Blog Carnivals and Group Writing Projects for Link Building and Networking

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A blog is an awesome networking tool. Beside multiple obvious benefits (interacting with your audience, content link building, etc), there are a few more creative ways to build links with your blog.

Blog carnivals

A blog carnival is a regular topical event connecting multiple blogging based on a chosen theme. A blog carnival often includes a number of participants (most of them get credits i form of links and new niche connections):

  • the blog carnival organizer: if you are an established voice in your niche, you can organize your own blog carnival and get plenty of awareness;
  • blog host – the one who publishes the link collection (posts chosen to take part in the carnival) on his own blog and also generates multiple links from the thankful participants;
  • bloggers: those who write posts on the carnival topic and submit them for inclusion (and get links at least from the blog host site).

Some actionable tips?

  • updates you of most recent and popular carnivals to consider. It will show you the date, the topic and the host of each carnival. You can also submit your carnival there if you choose to start your own.
  • Blog carnivals (when managed properly, not just for the sake of links) can bring very solid links. Instapundit is known to link to most blog carnivals and send high quality traffic. Also, pitching powerful bloggers with a well-laid message on your upcoming carnival (its uniqueness and purpose) can result in great link and new solid connections.
  • Carnivals are better to start on Monday. And make sure to post best posts on that day: the way you start will influence the whole carnival success.
  • Make sure to read through these awesome findings of a great blogger who once hosted a blog carnival.

Group writing projects

A group writing project is usually a post competition on a set topic. Participants host their posts on their own blogs (often with the note on the writing project with the link) and submit them for the inclusion. A group writing projectis usually maintained by:

  • the organizer (who also hosts the project): this is the one who brainstorms the idea, promotes the project, creates the rules; receives and reviews the submissions, counts votes, etc;
  • bloggers who write, host and submit articles (complying with the project rules);
  • the sponsors: the guys who give away the prizes (that’s by the way a great way for non-bloggers, for example, eCommerce sites, generate great links from highly established blogs and also earn trust of their audience);
  • voters. Voting method can vary; the organizer can choose to evaluate and rate based on the public comments, private forms, diggs, etc.

Put this into practice:

  • start with participating: this will give you an inside scope how to turn your own group writing project into the real buzz;
  • keep track of recent hottest projects (either watch or participate or even sponsor): does a very good job on updating its readers of most recent and upcoming projects around the web.
  • try participating in not-so-tightly-relevant projects: look outside your niche and build relations in neighboring niches.

The conclusion?

A blog in itself is your most powerful link building tool. There is no need to limit yourself to only the above two most popular networking methods. You can create your own. Remember SEJ guest blogging competition for example? With you and your blog your imagination is your only limit!

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project,
Ann Smarty
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  • Kathy @ Virtual Impax

    Blog carnivals are a GREAT way for bloggers to make connections. Somehow, I hadn’t put together that the recent rash of “group writing projects” were really just blog carnivals by another name!


  • Ryan @ Linkbuildr

    Oh Ann….How do you keep coming up with so many good topics?! This will be fun to try out with my blog, so thanks!

  • John Hunter

    There is another good use for blog carnivals – reading them. Reading them should actually be by far be the biggest benefit. As you mention some carnivals are more about getting links than providing readers a service by highlighting great posts on a topic. But a good carnival will provide connections to great posts worth reading.

    I have been organizing the management improvement carnival since 2006.

  • Jacob from Group Writing Projects

    Thanks for the mention and the compliments, Ann. Much appreciated.

    Unfortunately, most blog carnivals (unlike John’s) have become link dumps of little value. However, group writing projects rarely recur on the same blogs so participating in them will bring you a better variety of links over time. And that’s just 1 of the 12 reasons I give people on the site.

  • Doug Heil

    Why all the SEO posts about links these days? How to gain links. How to get links secretly. How to buy links without buying links, etc, etc, etc.

    LOL My goodness gracious folks. If I was some new person out there trying to learn SEO, what’s the chances of actually learning SEO? I think almost no chance.

    Isn’t this like the o’l…. gosh; can’t think of the name right now, but it was a circle of sites that got together and linked to each other. The little widget was put at the bottom of sites participating sites.

    Link farms are link farms folks.

    I’ve got another question; I want to sponsor an event or blog or whatever; so do I gain an incoming link legitimately? If yes; so I’m joe the plumber website owner and I hold monthly events as well. So I can sell links like this and pass on outgoing links that count legitimately as well? Tell me please; how exactly is this not buying links for Google?

  • Ann Smarty

    @Doug, out of multiple posts I do weekly, many of them are about SEO, so you are not quite fair ūüôā

    “I want to sponsor an event or blog or whatever; so do I gain an incoming link legitimately? If yes; so I’m joe the plumber website owner and I hold monthly events as well. So I can sell links like this and pass on outgoing links that count legitimately as well? Tell me please; how exactly is this not buying links for Google?”

    Actually, by sponsoring an event I meant prizes (so the money is spent for the winners, not the webmaster). But that’s a note aside. I also have a question for you: if an organization is sponsoring a non-profit organization and is credited by “thank-you” note and a link – is this not buying a link? Like in the real world, what if most of charity is done for brand awareness? There is no black and white in such matters – you never know when charity was a sincere gesture and when not. How is Google supposed to know that?

