Guest Post By Kirsten Jill Robbins
When I started my blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals, I had big goals. I wanted to build an audience and get my work published on larger websites.
I had great initial success submitting my work. Within three months of starting my blog, I had pieces accepted to Blunt Moms, Mamalode, Scary Mommy, and In the Powder Room. It was a big deal for me to be featured on to those sites and it’s still a big deal now.
As I networked and built relationships with other bloggers, I learned of more places to submit work to. The one site that kept coming up in conversation was the Huffington Post. It was the most talked about submission site in all the blogging groups I belonged to. It was how can I get on Huffington Post or why can’t I get on Huffington Post or OMG I can’t believe I’m going to be on the Huffington Post.
Full of beginner’s success swagger, I opened the Huffington Post’s online blog pitch form, pasted in one of my best essays, and clicked send, fully expecting the good folks at Huffington Post to jump for joy that I’d sent them an article. Um…not so much.
As most bloggers know, Huffington Post doesn’t send rejections. If they accept your piece, they let you know. Otherwise…crickets.
I’m stubborn and I have almost no ego so the famous crickets didn’t deter me. I submitted. I submitted again. And some more. I probably submitted about 25 different essays, maybe more. I stopped counting. I submitted about once a week for seven months.
I used the blog pitch form. I emailed various sections of Huffington Post (i.e. Parents, Women, and such). I emailed editors directly. I was engaged follower and commenter on Facebook and Twitter. I would “Twitter Tag” HuffPost in my best posts in the hopes they’d notice me and declare “she’s fabulous, we must have her!”
I Facebook messaged HuffPost Parents, HuffPost Women and HuffPost50. I started targeting the sections I thought my writing would fit on. I write about adoption and parenting at midlife, so I generally thought my work would be a fit for those sections.
I considered camping out in front of the publishing offices and pouncing on the editors when they left for lunch breaks. I didn’t do that only because the Huffington Post is not physically located in Texas. Kidding. Kind of. Maybe. That sounds kind of stalker-ish, doesn’t it?
I co-wrote an article with an established HuffPost blogger, hoping to slide in on her coat tails. Not so much. The post was rejected because it was co-authored by a “non- Huffington Post blogger.” I was doing everything to get a seat at the cool kids table but the cool kids weren’t paying attention.
So how did I finally get on?
I started to target HuffPost50. I’M 48, so HuffPost50 had the most relatable content for me and my audience. I’m big on sharing other content on social media and HuffPost50 became my go-to place for good content. They have a lot of stuff relatable to midlife and boomers but also parenting, lifestyle, food, travel, humor and…well, just general good stuff I like that my readers seemed to relate to.
I wrote an article on my blog about why I love Costco that did well with my own audience. I really do love Costco and I initially wrote the post on a napkin on my lunch break, right after I made my Costco list. As with everything else I write that doesn’t suck, I sent it to HuffPost. I used the blog pitch form but I also emailed the editor of HuffPost50 directly. I’d gotten her name by networking with other bloggers in the Scary Mommy contributor’s group…the editor of another site actually gave it to me. As an aside, it’s really terrific how other bloggers support and encourage each other.
I sent a link to the post (as well as a clean copy) along with my bio, photos and all my social media links – everything necessary to publish the post. I wrote a note saying that I wasn’t completely sure if the Costco piece fit HuffPost50 but that I was sending it there because it was the section I was most familiar with as a reader. As I hit “send” I actually thought “maybe I should stop sending them stuff,” but, on this particular day, luck was with me.
As it turns out, the editor was also a Costco fan. She hooked me up with a blogger account and I had access to the famous Huffington Post backstage a couple of hours later.
I’ve been very lucky. Two of my posts have been featured on the front page of HuffPost50 and have been picked up by other sections as well. The traffic to my blog has quadrupled. My social media numbers are significantly higher and I have new subscribers.
Huffington Post has brought opportunities for me, such as being interviewed for another website about how I’ve changed my life course in my forties (my husband and I became parents again as empty-nesters.) It’s also brought some negative comments and “hate email” that I’m not used to. It turns out that my piece on urban slang touched some nerves (who knew?) and that I’m a little more sensitive to criticism than I thought. Being read by a wider audience is great, but it does take some getting used to (and getting a little tougher.)
While the wait was frustrating, for me, being a Huffington Post blogger was worth the wait. I had a lot of people give me the advice to keep submitting and to be persistent, and that’s what paid off in the end. Don’t be afraid of a few crickets.
Jill is a San Antonio-based wife, mom and wannabe freelancer. She has a degree is social psychology and writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Babble, Blunt Moms, In the Powder Room, The Huffington Post and others. Hang out with Jill on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.