One of my favorite sections of a newspaper is the opinion pages. Writing opinion pieces is hard, and I respect columnists (liberal and conservative) who make a strong argument and keep my attention from start to finish.
While every columnist has his/her own style, many follow a formula we can apply on our own blogs and websites. It’s also a strategy I employ for most of my columns on News To Live By. In a nutshell, I start with a story, state my argument, defend the argument, offer a solution and conclude with a reference to the story from the beginning.
I use excerpts from my January 12, 2015 column (How to Apply for a Job Even If the Company Isn’t Hiring) as an example.
Opening section: Start with a story or situation
Open with a quick story or situation that frames the argument. What spurred you to have the opinion? Was it an event you attended, article you read or something you saw on TV? The story grabs the reader and puts your opinion in context.
Opening section example:
Welcome back, economy.
USA TODAY reports employers added an average of 246,000 jobs each month in 2014, the best year for job growth since 1999.
Fifteen years is a long time, but it finally seems companies have started to hire in a meaningful way.
Second section: Make your case
With the story/situation as the backdrop, lay out your argument.
Second section example:
Spurred on by the positive job market, you should do the unusual: apply even when there are no open positions.
Third section: Defend your case
Tell the reader why your argument holds water.
Third section example:
First of all, what do you have to lose? Nothing. Exactly.
Second, what if your email pitch is compelling and puts you on the company’s radar? Then if the boss does need to make a hire, you come to mind.
Fourth section: Offer a solution
Give the reader an action item.
Fourth section example:
I created a template to “apply” for a job even if the company isn’t hiring. You never know where a single email can lead.
[And then I include the entire email template AKA the “action item”]
Fifth section: Make your closing argument
Reiterate why your reasoning is sound.
Fifth section example:
You can wait for opportunities to find you (you’ll be waiting a while) or you can go out and grab them. A polished email introduction to a company could lead to an interview and change the entire course of your career.
Sixth section: Return to your story
Circle back on the story from the beginning to “bookend” your column — the same theme at the start and finish.
Sixth section example:
As I said, the job market is hot. No better time to take a chance than right now.
There you have it — the formula for an “opinion” blog post. Look for more blog post templates soon!
Any other questions on writing blog posts?
Featured photo: Free blog photos (Flickr)