Trying to write for magazines or other publications and don’t know how to craft an editorial?
Today I’m going to show you how to write and format an editorial in a few easy steps.
Editorial writing is very lucrative and fun, making it an awesome avenue for writers.
However, writing editorials that get approved by picky editors can be a whole other ball game.
Follow along as I show you the ropes of editorial writing.
What is an editorial?
First of all, let’s define what an editorial is.
According to Google, it’s:
A newspaper article written by or on behalf of an editor that gives an opinion on a topical issue.
It’s typically focused on a trending topic or something relevant to a certain industry.
Since it’s an opinion based piece, it also requires thorough evidence, statistics, and research to make it credible.
You express a specific opinion and viewpoint when writing an editorial that you attempt to persuade readers into believing.
Let’s break down a live editorial to understanding proper formatting.
It all begins with the headline and featured image.
I’ll teach you how to write editorial headlines in a moment, but remember it’s the first thing readers see.
That means if your headline stinks, nobody is going to click through to read the article.
Additionally, in the words of Claude Hopkins, “Images are sales people in themselves.”
Depending on the publication you’re writing for, you may or may not have control over the featured image used for the piece.
However, the picture should preferably support and enhance the topic you’re speaking about.
Moving on, a hook and leading paragraph are the next crucial parts of an editorial to nail.
The first sentence or paragraph needs to make a bold statement or interesting observation to capture the reader’s attention.
Note how in this Wired article, the writer mentions how the Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act.
That is serious news.
Anyone interested in big data will be hooked into reading the remaining content.
This is why the leading paragraph needs to support the intro with further detail.
Furthermore, clarification may need to be done around some terms and topics if they are complex in nature like so:
Since editorials are opinion based, it’s of upmost importance that you mix in your perspective on things, too.
Seldom are editorials written in first person, though.
Instead, write your opinion as if it’s factual information, and back it up with supporting evidence.
For example, the author this of Wired article elaborates on how Facebook’s targeting and audience system has ethical and technical issues.
As regulations tighten up, this is only going to create more problems for them in the future and it’s deserved in a way.
On the flip side, another writer could’ve supported the idea of Facebook’s approach and that would’ve been their opinion.
See where I’m going with this?
You need to choose one side of the story and stick to it all the way through.
Which brings me to the conclusion:
It should summarize the main points of the article and end with a thought provoking statement.
Publications pay close attention to the conclusion because it’s often what spikes engagement such as comments and social shares.
That’s why I recommend putting solid effort into polishing off your piece before sending it to an editor.
Here are great examples of editorials you should swipe.
Use them as inspiration for headlines, formatting, voice, and to reference while writing.
- Why Is America So Far Behind Europe on Digital Privacy?
- 23 Movies That Had Great Potential But Ultimately, Didn’t Hold Up
- Congress needs to stop wasting everyone’s time by stalling over impeachment
- This Could Be The Biggest Scandal Of The Climate Change Era
- Why Are Only 4 Percent of Cannabis Businesses Owned By African Americans?
- Here’s Why Entrepreneurs Ought to Value Mainstream Media
Now that you understand how editorials are formatted and saw examples, here’s how to write one yourself.
Step 1: Find an epic topic to cover
If you want to get accepted by an editor of a publication, your pitch better be really damn good.
They don’t want generic or simple topics, but rather ones that cover a popular subject with your own unique twist.
For example, the Toronto Raptors just won the NBA Finals, so you could write a piece on “What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From The Toronto Raptors Winning The Finals.”
This article could elaborate on how their team’s training style and strategies can be applied to businesses.
It’s a random example, but stick with me.
You could also search for keywords through Google News to brainstorm.
Cannabis is really big in Canada with legalization happening last fall, so I searched for that:
Based on the first result, you could pitch an article on why you don’t think Ottawa’s legal cannabis edibles are a good decision for the city.
This is what we would call a response post.
It reacts to an existing story and provides another opinion on the matter.
Make sure you read the guidelines for the publication you’re writing for, as they may have restrictions or tips for topics.
Once you have an idea for a topic, consider the audience you’re writing for.
What do they care about? What do they want to learn? What are their demographics?
This will change you write and shape the editorial.
You want it to resonate with the section’s audience as much as possible.
That’s why I suggest reading previous articles and analyzing reader’s engagement.
What do they normally comment? Do you notice a pattern in how they speak?
Apply these observations to your editorial, and it will resonate with the target audience more.
Lastly, make sure to collect resources, references, and data to support the article.
Continuing off of the cannabis example, you could search for “cannabis stats” and use a couple of the results to back up points you make.
Once you’ve done this, you can move onto the next step.
Step 2: Craft a headline that makes BuzzFeed proud
As I mentioned earlier, the headline is what will ultimately attract clicks, so you need to put a lot of energy into writing one.
BuzzFeed has the reputation of being the king of click bait, but it isn’t a bad thing.
From a writer’s perspective, we can learn a ton about how to write headlines from them.
Just look at their front page:
It’s a gold mine for ideas!
Some strategies you can use for headline writing include:
- Explanatory: “George Bush Wears The Latest Yeezy’s to Summit, And We’re Trying to Figure Out Why” is an example of a headline that clearly explains what the article is about. There’s no mystery or questions needed.
- Bold: Making a bold statement in the headline like “Scientists Find The Link Between Beer and Mortality” compels users to read the editorial to learn more.
- Question: Some editorial headlines come in the form of a question that resonates with audience. “Trying to Lose Weight? You Won’t Believe What This Doctor Discovered” is an example.
Step 3: Make the outline
Before you begin writing your award winning editorial, slow your horses.
Start with an outline.
This will speed up the writing process and make your workflow smooth as silk.
An outline should consist of:
- The headline
- The introduction and hook
- Major and minor points
You don’t need to spend a lot of time on the outline, either.
It simply acts as an organized guideline for when you crack your knuckles and begin typing away.
Make sure that you have all of your resources and references opened up or saved, too.
Step 4: Write that bad boy!
Editorials have an opinion, and that opinion needs to be strong.
That means don’t use passive speak or weak arguments to back up any points.
The idea your proposing is the ultimate truth in your eyes, so you have to write in that manner.
If you read a lot of editorials, you will notice that they are written and edited to support a single idea.
Stick with that all the way through until the end.
Some other editorial writing tips I have:
- Write several different headline ideas and pick the best one.
- Edit and proofread the hell out of the article once it’s done. Continually reference the publication’s editorial guidelines to ensure it’s perfect.
- Share the first draft with other writers, family, and friends to get their opinion.
- Don’t underestimate the power of sleeping on your writing. You’ll feel refreshed and approach the article with a clear mind the next day.
What’s your #1 tip for writing better editorials?