PB160: Challenge: How to Write an Opinion Post on Your Blog

Posted on October 22, 2016

Challenge: Write an Opinion Post on Your Blog

In today’s episode, I’m issuing you with a challenge to create a piece of content that centers around your opinion on a topic relevant to your audience.

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Adding your opinion to your content is such an important way to make your blog more useful to your audience, and it also makes it stand out from the crowd.

Today, I’m going to share with you not only why opinion posts are so important, but I also want to give you some practical tips on how to structure your opinion post. I’m also going to give some tips on what to include in your piece of content.

This is one of our monthly challenge posts, so I’m not only going to teach you how to create on opinion post, but I’m also going to challenge you to create one.

Challenge:

Publish your post. If you think this challenge would be interesting to your audience please link to this episode of the podcast/shownotes – we would love more bloggers to join.

Once you’ve created and published your opinion post – head over to our Facebook group and look for the thread for this challenge and share the link to your content.

Once you have – please check out some of the posts other people have created. Then please visit, like, comment, share,  and encourage others to do the same.

Further Resources on How to Write an Opinion Post on Your Blog



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Hey there and welcome to episode 160 of the ProBlogger podcast, my name is Darren Rowse and I’m the founder of problogger.com. A blog, podcast, event, job board, a series of ebooks and numerous other things all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience and make money from your blog. You can find out more about ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I’m going to issue you with a challenge. It’s part of a monthly series of challenges. Today’s challenge is to create a piece of content that centers around your opinion on a topic relevant to your audience. Adding your opinion into your content is such an important way to make your blog more useful to your audience but also that might get standout from the crowd, I strongly believe that. That’s my opinion.

Today, I want to share with you not only why opinion post is so important but I also want to give you some practical tips on how to structure your opinion posts and also some tips on what to include in the basic content that you’re going to create for this month’s challenge. This is one of our monthly challenge shows. I don’t want to just teach you how to create an opinion post but I want to challenge you to create it and to share it with our other ProBlogger podcast listeners in our ProBlogger Challenge Group on Facebook. I will link that to our Facebook group or you can head to Facebook and do a search for the ProBlogger Challenge Group and join that group.

Okay, some of you will have no problem with this particular challenge whatsoever. You have lots of opinions and you do not mind sharing them at all in your conversation but also on your blog. This is the central type of post that you create on your post, on your blog but for many bloggers, myself included, sharing your opinion is something that may not come naturally for you. I was brought up by my parents, who I love dearly, to keep my opinions to myself. As a result, it’s something that I found as a blogger took me way outside my comfort zone particularly when I first started. I was always thinking to myself as I was considering sharing my opinion, “What are other people going to think about this opinion?” “How are they going to react?” “Are they going to share their opinion?” “Will their opinion differ to mine?”

I guess, for me mostly, I was always wondering how am I going to be perceived by sharing my opinions. As a result, I often held my opinions back from my audience. I think in doing so, I did my audience disservice. I was always wondering I don’t want to come across as opinionated. I don’t want to come across as bossy or as forcing my opinions on others. I don’t want to be seen as arrogant as if I’m the only one who has the right opinion. I didn’t want to be seen as attacking other people’s ideas and so I didn’t share my opinion.

Here’s the thing. Your opinion is something your readers want. To hold it back from your readers is as a simple fault to do them a disservice. Also, your opinion is potentially what is holding your blog apart and setting your blog apart from the rest of the pack. There are thousands of blogs on every single topic. Your opinion can actually set you apart from those. You can also do it in a way that’s not arrogant, not bossy, not rude and not opinionated.

I think opinion is a really important ingredient for our blogs. Just to give you a few really quick reasons as to why opinion matters before I get into sharing some tips on how to express it. Firstly, it makes your blog more useful. Your readers are not just looking for news or entertainment, they actually want to know how that news actually affects their lives. To share your opinion on what the news means can be a very powerful thing. Your opinion makes your blog distinct. There are probably, as I mentioned, thousands of blogs in your nation, maybe more but your experience, your story, your opinion, these things are what makes your blog unique. Don’t be afraid to share them.

