The Secret to Being a Featured Blogger on Huffington Post

Before we begin, I must explain something. There’s being published on Huffington Post and there’s being featured on Huffington Post. Only one will give you the chance of a massive audience. The other will give you bragging rights, but no audience to speak of, unless of course you do constant self promotion and nag all your real friends and social media ‘friends’ to read it and ‘like’ it. I think that’s cheating, but I could just be bitter.

All advice below relates to my own experience, and that is HuffPo UK, not USA. I’m assuming the procedures are the same, but maybe not. I’m also assuming any admiration you had for my awesome writing feat may have just slipped down a few notches on the belt of awesomeness… but hey, UK, USA, saaaaaaaaaame. 

Being featured pretty much guarantees an audience; often of mean, opinionated snobs, ready to pick holes in your grammar, your spelling, your education, your seeming lack of journalistic skills and pretty much every statement in the entire article. But you asked for it, stop your crying Natalie Chatalie… I mean readers…

So here we go. The secret to being published on HuffPo is that there’s no secret. Anyone can do it. Well, anyone who can put a few hundred words together in some kind of coherent structure. And sometimes you don’t even need that skill, as the chorus of bitchy commentators will no doubt point out. Yep, I recently figured out that HuffPo has a “contact us” section and it’s there right in front of us all. I hope you noticed that I’ve been helpful and hyperlinked it for you. If you’re as (non) tech savvy as me, that means click on the blue words.

I don’t know why but it never occurred to me that anyone could be a HuffPo blogger. Judging by everyone’s bi-lines I thought you had to be some kind of world leader or successful type person. I mean look at this morning. There’s “Director of Giant Pandas and Strategic Innovations for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland” and “Head of Communications at Women’s Resource Centre,” and “Associate director of education and social policy at CentreForum, the liberal think tank” for gods sake. But look closer and you’ll figure out there’s also this – “Award-winning heavily tattooed comedian, writer and professional idiot”. See… aaaaaaanyone can do it.

So go ahead, click the blue word above dear readers and HuffBlog your little hearts out.

But remember, you’ll want to be featured, not just published, which means they’ll put you on the front of one of their categorised pages, or if you’re really lucky, on the front page of the ‘Front Page’ of the entire thing. And I think I’ve figured out how that happens. Continue reading

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The Postman Always Rings… until someone let’s the poor bugger in.

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OK that’s it, the love affair is over. It’s been a month now and the cracks are beginning to show. Me and Edinburgh have managed to finally get out of the bedroom and those little annoying habits are starting to show up. It’s all Edinburgh’s fault. I liked it so much I was gonna marry it. Then I found out about the garbage and the post situation.

What’s up Edinburgh? You don’t have a selection of bins in the apartment blocks for trash? You’ve got skips at the end of roads instead? So I have to walk my garbage alllll the way to the corner? Pfffffft. Seriously?

Well… maybe this would be acceptable if each corner had each type of bin for this big green world we now live in. But no. Half a block from me is the normal bin type bin, a whole 2 blocks is a paper/plastic bins and what might as well be the depths of outer Mongolia – 3 blocks!! – is the distance I need to schlep in order to dispose of glass products.

Am I just a complete lazy bum? Or am I right in thinking this is a complete pain in the bum? Whatever’s going on, there’s a bum involved somewhere.

The only person I see who benefits from this are the garbage collectors. Yes, maybe it’s uber efficient for them, but it’s bloody annoying for me. Now each morning I’ve got to think about which way I’m walking and gather up the correct garbage for whatever bin I might be passing along the way. Uggh.

Or… maybe people here just do special bin trips a few times a week?? Can’t say I’ve seen many people marching along the streets laden with garbage though. Or… maybe I’m just being a dickhead and Scots don’t really pay much attention to where they’re putting what? Yeah, it’s probably that second one. I’m a dickhead. Continue reading

Planet Nice – aka Scotland

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Living in Edinburgh requires an attitude adjustment. I’m so used to people being rude and unhelpful I’ve totally forgotten what nice is. My years in London have conditioned me to not even expect it any more. Every situation dealing with another human being is approached with the expectation that it’s going to be a hassle, voices may be raised and if it’s on the phone, there’s a pretty good chance the F bomb shall be dropped.

In the short time I’ve been in Scotland, I’ve had five separate incidents of friendliness. And I’m calling them incidents because they felt so strange to me, they may as well have been interactions with aliens. I almost expected Mulder and Scully to make an appearance after each one. I swear, there’s so much niceness being thrown at me, I might have to wear a raincoat to avoid being drenched in it. Well, that and the wet stuff from the sky.

Driving to Edinburgh from London, I was supposed to first go to the Big Yellow storage facility to unload most of the van, but as you can read here, there was no way that was going to happen after eleven hours on the road and five hours before that packing and cleaning. The next morning, one of the ladies from Big Yellow rang to see if I was alright, because she knew I was driving and the weather had turned bad. They already had my money, so I figured it wasn’t secretly about a possible lost sale. After I hung up I had to admit to myself this was just a complete stranger interested in my welfare… being nice.

A couple days later I was buying two things in HMV. One of them scanned up as zero. So the guy said “I didn’t see that” and gave it to me for free. Hello. Unheard of. Well, in London it would be unheard of. Then again, HMV has just gone kaput, so maybe the soon to be unemployed staff don’t really care much about the last weeks of HMV’s profits.

Then a lady in a shop gave me change of a £20 note for bus fare, without expecting me to buy anything from her. I was about to walk out after figuring out they didn’t sell bus tickets, because it just didn’t occur to me that someone would change my note for me, but before I could, she offered to change it. When I asked if I had  to buy something first she said “No, don’t be silly”. She could have said “No, don’t be a Londoner”.

Later still, when realised I didn’t have any money left on me except a few coins, the lady in a pet store let me have some cat litter without paying and just said “Come back later with the money.” I actually stood there for a few beats, silent, trying to fathom what she meant, like she’d just turned into Brian Cox and had tried to explain the universe to me.

Seriously, what planet is this Brian? Continue reading