Have you ever opened a task, encountered a topic you know nothing about, and thought “Wow, I don’t know where to start”? Well, there’s no need to worry. One of the greatest challenges (and rewards!) of being a freelancer writer is writing about things you are not an expert in. Here’s the good news: You don’t need to be an expert!
Knowing how to conduct research and identify the bad from the good is a must-have skill for all writers to excel in their craft. To help you out, we’ve put together our five top tips for researching articles while working with Topcontent.
Tip #1: Understand the goals of the article
Before you even start Googling, you need to identify what information the client is asking you to include. It won’t matter how great and well-informed your text is if it’s not what the client is asking for, so make sure you get off to a good start.
One way to do this is to break the instructions down into key phrases or categories. Hopefully, the client will have provided you with detailed instructions on what content they want to be included. Read through those instructions to identify the “what” and make a physical list if it helps you.
If a client is asking for a review of X Casino, the list might include:
- Launch or licensing date
- Deposit and withdrawal methods
- Unique Selling Points (USPs)
- Bonus information
- Featured games
Once you have this list, you’re ready to start researching. Focus on the core information being requested and you can expand your list as you go. Bonus tip: Check them off as you go to make sure you don’t miss anything!
Tip #2: Verify your sources
So, you know what you need to be looking for but now the question is where. As everyone knows, just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. You’ll encounter plenty of outdated information and outright made-up facts, so use your eagle eye to find what you need.
A good source is:
The absolute best place to get information is directly from the source. From the example in Tip #1, that would mean the casino site you need to review. Look around the website or read through their Terms & Conditions. Don’t rely on third-party review sites or other articles published on the web – they’re not reliable and are potentially biased.
If you can’t go to the source, look for well-established and reputable websites to find your information. Look for government sites, NGOs, and educational sites. Even then, you have to keep an eye out for bias. A good source should be mostly neutral in tone. If it’s overly positive or negative, writer beware.
Tip #3: Cross-check your facts
What happens when you’ve found the dream source you’ve been looking for? Great, but it’s not over yet! If you’re not getting information directly from the source, even reliable sites can sometimes get it wrong or have outdated information.
You should always use 2-3 different sources to research your article. Cross-check any facts (statistics, claims, etc.) against other sources. Maybe a webpage says “Studies show that 94% of people love pizza.” Maybe it’s true – maybe not. Find the study, the source of that information to determine if it should be used.
Tip #4: Get inspired without copying
Sometimes writers don’t struggle with the what part so much as the how. As we know, different types of articles require different styles and approaches. Maybe you’re a great, established writer with a lot of experience in marketing content but you’ve never written a casino review before. The beauty of the internet is there are many other casino reviews out there (or whatever else you’re looking for).
Find an article that’s similar to what you want to achieve and let it inspire you. Get a feel for the tone and the structure. Just remember, even if you find an article you just can’t top – no copying! Paraphrase, base your structure on it, or just use it as inspiration. But that’s another writer’s hard work and plagiarism is never acceptable.
Tip #5: Have fun while you learn!
One of the best ways to stay engaged and up-to-date as a writer is to have fun! Take pride and enjoyment in the fact that you get to learn all these new, interesting things in your writing journey. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you’ll set yourself on the path to finding the good information out there. Plus, you’ll remember it better the next time the topic comes up!