Showing posts with label Blog writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blog writing. Show all posts

How to Become a Blogger For The Huffington Post

As a Huffington Post blogger, I get paid in exposure, which is to say I am about one more post away from being over-exposed on the Internet. While exposure does not pay the bills, it does build an audience, and anyone who is familiar with Kim Kardashian's rise to fame will tell you, there is no such thing as bad publicity. I'd like to share my insights on how to become a Huffington Post blogger. No sex tape is needed.

Read the Huffington Post:
 This sounds so basic and simple but many people who have asked me how to become a Huffpo blogger have never done this. You need to understand the style of writing that works on the website and get to know what type of subject garners the most attention. Look for posts that have many comments, shares and likes in your specific area of interest.

Get to know the verticals:
 The Huffington Post is comprised of a multitude of special interest sections called verticals. Each of these verticals publishes content that is targeted to a specific demographic or interest. You'll find these verticals listed under the masthead. Examples include Religion, Gay Voices, Post50, Politics, Comedy and Sports. The list goes on and on. On one occasion I had a blog post published in Gay Voices, Religion, Comedy and Politics all at the same time. This may be more of a statement about our current state of affairs than it is about how The Huffington Post is organized. The key here is that you have a voice that will resonate in a specific vertical. Find it.

Get to know the editor of the vertical:
 Once you find the vertical that you would like to write for (You can write for any vertical, once the first post has been published), find out who the editor is. You can do this several ways. Many times the editor will have a blog post published on the vertical, or you can search for the vertical name and the word "editor" in the search the bar. Or you can click on this link: Editors

Write your post
: Once you have the previous steps complete, craft a post that falls somewhere between 500-700 words. Make it current, crisp and unique. While the Huffington Post employs editors, they do not have much time to perform significant editing on a piece. It should be free of spelling errors and grammatically correct. My first piece published was a post about my father, and it was submitted three days before Father's Day. Tie your piece to current events.

Email a link to the editor
: Remember the step "Get to know the editor?" You are going to submit a link to him/her and not to the general submission box. I'm pretty sure that is just a waste basket. The email address for the editor will not be listed in plain sight. This is where you will need to perform some sleuthing. Maybe it is in a post the editor wrote, or on another site, maybe on Twitter. You have the name; you can find the email address. If you have a personal blog, post your piece there and then email a link of your post to the editor with a quick message, something like:
"I am a big fan of Huffpost vertical name and have been enjoying the articles and posts. The following link is a post I wrote on my personal website that I think might be a good fit for vertical name. Thank you for any consideration. I hope you enjoy reading it."
If you don't have a personal blog, just include the post in plain text in the email. Make sure the first sentence grabs your audience.
Once your post is accepted, be ready with a quick two to three sentence bio and a headshot. When your post is published, make certain that your personal website, blog, Twitter handle, etc. are included at the bottom of the post. The whole reason for publishing here is to build your brand.

You may have noticed that I did not tell you how to write your piece. That is because there is no formula for this. You have a unique and authentic voice that no one else can match. Find a subject matter that you are passionate about. One of my proudest accomplishments was receiving a personal email from a reader of one of my posts. The writer told me I had helped him evolve on a subject matter that is very important to me. Write clearly, concisely and draw a conclusion. This worked for me and has generated a great amount of exposure -- and I never had to take off my shirt.


The Queen and Me: Excuse Me But You're Standing on My Platform

My plan for the conference was simple.  I would casually bump into a literary agent who would immediately recognize me and sign me up on the spot. It would be exactly like those old black and white movies where the film director, innocently sipping his coffee, is suddenly struck by the beauty of the young waitress framed in soft-focus and shouts “Kid, where have you been all of my life?” but with less sexual tension and more color. I had business cards imprinted with my website address.  I was prepared.

The target market for the conference was women, which didn’t faze me because A) aside from lesbians, we tend to like the same things B) The gaggle of literary agents would all ask “Who’s that man?” and most importantly C) My shy bladder could escape to the quiet solitude of the men’s restroom alone.

Here is something you should know if you are one of the few men at a women’s conference.  You have the uneasy sense that there is something stuck between your teeth, but that thing is not in your teeth, it’s approximately two feet below.  I might have been more comfortable in drag, but Paul always told me that I would make an ugly woman. I wasn’t willing to take that risk.

You should also know that these women are serious about promoting their blogs. In fact they become their blogs.

“I’m Mommy needs Xanax. What’s your platform?” A disheveled woman in her late forties asked me. 

I searched my business card as if it might have the answer written on it.

“You must have a platform.  Without it you’re nothing,” she said impatiently.

“I was chosen as a ‘voice of the year’,” I replied, confident that this would trump the lack of a platform.

“Oh, you wrote that piece about the beige coat!” She perked up.

“No, someone else wrote that.  I wrote about the two lesbians.”

Doesn't ring a bell, but that one about the beige coat, yeah that one was really good.”

“Thank you,” I replied and considered asking her for a Xanax, just to smooth out the edges.

During the question and answer period women confidently stepped up to the microphone and asked the only question that seemed to matter.

“Hi, Mommy needs Vodka here,” a young perky woman introduced herself and took a quick curtsy while the other women whispered “That’s her!”

“How do I market my platform?”  she asked the speaker.

One by one, Martinis and Minivans, Mama Loves Moonshine, Margarita Mommies, Mommy is Moody and Mental Mama all probed the speaker for insight into their brands. If one thing was certain, they all had a platform, even if it was a rickety thing propped up with liquor and broken dreams.

I retreated to the men’s restroom and met Tyrone, a maintenance worker leaning against the sink and staring into his reflection.

