Be the Carnival Host with the Most!Let’s return to the carnival as party analogy. Imagine that you’re attending an elegant affair. The host has attended to nearly every detail with the utmost care. The food is scrumptious, the entertainment delightful, and the drinks freely flowing. However, you and the other guests notice that the setting is a shambles. Some surfaces are dusty or, even worse, sticky with some unidentifiable residue. Clutter abounds, the furniture is ratty, and there aren’t even enough places to sit. Despite the obvious deliberation with which the host arranged every other aspect of this event, all the other guests can talk about is how inconsiderate and slovenly she is. This party is officially a bust.

For the host with the most, presentation is everything. After all, you’ve volunteered to have lots of new readers come visit your site. If you knew that hundreds of strangers were coming to your home, you’d at least straighten up, wouldn’t you? Of course you would! You’d probably go as far as to clean every surface with a single-mindedness not seen since your last soirée. We hate to appear disorganized or sloppy in the real world, so why be any less concerned about your reputation in the blogosphere, especially when there are so many more visitors dropping by unannounced every day?

In the week before you’re slated to host a carnival, clean up your site. Be sure that everything is well-organized and that your archives are in order. Check that your various ads, plugins, and other snippets of code are interacting properly and not hanging up your load time; if your new Flickr stream adds 10 seconds to the time it takes for your page to come up, you will lose plenty of visitors. Make it as easy as possible for your guests to get to know you, the host. If you haven’t put up an “About Me” page and some sort of site map, this would be a great time to make that happen. You might also consider recommending a handful of your best posts somewhere in a sidebar or header. In essence, look at your site with fresh eyes, envisioning what you’d need to see to be impressed. This is your chance to make a great first impression, the kind that will draw people back again and again.

While you’re cleaning the nooks and crannies of your blog, don’t forget to keep your spam folder spotless. Occasionally, a valid submission will get snagged by an ambitious spam filter. Keep an eye out just in case.

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.