In blogging, there are two elements that can transform a blog post into a masterpiece. The first one, it’s not a very exact thing. It differs from blogger to blogger, and that is passion. That you’re either born with, or you learn by experimenting and writing more and more.
The second, on the other way, is more precise, it is the quality of the information that you provide. Is that information appealing? Is it helpful? Does it offer real insight?
How do we improve the value of the information that we provide through our blogs? Through research.
For the dedicated blogger, topic research is probably the most time-consuming part of the whole publishing act. Ideas might come in a matter of seconds, words are written at a certain speed, but the information behind those words is gathered in what can extend to even days (if not more).
Sure, some articles are based on the blogger’s own experience and aptitudes, and can take a lot less to research, but for others, time can become a pretty serious issue. To shorten that time, here are a few tips and resources to help you in your research activity.
Topic Research Tips
Whenever one of my colleagues asked me a question to which I did not have an answer, I told them to search on Google. Sometimes, they said they couldn’t find the information through searches, but once I searched, there it was.
It’s all about the “query”. Just as you would think about which keywords to optimize your posts for. Going too complex will most likely give you no results, or too many unrelated results. Be very specific.
For example, a few days ago I need to find in which WordPress file is a function defined. Believe it or not, such information is quite hard to find at a quick search. But, in the end, and by using the right query ( function-name defined in .php ), the result I was looking for was right at the top.
Niche blogs and forums
It is almost impossible that at least a similar topic hasn’t been approach on other niche blogs or forums. Topic research on blogs has its own rules. Bloggers took time to create that information, so, it would be nice considering a link back if the post helped you with your research.
It’s just like writers do with books, adding “bibliography” at the end, mentioning their sources of inspiration.
While you’re on those blogs, do take a look at their comments. Usually, you can find valuable additions or related posts there.
When it comes to forums and blog comments, you have to be careful with the information you choose to use. Topics usually become debates between sides with different opinions, and it’s up to you to choose the right ones.
Wikipedia knows best
Or so they say. Of course, being a human edited project of such a big size, errors can appear, but still, chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for.
When doing topic research on Wikipedia, take a look at the related entries. You might find additional information that you did not even consider introducing the first time.
The selective process
After talking in so much information, the hardest part is to select the gold from the dirt, the information that would generate a unique and valuable post in the end.
In your searches, you have probably seen what other bloggers wrote about, which areas of the topic they covered. Those parts will definitely not generate an unique article, unless you’re sure you can add more unique personal views.
If not, instead of redeveloping them, rather limit yourself to a paragraph explaining what people can read about in the post/article you’re about to link to.
Also, compare and confront information gathered from all sources and make sure that you go with the ones widely accepted, or at least the ones that your experience trusts most.
Take out what does not pass the standards and there you have it, the perfect information, the result of you assiduous topic research!
Photo credits to Sergio Guidoux Kalil.