I told this story before but I remember when I first started my first camera blog, I reported on the news of new cameras being released and also write some reviews of cameras. The problem was that there was so many other blogs doing exactly the same thing and it was the only one so I started to add my opinion into the news posts and a stronger opinion into the reviews I was writing that my blog began to take off. When a new camera was released, I didn’t just say, “Here’s the new camera hits its features.” As I used to do. I started adding in a paragraph or two at the end of that news post saying, “This is who I think is going to benefit from this camera.” Or, “These are the features I’m surprised it doesn’t have and I think it should have.” By adding those little things, my post became more useful and I began to stand out from everyone else’s post which were just the list of features.

Another reason that I think opinion is great is that it draws people into conversation. In sharing your own opinion, people will naturally share theirs. This can be a bit frightening for some of us who don’t like confrontation but this is just good. This is how we all learn. This is how conversations happen, we’re wired to do it. When someone expresses their opinion, other people feel almost like they have to share theirs and I this think is actually a really good thing that you want on your blog. You want conversations, you want diversity of opinion. As long as it is done in a graceful and constructive way, I think it really adds a lot of life into your blog. I actually wrote this in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog ebook that you can find over in problogger.com.

Alright, this about opinions. Expressing opinions on your blog is like adding seasoning to food. Without opinion, your blog could end up being quite bland, blending into the crowd. Adding your opinion helps to give your blog a unique flavor. There’s some good reasons there to add opinion into your content to take today’s challenge but how do you do it? I want to give you some tips by some reading that I’ve done and also on my own experience on how to write opinion posts.

The first thing I want to encourage you to think about is to determine what type of opinion piece you’re going to write or create. Now, I found this really helpful article over on makemynewspaper.com. They argued in their post on opinion pieces that there are four main types of opinion pieces and I never really thought about this. I actually really like the way they have done it. This might actually be helpful for some of you who feel a bit confronted by the idea of putting your opinion out there because some of these are little bit more confronting than others but there are still ways that you can share your opinion in a non-confrontational sort of way.

The first one that they mentioned is the clarification piece. This is an opinion piece which is more about clarifying something. This is a way you give your opinion on what something means or way you interpret or clarify something for your audience. For example, to use a current example and I hesitate to add this one in because I know it’s going to spark a little bit of passion in some people but you could write a post on what the rise of Donald Trump means for the future of politics in America. Now, in your post, you probably wouldn’t even need to take a position on Trump himself but you interpret what his rise and potentially fall of popularity means for future election cycles. Here, you’re not taking an opinion on Donald Trump, you are talking about the situation of Donald Trump and you’re expressing an opinion that arises from it, you’re interpreting what it all means rather than taking an opinion on him. It’s still an opinion because other people might interpret the rise of Donald Trump differently but it helps your readers to understand something that is relevant to them.

This is kind of what I used to do in my camera review post. I would say, “Here’s the new camera, here’s its list of features and here’s who I think it is useful for.” That is my opinion. This camera is good for beginners or this camera is good for wedding photographers. That’s just opinion but it actually helps to interpret that news or that situation. For me, the clarification piece is one that I think is really important. It is going to share your opinion but it may not be quite as confrontational as some of the other ones that we’re going to talk about now. In fact, the next one is probably the most confrontational type of opinion post that you can write.

Makemynewspaper.com says the second type is the critique piece. This is where you become a critique of something or someone or a situation. It might be a product that you think isn’t good that everyone else’s is good, it might be a policy that you disagree with, it might be a movie that you dislike. It doesn’t really matter what it is. It’s where you critique something. To take it run with the election example again, this might be the post where you look at the policy of a candidate and you critique it or you critique the candidate themselves. The point here is to say why you disagree with them or the policy and then bring some facts and arguments to the content, to disapprove their approach, to be critical of their approach. This is a more negative spin on things and it is going to probably get reactions from people and strong reactions from people who take the opposite view.

The third type of piece that you want to think about might doing is the flip side of the critique and this is the commendation piece. Here is where you take a more positive spin on things. You find something that you agree with, that you can endorse. Something that you can defend, something that you put your stand of approval on. Again, to take the election thing, this is where you might choose a candidate or policy or an approach. This is who I stand behind. This path is a little bit of a more positive weight, still confrontational but it’s not going to the negative all the time. This is another way that you can do that if you want to be a more positive type of thing. I know a lot of bloggers that don’t want to go to the negative all the time. They want to be constructive inside. Potentially, here is a way that you can be a little bit more constructive. That’s the third type.

