I wrote an article several years ago about ways to get your fashion blog noticed and one of the “tools” I mentioned was to take a contrarian opinion about something. I DO NOT mean taking an opinion that's not your own, but if you have an opinion about something that's different from a lot (or the majority) of opinions in your niche, write an article about it! It can be scary to do because you might not want to alienate your peers, but if you come from a place of knowledge and defend your opinion well (and with respect to the other side) you can actually start a healthy dialogue.
Controversial posts ALWAYS resonate with someone, which tends to take them viral, resulting in more page views, comments and hopefully return visitors over time. Again – it's important to not be nasty (unless that's your niche!) and only choose to be controversial about something you're really passionate about.
Defend your Opinion
I've been anti-fashion week, written about why I don't read fashion blogs, and taken issue with eco-fashion over the years, and while I can't say for sure that the new readers I attracted by taking those positions stuck around, the posts did get a lot of attention at the time, and helped me create a name for myself as someone who's not afraid to express my opinion. You shouldn't be either. At the time, I didn't see anyone else writing about those things in a way I was satisfied with – and honestly, I still don't see enough fashion bloggers taking a stand on issues. There's really not a lot to disagree about, but issues do arise, and I've always had a hard time keeping quiet about things that matter to me.
As I said before, you don't have to be nasty when talking about an issue that's important to you – just be honest, calm and defend your position with facts as much as possible. And once you've written the article, get ready for backlash. Be prepared for negative comments and for people to disagree with you (oh! the horror!).
Stand your ground and respond as graciously as possible to commenters. The idea behind writing a controversial post is to start a dialogue in my opinion, and you can't do that if you're not willing to hear & respond to dissenters.
After all, you're a dissenter too, no?
Wear a Fashion “Don't”
If you're a personal style blogger, nothing gets more attention than posting an outfit featuring an “unconventional” item of clothing! I bought harem pants earlier this year, have worn them countless times in outfit posts, and have been featured/mentioned on other blogs because of them. Inevitably they garner very strong opinions – both good and bad. And since I've never been one to shy away from strong opinions, I love to push the boundaries a bit and wear them with flats (gasp!) or an oversized top.
Every time I wear them I get at least one negative comment, but I also know that I've inspired a lot of my readers to buy harem pants and rock them like nobody's business, which is why I do this in the first place.
And whenever I wear them, they're going to get attention, which is good for my blog and attracts new readers (and mentions from the brand).
Why do you read the blogs you do? Do you like to identify with the bloggers writing them? I do. I'm a fan of nice photography as much as the next girl, but if that's all there is, I lose interest quickly. I need to feel like I can relate to the person behind the blog on a personal level if I'm going to become invested in it and spend any time at all reading it. And I'll bet that many of your readers feel the same way.
I've been very honest on my blog about turing 40, body image issues, being childless by choice and every other important milestone I've faced in my nearly 10 years blogging. That honesty, and not being afraid to talk about important personal issues – in addition to staying true to my niche – is what keeps most of my readers around; it's certainly not the amazing photographs!! We have conversations about other things besides fashion & shopping, and I truly believe that is what keeps a blog going for more than a couple of years; it has to be about MORE.
Post a Negative Review
This is a tough one, and a topic oft discussed among fashion bloggers, but I truly believe that negative reviews are just as important as positive ones; ultimately you should ALWAYS only post honest reviews. I have never received anything from a brand directly that warranted a “negative” review (I have certainly always mentioned things I did not like about the product, but I've never been wholly unsatisfied), but I have mentioned dissatisfaction with items here and there that I've purchased and I encourage my readers to leave comments about their experiences with brands.
If you're working with a PR company or brand directly, and they're paying you for a campaign or post, I still think you should be honest about the product, and point out shortcomings as well as what you love. If you're truly unhappy with the quality, etc., I don't think you should feel like you can't write about your true feelings. Hopefully when you agreed to work with the company to do a review, you did not guarantee a positive review. Your readers deserve to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly about all the items you review, whether you paid for them yourself, or received them from a company.
Overall, when being controversial, it's crucial to be “nice,” calm, and factual as much as possible even though you're defending your opinion. And if you can't deal with backlash from your dissenting opinion, or from wearing an item of clothing that most people don't like, then don't post those types of articles. You are going to get negative comments, that's just part of putting yourself out there; you must be prepared to deal with them in a productive way.
Have you ever been controversial on your blog? Worn something that doesn't get a lot of love??
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]