Huffington Post faces a blogger backlash to its contributor play

The Huffington Post is facing a blogger backlash since it changed its platform strategy to grow its network of unpaid contributors. To reach that lofty goal, the HuffPost introduced a new platform, code-named Athena, that enables contributors to publish directly to the site and sidestep the previous screening process. The problem many bloggers see is that to get exposure for their posts, they have to do the promotional work themselves. Advertisement “Ultimately, the new Huffington Post platform is making bloggers work harder – for free,” wrote Annie Singer, a blogger who also pitches herself as a growth marketer. Another blogger, Michelle Zunter, who writes on relationships, women’s issues and other topics, said she used to be featured frequently on the HuffPost, and enjoyed the associated exposure and credibility. Zunter said she remains a HuffPost contributor, but she’s shifted her reliance to sites like YourTango, Salon, and Stepparent Magazine. The contributor network reportedly provides some 15 percent of the HuffPost’s 75 million-plus monthly audience (U.S., comScore). “People don’t know who’s staff and who’s not, so there’s a cache to it.” This blogger said that the only way for contributors to get exposure now is to promote their posts on their own social followings, but for contributors who care about getting traffic back to their sites, and many do, that means promoting the same content twice to their followings — once to their personal site and once to the HuffPost. For us little guys, it’s such a struggle.” Hidalgo said bloggers shouldn’t give up too quickly, though. Singer said she hasn’t stopped publishing to the HuffPost, but is more strategic, using it to post her trendiest content and rewriting it for the platform.

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The Huffington Post is facing a blogger backlash since it changed its platform strategy to grow its network of unpaid contributors.

Since last year, the HuffPost has been talking about reaching 1 million contributors, from 100,000. To reach that lofty goal, the HuffPost introduced a new platform, code-named Athena, that enables contributors to publish directly to the site and sidestep the previous screening process.

The problem many bloggers see is that to get exposure for their posts, they have to do the promotional work themselves.

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“Ultimately, the new Huffington Post platform is making bloggers work harder – for free,” wrote Annie Singer, a blogger who also pitches herself as a growth marketer.

Another blogger, Michelle Zunter, who writes on relationships, women’s issues and other topics, said she used to be featured frequently on the HuffPost, and enjoyed the associated exposure and credibility. “Since Athena took effect, it’s definitely more difficult to get a post featured,” she said. Zunter said she remains a HuffPost contributor, but she’s shifted her reliance to sites like YourTango, Salon, and Stepparent Magazine.

The HuffPost helped establish the unpaid contributor model as a way to scale up fast in the digital age, and it helped build a massive audience. The contributor network reportedly provides some 15 percent of the HuffPost’s 75 million-plus monthly audience (U.S., comScore).

But pursuing a scale-based model means the job of growing traffic is never done, as other media companies from Forbes to Thought Catalog to Medium have been quick to copy the platform publishing model while other digital publishers have caught on to its traffic and social growth-hacking tricks.

Bryan Maygers, executive contributor editor for the HuffPost, said the updates to the contributor process were made to “streamline and modernize the experience” for contributors, open the platform to a bigger range of voices and…

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