How to research for writing online
Researching a topic before writing lays the quintessential foundation for a brilliant article. It’s imperative to say that the research is even more important than the writing itself.
As an article which doesn’t have credible facts and strong background checks; is not only going to sound unconvincing but can also be bad for SEO, as it’s untrustworthy (a measurement which is a part of Google’s E-A-T quality guideline).
So, if you’re looking to write articles to help build a loyal and bigger reader base, let’s get you started with writing articles which are backed up with quality research before you even start to write them.
How to research before writing online
1. Choose a niche you’re experienced in
It is always safe to stay in your niche when picking up writing gigs. Not only would you be saving your own time, but would also make sure that your work is up to the mark.
For example, if you aren’t well versed with technical or legal topics, don’t accept them. This is especially important if you’re relying solely on your researching skills, as there’s too much room for error.
2. Know the specific topic before writing for it
As a writer, there will be plenty of topics coming your way that you might not have even heard about, even if you stick to your niche.
With that said, not knowing a topic isn’t going to be a justifiable excuse, especially in the Google world. Hence, if you’re a writer, knowing that the art of hunting in the web space has to be your forte, a weapon that may even help you win wars!
Before you sit down to write or even accept any writing gig, dive into Google and understand at least the basics of the topic.
3. Brainstorm the topic
Brainstorming your client’s articles
Every writing gig comes with a summary of the task, as clients usually have a lucid picture of how they want their article to read and sound.
This lucid picture often contains insightful points of which haven’t been mentioned to you, meaning could start by simply asking your client for any pointers to help gear your article and research towards.
Even if clients are unclear, jump into your research notes and be ready to ask questions. Once you have the basics, this is the time where you bring in your sticky notes and marker pens to create a rough skeleton for them and more importantly yourself.
Doing this will help you both understand the flow of the article and even save you time from rewriting. As you could potentially be asked to rewrite an entire article if you’ve totally misunderstood the client’s original brief.
Most importantly by doing this, you would have developed a basic skeleton for your article, instantly providing you with sub-topics of which you should research accordingly.
Brainstorming your own articles
When writing for your own website, the same rules apply, along with one more. This is that you always know the reasoning behind your articles before you start to write them.
A useful tip for this is to brainstorm using the simple Wh-questions regarding the topic.
- Who will be reading this article? – Indicating the reader’s demographics and expertise level, etc. Meaning, your research could relate to this audience.
- What is it that most people are asking about around this topic? – Helping to provide you with further sub-topics to research
- When will this article be published? – It may be a seasonal piece, meaning that there are possibly seasonal topics to consider researching.
- Where will someone be reading this article? – If it’s a professional website such as LinkedIn, as your research may need to be geared more towards industry resources, etc.
Asking all of these questions should create a basic trajectory for your article and possibly a bias towards where you could swing your article’s research towards too.
4. Dedicate a good amount of time to your research
Make sure you collect links to credible information and save them to an accessible place. Tools such as Evernote or Pocket can be extremely useful when you’re browsing through innumerable amounts of websites and resources.
5. Find niche websites to use as research resources
Let’s say your topic is around SEO, finding blogs, websites and writers who are experts in that industry is going to be really helpful for you.
For example, a Google search for SEO would tell you that Neil Patel is one of the widely searched influencers. By being an influencer, his website will ultimately provide you with insights into what he has to say about the topic of SEO.
Going through the websites of experts in your topic’s niche can give you a fair idea on how to approach given topics and most importantly a niche resource to use for your research.
6. Follow the trails within your research
Publishers and news houses such as the Huffington Post, The Mirror, The Sun and Reuters, etc. are authoritative sources and can be trusted (almost) blindly!
If you’re referencing published research papers, go through the citations and footnotes at the bottom. These are guaranteed jackpots for credible, lesser-known information.
Don’t forget to link back to these resources if and when you refer to them whilst writing your article.
7. Use advanced search options in Google
Using Google’s advanced search tools, you can make your search much more relevant and efficient. As this search option allows you to search for keywords within a specific website (both including/excluding) and even search for information from a particular date too.
This can especially be useful if you’re trying to make sure that the information you’re collecting is both relevant and hasn’t been changed or made obsolete by an updated version.