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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
What Happened Next...
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 there.
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.
Note: When you fill out your username in the account set up be sure this is the name you want to appear on the site with your blogs. I used the last name that has since changed due to marriage and I'm still struggling to get it changed on the site. It's often difficult to get a response from the blog team so be sure to double check that the information you're submitting is correct.
Once you become an official contributing blogger you can submit as many blogs as you like within the specified guidelines.
The Huffington Post has a multitude of sections, or "verticals". When you get access to what they call the "backstage" you'll be able to construct your blog for submission. There are guidelines and instructions on how they like the blogs and images to be set up.
Once you become an official contributing blogger you can submit as many blogs as you like within the specified guidelines. You will have to choose which vertical (section) you'd like your blog to be posted under. Popular verticals include parenting, politics, and women's issues.
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. But the important thing is getting your writing published can start a conversation about something you're passionate about.
*Remember that if someone took the time to read what you wrote but doesn't agree with you, it's still a victory for your craft.
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 found that all of the images I added myself 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.
If and when your blog gets featured the blog team will usually add their own image to the piece if you haven't added one or there's an issue with your own image.
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 on every blog you submit.
Getting Published vs Being Featured
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 The Huffington Post simply publishing your blog and featuring it.
After you submit your blog, you'll get a confirmation email that it has been received. The standard waiting time is about 24 hours. Once The Huffington Post published your blog, they will send you an email with the link.
Sometimes you don't hear back for awhile, and the longest it took for me was about two weeks. The Huffington Post featured a blog I thought they had forgotten about completely. My blog I wrote about potty training turned out to be one of the most well received blogs I've written thus far.
Generally speaking, unless your blog is featured 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 get your blog featured, then the 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 blog is featured in shares it on their Facebook page, 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 on every blog you submit. You never know which blog may be featured garnering widespread exposure on the internet.
Another tip is to copy and paste your personal bio at the end of every blog submission as the editors don't automatically include it.
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Update for The Beta Athena Platform
Recently the Huffington Post contributing blogger platform has experienced some changes. If you are already a contributing blogger 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. You simply write your post and publish it to the Huffington Post right then and there. While this seems like writing without a net due to the fact you are immediately putting your stuff out there as you please, nothing much has changed as far as traffic and exposure.
Bottom line: If the editors feel your post is trending or worth featuring - they will. If not - it's not likely your blogs will be seen by anyone but those you personally share it with.
Even though you "publish" your blogs directly to the site, no one can see it unless The Huffington Post editors decide to feature it in a specific section/vertical or promote it on their social media channels.
The biggest changes so far appear to be the lack of a submission period waiting time, the lack of section/vertical option, and it does appear to be more challenging to get work featured on the new platform.
As I discover more I will be updating this post.