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.
Huffington Post seems to have four criteria for popular posts. I’ve hyperlinked mine to prove my point:
1 – The obvious one – timely opinions on current news issues.
2 – Rants about the government/politics. If you can tie it into timely opinions on current news issues, more power to you. This one actually showed up my non-journalistic and lack of understanding of how the economy works background, but it was a good lesson to learn I guess. I’m sure I’ll get over the embarrassment.One day
3 – Personal stories of illness/tragedy. So far is my most popular HuffPo post, I think because it is both an illness story (IBS) and having a go at the government.
4 – The rainbow voyeurs. Anything LGBT related is massive, if only for the commentators to go crazy about how the whole world is turning gay. I’m yet to write one of these, but give me time people.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m trying to bite the hand that feeds me, or doesn’t feed me since HuffPo doesn’t pay their bloggers. I’ve just realised that, as someone who knows less than nothing about politics, governments and world issues, I’m probably not suited to their particular audience. And that was a bit of an epiphany. Whilst trying to earn a living from writing (and so far still trying), it’s only now that I’ve figured out that you don’t have to aim for the biggest and most famous platform. I’ve got to figure out what my particular niche is and find where that audience is. I know as a writer you’re also supposed to be adaptable to many styles, but politics is just not my thing. And it took me weeks to allow myself to realise that. Plus I’m such a bloody wuss, it’s hard to ignore the negativity in the comments which aren’t so nice.
But I’m not abandoning it. I’ll still blog every now and then if I happen to have an opinion on something I’ll see if the HuffPo world is interested. And I’m not forgetting that this particular biggest and brightest platform means a massive audience, so when I do have something to promote, I’ll be trying to steer that HuffPo audience toward it. So it’s still a win win even if no cash crosses my path from it.
Oh, one more piece of advice – if you’ve got an idea, don’t dilly dally. I had an idea for a story in early March. At the time I did a search on HuffPo to make sure nobody else had already written about it (always a good start), but then procrastinated till now. Yesterday I was published but not featured – as you can tell from the big fat zero ‘likes’, comments, tweets and reblogs. Apart from admitting it wasn’t a particularly controversial/interesting piece, I wondered what went wrong. Perhaps the start of that sentence should have been my clue. So I searched the topic again and found one from a few weeks ago that was practically the same idea. Doh! Interestingly this one was also not featured, so at least I don’t feel ripped off in my rejection.
So there you are. To those of you who know your Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s from your Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s or your human rights from your sustainable development, go for it. Choose any of those topics above, throw in a controversial opinion or two to get the PC brigade up in arms, and voila – featured on the HufffPo baby!!