My Experience Writing For HuffPost: Great Opportunities and Lessons Learned

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Guest Post by Kristin Shaw of Two Cannoli

In 2011, my friend Christine sent me a link with a note: “Read this link – I think you write a lot like her.” The link was to a small blog with about a thousand fans on Facebook. I wrote to the author, Rachel, to introduce myself and tell her how much I enjoyed her work. We started to correspond slowly about the challenges of motherhood, and I liked her immediately. I launched my blog shortly after that. As I started to get to know Rachel, I began reading essays from Devon Corneal at The Huffington Post, and I found myself again introducing myself to a total stranger, and telling her how much I identified with her words. I introduced Devon to Rachel, and the three of us became online friends.

My Experience Writing For HuffPost - Great Opportunities and Lessons Learned

One day near the end of 2012, Devon tweeted a link to one of my posts, called “In Celebration of Do-Nothing Days”. Her editor at HuffPost saw the tweet, read my post, and mentioned to Devon that she liked it. Devon made the introduction via email, and that was it: I was immediately asked to re-post my essay at HuffPost Parents, and I was given access to submit posts at will. I was jumping up and down for joy!  To this day, it really does give me a thrill. My first post didn’t set the world on fire, but a few months later, my essay “Dear Future Daughter-In-Law” generated more likes than I would ever have seen on my blog, at the time, and I was featured on a HuffPost Live segment. It seems that people have a lot to say about mothers-in-law.

RELATED: HuffPost Email Directory By Section

A hard lesson I learned was on one of my first posts, which I called “No. Yes. Sometimes. Never.” on my blog, about the different kinds of love I had for my son and my husband. HuffPost changed the title to “You Love the Baby More Than Me, Don’t You?” and it was promoted as “The question I never want my husband to ask.” The trolls came out in full force, calling me all kinds of names and questioning my husband’s manliness. Most of them didn’t even read the essay, they were just responding to the title. The two things I learned: I needed to write better headlines so that they wouldn’t be changed (and this has worked well ever since, with no edits to my headlines), and to never, ever read the comments. What matters is my content, not the opinions of people I don’t know and will never meet. Those who care about me will let me know they like it directly, or on my Facebook fan page, with much kinder results.

RELATED: HuffPost Parents Sr. Editor Answers “How Do I Get Published On HuffPost?”

Later, I asked my friend Alexandra Rosas to collaborate with me on a post from the perspective of a mother just beginning her journey, and a mother with a nearly grown son. We called it “What Will I Know?” and it generated 37K likes, which is, to date, one of my most popular essays. In 2014, my post “The Weight of Motherhood” was shared widely, with 183K likes, and was translated to German, to my great delight. This post alone brought me hundreds of new Facebook fan page likes for Two Cannoli.

I have read that some bloggers don’t like to contribute to The Huffington Post because it doesn’t pay, or because less-promoted posts don’t get any traction, and I understand. For me, however, it has been wonderful in many ways. They don’t mind if I cross-post, or post to my own blog first. The editors are kind, and I have built a relationship of mutual respect. I know for sure that my first post at HuffPost Parents was a springboard for other assignments, and boosted both my resume and my confidence. Plus, just about anyone with a computer knows the Huffington Post by name.

Because of the post I talked about above (the one that brought all the trolls to my doorstep), I was asked to write two chapters in an upcoming book by Today show correspondent and author Carolyn Savage. That experience, in turn, introduced me to several other authors I admire.

Kristin Shaw Quote

I’m a believer in what comes around goes around, so I have introduced writers to each other and brought them in for projects where I think their voice would be a fit; I have seen it come back to me tenfold. For instance, I was a guest on my friend Poppy’s podcast for the Blogging Betties, and I talked about setting writing goals and knocking them out one by one. Kate Hood, a fellow co-producer of the Listen To Your Mother show in DC, sent me a message and said, “Hey, I heard you say that you want to be published at Washington Post’s parenting blog. Let me introduce you to the editor.” Allison Slater Tate reached out and offered the same. When someone comes to me and asks how to reach an editor, how to pitch, or how to structure her resume, I make time. I’m not claiming to be an expert, by any means, but I want to help where I can. If we writers don’t help each other, we’re spinning our wheels.

RELATED: How I Got On Huffington Post: 5 Bloggers Tell All

I’m now even more focused on writing high-quality posts I can pitch to other sites, both paying and non-paying. I’ll never forget that first thrill of syndication at an international news site, and it has been an excellent experience for me. They’re always looking for new content, so my advice to new writers is to keep pitching them. If it’s right for the site, they’ll want it.

To this day, my friendships with both Devon and Rachel (her site, Hands Free Mama, has exploded, and one of her posts had 1.5 MILLION likes on HuffPost, which is epic) are growing and thriving, and I count them among my closest friends. Thank heaven for blogging!

Good luck!

 

Kristin Shaw profile pic smKristin Shaw is a freelance writer, 2014 BlogHer Voice of the Year, and co-producer of the Listen to Your Mother show in Austin, where she is the mother of a mini-Texan. Her work has been featured at The Huffington Post; Washington Post; Brain, Child; Erma Bombeck Workshop; In The Powder Room; and Scary Mommy, among others. Shaw is also a consultant in the aviation industry and Director of Social Media for Airport Improvement Magazine.  Follow Kristin on Facebook and Twitter.

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36 Comments on “My Experience Writing For HuffPost: Great Opportunities and Lessons Learned”

  1. This is you, and if everyone were this way? we’d have a lot more helping and a lot less, well. the other kind of stuff. You’re the best, friend. Thank YOU.

  2. Doors have opened for you Kristin, but your amazing writing and generous heart, have kept them opened, not just for yourself, but your friends. What goes around, comes around, and you are a great example of that. I am so proud of all your achievements!

