Working as a professional writer requires you to wear a few different hats. You’re expected to be a Grammar Guru, SEO Savvy, and Professionally Poetic, to name just a few…
More often than not… another skill that a professional writer must learn to master is the art of Researching.
There will be more than enough projects (if not all of them) that a writer will take on that require at least a little research. If you choose to avoid specializing in a niche, then most of your assignments will likely require you to research topics across all industries that you would not be otherwise familiar with.
For newer writers who are intimidated by researching a topic for a client, I can hear your anxiety and frustration through the screen…
Does the idea of spending hours upon hours scouring the internet for trusted information make you wanna crawl under a rock?
I hear ya… believe me…
Don’t go running away just yet, because I’m here to give you 5 Helpful Tips to help make the research phase of your projects little less stressful and (hopefully) suck a little less!
I know, it feels really overwhelming even thinking about it- especially when all you want to do is get to writing for your client!
Well, buckaroo, the most critical part of your job as a writer is making sure that the information that you’re conveying is easy to understand, consistent, and accurate.
Readers want to be able to trust the information that you’re sharing, so making sure that your work is well researched is a necessary step in being the best writer you can be.
Regardless of whether you’re writing blogs, articles, product reviews, or anything else- your clients are relying on you to- not only– produce readable and entertaining content, but content that is also helpful, trust-worthy, and original.
As you grow in your writing career and decide on a niche (if you so choose to do that), then you’ll become very well versed in your field, and the research side of your job will become much easier…
But, if you’re just starting out as a professional writer, you may not have written many blogs in the first place- let alone chosen a niche!
No sweat, friends, because now it’s time to talk about a few tips that will help you build your confidence as a researcher, and make the task of researching a bit more enjoyable…
Researching Helps With More Than Just Finding Facts
I’ve mentioned in past blogs that, even topics that I may not have been personally passionate about initially, can end up being quite fun to write about after a little time spent researching!
When you learn more about a topic, you’ll innately find inspiration. You could end up discovering a weird and exciting fact that gives you an entire section’s worth of content.
That’s why researching can actually be a lot more than just looking up data and factual information. The more you know about something, the easier it is to talk about- and that’s why it is important to try and get along with research!
Tip 1: Include Your Research Time In Your Client Quote
The most important step you, as a writer, can take to improve your relationship with researching: is to make sure that you give yourself enough time to do it.
The best way you can accomplish this is by being realistic with yourself and your client before you even begin writing.
When giving your client a timeline, make sure you avail yourself a little extra wiggle room for your research time. Research is a massive part of a writing project and deserves respect, so don’t be afraid to take it into consideration when quoting your client.
When you’re new to a writing career, you might be tempted to promise your client a lightning-speed turn around to make them happy…
But one of the best gifts you can give your client (and yourself) is the adequate amount of time to complete the project properly.
Personally, I always allow myself a day to research a topic. I just spend my day collecting and learning about what I’m writing about, and it makes it so much easier and faster when it comes time to write my first draft.
Tip 2: Don’t Copy Information Exactly As It’s Written When Taking Notes
Taking the extra time in your research phase to write your notes in your own voice is an excellent way of cutting down editing time later, and making sure that you don’t unintentionally plagiarize from your sources.
What do I mean when I say “don’t copy info exactly as it’s written“? I mean that you should absorb the information and make note of it, but write the actual facts down in your own words as you make your notes.
This is a hugely helpful way to prevent yourself from accidentally plagiarizing someone else’s hard work, and still knowing that the information is accurate.
Also, don’t forget about software like Grammarly, or another free online plagiarism checkers. It’s always a good idea to be extra safe than sorry!
If you plan on including direct quotes or phrases, then make sure you adequately source your work!
Tip 3: Ask Specific Questions
A great way of making the research step a bit less grueling and confusing is to sit down and simply ask yourself some questions. Put yourself in the mind of the reader, and think about the questions or problems that your reader might have that your blog can answer for them.
As an example:
- Who Invented/Created/Founded [Insert Your Topic If Applicable]?
- What Is [Insert Topic If Applicable] Made Out Of?
- Why Was [Insert Topic If Applicable] Initially Invented/Created/Founded?
– Or whatever other questions that you might want to be answered about the topic!
When you give yourself actual questions to answer, then you have a clear and easy list of google searches that will help inspire you to dig deep into your topic!
Tip 5: Find A Great Notebook and Pen
Okay, I understand that this tip sounds a little silly, but I’m serious. While a poor workman blames his tools, it doesn’t mean that tools aren’t important.
I mean, think about it… we’ve all had it happen. We’ve come across that one pen– that one pen that writes so smoothly and pleasantly that we look for reasons to write with it.
When you’re researching, why not treat yourself to a cute notebook and pen or pencil that helps you enjoy the act of writing something down by hand?
Heck, buy yourself a set of colored gel pens if you wanna go full tilt! Sometimes having even just one colored pen can help you better organize your notes and add a bit of flair and fun to the process!
I’m sure there are tons of writers who prefer the efficiency of copy and pasting their references or facts from the web into a document, which is totally legit and understandable as a means of saving time!
Personally, however, I avoid this method of note-taking both because I find that writing my notes by hand is enjoyable, and the act of physically writing helps me articulate my thoughts more naturally.
For some reason, writing by hand has always intensified my creative juices.
So, go ahead and treat yo’ self!
Tip 5: Remember That You’re Learning Something
Even though you’re blog or article is usually intended to educate the audience of your client, you’re still learning and expanding your mental library, as well. Don’t underappreciated that growth you’re experiencing.
You’re retaining the information that you’re researching, and if you make an effort to retain it long-term, it will make you a better writer and help you with future projects.
Researching is learning, and even if you’re not (personally) that interested in the particular topic you’re writing about (though I strongly suggest finding clients in industries that you’re passionate about)… you’re still going to gain experience and knowledge about the subject (and your personal research process) that will only benefit you in your future career as a writer.
Okay… You Don’t Have To Love It… But Don’t Dread It Either.
Long story short…
While researching may never be an aspect of your writing career that you enjoy as much as writing, I hope that this post has given you a few easy tactics to implement that will make this step more pleasant!
As you master your skills, the most important thing to remember is that: just like with your writing craft, the more you practice your researching skills, the better writer you will become!
And that means more clients!
And THAT MEANS a long and lucrative writing career!