Blogging for The Huffington Post: How I Finally Cracked That Nut!

Blogging for The Huffington Post: How I Finally Cracked That Nut!

J.K Rowling was rejected by 12 publishing houses before Bloomsbury picked up the first Harry Potter manuscript.

Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour was fired by Harper’s Bazaar.

Elizabeth Gilbert, famed author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ has spoken openly about her six years of rejection letters.

And I, Bree Hogan, was rejected 7 times by The Huffington Post before I finally cracked that nut!

(Hey, I may as well associate myself with some high-flying company!)

So how did I get there? Read on!

ONE: The 3 P’s: Patience, Persistence and Perseverance

My journey to Huffington Post (HuffPost) Blogtopia started one year ago as a wide-eyed newbie blogger.

Having your work published on a mainstream authority publication is a goal coveted by many a blogger, particularly in the startup days when you are doing everything you can to establish a presence and online community.

As I networked in online blogging forums, the site that consistently came up in conversation as a publication power-house was the HuffPost.

The HuffPost brings with it some major blogging street cred.

As my husband, a non-blogger, said to me the other day, You have been published on some major sites, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who or what they were until you would excitedly tell me when you’d had a piece accepted. They weren’t on my radar. You didn’t have to tell me who The Huffington Post is, I already knew THAT.”

The seed was planted. And with all the naivety and confidence (??!) of a newbie blogger, I thought “Yep, I can do that!”

I had an article that had done quite well on my website, ‘Best Medical Condition EVER!’ and I decided to pitch it for content syndication to Arianna Huffington.

Oh yes, I brought out the big guns right from the get-go! Other bloggers had indicated that she was quite open to receiving direct pitches via email, and it seemed like a far better option than the general HuffPost website submission form.

Seven or eight days later, I woke up to an email in my inbox from ARIANNA HUFFINGTON. OMG!!

I’m pretty sure my heart stopped. It was a YES!! I “Hallelujah’d” my way around the house.

I crashed back down to earth a mere 10 minutes later.

The editor whom Arianna copied in on my piece emailed me to say that she didn’t think my piece was a good fit.

Say whaaat?! But Arianna said she liked it! {Uttered by my inner voice}.

Yes, Arianna may have loved the piece, but it is the editors who ultimately decide what’s in or out.

The editor mentioned that I could submit another piece to her for consideration, which I promptly did.

Crickets.

I followed up after a couple of days, then again after a couple of weeks. Still crickets.

Hmmm, I’m guessing all that silence would be a “No” then, hey?!

The mistake I made here was giving up too quickly. Conscious that I was only new to the game, and scared of spamming some of the writing greats, I shelved my Huffington Post publication plans.

Fast forward to July this year. My social media newsfeed was flooded with conversations about blogging for the HuffPost. It was everywhere! I took it as a sign that I should try again.

So I did. I emailed Arianna.

And…just nothing’. Two weeks later, I tried again, different piece, different email pitch tactic…just nothin’ again.

C’mon Arianna!

This time, I wasn’t going to be deterred. I will admit to being slightly worried that I might be placed on an Arianna-Huffington-email-spam blacklist, but I felt in my gut that this was the right channel for me to pursue. Even though at times I swear I was cursed:

  • One email pitch disappeared from my sent items so I had no idea if it actually reached the end destination or not. I had to write another email with a headline apology in case Arianna received it twice. *Gah!*
  • I forgot to close the spell checker down in Gmail and the email went out with yellow highlighting over the words the spell checker didn’t recognise. *Doh!*

And then it happened. I got The Nod.

On the 24th November 2015 at 6:11am, I received an email from Arianna Huffington saying she would love to feature my voice on the HuffPost.

I tried to rein in my excitement. Remember, I’d been in this position before!

Then a second email, exactly THREE MINUTES after Arianna’s email, hit my inbox at 6:14am:

“Hi, Bree Hogan. Welcome! You’ve been invited to join the HuffPost blogger community…”

Did someone say HAPPY DANCE?!

And the rest, as they say, is history, with the article being officially published on the 30th November 2015.

“Obstacles are put in our way to see if what we want is really worth fighting for.”

– Unknown

TWO: Don’t be afraid of a few crickets.

If the HuffPost accepts your piece, they will contact you. They don’t send out rejection letters/emails. The silence, aka the crickets, speaks for itself.  

