There is a lot of websites and blogs out there and if you want to compete you’ve got to stand out. There are many ways to do this, like writing outstanding content, doing fantastic research or finding topics that other people have for some reason neglected.
Another really great way to pull them in, however, is to challenge them. With that, I mean that you take a position that opposes conceived wisdom, or what the majority believes. The only danger with this strategy is that you might go too far.
Today let’s explore some useful tips and strategies that will let you approach that line without crossing it.
Don’t be mealy-mouthed
Actually, this is true for every content writer. Don’t hedge your writing. People don’t want to read how this ‘might’ help or how ‘maybe’ this is a good idea. If you’re going to make a statement, make it strongly and forcefully.
As long as you write from the first person (i.e. ‘I’ and ‘me’) people will understand that it’s not the opinion of the wider scientific community, but your own.
Of course, this does not mean that you can’t bring up counter-arguments. In truth, people will appreciate if you show them that it’s a multi-faceted argument. That doesn’t change, however, that you still need to hold a position (and hopefully offer convincing arguments for why you’re right and the counter arguments are wrong).
If everybody is arguing one way – see if you can argue the other
Everybody talking about why Instagram is the future and Facebook is dead? Then argue the opposite. People are curious by nature and will want to hear what you’ve got to offer – even if it’s just to tell you you’re wrong and you don’t know what you’re talking about.
What’s more, the contrary title, if well worded, will stand out among the sea of sameness that pasted across your wall and your news-aggregators most days.
Now, to be clear, in most cases you don’t actually have to hold the position. Whether you’re right or not about Facebook’s untimely death is probably going to be forgotten in a couple of days. People have short memories (and far too much content competing for attention).
Watch out what you write about
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can disagree with everything. There are certain topics that you want to avoid touching even if you’ve got a 10-feet pole and are wearing rubber gloves and a gas mask.
It’s pretty easy to tell what topics they are – they’re the one where people are constantly invoking ‘rights’ (the right to live, the right to choose, the right to marry, etc.) no matter what side of the argument they’re on.
The references to these rights suggest that these people are, as Joshua Greene argues in his book Moral Tribes, in fact, arguing from positions of knee-jerk beliefs that are grounded in the moral and emotional modules of our brains, rather than in their reasoning centers.
And that means that it’s an unwinnable argument for you. No matter how well you manage to argue your position, you’ll still be called all sorts of horrible names by those that don’t agree with you.
And though they say that ‘all publicity is good publicity’ when you’re trying to sell something via your blog and you’re enveloped in a storm of negative publicity where trolls are consistently attacking your content and your personal hygiene (why do they always attack you on the hygiene?), that will not inspire your brand with a great deal of trust.
When courting controversy, make sure you’re well dressed
If you are going to wade into the slightly controversial, make certain that your article, your arguments and your opinions don’t have massive gaping holes in them, where people can people can point, yell and laugh.
That means that extra editing is required. It shouldn’t end there, either. Make certain that you’re not the only person that’s reading your text, as often what you think has been well-worded and well-argued can be completely misunderstood by another person.
For that reason, don’t do it alone, go find some reviews of companies that can edit your content and hire the best of them or just start using some free apps. Here are some great tools that will help you make certain that your arguments are as good as they can be:
- Grammarly - When you’re arguing against somebody’s held beliefs, you better make sure that you do so without spelling and grammar mistakes. A fantastic way to do exactly that is to use Grammarly. It catches mistakes that Word won’t. Plus it’s free.
- Hemingway App - Another must-use is the Hemingway app. This doesn’t tell you about grammar and spelling mistakes. Instead, it focuses on the number of adjectives you’ve used, where you’ve used overly complicated language and when you’ve used sentences that are running too long. Again, it’s free. Just cut and paste and let the program do the rest.
- Readability Score - Makes sure that your text is as readable as it can be with this tool that will analyze your text’s readability on a wide-ranging number of factors.
Courting controversy is a fantastic strategy to get people to pay attention. The trick, however, is to always remains on the right side of the line. You can be coquettish without being a sleaze bag.
The best way to go is to push the envelope only a little bit and see how people react. If everything is still fine and nobody mentions they feel uncomfortable, you’re fine. Always watch the feedback, however. When people start feeling uncomfortable, back away.
Bonus Tip: You can also consider to publish something under the name of a guest author. That way, you can always distance yourself and limit the damage.