As you expand your business and create content for it (either through publishing articles, maintaining a blog, or designing a website), research inevitably becomes a valuable tool in your business skill arsenal. While we typically think of research only pertaining to scholarly papers and such, in actuality it forms the foundation of all quality content in any sector. Research can be broken down into different stages for ease of use: rhetorical, investigation, and compilation.
The rhetorical stage
The rhetorical stage of research involves setting the parameters based on your goals: you’re starting by asking yourself what if I… and then using that to begin your process. Let’s assume, for sake of argument, that you want to write a blog post on living room furniture. You know from experience that your post needs to discuss wood frames, foam quality, and upholstery. Make a list of questions you’d like to ask or have answered in your blog post about these subtopics and order them according to priority. If you are creating your blog post to drive traffic to your website or business, make a list of keywords to search for and include. Pro tip: not only does this aid you in organizing your thoughts before researching, but also creates a framework for an outline! Once you know what you need in order to write your post, you can progress to the next step.
For more information on keywords, check out this post I wrote recently!
The investigation stage
Believe it or not, the very first thing you want to do is explore whether or not there is even enough information available to undergird your blog post. This can be as simple as plugging in a few keywords into a word search engine and examining the quality of the return search. Next, you’ll want to start gathering quality sources of information. Reading articles and blog posts on your topic can be a good way to start. Pick sources that are well-informed and cite their research when applicable. Pro tip: keep a list of links under headings in a Word document or Google docs for easy reference. Keeping your references organized will save you headache (and time!) later on. As you research, write some personal reflections on the side that can be incorporated into your finished piece.
The compilation stage
Now that you are ready and armed with all your research, you can begin to write! Since this isn’t a college essay, you don’t need to cite your sources with MLA or Chicago. For most business articles and blog posts, links back to the original sources of information are sufficient for crediting (and spreads the drive of business back to your sources!). Outlines are your friends, here. Having a defined structure for your blog posts means that you can plug information into places and check to make sure that the flow of information is logical and that you aren’t missing anything. If you have quotes from your sources, this is also a great time to plug them into your structure.
Have more questions about researching? Set up a consultation with me to discuss your needs!