As a writer and marketer, I’ve done my fair share of writing for different industries. More often than not, I’ve spent my time researching and writing about fields I wasn’t initially familiar with.
This is actually one of my favorite parts about writing because it exposes me to new topics! I love every moment of diving into a new industry and learning neat stuff that’ll help me guess the answers on Jeopardy faster.
But how do you get started building credible and engaging writing? Whether you’re writing professionally or for fun, here’s a general guide for steps you can take to do proper research for your writing.
First: Plan, plan, plan
You want to plan what you’re going to write about before you actually do it. You don’t want to have a vague idea; you should try to have a clear direction so you know what facts you need when researching for your writing.
You can start by making an outline of a topic you want to be an authority on, and then fill in the information as you research. This will help you narrow your focus and give you ideas on where to start.
Look at Industry Leaders for your selected topic
When diving into a new topic to write about, you need to know who’s in the business. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are there top influencers? Influencers are individuals on the internet who are viewed by the public as guiding authorities in their niche. Influencers are on social media, own blogs, and are the ones with high view counts on major platforms. Look at the Influencers in the industry you’re looking to write about and gather ideas on what’s important to their audience. See if they’ve said anything about the topic you want to write about.
- What are people currently buzzing about in the field? Think about what’s hot right now. Is there a controversy? Or perhaps a major breakthrough just occurred. Make sure to include the most relevant and recent news to establish credibility in your writing.
- Seek out professional authors on your topic. Outside of Influencers, there’s plenty of pros who’ve had their books edited and published by people that are the experts. Follow these pros, buy/rent their books, and do whatever you can to understand their facts. This will help make your argument stronger when you write your piece.
When you actually do the writing, make sure you hyperlink to the sources of your content (if it’s going to be published digitally). If you’re writing traditionally, slap the names of these people in your works cited. This will help build your credibility and establish your authority on the topic; after all, people will be eager to know where your facts came from!
Find the Best Databases
There’s plenty of free databases on the internet that collect content from a variety of experts. Databases are websites that curate content on their chosen topic from reputable, credible sources. As the world becomes more and more connected, you’ll have access to more databases than ever before.
Sometimes you might have to pay for exclusive access to the best databases. If you go to school or have a local library nearby, think about checking out their database subscriptions. Besides, if your tax or tuition dollars are paying for these services, it only makes sense to utilize them.
Here’s some tips when using databases:
- Be wary of websites where anyone can edit them. Unless you’re writing about a general topic with universally accepted facts, you should only use sources written by professionals.
- Just because it’s the first thing that pops up doesn’t make it the best website. Always research the person or corporation behind the website; remember, whatever sources you use will be part of your reputation, too!
An easy way of finding out if a source is valid is:
- Asking yourself who’s posting the content
- Do a quick background check on the individual or company
- Check if the information is outdated or if the source is still posting content
Research, fact check, and do more research to verify your information is correct.
Check the News and Social Media
News outlets are always posting about what’s currently trending in certain industries. While these may not be as useful for more niche topics, they can help you start a list of the most recent facts. Once you know what’s highly publicized, focus on developing accurate writing on those ideas.
Social media is also a great place to search for your topic. If you find certain trends or items are consistently searched for, be sure to include those in your writing. This will help you stay relevant and with the times.
With the internet, you might think you don’t need books; however, this is where some of the best information can be found! During one of my internships, I had to read a few books to understand what I was writing about. Published authors are more likely to have the credentials and background for the information they’re sharing, and so you’re more likely to come across more factual than fictional ideas in a book.
Books are also great because you can keep them by your side while you write. You can probably generate a list of new ideas you want to cover based on what you’ve read.
Ready to become a writing expert? Here’s the next steps
Now that you’re ready to tackle writing, you should work on developing your first draft. Remember that it takes time to perfect your craft, but in due time you’ll soon have something worth looking at. Work on stringing what you’ve research together, and happy writing!