It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Advice Column. I have one, and Dear Dating Bitch is a big part of this blog. In fact, long time readers probably know that I started blogging mainly with the intention of writing my own advice column.

But I’ll be honest: I just jumped right in with no real idea of what I was doing. And no plan in place for how to improve. Since then, I’ve learned a lot and (hopefully) gotten better at doling out words of wisdom. So, today, I’m sharing my best tips on how to write your own advice column.

Related Read: The Agony Aunt Appeal: Why We Love Advice Columns

How To Start An Advice Column

1. Determine Your Niche

Just like with blogging, it’s helpful to determine a specific niche for your advice column. Now, lifestyle blogs are popular and they tend to be a bit eclectic in subject matter, but it is still a niche. And most lifestyle bloggers center their writing around certain themes, like beauty or wellness.

So, if you already have a blog, consider your audience. Is it mostly women in their 20’s? Other bloggers? New parents? Then think about what you know. What do you have expertise or experience in? After that, you can determine what type of advice you want to give and how broad or narrow your niche will be.

Some popular advice column topics include: love and dating, parenting, money management, and navigating adult life. More specific topics could include blogging, wedding planning, or college life.

2. Come Up With A Catchy Name

Once you know what you want to write about, it’s time to give your column a catchy name.

Most of the time, advice columns have straightforward names. They tend to start with either ‘Dear’ or ‘Ask.’ And there’s nothing wrong with that! (Hey, mine is called Dear Dating Bitch, remember?)

You can, of course, use your name. Something like, Dear Jane: Advice For Millennial Living works just fine!

But you can also use the name as an opportunity to be clever or original. Think of popular columns such as Ask A Manager and Miss Manners. The name of the column is both catchy and it tells you exactly what the advice is going to be about.

3. Cultivate An Audience

If you already have a blog, then congrats! You already have an audience! In that case, announce your upcoming advice column on social media and in a blog post “introducing” the new series.

For those of you who don’t already have an audience, it’ll be a little trickier, but it can still be done. First, you’re going to need to start a blog. (You can use the free platform on WordPress to make sure you like it.)

After that, I’d suggest connecting with the blogging/freelance writing community on Twitter. Make connections and start building followers. Read other bloggers, especially those who write in a similar niche. They’ll be your biggest supporters when you start out (and honestly, the community is absolutely lovely!)

4. Find Some Letters To Start

The biggest challenge for an advice columnist is getting letters to answer, especially in the beginning.

When you announce your new column, you’ll probably get plenty of likes and encouragement. But unless you already have a huge platform, chances are you won’t get any actual letters at first. That’s because people (naturally) want to read your advice before seeking it for themselves.

So, how do you deal with this? Simple—turn to the trusted internet. Sites like Reddit and Quora are basically a collection of people asking for advice from strangers on the internet. Use that to curate a few letters. Of course, you’ll want to rewrite them and make sure not to include any specific or identifying information.

When I started out, I would go and look at the most commonly asked questions (“how do I get over my ex,” or “my ex did this confusing thing, what does that mean?” were popular.) Then, I’d use those letters to write the column.

Remember, a lot of people like to read advice columns but they don’t necessarily like to write in. But keep writing consistently and you’ll start to get letters.

5. Create A Submission System

Even though you shouldn’t expect to get letters right away, it will happen eventually. So, you’ll need to have a way for readers to write in.

That could just be your email address. Or even a contact form on your blog. But, to keep things more organized for yourself, I’d suggest creating a separate system. For example, a separate email address solely for advice questions. works well!

In my case, I set up a Google Submission Form so that readers can submit questions anonymously.

Tips For Writing Your Advice Column

1. Read Other Agony Aunts

If you’re not already in the habit of reading other advice columns, I’d start ASAP. Fiction is different than non-fiction. News articles are different than op-eds. And advice columns are different than blog posts.

By reading examples from other writers, it’ll help you improve your own writing. Some of my favorite advice columns are Dear Prudence and Ask A Manager.

(And of course, feel free to check out Dear Dating Bitch while you’re at it!)

2. Write How You Talk

Every advice columnist has a different *voice.* But read a few and you’ll start to notice a pattern: they’re all pretty conversational.

Advice columns aren’t meant to be big, lengthy articles. They’re not literary or pretentious. Nor are they ‘how-to’ posts. They’re a simple exchange of thoughts and ideas. A letter, if you will.

So, when writing one, keep it casual. Write the way you would speak to a friend.

3. Show Empathy

Trust me, you’re going to get some odd letters now and then. In fact, you might get some that are clearly just trolling you.

And, of course, you’ll get some genuine ones that nevertheless make you want to scream. For me, it’s some iteration of, “my ex still wants to sleep together, does this mean we’ll get back together?”

It’s easy to look at that question and think, “what an idiot! of course he doesn’t love you!” But I’d be willing to bet you’ve had similar moments of idiocy in your life. Hindsight is always 20/20.

So, when you respond, make sure to show empathy to your reader. No one wants to have their query answered with a dismissive, “you’re a dumbass.” Remember, this is a real person going through a real struggle.

4. But Also Honesty

You can be empathetic about a person’s heartbreak without coddling them. This is, after all, an advice column and you’re meant to give actual advice.

Giving a reply like, “Maybe he does really love you. Go ahead and sleep with your ex, I have faith it’ll all work out” isn’t helpful. Instead, be honest. And if you can, use your own experiences to illustrate.

In the above example, I’ve made that mistake before. So, I would reply talking about how I felt when I slept with my ex and what ended up happening. Then, I’d give advice based on what I wish I’d known then.

5. Include A Call To Action

At the end of every Dear Dating Bitch post, I include a simple call to action telling readers where they can send in questions.

Regular readers might find it repetitive, but it’s necessary. First of all, for new readers who might not know where/how to submit letters. And second, because people are more likely to send in a letter after they read your advice.

Pin for later - How to Write an Advice Column

What are your thoughts on writing an Advice Column? Let me know in the comments below!

And, of course, if you have your own love-life questions you’d like answered, go ahead and send them in to me HERE. (Don’t worry, it’s always anonymous!)



  1. avatar

    An advice piece for advice columns. We’re going meta here, lol. I’ve never really thought of that, but you may have given me an idea or two about starting new columns on my own blog. Thanks for this, Katie!

    1. avatar

      Lol, yes, I suppose it is a bit meta. I’m glad you found it inspiring though!

  2. avatar

    This is a great post!! So many things I wouldn’t have thought about when starting an advice column and you’ve obviously made it super successful. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

    1. avatar

      Well, a lot of it came from learning as I went lol. But thank you!

  3. avatar

    This is such great advice for starting an advice column. We’ve done a couple of advice posts but want to get into it more.

    1. avatar

      I really enjoy doing it. It’s a fun way to interact with your audience too.

  4. avatar

    I like these tips. It’s cool to have an advice column. Thank you for sharing.

    1. avatar

      Thanks! So glad you found it helpful!

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About Author

30ish Lifestyle blogger, relationship "expert," and modern-day agony aunt.
Sometimes humorous, always honest.