This post is written by Careful Cents contributor, Catherine. She blogs about her journey to becoming a full-time blogger, and new mother of twins, at BudgetBlonde.com.
I have to admit, I never thought I’d be writing a post like this, and I’m still recovering from the shock that the Huffington Post actually published my writing recently.
Although I’ve been a freelance writer for almost 2 years now, getting published on the Huffington post feels real and (to be honest) a little terrifying and exciting all at the same time.
For my Huffington Post article, I wrote about my family’s decision to move to the Caribbean so that my husband could attend medical school. While it sounds like a dream, it was actually one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
Not only that, but I revealed to the world just how much debt we got into because of that decision, and I described how alone I felt when my husband decided to go there ahead of me so I could stay back home and work to support us.
Don’t get me wrong. I write about this sort of thing all the time on my blog, but to have it so public and out there on such a big website made me feel a little vulnerable.
Yet, that feeling quickly faded as 100+ friends on my Facebook page congratulated me throughout the day and took the time to share my post on their social media channels.
I even had a few e-mails from people who told me that they thought my story was inspirational, and that meant the world to me because that’s all I really wanted to do — inspire others — and show them that what might seem impossible is actually in reach.
The same principle goes for getting your work featured on a large website. It is possible, and I’m happy to share my method with you so that you can do the same:
1. Learn From the Greats
When I first started blogging, I enrolled in Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging Course, and it changed the way that I viewed my website.
Jon’s class is for both new and experienced bloggers, and the entire aim of his class is to teach others how to get featured on popular blogs.
When I started the class, I was just looking for tips. I never dreamed that it would help me land the ultimate guest post on the Huffington Post.
The most important lesson that Jon taught me was to intimately study the blogs that I wanted to guest post on, and he has a lot of specific techniques that you can learn if you take the class.
I knew I wanted to get published in the Huffington Post Money Section, so I became an avid reader of it. I started to notice the type of posts that they published, and I kept a running list of topic ideas specifically for the Huff.
While I didn’t comment on other money section posts regularly, I would actually recommend it. You never know who will be reviewing your post submission, and they might recognize your name if you comment all the time.
I should note that I’ve actually used this method to get hired as a staff writer too, because I think it’s impossible to pitch a post to someone when you don’t know what their site is about.
2. Copy the Style
The only person that I actually knew who was already writing for the Huffington Post was Carrie! In fact, I never knew it was even possible to contribute until I saw her posts (thanks, Carrie!)
So, I did something else Jon Morrow’s class taught me: I copied her style. Now, I don’t want you to think of copying style as plagiarism or anything like that.
What I mean is that I pasted every single one of Carrie’s posts into Microsoft Word, and I wrote down how many words she used, and I took note of the way she broke up her paragraphs.
While the way I write is unique to me, I made sure that my post submission resembled hers when it came to formatting, paragraphs, and word count. After all, they’ve accepted several of her posts, so something she did was obviously working!
As you can see from the photo below, I even used Carrie’s first post for them as inspiration for how to phrase my title.
By using this method, I was able to guarantee that my post would need very little editing, something that probably helped it get published.
3. Pitch it the Right Way
There are a thousand ways to send a pitch e-mail, and there are likely way more experienced people than I am who have a better method.
However, the route I took was a very short and sweet e-mail. I guessed that the Huffington Post got a couple of hundred pitches a day, and I wanted to make sure that when mine got to them, they would only have to read it for a few seconds.
My hope was that it was interesting enough to get them to open my attachment. Here it is below:
Thank you for taking the time to review my post. As you know, most people pay off debt in pretty normal ways. They cut back their spending or they pick up extra jobs.
I had to actually move 3,000 miles away to a tiny Caribbean island in order to finally get the momentum I needed to knock out my debt once and for all. I attached my story to this message, and I appreciate the consideration!
4. Send Your Pitch to the Right Place
While the Huffington Post has a place where you can submit your blog post pitch through a “contact us” page, I wasn’t sure about the little box that they provided. I knew from my experience as a staff writer that it helped to have a good e-mail address to send things to.
Maybe I’m a little Type-A (okay, a lot Type-A) but I just wanted to make sure that the e-mail sent, you know? I am the person who checks my sent folder every time I send an e-mail, and for something so important, I wanted to have the peace of mind that it got there.
I did a little research, and I found this at the bottom of a post in the Huffington Post book section:
To me, it’s better to send it to that e-mail address than wonder if the “Contact Us” box will preserve my formatting.
I’m sure the Huffington Post website is sophisticated enough that the “Contact Us” box works just fine! However, I just wanted the peace of mind for myself.
Also, the BlogTeam could take anywhere from a few days to a few months to get back to you, and unfortunately, they might not have the time to send out “thanks but no thanks” messages. So, just be prepared that you might be living with the unknown for a while once you submit.
5. Give the Editor Everything They Need
Last but not least, give them everything they need. When sending in your blog post for consideration, include a headshot and a bio.
You’ll notice that every blogger has a headshot next to their name on the Huffington Post, so providing that along with a short and sweet bio gives them everything they need, and they won’t have to spend time asking for it. In fact, it will show them that you are prepared.
I’m not sure exactly why my article got selected for publication, but I think it’s because I have a unique story.
However, we all have unique stories; we just don’t realize it. It might take some time to craft your article for them, so don’t rush it. It’s better to have a polished and perfectly formatted post ready to go a month from now than to hurry up and submit today.
Essentially, just be yourself and be open.
Say something that others will connect to. Write in a way that makes people feel like they are included or write about something others wish they could do. I mean, I had to move to a Caribbean island to get out of debt.
That’s a little weird, right? But, that’s my story, and sharing it with others in a very open way gave me just the right combination of materials to get it noticed.
I have no doubts that if you do what I listed above, you have a good chance of getting noticed too. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!
Updates as of August 2014.
- Many of you have asked if getting published on the Huffington Post has been instrumental in my writing career. The answer to that question is absolutely. Many don’t realize that once you have an author account on THP, you can pitch articles every day if you want. My most recent post for them went hugely viral with more than 226,000 likes and 44,000+ shares. That viral post also led to me getting interviewed on Huffington Post Live, which led to tons of e-mails and new readers. There’s no doubt that it’s beneficial to any writing career to be an author there.
- Again, many of you have commented or emailed saying the email to the blogteam is not the correct address anymore. While it worked for me but that was almost a whole year ago so that might have changed. If you email them and they respond back, write them an email and tell them to please forward it to someone that reviews new contributors. I still think anything is better than going through the contact page.
I’m glad I persisted and tried so hard to become a part of it. I wish all of you the best of luck!