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Why The Huffington Post is So Successful, Valuable, and Visited

The Huffington Post

Note: The Huffington Post blog editors rejected this post for their site because they told me it violated a “housekeeping” rule against publishing articles on their inner-workings. Ironically, almost all the information in this post is publicly available. It also doesn't come close to revealing as much as a post written by their own reporter called (get this), “How The Huffington Post Works (In Case You Were Wondering).

So now you get to learn about how and why The Huffington Post is so successful right here on Value of Simple. Enjoy!

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Do you know what happens after I click the “Submit” button when I write a blog post for The Huffington Post?

The real stars spring into action.

But what exactly are the all-stars of The Huffington Post editorial team doing when they see my article come through? Well, they:

  • Scan my post to make sure I didn't do anything stupid that would hurt my reputation (or theirs).
  • Make sure that the tags I used and the category I selected are appropriate for the content of the post.
  • If I write well enough and the topic is relevant, a team of trained journalists decides whether to feature my post, for how long, or where to place it on the website.

In essence, The Huffington Post provides you with the best of the best, just the way you want it, because they do something I call Experience Curating.

So, what's Experience Curating and This FAOCAS Thing?

It's a three-part blueprint that empowers you to recognize, capture, organize, and share anyone's most valuable moments. The first part builds the mindset that everything can be curated to benefit yourself and others. The second part integrates the six-step FAOCAS framework that makes any experience meaningful. And the last part applies the tools and best practices to grow actual curating currency.

You can do Experience Curating too with the quotes you keep. Or in the books you read, the recipes you make, and the conversations you have.

But first, let's explore how The Huffington Post does Experience Curating with the FAOCAS framework: Filter, Archive, Organize, Contextualize, Access, and Share. Once you know, you can adapt their process to turn yourself into the go-to resource that everyone wants to come to.

  1. Filter: How many news sources and RSS feeds do you monitor? Multiply that by (I'm guessing) about a million, and that's what The Huffington Post staff sorts through each day. Their journalists know their category (e.g., fashion or tech) and understand what their audience wants them to feature out of a staggering number of potential articles. They know what you find valuable and give it to you. Every. Single. Day. Keeping you happy, well-informed, and entertained is why they curate.
  2. Archive: The content The Huffington Post creates or curates doesn't go “poof” after it's published. Instead, it's all archived in a giant content management system. The best part? They make their massive archives searchable on their website, downstream in Google, and via an ever-growing number of RSS feeds.
  3. Organize: Their archived content doesn't get randomly dumped into a digital junk box labeled “Miscellaneous.” It's categorized and sub-categorized first so that they – and you – can sort and filter based on what anyone needs. They slap concise, meaningful, and easily managed labels on the content that stay consistent over time. And they also slice-and-dice many “experience elements” – the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a piece of content – so keyword rich tags can be applied for searches. It's a simple system that scales with just about any demands on it.
  4. Context: Ever notice the keyword tags before the first sentence of their blog posts? Context. Have you seen the “Also on The Huffington Post” features below a syndicated article? Context. Have you clicked on a link in the “Around the Web” section above the comments for other sources to expand upon their own stuff? Context. They are excellent at preserving the original context of an article and then layering on additional context to make it even more useful.
  5. Access: A tool is only as good as your ability to use it. So if The Huffington Post is your tool, then you have access to it wherever you're online (or even offline with services like Pocket). Being able to access your stuff how, when, and where you need to is what I call the “Everywhere Doctrine,” and they honor it faithfully.
  6. Share: You and I might forget to attribute where some words, an image, or a video came from. But not The Huffington Post. They don't share content that hasn't first been vetted by a human (no algorithms publishing stuff here). Their reputation is too important to mindlessly shovel crap at you. They have ethics – respect your sources, celebrate independent thinking, seek truth (even when it contradicts your worldview), and be accountable – which are never selectively applied.

Arianna Huffington

But the key question now is:

How and what will you curate for your own benefit?

Some Hints (If You Need Them)

I'd love to see you come up with your own unique answers to what you'll curate and why, but I'll offer three suggestions to get your brain juices flowing:

  • Capture the words associated with a quote … and also the date, any disputes in who it's attributed to, the format (e.g., blog post, book, or video), and other attributes. The meaning of words changes dramatically based on who said it, when, in what medium, and why it was crafted. Go beyond the status quo and you'll be able to slice-and-dice your quotes for just the right person at just the right time.
  • Document the backstory (a.k.a. the context) for why you prepare the family's secret cookie recipe the same way your great-grandma did. Your kids might need those historical layers to appreciate, and continue, the family tradition.
  • Organize the movies you see with experience elements like actors, when you last watched it, who you've seen it with, who recommends it, your desire to watch it again, your personal rating (e.g., on a scale of 1-10), the genre or sub-genre, and a brief written review. Now you can see who should be your go-to resource for new movie suggestions, who your favorite actors are, and whether you should watch a movie again when your memory doesn't cooperate.

There are tons of reasons to curate (and I cover many more in my book). For instance, some people have curated their home-cooked recipes or restaurant visits to enjoy faster, tastier, and healthier food.

Others have used Experience Curating as a more efficient form of journaling or to finally start the journal-like habit they've always wanted. More and more, people use curating principles to become the person on social media who people naturally gravitate to.

All with little time, energy, and no additional money.

You already have the tools: Excel, Evernote, LibraryThing, and more.

So what do you say? Are you ready to provide value to countless people with your own style of Experience Curating?

We're counting on you to say, “Yes.”

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For the comments: who else do you know that rocks the curating landscape? How do they do it?

Photo Credit: Third Way Think Tank, C2-MTL
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