Writing a controversial blog post is edgy, and can garner reader response of all types. If you’re going to do it, though, don’t write yourself an escape hatch.
Should I Write A Controversial Blog Post?
Controversial is not the same as confrontational.
Blog posts that are controversial are not unnecessarily argumentative or insulting. Instead, they talk about topics that need to be discussed, but without attacking people. They challenge accepted conclusions and ideas, the reader’s strongly held opinions, or confront something people are generally not willing to talk about.
Controversial blog posts are like course corrections for an ideology, and in doing so, they might step on the toes of those who follow that ideology. That kind of writing gets people involved, whether to defend their ideas and solidify their beliefs, or to quietly express agreement and relief that someone finally said it.
In other words, well-written controversial blog posts are beneficial for the reader, and it is, of course, beneficial for the blogger in that it attracts readers. A controversial blog post can go viral.
In some genres of blogging, however, controversial posts are not the norm. In an effort to build a tribe and be engaging on social media, bloggers either became afraid or lost the ability to write well on a topic that might result in backlash. This is unfortunate; it has led to far too many blog posts that feature the same topics and sound the same. It has led to a certain level of blandness and predictability.
Controversial Blog Posts Take Backbone
If you’re going to write your opinion, write it with legs. What I mean is, avoid giving yourself a way to back out of your opinion if what you’ve written proves to be unpopular. Don’t be afraid to let your words stand on their own legs. Don’t provide a chair. If you’re not ready to do this, you’re not ready to blog on the topic.
When you write in a way that provides escape routes, your blog post becomes weak. Here’s how that happens.
1. It is too wordy. Boldly stating something takes far fewer words than stating something and then providing caveats on the possible alternatives to the statement. Excessive wordiness is a blog no-no.
2. It sounds mushy. There are no hard edges, no meat to grab onto. You’ve taken a bold idea and rounded off the corners and softened the edges so no one would be offended, and in the end, it comes off as mushy and lukewarm. It sounds inoffensive, pleasant, and completely forgettable.
3. It cheats your readers. It’s frustrating (and unappealing) to enter into a discussion where nothing substantial is pushed as “true”, leaving readers with no real point of debate. As a blogger, your intent is to give your readers a challenge to think about. Allowing for an escape route, should you be confronted on your idea, takes the wind out of their sails. Help them change their mind, or disagree with you even more firmly.
4. It kills your audience. You might think that by softening the blow and working hard to not offend anyone’s sensibilities you preserve the biggest possible audience possible, but think again. Some readers want to be offended, sadly, and you don’t want to cater to their overly sensitive needs. By doing so, you bore those who wish you would write clearly and from the heart, and they stop reading after a while.
5. It wears you out. What you want is an audience that wants to hear what you truthfully have to say. They are the audience that won’t wear you out. They won’t be demanding that you prop up their sensibilities. You will be able to write most freely for the audience you were meant to have, not the one you’re holding together with duct tape and niceties.
Being Controversial Is Not Being A Jerk
All this to say, of course, that you don’t have the license to be a jerk.
You will always find people unable to process a strong opinion and see it as anything other than a personal attack, but this does not mean you should write purposefully to inflame. As always, attack ideas if you must, but never people.
Choose decisive and bold language over weak and muddled language, always. Give your readers something to talk about, become passionate about, something that invigorates them in the midst of a typical day. A challenging post gets read and shared.