    Following your logics (in the comments or your recent interview) the only way for Google is just to stop counting links at all – because every link might have potentially been paid for in the end.

  • Ann Smarty

    The recent post by Rand is also relevant to what I said above:

  • Doug Heil

    That article by him was what I was referencing Ann. I wouldn’t be citing that one to make my case though. He seems to always be trying to find that loophole to exploit. Some of those things he says to do are not only a little risk, but a lot of risk.

    Let’s say you have many sites in many industries… a plumber, an electrician, a house framer, a roofer, etc, etc. What rand is saying is that all those type sites can create pages of “events” or donation type pages to sell links. If they don’t use nofollow, it IS a risk.

    I agree; a product sponsor might be just fine. Money sponsors or money donations is not fine. You are paying for a link.

    I also agree that Google herself could put a large dent in things by turning off the silly toolbar. She could also turn on and off the incoming link switch at random times by making links weigh less and more, etc all the time to where no one knows what’s up at any time.

    I’m just tired and worn out about all the articles about how to gain links. The other article said to do all those things in secret if you can. In other words, don’t let Google know you are doing it. Can you imagine a G spam fighter viewing the incoming links of a site and finds many of them coming from sponsor pages or donation type pages? A red flag? Oh yeah.

    I think many write stuff without thinking through all the ramifications of said writing. They don’t view things from both the regular site owner who wants incoming links, and the site owner who might want to sell advertising space via links. If you want to sell links, you had better use the nofollow tag as you are not vouching for that sponsor or site that donates. They paid money; you gave a link. That’s not vouching for the site at all.

    I can see all the pages now; instead of pages named “links” or “resources”, the pages would be named “sponsors” or “donations”. Do you see?

  • Ann Smarty


    “I’m just tired and worn out about all the articles about how to gain links… Can you imagine a G spam fighter viewing the incoming links of a site and finds many of them coming from sponsor pages or donation type pages? A red flag? Oh yeah.”

    Exactly!!! Therefore I post weekly on different tactics to gain links (and well-deserved links by the way). That’s why so many link building posts exist: to give people multiple ideas and sources for inspiration (to prevent them from focusing on only one method that seems to work) : to promote great content, to participate in various contests, to get creative, to sponsor events, etc, etc…

    Link building is not necessarily about manipulating (you always see everything in dark colors). It’s about spreading the word – and let people decide to spread it or not (whether the word is worth it). In your recent interview (at Blogoscoped?) you were attacking blog reviews in general… But I see nothing bad in that either. Why not inform people of new tools and let them decide what’s useful and what’s not? I do agree that sponsored reviews have to disclose they were paid for (I do not insist on nofollow but disclosure is necessary, I guess), but what if we admit that not everything is paid for today? ūüôā

  • Doug Heil

    Oh course not everything is paid for, but many blog articles with links are. They just are Ann. I don’t believe that your’s are, but many are. They just are.

    I just read a page of a firm who offers “link building”. They sometimes speak at conferences. This firm wrote about how they contact bloggers in the niche to tell them about a new product, etc and ask them to write about the new product. They went to say how they might sometimes supply the blogger with the good content. Do you see what all of this goes to?

    And yes; you can stimulate thoughts and be creative about how to gain links, but I do think it should be done looking at both sides who are involved. It’s not enough to write about how to gain links on websites, but also what might happen to those sites you are gaining links from if it’s sponsored or donated without using nofollow.

    I can clearly see the harm happening with a bunch of blogs getting together as a carnival. You have to remember that “most” site owners are not as savvy about things and would do things with blogs to harm them. They then say they read it on a Ann Smarty article so it must be okay. The industry just has to be more aware of who is reading. I think most writers don’t do this and are writing for other SEO’s.

  • Ann Smarty

    Every tactic can be used for the worse. Even the best intentions can turn into dangerous weapon in evil hands. How can anyone be blamed for that? Of all tactics listed by Rand for example, which ones are actually manipulative? Partnership? Sponsorship? Buying relevant resources (sites, I mean)? All tactics (even blog commenting and article distribution) can be both white and black (depending on who is doing that).

    Unfortunately, that’s the human nature to look for easier ways but I never encourage to in my link building posts. If you look at this post for example, you will see that I did point out that these tactics will work for good only if you take a serious and creative approach: apply a thorough research, experiment and take an effort…

  • Doug Heil

    Yes Ann; but what does “serious and creative” mean? This is what I mean by the majority out there would Not be able to buy links and do the blog thing in a way that would be legit. They just wouldn’t.

    Besides; I see some in that sphinn thread see things like I do about that rand article on how to buy links to spam Google.

    It’s very true that buying links as sponsoring an event or donating is VERY old stuff and has been penalized in the past.

    I think some things that are written about now are the same things redone or renamed that we use to do 8 to 10 years ago. Those fairly new to this stuff…. within 3 or 4 years, don’t realize it’s all “been there done that” before kind of stuff.