Writing Archive


The Carnival is One Step to a Wildly Successful Personal Finance Blog

Recently, Jim from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity mentioned the Carnival of Personal Finance in an article outlining 25 steps to a wildly successful personal finance blog: “Participate in the personal finance related blog carnivals each week and sign up to be a host…”

Jim assembled a number—25, in fact—of great tips for the personal finance blogging rookie or newbie. Check it out when you get a chance.


Tips for Hosting Great Carnivals

Everyone wants to host the Carnival of Personal Finance, but few first-time hosts realize that putting together a quality Carnival is a good amount of work. At the very least, there are a few guidelines to follow. However, the best Carnivals are the ones where the host puts in the extra effort to develop something unique or bring part of their personality into the presentation.

Punny Money’s #68 is a great example of a fun metaphor. For another creative example, take a look at Carnival #47 at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

One idea, to make things more interesting, is to highlight some of your favorite submissions like I did for Carnival #53.

At the very least, read all the articles that were submitted and exclude spam and scams. As the host and editor, you have the prerogative to exclude any submission you think is inappropriate. However, it’s important to show respect to all submitters who are participating in good faith. In other words, don’t take the attitude like the one exhibited by okdork in #42. The host did highlight his favorites, but all others were shown little respect, and that’s not what this Carnival is about.

It’s tough because we all know that bloggers should be submitting their best of the week to the Carnival, but sometimes the quality is sub-par. In this situation, it’s best to highlight the best at the top or provide other notation, but don’t just blow off the rest.

By the way, when I host, I do not include all submissions, particularly those from who I know submit their articles in bulk to a multitude of Carnivals. I suggest all hosts perform some kind of editorial review, and at the very least read the submissions.

For further reading and some great tips, take a look at Be the Host With the Most over at 10,000 Birds. Free Money Finance also has some tips for hosting Carnivals.

Feel free to add comments with this post with more tips or links to articles you have written about hosting a Carnival successfully. Here are more resources:


Writing Better Articles, Tip #2: Beware Misleading Statistics

Statistics can been used to persuade people to believe in an idea especially when the statistic is combined with fear. Yet, some statistics are misleading or exaggerated, even in leading publications. As bloggers, we should be careful in understanding what the statistic really means by asking the question, Why?

For example, a leading newspaper once reported that the average college undergraduate student loan has increased from $12,100 to $19,130, up nearly 58% in the past decade. However, 1/2 of the increase is related to basic inflation which is also reflected in higher starting salaries, which help to pay off the higher loans. So, the statistic is correct, yet misleading. The article could have said the average college loan has increased by 29%, after reflecting inflation, over the past decade. Yet, this may not have caught the readers’ attention (and fear) as much.

In addition, some statistics relating to cause and effect can be due to a coincidence or to a weak/strong correlation. For example, we can find (and quote) a statistic that poverty is tied to poor academic achievement. So, a reader may think that money will solve the achievement problem. For this example only, let’s assume that the modeling of parents’ behaviors are really the primary factor that leads to both poverty and to their children’s poor academic achievement.

Thus, the coincidence between poverty and poor education achievement would mislead the reader when the attention should be on behavior. As bloggers, we should ask why is the statistic the way it is, in order to uncover the real issue. This way our readers can address the real issues instead of focusing their energy on coincidences.

Pete blogs at My Financial Awareness and has worked for over 15 years as an actuary.