Research: The Dreaded “R” Word

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Don’t glare at your screen like that! Research is necessary for any good web content, whether it be photos, videos, sound clips, and especially written articles. If you don’t want to just rehash ideas that someone else has already presented, you must research and then come up with new ideas that are exciting and interesting to read.

On the Internet, it can feel like everything that could be said about your chosen topic has already been said…but that’s not the case. Doing searches about your chosen topic will show you what’s been said, and then you can add your own unique viewpoint to it, making the “old” topic new again. You can also compare/contrast others’ opinions and beliefs with your own, creating a much richer and deeper article. Like serving last night’s roast chicken as today’s chicken salad sandwich, this is the best way to make fresh content.

Three Styles of Blog Research

Internet Search: What Are People Saying Now?

Do an Internet search on your selected topic, and browse through some of the most recent and most reputable (read: objectively-written) articles about it. Are there any articles that bolster your opinion? Are there any that challenge your stance? How about any articles or websites that further inform readers about your topic?

Like different recipes for the same basic dish, varying articles and websites can expose you to different perspectives on your topic. (Just like chicken salad can be made with celery or grapes, and both types are still called chicken salad–though why you’d ever want to eat grapes, chicken, and mayonnaise all mushed together, I’ll never know. #pickyeaterproblems)

Copy/paste the URLs of any articles you find enlightening or challenging, so that you can point your readers to them later (and also so you can refer to them while composing your own, individual blog article).

Library Search: What Have People Said in the Past?

I know, it sounds weird to do a search at the library in these days of finding everything online. But whether you’re searching an online library or a brick-and-mortar one, be sure to find older books and newsjournal articles about your topic, just to inform yourself about what has been said 10, 20, 50, or even 100 years ago.

You might find, in the middle of your Internet searching, that there was a book published 40 years ago specifically about your topic; in that case, you could look that book up at your local library and read it for more information. Like adding different spices to your chicken salad, doing historical research on your topic gives your viewpoint more impact and depth.

Like with the Internet search, keep a list of the titles and authors of books or journal articles you find particularly useful, so you can point your readers to them when you do write your own article.

Anecdotal Research: What Do Your Friends and Family Say?

Especially if you’re writing about a hot-button topic, get some opinions from friends and family to further inform yourself on how a variety of people think about the topic. Anecdotal information like this can give your blog article more personality and more immediacy than just dry research, kind of like adding mayonnaise to dry chicken to make it into chicken salad.

You won’t necessarily have to cite Granny or Cousin Fred in your article sources, of course, but referencing them in the course of the article makes it more story-like and reader-friendly. (Change names or use only first names/initials as you see fit–sometimes it might be prudent to obscure identities.)

After Research, Stir It Up and Add Your Secret Ingredient

After you’re finished with research on what others have said, it’s time to write your own opinions about it. Some of the research you’ve done may have changed your opinion or refined it; make a note of that and talk about that to your readers. Other research you’ve done might have led you to debunk opinions or declare them unfounded. Just like refining a recipe in the kitchen, writing a well-thought-out blog article takes some time, some trial and error, and some mental stirring, but it’s worth it.

Your readers will be more engaged with an article which is both informed and full of your own writing style–your own blog’s “flavor,” if you will. Your “secret ingredient,” of course, is your own opinion, which is probably why you’re writing a blog in the first place. 😉

Summary

Research may not seem exciting, but if you do it and do it well, you may find yourself more enthusiastic about your topic than ever, and your readers will get a much better article because of it. (Also, I really shouldn’t write blog posts when I’m hungry. I come up with all kind of strange analogies. XD)

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