“Blogs,” online weblogs consisting of individual “blog posts” have become a widely used form of online media, giving anyone with an internet connection a way to share personal experiences and views. People blog about all kinds of things, including: food, movies, and their kids.
Opinion blog posts are essentially shorter, more personal informal opinion editorials (op-eds). As advocates, we are interested in opinion blogging, that is, changing readers’ minds or starting a conversation on a timely policy issue.
Here are some tips for writing an opinion blog post about an issue you care about.
HEADLINE: Keep it simple. The headline makes your point in a straightforward way. Simple and clear words will be picked up by search engines and attract more readers. E.g., one of the most widely read columns on The Huffington Post was headlined “Top Ten Reasons Why Obama Defeated Clinton for the Democratic Nomination.”
LEAD PARAGRAPH: Draw people in. This is so important. Use a compelling anecdote and try to use your own, most personal “voice”—let the reader know you’re an actual person. The opening line is important because people will stop reading if it doesn’t grab them. Say something unexpected. Use a startling statistic. Draw the reader in with a dramatic personal story. E.g., “A concerned male student came to my office this morning and asked, ‘What is my risk for cervical cancer?’” Then introduce your main point.
BODY OF THE BLOG POST: Make your case. The body makes your case — just like it does in an op ed. First prove your point with statistics, studies by experts, lessons of history, personal stories, or references to popular culture. Then use specific examples to build your argument — highlighting one or two specific events can sometimes be more powerful than trying to give an overview that is more general. Paint a picture for your audience to capture their attention and better engage them in the scene.
CONCLUSION: Call people to action. The conclusion restates the message and includes a call to action. Encourage your readers to learn more about abortion rights and share their views with elected officials.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IS KEY. Write in first person (using “I” statements). Blog posts go beyond conveying information to also sharing the personal experience or connection to what is being discussed. You have a unique and interesting perspective — that’s why we want you to write a blog post! Don’t be afraid to share your reactions, and reasons for those reactions, to the event/issues you are discussing.
SHARE YOUR PASSION. Think about why you are involved and passionate about reproductive rights. Even if you don’t state your reasons directly, the reader should get a sense of why you are passionate, knowledgeable, and connected to this cause when reading the post.
CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY. Your blog post can only be 500 words in length. Studies show that online readers respond best to more clear and concise sentences that focus on a single idea rather than sentences that are long and more complex. (You can still use complex sentences occasionally, if needed, but a higher percentage of sentences should be simpler.) Use bullets or number your supporting arguments to make your post “scan-able.” Even without bullets or numbers, keep your paragraphs short. White space is easier on the eye.
Adapted from resources created by Dupont Circle Communications: www.dupontcirclecommunications.com