“Tough day?” I asked

“Man, you have no idea.  All these women. They a mess!”  he replied

Just then, we heard a woman, I can only assume it was Mommy Needs to Pee, shout into the bathroom “Anybody in here?” Tyrone’s eyes grew big as an army of women stormed the men’s room.

“Sorry, line's too long in the ladies room,” Mommy’s Gonna’ Bust a Gut shouted as I quickly zipped up my fly.  Tyrone ran.

By the end of the day it was clear that without a platform I was never going to attract an agent. Somewhat dejected I joined thousands of women in a large hotel ballroom with a small illuminated stage on one end and endless rows of seats.  There was a buzz and excitement in the air.  Queen Latifah would soon appear to host the reception and recognize the “Voices of the Year.”

Time dragged on. The Queen was M.I.A. and the excitement was beginning to morph into disappointment and frustration.  Women were tweeting using the hash tag #WhereTheBitchAt?  I searched the room for exits, having witnessed firsthand the stampede effect of impatient women.  

Suddenly the lights grew dim and music filled the room.  Queen Latifah sauntered onto the stage, dabbing her mouth with a napkin and shouting something about Chicago’s best pizza.  The room exploded into applause and screams.  And that is when it struck me. If I were to dress in drag, this is exactly how I would do it; all big hair, flawless skin and swagger. I’d take my sweet ass time eating pizza while people waited for me. My stage name would be Billonc√©.

And then I was on my feet applauding.

There in the dark, women stood on the platform and weaved stories of despair, happiness, laughter, love and joy that joined together forming a chorus of life discovered through words. There in the dark we were all the same-no big hair, make up or any other trappings. There in the dark, I found my light, my platform “The only way out is in.”  Into that place where we all connect, singing of that thing that makes us human, authentic.

Finally the Queen asked all of the “Voices of the Year” winners to join the stage with her.  Here was my chance to be noticed.  As I walked onto the stage Outlaw Mama grabbed my hand and whispered into my ear “You should be up front” and pushed me into the spotlight.  There amid all of the flashing camera lights and applause, Queen Latifah glanced over her shoulder in my direction. And it was exactly like one of those old black and white movies where the glamorous actress notices the young undiscovered writer, arches her beautiful eyebrow and mouths the words meant only for his eyes.

“What the fuck is that man doing all up on my platform?”   


The Odd Couple

Whenever Paul reads one of my blog posts he invariably reacts differently than I anticipate. At one end of the reaction scale he does not find them nearly as humorous as I do. At the other end, he is horrified.

Take The “C” Word for example. I laughed out loud while writing that one. As Paul began to read it I waited for the belly laughs, the guffaws. By the time he had finished, the disappointed look on his face made me wonder if he was constipated or had just remembered that yesterday was his mother’s birthday. His response was: “You dropped a lot of F bombs in that post.” Defensively I said “Well, that was how I felt!” I had presented my precious baby to him and his response was “Uh-huh, ugly.”

After reading another post I expected his response to somehow mirror my sentiments about our lost summers of youth accompanied by a far-off wistful look. What I saw was more of a “Where did I put that suicide prevention telephone number?” look.

“Are you getting ready to check out?” He said. There was real concern in his voice.


“Pookie, I’m concerned, are you really that tired?”

“We all get tired. I’m just going through one of those phases.” I simply said

“I don’t allow myself to be tired.” Was his response.

I wanted to laugh. But he was serious. And then I began to think about it. It reminded me of something a neighborhood Mom had said when I remarked how well behaved her children were. “We do not allow them to misbehave.” I was as dumbfounded then as I was now. I had always thought that controlling children was just as futile as controlling bodily functions. Quite literally, shit happens.

If controlling my body was an option, sign me up. I’d start with my abs. “I don’t care what you say about the mouth eating all the time, I’m talking to you now little mister, so flatten it up!” And to my hair: “You’re looking a little thin and pale lately sweetie, let’s fatten you up and get some color back in those pretty little follicles!”

Paul sent me an e-mail this week that was a perfect example of how we differ. He had decided to get up early and drive from our condo in Boston to make a 9:30 AM appointment in New York. The e-mail started with “I got here an hour and a half early, so I put Wal-Mart in the GPS and shopped for our supplies for the weekend.” Number one, I would consider arriving anything other than five minutes early to be a waste of perfectly good sleep time. Number two, Wal-Mart would be the furthest thing from my mind at 8:00 AM. And finally, shopping for the weekend on Tuesday?

But this is how Paul operates. His mind and body are in constant planning and production mode. While it is generally accepted that once my work day ends, sitting on the sofa and watching trash TV is just about as industrious as I am going to get. I am good with creative thoughts, but bringing them to fruition is where Paul comes in. My off –hand comment that it might be nice to have a honey onyx backsplash becomes reality just by mentioning it to Paul. I pass the ball and he takes it to the end zone.

The second part of the e-mail elaborately detailed how he was going to borrow his sister’s truck to pick up a new bed at Ikea and swap the one in our Boston condo for the one in New Hampshire and then switch Nick’s bed for the one that we had. I was exhausted by the end of the e-mail. But it occurred to me that how we differed was also what made us strong. Each of us has his strengths. Maybe having a differing sense of humor also made us stronger.

Finally, Paul’s e-mail stated that he would stay in New Hampshire that night so he could get a good night sleep in the larger bed and give his “restless legs” a break. Even his legs are constantly moving. I wanted to reply back “Well maybe you just need to have a little talk with those legs. Show them the back of your hand and then we’ll see who stops shaking!” But something tells me that he would not see the humor in that.

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