  3. Great piece with important advice about how to behave with a generous heart in the writing world, where things can get competitive. I love what Alison and Alexandra said above and echo every word.

  4. Such great words of advice and encouragement, especially for those of us just starting out. I’ll always be grateful to Kristin for responding when I reached out to her a few months ago and meeting me for coffee. She helped me realize what a truly collaborative and generous group of women are in the world of blogging.

  5. Kristin – thank you SO MUCH for writing about your experiences as a Huffpost writer. I was recently asked to join too and am still waiting for my post to be featured (eeeek!).

    I think it is wonderful that you share other writers’ work. I follow your facebook page and you shared my first post on Mamalode the other day and I was SO appreciative of that. I hope that when I have been published more I can help other writers gain a bit of traction. It is a wonderful thing to do! Congrats on all your success!

    1. Molly, I can’t wait to see it! It is a thrill! Just remember: don’t read the comments, unless your post is something very sweet, and even then, watch your back. Trolls are out there, and they like to pounce on the innocent. Keep your shield up. 🙂

  6. I did not know this whole story, thank you for sharing it. You know I adore your writing. It’s no wonder the Huffington Post likes is so much too. 🙂

  7. Kristin – I really loved reading your story, thanks so much for sharing it. It just proves that it pays to connect with other people and put yourself out there. Good writing also very valuable of course! I have made it my goal this year to put myself out there and get my words read by a bigger audience and it has paid off so much, although I have yet to break into Huff Post. Next I would like to work on forming some friendships with other bloggers – what an amazing community of women! Anyone want to be my friend 🙂

    1. The networking is key! Once you start meeting other bloggers who are in your wheelhouse, you’ll develop a support network that can’t be beat. It is GOLD. Thank you for commenting!

  8. I appreciate your willingness to connect and support other writers. Thanks for sharing these stories. Some of us are reluctant to ask, for advice about pitches, guest posts, etc. but this is very encouraging!

    1. You’re right – it is hard to ask. And not everyone is willing to help. But if you find the right people and work together, you can own the internet. 🙂

  9. I had to smile at this because I read this after getting to know you a little bit through or awesome community of women writers and bloggers. I am the one who reached out to you and you have always been very gracious and supportive. I’m a big believer of paying it forward, also. It’s nice to see someone so nice enjoy this kind of success! And I’m brand new with HuffPost – Love them!

  10. Kristin, I’ve always found you to be kind and supportive of your fellow bloggers. Thank you for this interesting and encouraging piece. I’d love to learn more about how you set writing goals and knock them down one by one (and Heidi tells me she’s now following in your footsteps with great success!). It sounds completely daunting but I need to do something to get out of a long-standing rut.

    1. Thank you, Colleen! Let me tell you, setting goals is the only way I can stay on track and not drift off to la-la land, browsing the internet all day. I have to have something to shoot for. So last year, my goals were to be a BlogHer Voice of the Year, to be published at Brain, Child, and to be published in an anthology. I made those goals public in one of my blogging/ friend groups online, and then check, check, check. I truly believe I wouldn’t have achieved the goals if I hadn’t set them. Let me know if you want help or want to talk about it.

  11. Kristin,
    I’m so grateful that you wrote this thoughtful piece, and agree entirely that there’s writing karma. I love your work and look forward to seeing it in more places! xox

  12. I’ve just come away touched deeply by Rachel’s posts (thank you for linking!) and realized I forgot to leave you a comment to let you know how much I appreciate your own words! Just an aside — I am plugging away on Huffington Post trying to figure out rhyme and reason there but right now I’ll just say the entire system fascinates me. Now as to my real comment — This was remarkably insightful and overflowing with a generous attitude and spirit that it makes me want to reach out to several other new bloggers. Job well done, I’d say. Now off to follow through before I forget that too. Ahhh, menopause. 😉 Thank you again.

    1. Thank you! Rachel is such a gem, inside and out. I adore her. I appreciate your kind words and will tell you that HuffPost can be baffling. It’s a big place. But don’t give up, if that’s one of your goals! They need plenty of fresh content all the time.

  13. Thank you for this helpful advice- I just had my first two essays published on Huff Post yesterday! Im glad
    To read about your experiences there and love the idea of helping each other- I try to do that whenever I can.

  14. Kristin, I love this piece and I love your attitude! I absolutely agree that you get what you give and it all comes back. I have had so much support from amazing writers/bloggers (including many here!) and I hope to be able to offer the same when I can. Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey!

  15. Thank you for sharing your story! You have done amazing things and I love reading your work! It is so refreshing to hear. It is very hard to put yourself out there and never hear back from some of these site. Thanks for the advise!

    1. Sarah! I always love seeing your sweet face. Your sunny attitude makes me so happy.
      Don’t give up! I get that it’s hard to put yourself out there. Trust good friends to edit your work for you, because it’s hard to “see” your own writing after a while, and suggestions always help me. And then go for it.

  16. Thank you, Kristin, for being such an amazing role model for other females; not just in the blogging world, but the world in general. We are a strong force when we stick together!

  17. Loved reading about your experience. I’m a semi-new HuffPo blogger and my first post was spun similarly like yours. The title was changed and the trolls came out. I didn’t read the comments because I knew I didn’t have thick enough skin to do so. My second post was a sappy/happy post that was super popular and brought me so much traffic. Huffington doesn’t pay but the exposure they bring my little blog has been amazing, plus the opportunities that have come make it worth it as well. And I so agree about paying it forward, I tell anyone who wants to know how I got on there (reading a post from this blog, actually!) and things I wish I’d known before my first post was published. I love what you said about supporting other writers, I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  18. Pingback: My Hangout with Susan Maccarelli of Beyond Your Blog - Musings on Motherhood & Midlife

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