What is a blog train?

There are only a few weeks left in our 12-week competition and I would like to see our freshly blooming community grow after the competition ends. To that end, I would like to introduce you to the concept of a “blog train”.

Blog trains (sometimes called blog carnivals) are a pretty old school concept that I have fallen out of use in the last few years. However, they are an ideal way for a lively community to showcase the best of each other’s posts, to enable readers to discover new blogs, and to generally build a stronger platform.

What is a blog train?

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A blog train is a regular post made each week, often on the same day, but the twist is that each week, a different blogger makes the post. The post is often something like this one. Which just gives us an overview of good blog posts from the past week or so plus some exceptional ones that you might have missed and could be worth a read.

What blogs are included in the blog train post, how much is said about them, and anything else in the post is all down to who is hosting the train that week. The only requirement is to link the train up to keep the chain unbroken (in other words point back to the last one, and later update to point to the next one). The requirement to link up the train is pretty much the only difference between trains and carnivals.

Some blog trains and blog carnivals pose a series of questions or topics for the next blogger to write about. Some have a list of hosts that take it in turns on rotation while others leave it up to the host to nominate the next week’s host.

Whatever you call them, a good human edited list of great posts in your blogging community or subject area is a great resource for finding blogs to read and comment on but also for being found. Blog trains are made of win.

Our very own blog train

My proposal is that we start a train of our own. What I suggest is that very soon we write the first post here on Thanet Creative Writers and then set it free by nominating the next week’s train host.

We could, if you want, suggest a theme for the week to come and let the next host pick winners or list their favourites, or whatever. You might have guessed,t hat I’ve not thought exactly how that might work yet. Sometimes just running with an idea and seeing where it goes, is the best approach. Not always, but sometimes.

No crashes, please

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There is a directory of Thanet based writers’ blogs to give you an idea of where to start. Also, I would suggest making sure that the person you nominate to take over the train for the next week is willing to be the host. Otherwise, we end up with a train crash and have to restart.

No one wants that.

Talking of crashes, it is worth noting that community building projects like blog trains and carnivals only work when the hosts really do take the time to check out what they are linking to and publish a truly human edited link of the best of the community. If the weekly posts become spammy, Google may remove everyone from their index. On the other hand, if the hosts do a  good job, everyone wins.

Consistency is good

When you host, and I hope that you do, it is worth making the effort to follow the pattern established by previosue posts. Similar headings and so forth. Don’t be a slave to it but it helps if we are reasonably consistent from one blog train post to the next.

All the images I’ve used in this post are from public domain sources so, if you want to use them, please feel free.

Generally though, the focus, I think, should be on the great blog posts that you, the host, think we should be looking at.

Who to include?

That is up to the hosts. You can include any blog posts that you feel fit the theme. As I said before, the directory might be a good place to start but the choice is yours. Show us what’s great around the Thanet and Writing world of blogging.

If your favourite local blogger did not post this week then it is up to you if you give them a mention or not (I’d probably not but as host, it is up to you). If there is a great author who you love and who blogs and you want to give them a mention, you could do that too. Or not. It is your call.

Who to nominate for the next host?

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This is a trickier topic. The simple answer is you should probably nominate people who have been nominated before but that sort of stops great newer bloggers from joining in.

The only real answer is to engage in that old school thing of communicating with folks. That might be in our Facebook group, on Author Buzz (when it is up and running). Wherever you choose, it all pretty much boils down to communication.

If in doubt, nominate someone who has been actively participating and who has not hosted in a while.

Ending with a question

Talking of hosts, when we start our blog train, who wants to be nominated as a future host?

Shout now to give the first few hosts some ideas.

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