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How to Write About Hot Topics With Style & Grace

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Do you struggle with writing about hot topics you are passionate about because it might offend your readers? If so, you will want to keep reading!

It is possible to let your voice be heard on hot topics, while simultaneously showing respect for your readers.

One of the reasons I started my blog, Keep the Tail Wagging, was to address dog rescue from a positive point of view by sharing our dogs’ happy ending. I later realized that I hadn’t addressed any hot topics. I was dancing around the boundaries of dog rescue because I’m a conflict-a-phobe.

Blog Tips | Ever wanted to write about something controversial on your blog, but were afraid of the response. These tips will help you write about hot topics with grace.

How to Write About Hot Topics

A year ago, I wrote an article about the ASPCA: Why I Don’t Donate to the ASPCA and Why Their Commercials Work. This article was discovered earlier this summer and sparked a firestorm of controversy on my blog because someone interpreted the title as a call to my readers not to support the ASPCA.

A couple months later, an article I wrote announcing a new reality television program about animal rescue combusted not only on my blog, but on Facebook as well. It was enough to make me consider abandoning my blog.

Addressing Hot Topics

There’s nothing more exhilarating to me than a spirited (and respectful) discussion about a topic many are passionate about. But some of us hesitate. Will my readers support me or flee? Will trolls find me and park in my comments? Will I be risking all my hard work just by taking a stance or sharing an opinion?

There are ways to address hot topics without turning your blog into an online version of The Real Housewives (shows I love, but not on my blog).

The below steps keep me out of trouble with my readers, help to spark a discussion, and allow me to feel like I’m making a difference.

1. Seek to Understand

There are many things out there that I have a strong opinion about, but instead of making a definitive statement about a topic, I admit that I’m not an expert, I share what I’ve learned, and then I ask for people to fill in the pieces of the puzzle. In the end, I learn something that I didn’t consider and I refrain from alienating my readers.

2. Address the Misunderstanding

When people become abusive about a topic, they might be coming from a place that started with a misunderstanding. The ASPCA discussion spun out of control because someone thought I was telling my readers not to support the ASPCA. The Boston Underdogs drama spun out of control because someone thought I was encouraging my readers to donate money to a Boston rescue.

I addressed both of these misunderstandings (for the benefit of my readers). If the people causing the drama are genuinely concerned and upset, I feel that I owe them an explanation and I want to clarify my stance to my readers who haven’t spoke up.

3. Don’t Feed the Controversy

I’ve learned that some people love the fight and when you say your piece and walk away from the exchange, they’ll go find a fight elsewhere. And for those who don’t go away, we have this awesome feature where we can block them from commenting in the future. If someone isn’t contributing to the discussion, if they’ve resorted to name calling, then they shouldn’t be given a stage to abuse us or our readers. I started blocking people when two of my readers made the request – that was the first time I realized that my readers were being turned off.

4. Don’t Take it Personally

This is easy to say once you have some distance and, with practice, you’ll get there. I’m almost there.

When someone goes from participating in a discussion to attacking you, It’s Not About You. It’s about whatever is going on in their lives at that time. It’s about their lack of control over a situation. It’s about their frustration over the topic at hand.

Shut the computer off, watch a movie, read a book, or punish your elliptical for 45 minutes. Allow yourself a break and some distance. Addressing name calling when you’re upset is tempting, but never satisfying.

inspirational quotes

5. Ask for Help

There is nothing wrong with asking for support from your fellow bloggers and readers. Reach out to people you trust and ask them to weigh in on the article. This prevents the discussion from being taken over by your opponent; provides your readers with a more well rounded discussion to follow, and gives you other opportunity to keep the discussion going down a productive path.

And finally, remember that it’s your blog and you’re allowed to set the rules and protect your work. After my summer of hot topics, I now add commenting guidelines at the end of a blog post that I think might ruffle feathers. We can’t allow drama (or the fear of drama) to prevent us from addressing important issues. But we can manage ourselves with style and grace so that we walk away smarter, becoming better bloggers.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on how to manage hot topics on your blog? What advice do you have and what’s your story?

Want More Writing Tips? Keep Reading!

About the Author:
Kimberly GauthierKimberly Gauthier is the blogger behind Keep the Tail Wagging. Kimberly is also the author of the eBook Standing Out in a Popular Blogging Niche. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her boyfriend, three dogs, and two cats and is nuts about blogging.

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  • You are so right that we tend to dance around a hot topic and address it head on…. very common in many blogs I read. We have a voice and often plenty of research to back up what side of the fence we stand on so why not use our platform for education and healthy debate? Thank you for sharing these tips – I’m pinning it for future reference.

  • Thanks so much for this, Kimberly. As you know, recently I’ve had an “issue” with a blog post. These are great guidelines!

  • Great post! I’m still quite new at blogging so I haven’t addressed anything hot. Great advice! Thanks!

    • My path to writing about hot topics was an accident – it’s always interesting when you write about something that doesn’t mean a whole lot, but hits someone wrong. It’s a great learning experience, even if it can suck at times.

      Have fun with blogging!!!

  • Michelle says:

    This is really good advice. I tend to stay away from too controversial topics because I don’t like conflict. When I see it a storm brewing on a blog, it’s always upsetting to me. But these tips offer a great way to handle it, if you want to tackle issues that are going to be seen as more sensitive.

    • I worked on my most recent post for over a week before I hit publish. I found that gaining sources and opinions, even ones that were contrary to my own, lended a level of credibility to my post and it received over 50 comments (some were my own, responding).

  • Monica says:

    Great advice, I have a topic that is extremely sensitive on a national, if not international level, that I have been sitting on for weeks, too afraid to post. This article is helping me work up the courage!

