To put it mildly, blogs are everywhere. According to some estimates, there are over 600 million blogs in the world, and over 31 million active bloggers in the US alone. Pick a topic – any topic – and there’s likely to be a blog (or ten) that covers it closely. If you’re a blogger – or looking to become one – dealing with a difficult blog subject is an occupational hazard.
Of course, sometimes blogging is easy. Professionals who have the luxury of writing about topics they understand intimately can churn out blogs quickly and with relatively little stress or worry. On the other hand, many freelance bloggers have to tackle arcane, obscure, or complicated topics.
If you’ve ever struggled to get started with a particularly confounding blog subject, then this post is for you. Here’s a six-step guide to researching a tricky blog subject:
1. Define the Problem You Want to Cover in Your Blog Post
Before you can begin to solve a problem, you first have to define it. As such, if you don’t understand the nature of the subject you’re being asked to explore, then take some time to define any terms that are giving you trouble. Note here that when you’re just starting out your research, you can and should use resources that are readily available online.
Free sites like Wikipedia, for instance, can provide bloggers with a wealth of basic, reliable information. Of course, it’s important to remember that free sites like Wikipedia represent the starting point for research – not its culmination. Still, defining the problem for your own understanding is a great place to start.
2. Review Existing Resources
As we’ve mentioned above, there are hundreds of millions of blog articles floating around the internet. So unless you’re covering an extremely unique (read, one-of-a-kind) subject, odds are someone somewhere has written about your difficult blog subject before.
Don’t ignore these valuable resources! Instead, check out what others have had to say about your topic in the past. Not only can this broaden your understanding of the issue, but it can also help you plot the history of a given subject. Perhaps people felt differently about the subject ten years ago than they do know. Tidbits like this represent pertinent info that you can use to develop a thesis of your own.
3. Fact Check All Significant Claims in Your Blog Post
This should go without saying, but you can’t trust everything you read on the internet. As such, it behooves any serious blogger to fact check any claims with reliable sources. Review your findings with content produced by newspapers or news organizations. Government or university websites can be even better. Or, at the very least, corroborate what you’ve learned by comparing it with content that other, similar organizations present.
4. Talk to the Experts
Don’t know how to fix a leaky faucet? No problem. You can always call a plumber. Having problems with your laptop? Then it makes all the sense in the world to visit a tech-repair store. In the same way, bloggers looking to take on a new subject should speak with people who understand it in a deep and meaningful way.
Interviewing a stranger can seem like a daunting task – particularly if you’re not used to doing it. But more often than not, people are happy to speak about their profession, hobbies, and/or passions when given the opportunity.
5. Update and Revise as Necessary
While it’s a good idea to keep track of everything you’ve learned during the research process, there comes a time when bloggers must begin to analyze their findings and whittle down their outlines and notes. Don’t try and write a blog using the entirety of the notes you’ve taken over the course of a research project. Instead, update and revise your notes to remove any contradictions, repetitions, or falsehoods. Doing this before you begin the writing process will benefit you greatly.
6. Give Yourself Time
Whether you’re researching how companies manufacture plastic barricades, or how search-engine algorithms function, the key ingredient to writing an excellent blog post is time. Plain and simple, you can’t rush in-depth research. It could take days or even weeks to accrue all the info you need – let alone fact check, corroborate, and review it.
Trying to rush a serious writing project is a recipe for disaster. Of course, some deadlines are unavoidable, but you shouldn’t have to compromise the quality of your work just to meet them. Remember, it’s better to deliver compelling content a few days late than to present incomplete or inaccurate work to your readership!