If content is king then research is queen. Click & Tweet!
When you write anything, whether it’s for your business or not, you should have the knowledge to back it up.
Grounding your written content with cold hard evidence makes you instantly more believable… even if you’re blabbing about the nutritional benefit of an oreo-only diet.
Dropping in a relevant stat, quote or reference really adds that pro touch (which is exactly what you want when creating copy for your biz).
When I’m planning a piece of written content I’ll highlight areas I want to go back and research, just for a bit of extra whammy. It’s very rare that I’d write something without looking up anything – fact checking is just good practice.
The digital age has opened up a lot of creative ways to dig up this data – way more simple (and effective) than just hitting a search engine. There are so many resources out there, and they can vary a lot depending on your niche, but here are some of my favourites:
I always perform a Pinterest search before a Google one. The way I see it, people only Pin the best content, so all of that information has already been squeezed through a quality filter. The “secret boards” function in Pinterest is also a really handy tool for collating that information too. If you write about a few key topics, then it’s worth hanging onto them for future use.
This is particularly relevant if you spend a lot of time writing about similar topics. Back in the day, we used to use Google Alerts to send a daily digest of relevant content, but actually, it was never that relevant. ContentGems has a similar premise, but I’ve found it much more targeted AND I only get one weekly digest, so less inbox clutter.
(I just have a free account, which means it will look out for one key interest, but a paid subscription will give you much more content)
A sassy or insightful quote from a thought leader adds another layer of interest to your copy, and Brainy Quote is the best place to hit. I just head over to the site and type in a key term from my article. For example, after popping “research” I get:
Research is creating new knowledge. Neil Armstrong
If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research. Wilson Mizner
Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing. Wernher von Braun
All of which could be used for in this post, no?
As I write a helluva lot, I keep lists of experts that I can tap into at a drop of a hat. I keep a Google Doc for each topic, then when I’m looking for something specific I have a shortlist of relevant websites to jump into straight away.
For example, if I’m writing an article on art journaling I’d go straight to Traci Bautista, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and Rae Missigman. For Twitter hacks, it might be Gemma Went, Kim Garst, and Buffer.
It will take a while to build yourself a series of really great lists like these, but when you’re done they are so incredibly useful.
If you’re struggling with a particular question or topic, shout it out in some of your favourite Facebook groups. Chances are you’ll end up with some much more creative responses than you’d ever get using a search engine.
Defining key terms can be a really powerful way to start off an article, particularly when you’re writing about a widely misunderstood or controversial topic. I have a huge red dictionary that I use day to day, but when I’m writing on the fly (which I do a fair bit), this is a great option.
Search for a few relevant terms and hashtags in Tweetdeck. I like that it pulls up the results into columns that I can scan at a single glance. Much easier than going directly into Twitter and carrying out individual searches.
And now a word of warning. While research is key, it’s also important to be selective. Backing yourself up is one thing, but don’t stuff your work with deets, just because you think they make you sound knowledgeable. First sign of an amateur. Weave in that relevant info in a way that seems organic. Your copy should flow organically, not scream “LOOK HOW MUCH RESEARCH I DID”.
Now go and explore – I’d love to hear what you make of my fave sources of the good stuff.
What’s your favourite research hack?