"Opinions are like **, everyone has one." You've probably heard that a time or two. So, why should someone read your opinion instead of flaunting their own? It's a tough crowd, so let's look at the basics. Bear in mind that "Know Thy Audience" applies here.
My very first editor told me "There are three type of opinion pieces: Those to inform, those to reform, or those to cause a sh**storm." She wasn't wrong.
Informative opinion pieces are, oddly, the hardest to pull off well. This is because they seem so easy to do. Introduce the topic, grab some facts to support your position and pad the word count ... bang, job done. Great, you now have the textual equivalent of watching paint dry. No one wants to read a couple of pages ripped from a text book!
The key here is to move as far from academia as possible. Keep it informal, without descending into a parody of a rural hick. You are (hopefully, at least) providing new information to your readers. New facts for them to consider and (again hopefully) incorporate into their worldview. New things are scary. Make it easy on the reader and they will be more receptive.
Reform pieces are the big brother of the pack. State the problem you are looking at, clearly, in the first couple of sentences. Then actually address it! Prime examples of this type are articles by Mark Levin or Thomas Sowell, and I'm not even going to try to compete with the masters. Pick a couple of their pieces at random and study them from a structural point of view. Look closely at how they are put together.
The final type ... these are fun and profitable to write. These get clicks or eyeballs. They sell newspapers and magazines. The only basic rules here are to complain as eloquently as possible, while elegantly and viciously denouncing whoever you feel like attacking today. The New Yorker is good at high end versions. The Daily Mail has built it's entire media presence on these types of opinion pieces.
They're crap. Preaching to the choir may be emotionally satisfying, but it's not exactly going out and witnessing, is it. Notoriety is not the same as popularity - just ask the guy who landed his autogyro on the White House lawn. Heard from him lately?
You may, and indeed will, combine types in your writing. A reform piece always has some informative component, and the complaining component of the sh**stormer. An informative piece always starts (in the writers head at least) with a problem: "Too few people know about X." But the three basic categories still hold and act as a guide.
So, in answer to the question at the start of this post:
"Why should people read my opinion?"
"My opinion is well structured and sourced. Theirs is all over the place."
Coming up next - Voice.