The fourth type that this article talks about is the convincing piece. This is where you try and convince or sway your reader to your particular viewpoint. This is very clearly about persuading your reader to move their position, something that can really be difficult to do. You might be taking a viewpoint that’s contradictory to a commonly held idea and trying to explain why your position is better. Now, the convincing type of post, I think can actually be molded in together with the other three types of post as well but it might stand alone as well.

We’ve got there four types of posts. I guess the first thing I’m trying to get you to think about is, what are you trying to do with your opinion piece? What is your intent? Are you trying to clarify something? Are you trying to critique something? Are you trying to commence something or are you trying to convince? Or maybe you’re trying to do a bit of a combination of each of those things. It’s the first thing, I would say is think about that style of post.

Now, another article I came across today was from an author by the name of John McClain who wrote a really interesting piece over on a site called Write to Done. John actually shared sixteen tips on writing an editorial piece of content and opinion piece of content. I’m not going to go through all sixteen but there are few of them that stood out to me that I wanted to emphasize that I feel a bit quite good. Firstly, he really emphasizes that you want to choose something this topical and relevant to your audience. Obviously, we don’t want to just create an opinion piece on a timely topic just because everyone else is talking about it. It might not be relevant to our audience.

As you think about the challenge, choose something that’s going to be relevant to your audience. It may be a timely post, it might be a something that is big in conversation at the moment like an election, if that’s still on when you’re listening to this but it’s more important to choose something that’s going to be relevant to your audience and that you can tie into your audience. Most of the reading that I did on the opinion pieces said this, “Start with your conclusion. Make your strongest point up front and then spend the rest of the post making the argument, sharing supporting facts.” Start your first sentence, probably, it should be, this is what I think, this is my opinion and then back at us, spend the rest of the article really proving the point or arguing that point.

John talks about being personal and conversational can really help you to make your point and stop it from coming across as sensational or opinionated if you somehow weave your own story into it. Share why the topic matters to you. I think this is really a useful piece of advice but it also shows your readers why the post should matter to them. Stories can really be useful on this.

John talks about using humor and particularly irony can be a very powerful tactic to persuade people but you want to be a bit careful with that too. Sarcasm for example, can be difficult to convey and sometimes can do more harm than good.

John talks about having a really strong editorial viewpoint, come down hard on one side of the issue or the other don’t be a fan sitter. Share facts, provide insight, educate your reader on the topic. Facts can be really useful in opinion pieces.

He also talks about how to finish the opinion piece. You want to state your opinion right up front and then spend the rest of the article presenting the facts and supporting evidence. And he says, “Then you want to also conclude your article or your post with your opinion again.” You want to restate your opinion at the end. Essentially, what you’re trying to do is top and tell the content with a very clear statement of your opinion and then fill in the gaps with the arguments. As one person said many years ago, “Tell them what you’ll tell them then tell them and then tell what you tell them.” Really, this top and tell approach of stating your opinion, bookending your post with your opinion makes it really clear on what your post is about.

I came across another little article from the Murphy Center. They have this five paragraph format or structure for a good opinion piece and it’s very similar to what John wrote.

They’re saying paragraph one, state your position and briefly, in a couple of sentences at the most, outline three reasons you hold your opinion. State your opinion and three reasons you hold the opinion. That’s one paragraph. The next three paragraphs, you should expand on each of the reasons. Add the facts, build some arguments. Each of those paragraphs. Really expand those three reasons. Your fifth paragraph is the conclusion. Tell them what you tell them. Restate your opinion, remind them of the reasons and tell people what to do next. That’s just the five paragraph structure that you might want to take today. This doesn’t have to be a long piece of content. In fact, short can often be better with this type of thing. Many of the articles I’ve read over the last day about opinion pieces say that the longer your article is, the more you dilute your arguments. Choose the best three reasons and don’t feel you need to go into much more detail than that.

A few last tips before you get into writing your piece of content or creating your piece of content if you want to do something that’s not written, that’s totally fine too. Firstly, include in your posts some reference to other people’s opinions. I actually really appreciate when someone is sharing their opinion and they reference the opinion of others. This signals that you are across those arguments and that you flawed about both sides of the arguments for what you’re talking about. This is also useful for those readers who perhaps hold a different opinion to you. It shows that you’ve at least considered that and maybe it gives you advices for convincing them and bringing them across to your way of thinking as well.

