For some reason, it’s hard to persuade people. Yet, learning how to persuade others is a vital life skill. Of the many types of persuasion, writing to persuade is perhaps trickiest.
There are many ways to persuade in writing and many, many ways to learn techniques in persuasive writing. Some students benefit from persuasive essay examples. Others need persuasive essay guidelines. Luckily, you’ve found this article—which offers both guidelines and examples!
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Top tip: Study examples to master writing to persuade
There’s no substitute for experience writing persuasive essays. But persuasive essay samples are a huge help. Reading example essays is the closest you’ll get to writing them yourself.
The first tip is to read persuasive essays! Start with opinion pieces in the New York Times, the Seattle Times, your hometown newspaper, or any newspaper. The internet is also filled with persuasive essays on everything from the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only sex education to the importance of learning about personal finance. Or check out countless persuasive essays on abortion.
(Note, many of these examples use a 5 paragraph persuasive essay format: an intro paragraph, a concluding paragraph, and 3 body paragraphs. This will be detailed with example snippets!)
Read these samples to figure out how to start a persuasive essay and grasp the general persuasive essay structure. Also, this can give you inspiration for persuasive essay topics.
But first, we have an important question to ask (and answer).
What is a persuasive essay?
The answer to this question is as simple. A persuasive essay is a type of argumentative essay that’s written to persuade your reader of your perspective on an issue. There is no limit to persuasive essay topics. Take advantage of that! (This is discussed thoroughly in the How to write a persuasive essay section.)
Consider this carefully:
Starting is always hard. And writing to persuade is no exception. The easiest way to show you how to start is through examples. This article features the most valuable persuasive essay example: a formal email asking for a pay raise. Annual pay raises aren’t automatic anymore. Therefore, this might be the most valuable type of persuasive writing you’ll encounter.
First, the example—then the explanation:
Throughout working here at Acme Incorporated for the past year, I have grown both personally and professionally. As an increasingly valuable Acme employee, I deserve a ten-percent raise.
(Remember, keep reading to see how this example essay develops.)
This example introduction does two very important things:
- The main point of this persuasive essay (i.e., getting a raise) is brought up quickly—in the second sentence!
- There’s an absolute minimum of text before the main point is made.
A first sentence can set the stage (maybe with a provocative quote from Bartlett’s). But the second sentence should be the main point.
No matter what:
Always start persuasive writing with your position. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a formal argumentative essay or an informal text message to your friend. Get to the point when writing to persuade.
Now you know how to start a persuasive essay. Let’s consider persuasive essay structure.
Learn the persuasive essay format using an example
Like most formal essays, persuasive essays have a format: introduction, body, and conclusion. (It’s important to have a clear essay format, so check out essay outline examples.)
Learning how to write a persuasive essay introduction is crucial to being a writer who can persuade your reader. The introduction of a persuasive essay should accomplish three goals: (1) describe your position as early as possible, (2) present the topic with a brief overview of information necessary for understanding it, and (3) outline arguments supporting your position.
Let’s continue where the earlier example ended:
In the past two quarters, Acme has earned record profits. As an assistant salesperson, I have been vital to this success. The appropriateness of this ten-percent raise is supported by four specific facts: (1) my sales numbers have increased every month, demonstrating my value in sales; (2) many other office responsibilities are handled by me, providing additional value to Acme; (3) other junior salespersons rely on me for sales advice; and (4) the pay increase I am requesting reflects the market value of a skilled salesperson at my level. Accordingly, I have earned a ten-percent raise.
When this follows the earlier example text, this forms the perfect introduction to the sample persuasive essay.
Here’s a tip:
Use numbers to organize the arguments in your essays. This can impress readers with the sheer number of supporting arguments.
The body of a persuasive essay should be the longest part of your essay—by far. In this case, the body of the example essay should be four paragraphs long, with one paragraph dedicated to each of the numbered arguments. Follow this rule of thumb, even if you don’t number your arguments.
The conclusion of a persuasive essay should be the introduction’s mirror image. Because a conclusion doesn’t introduce the subject, it should be a bit shorter. In other words, a conclusion should restate your perspective and then remind the reader of all the support you provided initially.
Back to the conclusion of the example:
My role at Acme Incorporated has consistently increased company profitability in a number of ways. By continually increasing my own sales, fulfilling miscellaneous office duties, and providing guidance to fellow salespersons, I am due to receive a ten percent raise, which would put my salary at a fair market rate.
