By: Marilyn L. Davis
“Research is something that everyone can do, and everyone ought to do. It is simply collecting information and thinking systematically about it. The word ‘research’ carries overtones of abstruse statistics and complex methods, white coats and computers. Some social research is highly specialized but most is not; much of the best research is logically very straightforward. . .” Raewyn Connell
Blogs and Research: Even Kids are Fascinated
- Systematic investigation to establish facts
- Specialized Inquiry about the subject
- Exploration of the various aspects of the subject
Although the Internet provides an international platform to write about anything, readers have come to expect interesting content, images that reinforce the words, and quality information. It is not enough to have an opinion or even some knowledge about the subject as the writer. We have to give readers better-developed information in the post or readers will leave.
Aldous Huxley, a leading essayist, gives guidance on the subject. He notes, “The essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything”, and adds, “By tradition, almost by definition, the essay is a short piece.” Regardless that many sites accept short pieces or that most blog posts are under 2,000 words, we can still give our readers quality research and add interest and value to the post, with short, well-researched pieces.
Typically, a writer will approach a topic that they are interested in and as such, may have a working knowledge of the subject. However, readers are more sophisticated, educated and informed today, and as such, know a cut and paste, a rehash of last week’s news, or if the post is redundant and cliché ridden. As of January 6, 2014, 92% of the population has at least some college, and 97% have advanced degrees. I can assume that many of those populations also wrote a research paper, and as such, they know what actual research entails. Since I am hoping to attract this audience, I am obliged to give them quality, researched information, and not rely on just my personal knowledge of the subject.
However, for those of us who have done freelance writing, we are often hired to write about subjects where we have little knowledge, and that’s where quality research makes the difference.
We typically got those jobs because someone liked the writing style or the care and attention that we put into our research. Style of writing is individual and isn’t easily defined, and research can be as varied as our style, and go beyond the usual fare. So, where can we find unique information to keep readers interested?
All I have to do is remember my grandson’s delight when we did his first search.
Wide-eyed, he told me, “Nana, there’s a whole lot about dinosaurs on the Internet.” Yes, there is.
Look from Multiple Perspectives
- Relevant search results that add value to the post.
- Organized searches.
- Time to explore additional facts.
- Options, like advanced searches, to broaden the article or add depth.
The Reader Needs: The Results from Searches like:
- Value-added information
- Multiple examples
- Various illustrations of the points of the post
Satisfying the Reader and Writer
When I research, I try to process a search from the standpoint of the writer and the reader, by asking questions geared to each perspective. I initially ask, “How would a reader search for this information”? When I get the information, I can then creatively write about it.
However, refining a search from a writer’s perspective means that my searches are broader or more specialized. Trying to incorporate additional information, means that I have to understand that Google does not index every page. As such, I have to find other sources when I research. Each of the following has provided me with interesting and decidedly different perspectives on a subject, which in turn means I have distinctive posts.
- https://archive.org/ (the Internet Archives for older web pages and articles)
Be sure to include images that reinforce the message of the post without being boring. This is another aspect of blogging where readers are more sophisticated today. Clip-art won’t do. You might add charts, tables, SmartArt, or Infograms; ones that enhance your piece but do not overpower the information. When you use a creative combination of words, style, tone, and images, you are creating your individualized approach to any post. All of these become, your brand.
So Much Info – So Little Time – Make It Count
The next time you choose a topic, take the time to research, find unique and different information for the readers. I realize that people do not want the top 1,000 search engines, however, knowing there is information out there that Google does not index means that I have resources that will add unique information for the reader. According to Worldometers, there were 1,578,181 blogs and counting the day I wrote this. Granted, I do not have information on which of these is about researching, however, I can assume that there are interesting blogs and posts that might attract readers specific to research. Therefore, I’ll strive to create better creative nonfiction posts and that in turn will attract readers who might turn into loyal followers and subscribers.
Keep Track of Your Research Sites
And always remember the words of great writers and that nine-year old authority, “Nana, there’s a whole lot about dinosaurs on that Internet”, and have fun researching.
See if you don’t get more information into your next post with this approach.