How to Write for the Huffington Post
(This post originally appeared on FreePRHelp.com)
One of the best ways to get new eyeballs to your site is by guest posting to prominent blogs and by contributing to major media outlets. I write for the Huffington Post and it is instrumental in solidifying my credibility and leading me to new opportunities.
Contributing to major media outlets positions you as a thought leader and expert source in your space, and who doesn’t want that? It’s not as hard as you may think to get opportunities to write for publications like Huffington Post. You just have to know how.
Step one: Establish a presence as a writer online
Editors of major publications are going to want to see excellent writing samples before they bring you on as a contributor. They’ll want to read your writing; chances are, they will check to see that you have an extensive presence online. That’s why posting regularly on your own blog is so important.
To augment your blog’s reach, post to LinkedIn and Medium. Influencers are blogging on these platforms like crazy and they receive millions of views a month. In fact, last year Elon Musk used Medium to announce a new Tesla Model S feature, which prompted TechCrunch to ask “Is the company blog dead?” Powerful stuff.
Also, begin securing guest blogging opportunities. Not only does this help drive new customers to your site, it will solidify to Huffington Post that your writing is good enough to be featured on other sites. Begin to build a rapport with other bloggers that target your key demographic. When you’re ready to pitch, tell them blogger how you plan to help their readers address pain points. If your post adds value, you’ll have a better chance of it being accepted.
Step two: Build a rapport with Huffington Post blog editors
Build a rapport with the editors you’ll be pitching. You’re a lot more likely to get the result you want from pitching warm, rather than cold. I recommend using Twitter as a relationship building tool because journalists spend so much time there, but you can also comment on journalists’ articles or blog posts or follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Here is where you can find the full list of writers and editors at Huffington Post. When I got my blog, I reached out to deputy blog editor Clay Chiles, but now they’re starting to direct people to an online submission form. This form gets tens of thousands of submissions a month, so you’ll be more successful if you’re able to get an “in” with an editor.
Note — Some people pitch Arianna Huffington directly. She is a nice person and typically responds to her emails. Some people have had success this way. If you feel comfortable reaching out to one of the world’s busiest people, go for it, but I don’t recommend it. I’d rather leave Arianna alone because I know you can have success reaching out to one of the blog editors. They’re responsive to email too and to be honest, they’re the real decision makers. When you reach out to Arianna, she’ll simply forward your email to someone else.
Step three: The pitch
This is the most important part. Journalists get thousands of emails a day, so don’t waste their time by sending a poorly-written off-target pitch. Think of what your headline would be and then use that as your email subject line. The headline should be clickable and provocative.
Your pitch should be brief: 1–2 paragraphs max. Get right to the point. Tell them what you’re hoping to share with their readers and why you’re the person to do it. Do not be promotional. Huffington Post readers do not care about your company. Note which section of the blog you’d like your piece to run, whether that’s business, food, relationships or more. Then link to some of your other writing samples on the web.
As I mentioned before, Huffington Post editors are typically responsive to email. Sometimes I get a response to my pitch same day but sometimes it takes a few days. Do not be afraid to follow up 2–3 times (but no more).
When you sit down to write your post, remember it should be between 500–1,000 words. Start the article in an interesting way by telling a story or presenting surprising statistics. Write in the “inverted pyramid” style, presenting the most important facts first. Also, organize your article with subheads to break up the content so readers can easily access the information they’re looking for. Consider a listicle format or “tips” article, such as “5 Ways to be More Productive” or “10 Tips for Writing Clickable Headlines”. They’re performing really well these days.
Keep in mind that posts cannot contain any links to sites where you have a financial stake, so you can’t be promotional. That said, Huffington Post does not require articles to be exclusive, so you can repost content from your blog and that’s how you can link back to your site. Brilliant.
You’re accepted! Now what?
If you’re accepted as a Huffington Post blogger, you get back-end access to their blog portal. Congratulations! This is the holy grail. This means you get to post as many stories as you want, subject to editor approval. Woohoo!
Want to learn more?
I am hosting a FREE live webinar on May 30 at 10:00 a.m. PDT that will teach you in depth the ins and outs of how to guest blog on sites like Huffington Post, Fast Company, Forbes and more. In the webinar, I’ll share my secrets from 10 years in PR and I’ll answer all your pressing questions. Sign up to reserve your spot here: http://www.freeprhelp.com/event-registration/.