, volunteering to host before you post is in poor taste. Earn your stripes, rookie! A blog carnival is a collaborative effort, one that can only succeed because of the commitment and caring of a core group of contributors. Some of the most popular carnivals boast a popularity that transcends any given host, but most are fragile, able to be seriously damaged if mishandled. An unserious or inept host can hurt a carnival’s reputation and perhaps sully those of the contributing sites as well. Make yourself known to the carnival’s regulars through your work before you presume to run the show. I ask that all prospective hosts contribute at least once to I and the Bird before I’ll put them on the calendar, but the bloggers who are involved week after week always get priority.