No matter what niche you’re in, it’s so important that you understand how to effectively research your topics. It’s simply not enough to just do an internet search (although that is certainly part of the process.) You must understand the problem that your readers are experiencing, and know the best places to source the information.
First, define the problem
You’ll want to spend some time narrowing down what your readers’ problem is and in what form the answers might look like. Are you creating a blog post or a new info product or service? You will want to research facts to back up any claims that you’re making. Once you’ve identified the real problem, write down what you already know about the topic. This will help you when you are searching for more information.
Most reasonably well-read people have some basic common knowledge that they don’t always know how they acquired. This is called “a priori knowledge.” It’s important to take advantage of this type of knowledge before you conduct formal research on any topic, because you can use the terms that you know and the ideas that you know to help you find more information easier. Once you have written down what you know, try to decipher what more you need to know by writing down a few questions to get you started.
Locate the information
There are many sources that you can use for gathering information such as books, encyclopedias, magazines, videos, people, organizations and yes, of course, the internet. Of course, you will probably look at the Internet first, which can help lead you to the other sources mentioned quickly. So while starting with the Internet is helpful, don’t discount downloading or buying books, magazines, newspapers and other forms of information to study your topic more thoroughly.
Use words or phrases from the knowledge you already have about the topic to double check the facts you think you know, and to locate more information about the topic. In addition, use the questions you’ve developed to search for more information. Google Search is very useful because you can type in questions, phrases, and random words to get more information on any topic. For instance, let’s say you determined you need more statistics about your topic. You can literally type in “Statistics about xyz” and pages will appear that have stats about said topic.
Select the best sources
In addition to the information you find above, it’s important to evaluate the worthiness of any one source.You want to be very careful that the source is accurate. Is the information up to date, who wrote it, when did they write it and who was the audience? How does the information relate to what you need to know or already knew? Be sure to collect the information in an organized fashion so that you can easily locate it again if you need to. Using a systems like Evernote or task managers such as Trello or Teamwork can be very helpful.
Now is also the time when you want to locate people who can give you more information and direct you where to look. Once you have this initial research out of the way, you can talk more intelligently to people “in the know” than before. So it’s a perfect time to get out the address book, or look at your LinkedIn connections to find people who can help you further.
Once you’ve carefully researched your topic, you can proceed with developing your blog post, product or service with full confidence that you are giving your audience a reason to like and trust you. That will keep them coming back.
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