Another thing I think is really important, particularly if you’re doing the critique. If you’re doing that more critical approach to an opinion post, is to give some realistic alternatives or solutions or some positive options for people to consider. One of the dangers of opinion post that are more critical is that they can become very negative and really drag people down. I was watching the panel show here on the stream television a couple of weeks ago where a panelist spoke for five minutes in a rant about a particular policy issue of the Australian government. I critique the policy so well. I made some really convincing points and poked a lot of holes in this particular policy.

As I was listening to others being convinced by it, it was quite negative the way they were talking but it was good. They really were quite convincing except for one thing. At the end of her rant, another panelist who supported the policy, took the opposing view, simply said to her, “What would you propose? What solution would you propose as an alternative to the policy that you just been five minutes critiquing?” She just looked back at him and said, “I don’t have one.” Her argument from not having an alternative began to unravel. If only she had an alternative to suggest, something positive as another way forward, then her argument would have been so much more convincing and pretty much ever a lot to that point and they forgot her arguments I would say. Her arguments were great but that didn’t really have anything as an alternative. I think sometimes by taking that critique, be prepared to say something positive as an alternative can be really good.

Couple more last tips. Write with some passion, bring some energy to your post, and don’t be ashamed of having an opinion or reserved about expressing it. If you want to convince people, you need to bring some passion to your argument, you need to show that you feel strongly about it. That type of argument is going to be more convincing to people but on the flip side of that, write with some grace. This might be the first time your readers have ever heard you share your opinion and that’s totally fine but you might want to ease them into that. I guess it’s really important to be inclusive and gracious and constructive even when you do argue something with passion. I think, still you can show that you’re open to other ideas and use language that is inclusive in different ways. That’s personally the way that I tend to approach this.

Lastly, invite other people’s opinions. Your opinion is just your opinion and one of the best ways to be gracious and to show your readers you’re open to other ideas is to invite them to express theirs and that openness to sharing of ideas can actually set the tone for the discussion that happens as a result of you sharing your opinion. I guess the last thing you need to be aware is that when you do express your opinion, others will probably express theirs as well. You want to be around to watch the conversation that comes out of that type of post.

I hope some of that has been useful and hopefully, you’re beginning to think about the piece of content that you are going to create as part of this ProBlogger challenge. I don’t want to just teach you. Today, I want you to do the best why you can learn how to create an opinion piece of content is to do it yourself. Over the next week, I want to challenge you to create a new piece of content for your blog that is centered around your opinion. The topic can be anything at all. Totally anything at all, as long as it really relates to your readers. That will be the one qualification that I will put on that. This will be easy for some of us than others.

A few suggestions, if your blog is about products, go beyond reporting on a new product. Tell people what you think about it or compare two products, that’s another way to do an opinion post, is to say this versus this and give a verdict on which one suits your readers’ best. If you blog is about books, write a review of a book. If your blog is about nutrition, share what you think about a popular diet. If your blog is about tech startups, talk about why you think a startup succeeded or failed. If your blog is about travel, share why you think a destination is a great place for your audience to visit. Really, it can be on anything big or small. It can also take a variety of formats as well. It could be a written post, it could be a video, it could be an info graphic, a podcast, really, it’s totally up to you as to the medium and format of your post.

Write an opinion post and ones you’ve created it, once you’ve published it on your blog, I want to encourage you to share with the rest of the listeners of this podcast, I think there is a lot to be learned from watching how other people approach this type of thing. If you’re feeling stuck, you can also hit into the Facebook group that we’ve got set up to see what other people are creating as well. I will set up a thread on our Facebook group, the ProBlogger Challenge Group, if you do a search on that you’ll find us. I encourage you to look for that thread and to share your post in that thread. Please don’t start a new thread, just look for that post and share your post in that. You’re totally welcome to share a link in there. We actually want to see the content you create. Once you’ve shared your link, please check out some of the other post that other people have created. I encourage you to visit them, to like them, to comment on them, to share them and to encourage those other listeners of this podcast.

As I said before, you can find the ProBlogger challenge group by searching for ProBlogger Challenge Group on Facebook and you should find us. There are, as I am looking at it right now, 2,089 members already in there so there’s a lot of action happens around this challenges and I really can’t wait to see the opinion post that you create over the next few weeks.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post PB160: Challenge: How to Write an Opinion Post on Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.


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