Don’t Be Afraid To Have Opinions Or Take Sides


image credit:  cowgummy

What makes blogs special to you?  To me, it is the unique viewpoints of individuals who express their thoughts uninterrupted by editors or restrictions other than the self-imposed variety.

I frequently inject opinion here and take sides.  That’s not really a secret and should be pretty clear if you’ve been reading for awhile.  I would like to think you’re here not necessarily because your agree or disagree with what I write, but that you think it is worth hearing and want to learn, interact and debate with me.

If you agree with everything all bloggers you read are saying, you’re not reading enough blogs.  I don’t think there is any blogger I read who I agree with all their thoughts.  Perhaps most interesting of all are posts I disagree with, as those are the kind that I’ll think deeper about, add my opinion on and back up why I disagree.

If you’re a blogger, don’t ever be afraid to have opinions or take sides, you’ll only succeed in getting in the way of what could potentially be great content.  Don’t second guess yourself.

Taking sides shows confidence

People frequently deride Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble, and other A-listers.  The thing is, they are unrestricted in what they say, and know the importance of simply getting their ideas out there.  A main reason they have the audiences they do is because of their unrestrained confidence.  This guarantees a compelling read, even when you disagree.

When you write a strong opinion piece, your emotion is naturally behind it

If we want bland content lacking heart, we’re not looking to blogs – it’s that simple.  We want to read sites that touch our emotions.  An easy way to do this is to write something you have a strong opinion on, one way or the other.  Don’t shy away from these types of posts, say what you feel and your audience will be moved.  There are too many people who wring the emotion out of their work, don’t let this happen to you.

It’s okay to be wrong

Many bloggers, especially those in business in technology write as if they are afraid to be wrong, and seem to think if they have one misstep they’ll be ruined.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You might as well not even keep a blog if you’re worried about being wrong on something – we’re only human and part of that is making mistakes and being wrong.  Certainly there is no better way to learn than making mistakes, and in fact if you aren’t making any in your blogging, you haven’t been doing it long enough.  No one is gets it right all the time.

You’ll start interesting debates/controversies

The most interesting discussions happen when you put your true opinions on something out there, and say exactly what you feel.  One of the best conversations generated on this blog was in my post newspapers still have much to learn about the web.  The post was a mix of facts, observations and my opinion – and the ensuing discussion is actually even more interesting than my initial thoughts.  When I wrote it, I didn’t even think about what others would think or say, I simply stated my raw viewpoint without letting externalities influence the writing – that guaranteed a good debate on the subject.

Your readers, even if they disagree, will respect you for taking a chance

It takes guts to takes sides, have an opinion, or go against the crowd.  But without flexing your risk muscle you’re never going to grow stronger.  At the same time, your readers will respect the fact that you’re willing to go out on a limb regarding a subject they know is controversial.  Also don’t be afraid of readers leaving because they disagree with one thing you wrote, that almost never happens.  If anything, you’ll get interesting comments.

Other bloggers will also still respect you

My friend Chris Brogan has a different viewpoint on paid blogging than I do.  And I know both of us think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  I still link to him frequently here and he has my complete respect as a peer in the business world.  I even featured him in one of my posts on social media influencers.  You’re not going to kill your relationships with others by writing opposing viewpoints – actually you may strengthen them.  And there is always more to learn from opposing viewpoints than those you agree with.

Writing neutral content all the time is boring

There’s nothing wrong with writing neutral content, but the sites I look forward to reading most are written by those I know never hold back their true opinions or thoughts.  Even when I disagree, I know before I click it is going to be a compelling read.

For things where nearly everyone has the other side, you’ll be seen as a source of strength to the minority

Even if you know only a small percentage of people agree with you – if you think you have feet to stand on, say it.  Even a small percentage on the web is still going to be large numbers – and I’d take a smaller, but dedicated audience over a larger but passive audience any day of the week.

Mix up personal insight with opinions, logic and facts

Mike Masnick at Techdirt is the perfect example of someone who lays his opinions on the table everyday, backed up by facts and case studies – and he usually makes a strong case for what he’s saying.  There is a reason he has 800K+ RSS readers.  It’s not just the stories he covers (although they are interesting) it is also the way he artfully writes them that make for a compelling read.  I can get tech news anywhere, but I know when I go there it will be something special.

Conclusion

Don’t lose sight of the magic that happens and the raw emotion you inspire when you allow your personality to shine in your writing through having an opinion or taking sides.  As the blogosphere matures, there clearly are some blogs that are losing the edge of what made them special in the first place.  As any form of art, media or self-expression gets more popular, there will inevitably be less pushing the boundaries and taking chances and more normalization.  This affords great opportunity to those willing to take a chance and express themselves without fear.

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