I’ve always had a gut feeling for when a submission piece is past the expiration date of consideration. If you are going down the Arianna email-route, she tends to reply pretty fast (e.g. a few days) if she is interested in the piece.

Anytime I had a rejection – whether it landed squarely in my inbox or enough time had lapsed that it couldn’t be anything else – I would lob something else right back out into the world.

As Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (aff)“I decided to play the game of rejection letters as if it were a great cosmic tennis match: Somebody would send me a rejection, and I would knock it right back over the net, sending out another query that same afternoon. My policy was: You hit it to me, I’m going to hit it straight back out into the Universe.”

Rejection means you’re putting yourself out there and trying. The far greater tragedy would be never making the attempt on account of fear holding you back.

It’s not that rejection doesn’t and won’t sting, because it does and probably always will, at least a little bit. 

The key is to try and not take the disappointments, the rejections, to heart.

Learn from the experience but try not to dwell on it. Accept that for right now, in this moment, it simply wasn’t meant to be and move on to the next door/opportunity. 

Keep backing yourself and don’t give up on your dreams!

THREE: “I have come to understand what part of me is suffering when I fail: It’s just my ego.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (aff)

I’ve had what I consider to be pretty consistent success with submitting my written work to major online publications.

Within a couple of months of starting my blog, I had pieces accepted to The Elephant Journal and The Green Tribe. Later came The Mighty and BlogHer. 

They would gobble up my submissions with an enthusiastic “Yes!” within a day or so of pitching…meanwhile, on the HuffPost front…crickets!

I started to feel more than a little miffed!

That would be The Ego taking over.

I know I’m quoting Elizabeth Gilbert a bit in this article, but seriously, her words are so relevant to this topic (just read it, honestly!).

“But do not let your ego totally run the show, or it will shut down the show. Your ego is a wonderful servant, but it’s a terrible master – because the only thing your ego ever wants is reward, reward, and more reward. And since there is never enough reward to satisfy, your ego will always be disappointed.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (aff)

Time to rein that ego in, peeps!

FOUR: Hitting on the right combination

A square peg won’t fit in a round hole, not because it’s not good enough, but because it’s not the right fit.

Here’s what I believe to be the combination that finally unlocked the HuffPost gates for me:

  • The content was timely and relevant.
  • The article had been published on my own blog and was resonating with a wide audience, which is a real ‘selling point’ to the HuffPost.
  • There was a nice pop of personal story.
  • Edgy title. “No, I Didn’t Steal Grandma’s Disability Permit!” tends to grab people’s attention.
  • My email pitch was succinct. It emphasised the most interesting aspects of my published piece and why it would appeal to HuffPost readers.

FIVE: Rockin’ Resources

Here are some rockin’ resources to help you on your writing way:

‘How to Get Published on The Huffington Post’ by Sarah Jensen. This little gem outlines exactly what to expect at each stage of the HuffPost publication process, from the initial email pitch all the way through to blogger account creation and content upload.

Blogging Boost Facebook Group – We all need a cheer squad and some supportive “Hooyahs!” to keep us going. The Blogging Boost is an awesome network for women entrepreneurs, freelancers and business-minded bloggers. Mondays are specifically reserved for sharing your posts/promotions. 

So there you have it! It’s a bit of a longer post and a deviation from my usual content, but I received so many questions that it seemed like such a natural piece to write and share with you.

I’m happy to answer any further questions you might have. Now go forth and conquer!

Like this post? Then share it!

Photo Credit: Haute Chocolate 

All photos and content the property of Starbrite Warrior and Bree Hogan. Not to be reproduced without permission.

(aff) Affiliate Link Disclosure: If you purchase anything from the product link in this email, ‘Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,’ I will receive a small percentage of the sale price. The price charged to you is not altered, but the seller of the product shares a percentage of the profits with me.

106 Replies to “Blogging for The Huffington Post: How I Finally Cracked That Nut!”

  1. Huge congratulations on getting published. So much of this post resonated with and inspired me. I’m getting the feeling that I’m going to have to check out Big Magic now. I just sent in my first pitch about an hour ago and found your post while I was Googling how long it takes to hear back after submitted the infamous form (because I have to do something to take my mind off the waiting). Thanks for not only distracting me but also inspiring me to keep pitching even if I don’t make it!

    1. Thanks so much Michael, I was pretty chuffed that day (and probably for a good week after!). Good luck with your pitch to the Huff Post. Remember if the form approach doesn’t pan out, switch it up and email Arianna herself. Or one of the editors. Lots of channels to try. All the best!

