Opinion pieces have been part of my working life for many years.
As a journalist on a weekly business magazine, I used to commission and edit guest columns. Now as a freelance, I ghost-write them for clients who don’t have the time or find writing difficult or a chore.
I also help people get better at writing them as part of my in-house writing workshops.
When I was an editor and people pitched their opinion piece ideas to me, the most common mistake was an obvious one: Their idea lacked an actual opinion.
The clue is in the name.
Whether you call them op-eds or thought leadership, you have to put your head above the parapet, even just a little bit.
Not a press release
Without articulating an opinion, your writing can come across as similar to a press release or news update.
There is a place for that type of content but it is unlikely to land you a platform in the press.
It can be scary giving your thoughts a platform for scrutiny – and potential criticism.
Commenting a good starting point
Perhaps start off commenting on other’s content or press stories and then use that as a stepping stone to writing your own opinion piece.
There are good and bad ways to present your views.
Ranting is never a good idea, you will come across much better taking a considered approach. Or being constructive rather than destructive – although the latter might get you more clicks.
You can play devil’s advocate but show awareness of other views.
Posing a question can also be a good technique, it can be a way of showcasing your thought process and direction.
Questions can also help to generate engagement giving readers a hook to give their own view.
So if you have an opinion on something, grab the bull by the horns and write about it but write it well.