Almost all bloggers are aware of the power of a carefully chosen controversial blog post. It is widely discussed on most sites about blogging and if you somehow miss such discussions, you will likely find out on your own after blogging for long enough.
The popularity of controversial blog posts however have lead to many bloggers who are new to blogging in general going a little bit too far and alienating readers as opposed to exciting them.
Utilizing controversial blog posts to your advantage however is certainly not rocket science and provided you keep the following rules in mind, you should have little difficulty in starting a debate that both your readers will enjoy and that you will profit from.
1 – Back Up Anything You Claim
One sure fire way to write a controversial blog post that does nothing but make you look stupid is to go on a rant without any facts to back up your position. When you make such a post, you are not necessarily attempting to get your readers to agree with you (often people are more likely to comment and talk about your post when they disagree) but you do want your readers to understand your point of view.
Providing facts to back up your claims shows that you believe what you are saying or in the very least have put some thought into it. Doing so means that even if your readers disagree with what you say, they will respect your right to an informed opinion.
2 – Narrow the Scope of Your Argument
Much like the first rule of effective controversial blog posts, the validity of your proposed opinion increases ten fold when you cite specific instances and quotes to back it up rather than general points. General statements about groups of people or types of events are very difficult to accurately quantify and can also easily be misinterpreted.
If you want to write about how you disagree with somebody, quote the points that you disagree with together with the specific person that made them. Do not post a general rant about the group of people that said person belongs to.
3 – Choose your Argument Carefully
Many people search online specifically for something that they can disagree with. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with this. However you need to make your choice carefully. Disagreeing with the first popular opinion that you find is a terrible idea. Only argue something that you personally believe. Otherwise, you are going to have a difficult time defending yourself when people start criticising you.
4 – Don’t Back Down
If I could choose one stupid thing to do when it comes to controversial blog posts it would be to reverse your position. Changing your opinion in response to criticism simply makes you look spineless. And provided you have followed the previous rule, there is no reason why you would have to reverse your statement regardless of how many people disagree.
If you are worried that those who are commenting negatively will no longer visit your blog, this is a valid problem but not something that you can do anything about once you have made the post. If they are going to stop reading, they will do so regardless of whether you retract or not and retracting your post will just result in more readers lost due to a loss of credibility.
5 – Don’t Feed the Trolls
Finally there is the matter of responding to comments that disagree with your post. Responding to comments on posts is an essential part of running any successful blog and responding to comments on controversial posts is even more important. The problem is however that controversial blog posts are notorious for attracting trolls and regardless of how you respond to them, you are going to come off looking worse.
Therefore provided you back up everything you claim with evidence, only respond to comments that include the same. Debating a point with those who comment on your blog is a fantastic way of increasing repeat readers but choose your battles carefully.
Althaf Ahmed is a professional blogger and S.E.O. Consultant. He is the co-founder of Social Tips. He recently authored The Twitter Marketing Guide for 2012.