  2. Really great post! Congrats on finally getting published! That first yes must have stung when it was retracted. Thankfully things worked out in the end!!

    1. It stung like a bee Amber! And I gave up too quickly that first time. I didn’t make the same mistake again after I came back to my Huff Post goal late last year. Try, try and try again!

    1. Hi Rhi, my understanding is that articles should be between 500-1000 words and can be about pretty much anything you like, as long as its not offensive. Hope this helps.

  3. Love the one, ‘you hit me, I’m going to hit this back twice as hard to the universe!

    I’m so glad you shared your story of tenacity and true confidence in yourself to really achieve your goals! I am looking forward to finding your article and reading it!

    Xo
    Krista

    1. Thanks Debbie, I was pretty chuffed the day the ‘Published!’ email landed in my inbox. I hadn’t counted my chickens until they hatched because I have heard of other bloggers getting to the same stage as me – blog post submitted on the Huff Post member site – and then waiting ages for it to be published or not being published at all. When that email landed the real happy dancing began!

    1. Thank you so much Jenn, I was a very happy camper when the post went live on Huff Post! I’m glad you have found value in this post and feel you can apply the tips to your own guest post blogging goals. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to reach out. Good luck in your endeavours!

    1. Thanks so much Shann, I was pretty happy with the result. Good luck with your future submission, let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to help.

    1. Thank you so much Lindsay 🙂 Good luck for when you decide to pitch the HuffPost and crack that nut! Let me know if you have any other questions as you go through the process, I’m happy to help wherever I can.

  4. That is so awesome lovely lady! Great job on working hard and getting your post accepted. I love that you set out a goal and worked towards it until you got there. Keep living unstoppable!

  5. Inspirational:). I’ve been wanting to try to submit, but I get overwhelmed, and yes….hate rejection lol. It was my goal in 2016 to start trying, and this is just the resource I need. Thanks!

    1. Hey Angie, I totally understand where you are coming from, when the overwhelm kicks in and the fear around rejection makes itself known. It’s tough! For the overwhelm, I’ve found what works well is to break it down into really manageable tasks. Then it doesn’t seem so much like a big thing, and I can tick things off my list daily – which makes me feel like I am accomplishing things and moving forward. With the fear, well, it’s always gonna be there to an extent – when we play big, that comes with the territory! – so I go with the old motto “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Works most of the time! Good luck lovely and let me know if there is anything I can help out with as you work towards your goal. Xx

    1. Thanks so much Hannah 🙂 I agree, the silent rejection is not a nice feeling, but it’s usually the one I get! The big online publications are usually so overwhelmed with submissions that they just don’t get back to us unless its with good news. Keep on plugging away at it 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Connie 🙂 I’m glad you found the resource helpful, that’s exactly why I wanted to share my experience.

  6. This is so inspiring!! I’ve been feeling a bit down about my page and my numbers, so this is just the post I needed to read. Congratulations on that amazing platform opportunity! Your work is fantastic and easy to read <3

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely words Kelsey, you brought a big smile to my face 🙂 I’m sorry to hear that you have been feeling a bit down about your page and numbers; it can get so hard sometimes when all the effort we put in isn’t necessarily reflected in our google analytics stats. I’m glad this post has given you a bit of a pick-me-up and I hope the numbers start going up for you soon. Xx

  7. What a great accomplishment! I haven’t even started thinking down that path of major blogs yet, but you might just have inspired me. These are some great tips to help me get started!

  8. Great words of encouragement. I’ll admit that I’ve never tried to pitch to the Huffington Post – it always seemed really far out of my league. Glad your persistence paid off!

    1. Thanks Tara 🙂 I like to think that nothing is out of our league if we want it badly enough and will work hard for it. I hope this has inspired you to go for the HuffPost or other big publications if that is a goal of yours. Let me know if I can help with anything along the way. Xx

    1. Thanks Valerie! I have done the same thing in the past – case in point being my first attempt to blog for HuffPost this time last year! But I’ve learned if I want it badly enough, I will just keep on going (like the Energiser Bunny!) Good luck with your future endeavours xx

    1. Thanks so much Julie 🙂 Yup we have to be persistent when chasing our goals, even though at times it can get really tough. Onwards and upwards!

    1. Thank you Alison 🙂 I hope these tips come in handy as you go for your goal to blog for the HuffPost. Let me know if you have any questions, happy to help.