Now the breakdown:
This conclusion is as short as possible, which is perfect. Still, this essay reviews all four of the main arguments of the sample persuasive essay! If it is your style, you could end this with a final, slightly more aggressive sentence:
The decision to increase the salaries of any employee can be difficult, but the arguments I have provided demonstrate that my continued employment with Acme Incorporated will more than pay for itself.
A bold statement is a great way to end a persuasive essay.
But how do you actually write your essay??
Here is one simple, step-by-step method that gets real results for all persuasive essay topics.
How to write a persuasive essay in 10 steps
These ten steps are the closest thing you will find to a shortcut for writing to persuade. With practice, you may get through these steps quickly—or even figure out new techniques in persuasive writing.
Step 1: Pick a familiar topic
Everyone has heard the saying “write what you know.” This approach gives you two tremendous advantages. First, you will already have an opinion and an understanding of the arguments for and against your perspective. Second, you can go through the writing process more quickly. Without all of that research or time spent locating sources, you can focus on the process of rewriting.
For example, if the assignment is to persuade the reader to vacation in a specific destination, pick a destination you have visited—multiple times if possible.
Pick a topic that you know well!
(But if you’re desperate, consider looking through a list of persuasive essay topics.)
Step 2: Research, research, and research
The title of this step says it all: the more research you can do, the better. The best approach is to set a deadline for stopping research. Immerse yourself until then. This way you can stay on pace to finish before your final deadline. By the end of this research process, you should crystalize your position on the topic before looking at persuasive essay samples on the topic.
Step 3: Read opinions in favor of your position
While this steps sounds like Step 2, it is not! Here, you are specifically going to want to read at least one or two expert persuasive essay samples that agree with your position. This will show you good ways to structure your argument. Simultaneously, it can reveal any obvious holes in your position.
Take notes on the most convincing lines of support. And always cite your sources correctly.
Step 4: Read opinions against your position
If Step 3 didn’t reveal flaws in your position, this step certainly will. Sun Tzu wrote, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” By reading an opposing example of a persuasive essay, you can be prepared for any criticisms your readers might consider. Use this knowledge to strengthen your research and essay.
Take notes on the most convincing counterarguments. And always cite your sources correctly.
Step 5: Research, research, and research (again!)
And now you are back to Step 2 all over again? Not quite. Now you’re armed with new information. You’ve read expert opinions and distilled them. Take your knowledge and use it to guide additional research. Focus on weaknesses. Find facts that contradict counterarguments. If others have argued that the vacation destination you are writing to persuade people to visit is too hot, find some great “cooling-off” activities. If the experts didn’t make your vacation destination sound exciting enough for some people, locate some nearby thrills.
Step 6: Make a persuasive essay outline
Many writers skip outlining. And then spend hours staring at a blank page. Don’t do that! Make an outline! Professional writers will tell you that it is easier to make an outline than it is to “just start writing.”
Make a persuasive essay outline. It will make your position really take shape. Because every persuasive essay is different, there is no persuasive essay outline template. Plan the most effective order for your arguments. Reorder arguments if necessary. Make sure that the persuasive essay structure orders your ideas clearly.
Step 7: Writing a rough draft
Since you now have the essay structure now, this should be the easiest step of all.
This is going to sound crazy but:
At this point, don’t think—just write!
You’ve already thought a lot. Furthermore, you’ll do plenty more thinking. Don’t waste time deciding what to write. Just write! Turn each idea into grammatical sentences. Fill in the rough structure of your persuasive essay outline.
Step 8: Reread and revise
And now the real work begins:
There are many tricks to revising your own writing. But here is one that really works. When you complete a rough draft, give yourself a break before rereading your essay. Later, read your draft, correcting typos and making small improvements as you go. If you like your essay, great! If you dislike your essay, take notes.
Use those notes as you begin the process of revising and editing your essay. Repeat this as many times as necessary. As Ernest Hemmingway said, “The only type of writing is rewriting.”
But if you don’t know what to do…
Step 9: Get feedback
Getting feedback is the easiest and hardest step in how to write a persuasive essay. But feedback is also the most valuable step. This step is easy because it puts responsibility on a friend, but this step is hard because it requires asking for help. Just ask your friend to read your essay and take notes.
Step 10: Reread and revise (again!)
Maybe your friend thought your persuasive essay was perfect. But probably not. Treat this step like Step 8, but using that second opinion. You’ll be amazed how helpful a second opinion is.
Sometimes, tips aren’t enough
Maybe you’ve procrastinated. Maybe you’ve looked through countless persuasive essay examples, and you still don’t have a clue. Maybe an emergency came up.
Don’t worry. The expert team at Custom Writing can rescue you. A team of professional writers with advanced degrees is ready to provide the research, writing, and editing support you need for the most persuasive essays.