How to Become a Blogger at The Huffington Post (Includes An Update For The New Beta Athena Platform)
Risk Equals Reward
I never planned on becoming a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post. My main goal was getting my writing exposed and cultivating my personal website. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to have three featured blogs on The Huffington Post within a month.
Here I will share what I did to get my foot in the door and what happened subsequently. The goal is to help any of you out there who are looking to get published and hopefully featured on The Huffington Post.
There is a tremendous amount of competition out there between online writers these days. But in the spirit of sharing and learning, I want others to benefit from my experience as well. After all, by reading about how other writers got published I gathered my own knowledge and inspiration.
I've read the articles and comments about how The Huffington Post doesn't pay their bloggers and those writers should not waste their time there.
I get that.
But I have to say, in the month that I had my blogs featured on The Huffington Post, traffic to my other writing sites skyrocketed which resulted in more money for me. We all want to make a living, and many of us want to make a living doing what we love. You can't argue with the number of readers The Huffington Post receives. It's millions.
...in the month that I had my blogs featured on The Huffington Post, traffic to my other writing sites skyrocketed...
Here's how I got started at The Huffington Post...
I decided to email two samples of my writing to Arianna Huffington herself. This was an absolutely spontaneous decision based on reading about another blogger who had done it.
Arianna's email is email@example.com. I took the risk and emailed her.
I really had nothing to lose and never expected to hear back. As it turns out Arianna Huffington does encourage writers to come forward and pitch their blog ideas directly to her. After all, The Huffington Post thrives on blogs and opinion pieces.
Two days later I got a response from Arianna herself inviting me to join their blogging community. I was stunned and thrilled, to say the least. I didn't realize how much it really meant to me to feel validated by someone as successful as Arianna Huffington until it happened.
Update: As of October 2016, Arianna has left her position at The Huffington Post to pursue other projects. This means that you may not get the same kind of response via email that I did. But this doesn't mean you should give up. By pitching your blog idea to submissions you still have a good chance of getting noticed but you have to be clear about your ideas and send samples of your previous work.
One thing I recommend highly is crafting an intelligent, attention-grabbing title for your blog. This is the first thing editors and readers will see so it's very important.
You won't be able to make a living off submitting blogs to The Huffington Post, but you can use it as a platform with which to promote your other projects, brands, or websites.
If you're already passionate enough about a subject to write a blog about it, then you're already on your way. However, realistically speaking, if no one knows about you or your writing, it's very hard to build a fan base or discover new opportunities.
The more exposure your writing has, the more you can gauge what readers think and learn to improve your skills.
My Experiences Blogging For The Huffington Post
In the initial email from Arianna Huffington, she included an editor whom she advised would get back to me with sign-up information to gain entry into the Huffington Post bloggers site.
Now the ball was in the editor's court. All my aspirations were in the hands of another stranger. Scary but still awesome just to be experiencing it.
The hardest part of this whole process was waiting to hear back from the editor. It took about 6 days total to hear back and within that time I checked my email obsessively and sent a follow-up email just to make sure they hadn't forgotten about me.
When the editor finally got back to me with the link for setting up my username and password I was overjoyed. I filled out the information and then sent it off. After that, I still had to wait a couple of days to get the confirmation that my account was set up.
The blogging account and platform I was introduced to is not the same as it is now for new contributors. I will get to that part in a moment.
Once you become an official contributing blogger you can submit as many blogs as you like within the specified guidelines.
Crafting Your Blog
The Huffington Post has a multitude of sections, or "verticals". When you get access to a blogger account, you'll be able to construct your blog for publication. There are guidelines and instructions on how they like the blogs and images to be set up. Please take the time to read the guidelines.
Once you become an official contributing blogger you can submit as many blogs as you like within the specified guidelines. Popular verticals include parenting, women, politics and much more.
I have found that the blogs I've written that speak to issues other people are going through are more popular. Everyone wants to relate and feel they're not alone. It's the human condition and the power of sharing experiences.
One opinion blog I wrote which was featured in the women's section garnered a lot of attention but the opinion itself was not very popular. That was my first experience with negativity and backlash.
If you're going to expose your stories or opinions you've also got to be prepared for comments that are pretty harsh and even cruel. Not everyone is going to agree with you or even get what you're saying. The Huffington Post carries many readers and also readers who love to comment with no filter so be warned.
