You’re great with communication – people hang on to your every word, be it a Facebook comment, a blog post or an article for work. Writing definitely comes easier to some than others, but there are some required steps that come before the actual writing, that are quite as important in creating a great piece of content. Ideation, obviously – you need to have the ideas to create the content. But will some thoughts alone get you through the process? No – you need meat, and you need to fill in those lovely ideas and suggestions with research.
Research is the backbone of a well put together piece, be it a blog, an article, a case study or a whitepaper. Thinking, planning, reading, online searches and sources, or talking to SMEs, all constitute research. Plan – know the audience, the length of the content, whether there are visuals or design elements that play a part in the final product. Some topics and types of writing are easier than others – obviously the amount of time and research one puts into a blog post will be much less than that required for a whitepaper. However knowledgeable one is on a topic, one needs to do at least some additional research.
First and foremost, you need to recognize which sources are credible and citeable. When I was a graduate teaching associate for my university’s communications department, one of the things we would repeat to our students every single semester was that Wikipedia was not to be cited in the Resources section of a paper. Wikipedia has its place, for sure – it is a handy starting place, or when you want just quick info and aren’t too concerned about it being credible or factual all the way. And guess what – Wikipedia cites the sources it uses for the topic – so rather than stop here, go check out and then cite those links! Alongside credibility of the source, your credibility too can come into question, if you take just one source as your bible and don’t look for others that back up your idea/statement/cause. It is always good to take the time and find more than one source.
Now that we’ve agreed on the importance of research and why, let’s talk about how you can go about this successfully. Know how to search – the terms, words – be neither too generic nor too specific that you find yourself with a deluge of information that’s too generalized or else with hardly any sources since your search parameters were too narrow. In fact, one reason to engage in research before committing to a piece or beginning the writing process is to ensure that the topic actually has enough information available, to be written on. While it may seem that Google has the answer to any question, I’ve come across this issue when dealing with a highly technical or new on the market topic or trend. Next, using the right words, and employing keywords to search on your topic will help you create quality content, since you will get more hits and thus more sources to use. And knowing that there are already a ton of posts on your keyword means your piece will be harder to find, so you can tweak your terms. After all, when writing for an online audience and space, having the right keywords is important indeed.
So here’s one formula then, when it comes to writing well – research, research and then, more research! Take the time to do it – having extra info at your side is helpful and having knowledge on a topic can’t actually go to waste, now can it? If nothing else, you’ll surprise someone with your knowledge on an unexpected topic!