  • What great tips that I will pin for later when I have to write something difficult! Thanks for the wonderful points!

  • Cassi says:

    I haven’t had a hot topic yet so I guess I’m lucky. If I ever find one I’ll be sure to ask for help!

    • Getting support has helped me tremendously. What blew me away the most were when my readers jumped in. The communities we build with our blogs are the best!

  • Good thoughts. I’m not one to shy away from the controversies, but sometimes I get a little caught up on my own soap box. Good stuff here!

    • I think I have a post where I actually wrote “getting on my soapbox” – I get little preachy at times. But that’s what makes life fun. I love it when people are passionate (in a good way) about things.

  • Thanks for sharing this Kimberly. I have been thinking about writing hot topics for a while now and alienating my readers the the 1st thing I worry about. And I’ve had experience with trolls before which annoyed the heck out of me, and it was a very tame topic (I was reviewing local burger places for another blog). The tips above are really helpful. Now all I need to do is to gather up the courage to write about hot topics that I am passionate about

    • You’ll get there, Julia

      And if it helps, give your supporters a heads up so that they can hang with you after you hit publish. I did this with my post about the ASPCA – I called on my friends who have big mouths to come help me and it turned into a great discussion!

  • Renee says:

    Thanks for the tips. I am pretty opinionated…or I just feel very strongly about certain things…but I know not everyone feels as strongly as I do. I think keeping the peace is the important thing about things that don’t matter. If it matters then…..you have to stand your ground. And let the chips fall….:)

    • Well said, Renee! I’m very opinionated when it comes to my dogs and dog rescue. I try to shut up long enough to hear what others have to say, but it’s hard to change my mind some days. 🙂

  • Kimberly, these tips are awesome not only for blogging about controversial subjects, but also for a way of life. Thanks for sharing them, great read!

  • All health information is controversial – and I make videos about ALL OF IT. I make sure to do my research so I can back up what I am saying on EVERYTHING – and if people don’t like what I am saying, they are most certainly allowed to say so, that is what blogging and blog commenting is for – freedom of speech! Not everyone is going to agree with you and if anything, arguments draw attention, and attention = more page views! LOL!

    • LOVE IT! You are so very right. I wrote about a television program and 2 people (a couple) flipped out. Their week long tantrum increased my page views like crazy!

  • Allison says:

    Love this! I tend to hide and not tackle controversial things. I worry what others think, I really do! But this is really inspirational. Thank you!

    • My pleasure, Allison

      I have to admit that I’ve been the same way, but I’m getting better with each topic. I’d much rather have a respectful discussion; but the mean people aren’t getting to me like they used to.

  • Holly says:

    I agree entirely with Twingle Mommy’s comment. I do my best to be tactful, but I am not going to pretend I’m someone I’m not in real life or on my blog. We all write to convey messages to readers. If I’ve done that, I feel good about my post even if some people are in disagreement with me.

  • Great advice Kimberly! My favorite mantra is ” What’s right is the point, what’s wrong is beside the point.” I always try to keep things in perspective and grow from the right feedback not the negative critics. We have to remember we are judged by other’s perception not our reality. It is always good to ask, how will this be perceived. 😉

  • amy says:

    Great article! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  • After getting burned over personal posts, it’s hard to hit that publish button the next time around. I’ve learned to write for me and not worry about what other people think. It took me a while to get there and blocking a few trolls to get there though. You can’t please everyone and as long as you’re not attacking someone, the response is usually fine.

  • I think this was very well put! I write a blog called Buttergirl Dairies. It’s a blog primarily about coffee chat convos, some of which can be touchy.

    Today I wrote about the “Decision to Not Have Kids”

    I think I wrote about it in a way that everyone can relate to. I spoke about how its a new trend on the Katie Couric show and how I know people personally who dont want kids and respect their decision.

    So far the commentary has been great. I never outright stated my opinion and let the discussion with open ended questions.

    This post reaffirmed that I’m going about my “controversial posts” the right way!


    • I will be reading that article, Ginny

      That happens to be the topic of my lastest bout of controversy. Not the decision not to have children, but the term “dog mom” – someone wrote an article about me, because I chose not to have kids, but call myself a dog mom to my three dogs. Wow did I get an earful of critiques – someone even wrote an article about me.

      Someone shared that it’s amazing when you hit a button and get people talking – we just need to manage that discussion to keep it productive and free flowing 🙂

      Sounds like you’re doing just that.

      ~ Kimberly

  • Emily says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I blog on disability rights and a post of mine on a commercial blew up. Some people gave great constructive feedback but some people attacked my character without knowing me at all. I wish there was a universal Internet etiquette for people to accept other opinions and if they disagree, to engage in respectful debate. Unfortunately, this is not so, but you’re right…we must handle such situations with grace and style. This is a fantastic post about an important issue in blogging.

    • I’m so sorry, Emily

      I know first hand how tough that situation is and it sucks! There have been so many times when I’ve been reading comments on my blog or FB page with tears in my eyes. Logically, I know that I shouldn’t take it personally, but it’s frustrating when people jump to attacks to get their point across. I always try to picture someone who is going through the worst period of their life and their just attacking everyone. It doesn’t make it right, but it helps me move past the situation.

      Big hugs! We bloggers need to stick together and protect each other.

      ~ Kimberly

  • Shana Norris says:

    Thanks for sharing, Kimberly. I hate conflict, too. I am the opposite of the people you mention who love a good fight. I flee from them with lightning speed 🙂

    • OMG, Shana – I’m right there with you. I have actually run from a room because a conflict I wasn’t even involved in broke out. Last summer, I changed my number, because someone started texting me about unfriending her on Facebook. I thought unfriending her would end the conflict – nope.

      I so understand where you’re coming from.