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How to Research for Your Blog Posts and Articles?

[Article is dedicated to William Faulkner; see History Today]

When writing your blog’s content, you have to put across only valid, verifiable information, not crap. Writing an original authority document requires a lot of dedication from the writer’s side, unless you do it for the sake of giving regular content only. People with blogs meant for money would put five articles a day, copied from Wikipedia (content ready). On the other hand, a blogger for visitors would research properly and answer the reader questions appropriately. Here, we will look at the ways of doing appropriate research for your daily articles.

  1. Find Today’s Topic

The first step is finding the topic that will interest your potential readers today. You have lots of ways to get the potential topic: ask a unique question related to anything hot at the time or ask a general question.

Questions generate topics, and an article is an overall answer to this question, stated with the sauce and spice of research data and your personal opinions. So, writing an article is a lot less work than writing a fiction; have some unique opinions, find out facts through research to substantiate them, and you are done!

One great way to find a topic to write about is reading some news stories, hot at the time. News stories give you potential questions or points that are unanswered. These news stories can put you at an advantage, if they are current and you find enough time to research and post a blog article on any unanswered question or unclear point within them. People reading the news story will be searching for related stories as well and will most likely land your page, if available concurrently with the news story, and many readers will appreciate your effort. So, find out news stories belonging to your particular niche and read them.

  1. Know Your Audience

This is more or less a general guideline, meant for all bloggers. Visualize your audience with your mind’s eye. Their age group, mannerisms, thoughts, and most importantly, needs, should be visualized correctly. If you have a blog on politics, your readers will be mostly those politicians of various age groups or political correspondents looking for public opinions. If you have a financial blog, your readers may be businessmen, stockbrokers, or ordinary people looking for financial advice.

The way to know your audience is to visualize one person that represents it. Write your article in the way you would speak to this prototype.

  1. Fish for Articles on Related Topics

Before doing your content preparation, it is important that you search in the Internet for related articles. This is one primary step to take. The most important step, of course. When you search for articles, it is definitely important to find out the most appropriate ones. For this, use the phrase search in Google. Whatever your question is, include it within quotes to get the exact result that answers your question.

In Google, you can also use the ‘+’ sign between each search term, to get the results with all the words searched for.

When you have a list of articles, read them fully, and understand and catalog the ideas.

  1. Social Media to Answer Questions

In this part, I would like to point you to this Problogger article on using Twitter appropriately. I found this article recently. Darren Rowse there mentions the importance of using twitter effectively to generate answers to the questions you have. I even tweeted this article yesterday. If you look down on the article, you will find that I have commented on it.

Social media sites in which you have some presence can be a wonderful way to research for your daily content. Twitter is one such. When you are in doubt on any particular point, just ask that question to any of your friends online in a social media site at that time, and you will most probably clear your doubt.

  1. Compile Your Draft and Look for Further Research

With the research data and with the questions answered through the social media sites, you will be able to form a generally acceptable, correct opinion on the topic in question. You will be able to answer clearly “whether it is good to invest in a particular company at this point of time or not?” based on the data you collected.

Write a draft and mark off all those areas that need further research. This draft is the starting point of your article—the base article.

  1. Research Further

Now, we are at almost the final part of the article research. This is the in-depth research part of the article. After you finish your draft, or as you finish it, you will encounter many unanswered questions within the draft. Mark them off and do further research for them. This is the next part. Fish out more of the articles that have your clarification, and read them.

The way for this is to look for unexplained keywords. The questions that crop up in your article will be associated with keywords that require some explanation. Pin them down and search for them in Google. Do the step # 3 for each keyword.

  1. Words That Need Explanation

If your article is somewhat technical, including terms that laypersons may not fully understand, include some descriptions within the article. When researching for words, use services such as Wikipedia, Webster, technical dictionaries, etc., which contain further explanation or links to clarify the word that requires some clarification. Bracket a clarification for each such technical keyword.

This is beneficial for the readers who don’t know that particular word, and who knows, with this practice of properly bracketing explanations to unknown words (or at least linking to resources explanatory) the reader count may increase for your blog.

Conclusion

When you have completed your draft, it is time to present (rearrange the contents) in the appropriate fashion. This is the part requiring most care. But it is not part of the research strategy. We will look into this as a separate post.

With hose steps mentioned, research should be no pain. Reading is, however, something that pervades all areas, and without being a good reader, you cannot be a good writer. So, read a lot.

History Today

This day in the history, William Faulkner, one of the most respected 20th century American writers and Nobel laureate (for “his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel”), died in 1962. Faulkner is respected among the top-notch authors in English.

William Faulkner

William Faulkner

Image Credit: http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

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