    1. Thanks Danielle, it was super exciting to get The Nod, but even more so, the follow-up invitation from the blog team which made it real!

    1. Hi Heather, yup they certainly do! My post was a complete content syndication of the original article here on this website, http://www.starbritewarrior.com/no-i-didnt-steal-grandmas-disability-parking-permit/ I know other bloggers who have done the same. You can also re-purpose an existing article that they you have already published or, of course, submit something entirely new that has never been published before. The choice is yours! If you do choose to go the content syndication path, make sure you include a link-back to your original article so that Google recognises your article as the original version. I included the words “This post was originally published on Starbrite Warrior” and linked back to my article. Hope this helps! Give me a shout out if you have any other questions 🙂

  9. First, congrats on having your piece published! I have always wondered how people went about syndicating there and if there were any benefits to it. I’ll look into it!

    1. Thanks Katie 🙂 In terms of benefits, I think it really depends on what your goals are with the content syndication. If it’s to get your content in front of a larger audience then I would say absolutely, go for it. If it’s for click-backs to your own website and sign-ups, well, from my experience that hasn’t really happened, but that’s ok because that wasn’t why I did it. I wanted the ‘get content in front of a larger audience’ option, so the brief was fulfilled for me 🙂 There are a lot of articles out there on the web about content syndication that cover the positives and the negatives of going down this track. Good luck if you decide to submit!

    1. Thanks Kristen, I thought it was pretty awesome too! 🙂 I’m glad you have found the tips helpful, let me know if you have any other questions xx

    1. Hi Heather, yay you go girl! It’s scary but so awesome when we take the leap and put ourselves out there. Which channel did you use to submit to the HuffPost? If you emailed Arianna directly, then in my experience, I’ve gotten the nod within the space of one week. But I know that for other bloggers it has been a little bit longer than that. It’s definitely a waiting game! Good luck! xx

        1. Hey Heather, Arianna’s email is [email protected] When did you send in your submission via the form? If it was in the last couple of days, maybe wait a few more days and then give the email address a try. But totally up to you, go with your gut. xx

  10. These are awesome tips! I’ve submitted two posts recently, glad to know it takes a little while to hear back because I’ve heard crickets too! But perseverance is what works not just with blogging, but with everything in life! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Exactly Esther, this is just one example of perseverance but it can really apply to anything in life that we want to achieve/do. Good luck with the posts you have submitted, I hope you get a response back soon. Love to read your posts when they get accepted 🙂

  11. I love your story! Too often we give up, when great things are just waiting to happen. This shows how you believed in yourself 100% and didn’t let a few rejections make you think that what you had to say and share, wasn’t good enough. Thank you for the reminder to back myself up with confidence. Now…to go read your article!

    1. Thanks Julie, you put that so well 🙂 That’s exactly what happened. It’s not always easy to keep on going when the rejections are piling up, but if it’s something we really believe in and feel strongly about achieving, we shouldn’t give up on it. Hope you enjoy the article 🙂

  12. Congratulations!! Thank you so much for the tips. I just started blogging last month. I would like to eventually start sending out my articles to big companies like HuffPost so this is helpful!

    1. That’s so exciting that you joined the blogger world Elizabeth, it can be so addictive once you get going! I hope you are loving your new venture. Definitely pitch your articles to the big companies if that is a goal of yours. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to give me a buzz. Bree

  13. Bree, this is so AWESOME! What great news, the happy dance should be done all week long. Congrats. I love this post and the Huff post. You have lit the light for me {and I am sure others}. Thanks for the info. Just keep at it and never give up..right?

    1. LOL, the happy dance definitely went for a few days to be sure! And I may (still!) occasionally break out into a spontaneous happy dance when I remember the achievement. If the HuffPost is on your blogger goal list you should definitely go for it! Never give up 🙂

        1. I know what you mean Lynda, we all have moments of self-doubt and it can be very paralysing. If publication on the HuffPost is a goal you really want to achieve I hope you find a way to work through any internal barriers and go for it. Always here to lend a hand or some pep talk if that helps. xx

  14. Ahhhh I can not even express how much I love the encouragement and tips in this article. I’ve been writing for a lifetime but only recently started blogging with of course the goal to be featured in the big leagues. Something tells me I’ll be coming back here to reread this go get em you can do it piece. Thank you, thank you.

    1. Pleasure Brandi, glad you have found the info useful. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to give me a shout. Good luck for when you pitch the big leagues 🙂

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