When you blog it’s easy to get carried away on a tangent, and that’s OK. It’s your blog, and it’s your article. You’re free to express your opinion, and that opinion is one of the main reasons why your readers keep coming back for more. But even in expressing your own opinion, it’s helpful to do a little research beforehand.
Researching your article topic will give you the background you need to effectively convey your opinion, making you a more trusted and noteworthy blogger. This is important because in becoming trustworthy you’re able to attract more regular readers, and you also establish yourself as an authority on your given topic. Your blog traffic is somewhat reliant on your ability to get repeat readers. Since creating trusted article goes towards proving yourself as an authority, it’s important that you get your facts straight.
Here are some basic starter points regarding research for your blog:
Go to the source
If you can, go to the person who knows your topic best. For instance, a news article may involve a company that has updated their product, or has made a public blunder in some way. While it’s sometimes fun to speculate reasons behind a company’s decision-making process in pushing a product update or dealing with a corporate mistake, hearing their side of the story can help you immensely.
Go through your contacts to see if you know anyone at the company. If you don’t, go through your contacts to see if you know anyone that has a connection with the company. Still no luck? Look for the company’s contact information and try to get in touch with someone that can comment about your article topic. For a product update, the company’s marketing team members may be the right people to talk to. For a public blunder, see if you can get a comment from their public relations department.
Most company websites have their contact information, via phone, email or snail mail. But be sure to also check professional websites such as LinkedIn for employees as well as company profiles, and often times you can contact someone from that company via these professional sites. You can also check other social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Many companies have public profiles on these major sites, and you can request information regarding your article topic directly. Lastly, go to the company office if you live nearby.
Use the Internet
While it’s true that you can’t believe everything you read on the Web, you can still find some useful information on just about any topic under the sun. Do a Google search for your topic to see what you can find out. Resource sites such as Wikipedia have a process for updating the site in order to provide a checks & balances system that works towards ensuring the accuracy of their data.
Other blogs can be helpful as well. See what’s been written about previous product updates in order to get a little background for your article. The best part of reading others’ content is the added perspective you’ll gain as a result. Regardless of what they’ve written (good, bad or otherwise), you’ll be able to write a more well-rounded article if you can see all the angles. Remember that blogs are written by individuals, typically in the narrative. So you should still do some fact checking. Other bloggers have to earn your trust, too!
Ask others what they think of your topic. Twitter is a great way to do this, because there’s a potential to receive a good amount of feedback to use as material for your article. Gaining additional points of views will also help you to expand your own understanding of your topic, resulting in a great article.
Look for connections
There’s nothing that makes you look more knowledgeable than knowing the connections behind a particular topic. Find as many connections as you can. Start with the basics and work your way out from there. Who invested in the company, and what other companies did they invest in? Do they have anyone sitting on the board of other companies, and is there any conflict of interest? Could a potential conflict of interest be a reason why the company made the decisions it made?
What else is going on in the industry? Have the company’s competitors done anything recently to spur a new product release? How has the company done in the last quarter, and what affect could this have on the company’s decisions?
These are just a few examples of how you could go about processing your research in order to formulate a viable opinion. If you can’t get any information directly from the company, you’ll have to work with the information you have at hand, but if you show that you’ve at least done your research, readers will still consider you a trusted source.
[image credit: Oklahoma State University]