How Can I Write Opinion and Commentary?

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Dear Allena, for about a year now I've written opinion and commentary on my own blog. I've enjoyed it a lot, and I can see that my prose has got better and better. I've started using my blog as a clip/sample for potential clients, and I've got positive feedback. I've heard compliments like "witty" and "strong voice."

So, I've started thinking that this might be the best outlet for me. I think it's easy to have this "voice" because I genuinely care about the commentary/opinion pieces that I am writing. It's easy for me to take material from everyday life (such as documentaries, biographies, political ads) and turn it into a couple hundred words- with no research!

This all sounds well and good, but I also want to be a paid writer. I understand that writing for companies and websites means that I have to write what they say to write. My question is: are there any paid outlets for opinion and commentary?

You are right in saying that writing in a genre you enjoy is what brings your strengths out. I've found that too. But, you're also right in that you've got to think of the client, first, if you're approaching your writing as a career/job. But, there are definitely ways to build a career around opinion and commentary. Here are some ideas:

  • Writing for political organizations. These places (such as non-profits, charities, think tanks, party headquarters and PACs) may need writers to produce postcards, brochures, op-eds, web content and so on. For example, one of my favorite clients (who've I've had for over a year now) is a political communications agency. They lend me out to other political agencies that need some help and support in their communications endeavors.
  • Blogs and web content. You're already blogging, and it sounds like it's going well. Have you tried monetizing your blog? That might be a logical next step. You could also try to write for other blogs whose opinions you share.
  • Newspaper columns and syndication. If you're able to market to a newspaper(s), you can focus on that, or push for syndication or self-syndicate.
  • Magazines. This is a pretty cut and dry one. For example, if you love writing opinion on feminist happenings, consider magazines such as Bitch magazine. There are also tons of politically-themed publications.
  • Book reviews. You can always review books in your interest area. Some kinds of book reviews infuse opinion on the subject matter in addition to the prose/publication itself.
  • Speech writing. If you team up with the right outlet, speech writing might be a great way to use your commentary skills.