Remember, the important thing is that getting your writing published can start a conversation about something you're passionate about and lead to new doors and opportunities down the road. No matter what anyone says about The Huffington Post, it still looks good on a writer's resume.
*Keep in mind that if someone took the time to read what you wrote but doesn't agree with you, it's still a victory for you because whatever you wrote made someone think.
If you're going to expose your stories or opinions you've also got to be prepared for comments that are pretty harsh and even cruel. Not everyone is going to agree with you or even get what you're saying.
Note: When adding images to your blog for The Huffington Post, make sure they are all under a creative commons license or else used with permission.
I have also found that some images I added to my posts never translated when I shared my blogs on social media. I emailed the blog team about this but never heard back.
Unfortunately, many of these trial and error challenges need to be sorted out on your own as the blog team is likely busy or overwhelmed with other blog submissions.
The Huffington Post allows you to link any of your other projects or personal website links to your blog posts, so be sure and utilize that in every post you publish.
Publishing vs Being Promoted
Although you can write and submit as many blog posts as you like once you are a contributing blogger, there is a big difference in exposure between simply publishing your blog and having The Huffington Post feature it. On the new blogging platform being "featured" is now referred to as being "promoted".
On the new contributing blogger platform, you can immediately publish your work but it doesn't get indexed or show up in Google search engines until an editor at The Huffington Post decides to "promote" it.
Sometimes you don't know for a couple of days if your post has been noticed by an editor. The longest it took for me to know if a post was featured was about two weeks on the old blogging platform. On the new Beta Athena contributor platform, the longest I had to wait to have a post promoted was a week.
Generally, on the new contributor platform, if your post hasn't been promoted within a couple of days it's probably safe to assume that the editors were not interested in it for whatever reason. Don't take it personally. There are a lot of writers publishing posts for editors to go through.
Unless your blog is showcased on the front page of a specific section, not many people will have access to it even though it has technically been published. You will have to promote it on your own through social media sites or other means. If you do get your post promoted by an editor, then the social media exposure is almost guaranteed.
I've found that the key to great exposure on a Huffington Post blog is Facebook. If the specific section your post is promoted in shares it on one of their Facebook pages, it could potentially go "viral".
The Huffington Post allows you to link any of your other projects or personal website links to your blog posts, so be sure and utilize that in every post you publish. You never know which post may be featured/promoted garnering widespread exposure on the internet.
A Closer Look At The Beta Athena Platform
As many writers now know, The Huffington Post blogger platform has experienced some significant changes. If you were already a contributing blogger on the old platform, you will have received an invitation to the new "Beta Athena" site.
Things look quite different here and it is very new. One major discovery so far is that you need to use Google Chrome in order to prevent glitches while constructing your blog.
It doesn't look like bloggers can choose which section/vertical to submit to anymore as was the option on the old platform. You simply write your post and publish it to the Huffington Post right then and there. While this seems like writing without a safety net due to the fact you are immediately putting your stuff out there, you also now have the option to go back in and edit your post at any time and you can even "unpublish" it if you want to.
The bottom line on Athena: If the editors feel your post is trending or worth promoting - they will. If not - it's not likely your blogs will be seen by anyone but those you personally share it with.
As I said before, even though you "publish" your blogs directly to the site, no one can see it unless The Huffington Post editors decide to promote it to a specific section/vertical.
The biggest change so far for myself appears to be the lack of a submission period waiting time as well as the loss of choosing a section or vertical for your post. You can, however, as up to 8 tags for your post which can help guide it to the appropriate section. Finally, it does appear to be more challenging to get work featured/promoted on the new platform. As I discover more I will be updating this post.
Finally, it does appear to be more challenging to get work featured/promoted on the new platform. There are a massive amount of contributors at The Huffington Post.
One of the things I like about The Huffington Post is that they don't demand to own your content if they decide to feature or promote it. This means that you can share the same blog anywhere else you wish. There are pros and cons to submitting your content to any online publication like this but The Huffington Post is definitely a great stepping stone to other ventures.
There are pros and cons to submitting your content to any online publication like this but The Huffington Post is definitely a great stepping stone to other ventures. Good luck out there!
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