Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. Companies come and go. And, in recent history (I mean real recent – five years or less) we’ve seen pillars of the American print news industry fall faster then a congressman’s approval rating.
Of course, for everything that fails – there’s always something, or someone, ready to take it’s place. Such is the Huffington Post.
Without giving you a complete and exhaustive history of this 21st style “newspaper”, its important one understands what Adriana Huffington and her team is doing right…not what the New York Times or Washington Post is doing wrong.
Even though the collapse of traditional print media has paved the way for newcomers such as the Huffington Post, Politico, Slate (I still consider them new since the majority of their audience consists of online users), these portals have been successful in – 1.) acquiring new followers, and, 2.) positioning themselves not only as substitutes for news but a large resource for commentary and discussion.
This brings me to the good stuff: how can your site mimic (not necessarily copy) some of the successful attributes that make the Huffington Post an influential voice in news and politics?
Narrative, Narrative, Narrative
Did I mention narrative?
Without turning this into a creative writing lecture, the tone you set for a blog / website will go far when determining what kind of user latches on. Picking a side matters. Whether you’re right or wrong, we’ll let history determine that. That’s what they get paid to do. Your job is to represent your side with every available resource.
Look at the three leading news networks on cable TV in the United States: Fox News, MSNBC & CNN.
Fox News has traditionally pushed a conservative / right leaning agenda – MSNBC is branded as left / liberal – and CNN, to a fault, attempts to take a moderate / left approach. As options increase and groups become more segmented each of the top two networks have managed to develop a narrative and pursue it aggressively. At one time, CNN really was “The Most Trusted Name In News” (whether you believe it or not) they did a good job of selling this to their viewers. The problem is they stuck with their “we’ll listen to both sides approach” while everyone continued to drift towards the left or right.
If you read the Huffington Post on a regular basis, you’ll see its editors center / left leanings*. Again, I’ll let you judge the ethical nature of this approach. However, everyone knows WHAT to expect upon arrival. When I visit Hawaii I expect to see beaches and palm trees. Anything different would be an utter let down. Moral of the story: pick something and say it like you mean it.
Don’t be a hero
Most blogs start off as a one man operation. Actually, most of them stay that way. However, as your blog matures and a lot of your time is spent answering comments, emails and planning content development….you might consider hiring another blogger or bringing someone in to guest post. Again, many successful blogs are one man-shows. That’s OK. All blogs have to start somewhere. Right now, set the solo concept aside for a moment and consider an alternative. In terms of developing content for the masses, while defending your position, lets take a look at how one Mega Blog does it. Yup, you guessed it – The Huffington Post.
Spread the ideas around
Here’s where we get to the meat of the Huff Post operation: they are a blogging machine. Seriously.
Five minutes of research on Wikipedia will expose an eternity of knowledge. Check this out – straight from the source: The Huffington Post has over 3,000 bloggers-from politicians and celebrities to academics and policy experts-who contribute in real time on a wide-range of topics.
3000 Bloggers! This site would not be what it is today if Adriana Huffington was the sole creator of content. Of course she was able to built it up to a certain level – but she’s been able to turn it into the powerhouse it is today because of one thing: Leverage.
Once Huff Post reached a specific level of prominence Huffington automatically started to hire celebrities and politicians to write on issues “in real time.”
If George Clooney contributes a post about the horror of Sudanese genocide, he’s going to Tweet, E-mail and pass the article to his fans…using any means available. Since most of his fans view Clooney as an authoritative source, they will read the post and share it among their networks as well.
To see the complete list of bloggers, check out the Huff Post blogging index.
How can I do this?
Thanks for asking. It’s not good enough to see what others are doing, there needs to be a systematic approach in making it work for you.
Even if you don’t have the pull to bring in Hillary Clinton or Glen Beck…many leaders in academia, former athletes with reasonable name recognition, or industry experts are always looking for a platform to further their cause(s).
Assuming you have the extra cash to put up, paying one of these figures anywhere from $100 to $5,000 might be what you need to take the next leap.
Athletes like Curt Schilling and Curtis Granderson are active writers and maintain their own blogs. Paying a millionaire $1k for a blog post is not what attracts them – the opportunity for increased exposure is the kicker.
Donald Trump does not need to write for Forbes.com. However, to keep an on going reputation as a figure in the Biz Industry – it’s necessary he keeps is name in public.
If you cant find a celebrity’s personal website or get in contact with their agent – contact agencies like the Washington Speakers Bureau (WSB) and I’m sure you’ll be able to find the right avenue.
A simple Google query will reveal other bureaus with less known names…at a lower cost of course.
Don’t stop with the ideas I mentioned. Use some creativity when developing your approach. If you want to hire a celebrity, go to a speaking agency and offer to pay a slightly lower rate if they’ll record a video message instead of a physical speaking appearance. Haggle a little and say – since this won’t be a closed event…your client will get more exposure by appearing on my site.
Its your idea…run with it.
There is no silver bullet to blogging success. Albeit, there are some proven ways and The Huffington Post is not the only site I encourage you to analyze. Go to Google Blog Search and take a look at some of the leading blogs in your industry. You’ll be amazed at what you might find.
Joel Ellegood is currently a full time college student, and passionate follower of online marketing, social media, and politics. If it’s in the news…chances are he’s caught it. It’s not just a love for the news that allows Joel to write here at MetaFever.com, it’s the fact that he’s been there and done it. By age 18 he was managing media buys and ad spends for a large ecommerce group that often hit $250,000 / month. This is what gives him the right to be here….so, sit back and enjoy.