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28 March 2007

Is hosting a blog carnival still worth the effort?

The blogosphere has changed quite a bit since the last time we hosted the Carnival of the Capitalists, and so have blog carnivals, so our hosting duties for the CotC this week provided an excellent opportunity to compare notes from our previous effort.

The primary benefit for a blogger to host a blog carnival is the boost in traffic it provides that increases others exposure to their blog. Let's first take a look at our site traffic following the first time we hosted the CotC back in July 2005:

Here's what we observed following our original CotC hosting experience, and particularly the effect of being linked by Glenn Reynolds' InstaPundit:

Political Calculations doesn't publish on weekends, and traffic normally ranges between 30 to 70 unique visitors per day on Sunday. You can see the InstaPundit spike take off immediately on Sunday evening, peaking at 750 unique visitors on Monday, then dropping off to Political Calculations' normal daily weekday volumes between 120 and 200 unique visitors per day on Thursday and Friday.

Now, let's compare that result with our recent site traffic history. First, here's a snapshot of our previous week's site traffic, taken just before we posted the March 26, 2007 edition of the CotC:

As you can see, we've grown in traffic from two years ago and as we don't publish on weekends, these levels between 100 and 150 unique site visitors represents our low traffic volumes for the week. Since we posted shortly after midnight, we were able to capture the entire first day carnival "spike", shown below:

By our rough estimate, our blog carnival traffic from unique site visitors on the first full day after posting the CotC this time around was less than half what we saw previously. While we didn't benefit from a unique link from heavy traffic generator InstaPundit as we had previously, we did find that James Hamilton's Econbrowser was the single greatest director of traffic our way - providing well over half the traffic for our edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists.

This result confirms the importance of the role of highly popular blogs serving as gatekeepers for directing traffic to blog carnivals.

We were surprised by the number of page visits we received this time around. While we normally run about 1.7 page visits per unique site visitor, the number of clicks through to other posts here at Political Calculations jumped to a 2-to-1 ratio.

The Bottom Line

While our unique visitor traffic for this edition of the CotC decreased substantially from our previous carnival hosting experience, the increase in pages visited more than made up for the difference. This may indicate that today's blog carnival readers are fewer, but more inquisitive than the previous generation of two years ago. On the whole, we find that hosting a major blog carnival like the Carnival of the Capitalists still provides worthwhile benefits for the hosting blog.

A Challenge for InstaPundit

Here's an experiment we'd really like to run: Now that we're after the primary surge in site traffic received for hosting a blog carnival, which we presume reflects the core audience for the carnival itself, we wonder what effect that a link from InstaPundit would have our site traffic at this stage. Glenn - we'll post our numbers, if you're up for it, let's see what you got!


About Political Calculations

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations.com

Thanks in advance!

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