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By Garry Rodgers, author of How To Blog For The Huffington Post: 101 Proven Tips for Getting Published on the Huff
If you missed Garry’s first 5 tips, check them out here:
Tip #5 — Develop Your Voice
What makes a great writing voice? Here’s a definition I put together in a guide I wrote about blogging for the Huffington Post:
Your writing voice is the one thing that’s unique to you. It’s your most valuable asset — so valuable that you should buy some insurance on it. And it’s the one thing you have to get right. Right from the start. It’d be a bitch to go back and self-edit voice — if it can even be done.
But what is “Voice”?
It’s your relationship with language — how you use language. Voice comes from the people you’ve met, the books you’ve read, the education you have, and the worlds you’ve inhabited — not just in your body — but in your mind. It’s your personality. It’s your attitude to your writing. It’s how you say things.
Voice is your distinctive way of choosing and stringing words together — your writing accent, your views, culture, biases, and formal training. It’s using some goddamn profanity every now and then. It’s imagery. Being serious, stuffy, snarky, and sarcastic. Being funny, silly, foolish, goofy, and stupid. It’s your level of confidence speaking through.
It’s your rhythm. Your cadence. Your tone. And your mood.
It’s your emotional guts spilling out. It’s relating gut to gut — not brain to brain. No editing in the world can take an intellectual exercise and make it emotional. Remember — blogs, like novels, aim to evoke emotion in your reader. Get emotional when you write and then again when you revise. “No tears in the writer — no tears in the reader. No emotion in the reader — no interest in the story.”[bctt tweet=”Writers’ ”Voice’ is ‘relating gut to gut — not brain to brain’ @GarryRodgers1″]
Is there an ideal voice? Nope. But my advice is to lighten up. Personally, I’m not big on sarcasm or stuffiness. Ever go to a party with lawyers and politicians? I have. They’re boring as shit because they’re bound by the restraints of graduate degrees and academic correctness. Ever hang with cops & coroners? I have. They’re a blast. They don’t give a fat rat’s ass what they say.
For your blog posts to be successful, your reader has to hear your voice telling the story. Nothing else matters if they can’t relate to your voice. They want you to sound confident, intelligent, personal, authentic, trustworthy, and even vulnerable. They want to be your friend and follow you around.
So be natural. Don’t overthink. And be careful not to cut your own voice’s throat by being too careful.
Tip #4 — Know the Huff’s Blogging Structure
The Huff’s blog structure is no secret. It’s much the same as print journalism where there’s an old news reporter saying “Don’t bury the lede.” The what? The “lede”. Not the “lead”.
Conventional articles are written in a six-part structure:
- Call to action
Same with the Huff. This is critically important stuff to know and follow if you want to blog for the Huff Post.
Tip #3 — Make Your Posts Look Like Huff Posts
Study the style and format of other Huff Post Bloggers, especially the prolific writers in the same sections you’re targeting. Notice how they use titles and subtitles, where they embed block quotes, where they hyperlink and how often, as well as how they proportion the six-part structure.
Notice which font the Huffington Post uses. It’s “Georgia” in 11.5 point in the older posts and “Helvetica” in 13 point in the new look. Additionally, the Huffington Post logo and collateral material are in the “Adobe Garamond” font.
I think it’s critical that when you submit a piece to the Huff — when you’re an unknown and pitching to get one post published (let alone trying to get on as a Signature Contributor) — that you present it in as publishable a format as possible. That means you have to make it look like a Huff post. Just sayin’…[bctt tweet=”10 Tips To Get On HuffPost: Tip #3 — Make Your Posts Look Like Huff Posts @GarryRodgers1 “]
Tip #2 — Brand and Profile
Your brand is a summary of your values. Branding is the story other people tell themselves about you.
Your profile is how you present yourself in words and in images. The more closely these align, the better your audience will understand what you do and what you stand for.
My brand is crime writing — both fiction and non-fiction. It’s been built by my years of experience as a homicide detective and forensic coroner, now bestselling crime writer. You’ll see this in my Byline on my Huffington Post blog pieces. My audience knows I’ll be provoking thoughts on life, death, and writing and that I value a no-bullshit approach.
My profile comes through visibly on my website, social media presence, personal appearances, and in my books. I promote myself by exposing my experience and make no apologies for self-promotion. You must do the same if you want to be recognized by a Huffington Post editor.
Here’s a great article by the Huffington Post Writers Relief Staff titled Why Every Writer Needs an Author Brand.
Tip #1 — Pitch to the Right Place
Make sure your submission goes to the right Huffington Post section. Editors specialize in certain departments and will bypass a submission that’s not suitable for them, but might be an appropriate submission for another department. Be aware of how busy these editors are and that they don’t normally have the time to pass a submission on to another editor in a different department.
Take the time to learn all the Huffington Post sections. Go to their homepage and scroll through the top bar and drop down menu.
Also, make sure you’re pitching the right country. The biggest site and where most editors are is the U.S. but if your article is country specific, you might want to contact that arm directly.
Bonus Tip — Believe in Karma
What goes around, comes around is an absolutely true statement. If you consistently strive to produce unique, quality content eventually you’re going to get noticed and will catch the attention of a Huffington Post editor.
There’s an extension of karma called providence and it’s well-captured in this quote by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back — always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth — the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of unforeseen events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
Who? When? Where?
I can’t answer this.
But I do know it was my goal to build my blog into a publication that was worthy of catching the Huff’s attention. Karma worked for me and it can work for you. Just be aware of how big a thing you’re wishing for and treasure it when it arrives.
Pick up a FREE copy of Garry’s e-book How To Blog For The Huffington Post — 21 Proven Tips for Getting Published on the Huff
And check out Garry’s ultimate guide: 101 Proven Tips for Getting Published on the Huff
Garry Rodgers is a retired homicide detective and forensic coroner, now bestselling crime writer. Garry lives on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast and hosts the popular blog DyingWords.net, as well as regularly contributes to the Huffington Post. Connect on Facebook and Twitter