freelance writing

Content Research – Things You Need to Know as a Writer

Guest post by Jawad Khan

With so many people leaving their jobs over the past few years, either by choice or forcefully, and the scope of freelance writing increasing every day, it’s only natural that more and more people are adopting freelance content writing as a full-time profession. That obviously means that the field is getting competitive as well. Clients have many more quality writers to choose from than they had a couple of years ago.

What, however, makes a writer stand apart, even in this competition, is the comprehensiveness of his content and the depth of his knowledge on his client’s niche. This is why thorough research and preparation before developing content on any niche has become much more important for writers these days. A well-researched article that gives value to the readers will not only stand out from the average stuff being written, but also has much better chances of getting recommended by people on the internet and getting shared on various social networks.

Being a freelance writer myself, there are a number of tools, techniques & methodologies that I use to ensure that I thoroughly research the topic I am about to write on. There are of course, a number of challenges in doing this research as well. Here’s my list of activities to ensure I get the most reliable information for my articles

Credibility of Information – Filtering out the junk!

Before the internet found its way in to almost every house across the developed world, research on any topic was a challenge because of the scarcity of resources. Today, however, the challenge is not the shortage of information, rather, the overflow of it. You need to filter out correct and credible information from the millions of search results that your average search query gets you. Search engines are much smarter now than they used to be and, therefore, rank their results on a number of parameters that include credibility as well. So that does reduce your problems a little.

Still, to ensure if the information is trust worthy, limit your research to the top websites and blogs in that niche. See if these references have been used by other renowned writers as well. A good way to avoid junk is to focus on websites with .edu, . gov or .org domains in that niche. This might not always be effective, since you might not find all the information you need on such websites, but most of the times websites like these are much more reliable than the usual .com domains. One mistake that new writers make is using popular social media content as a reference point for their articles. This is a risky tactic since not everything circulating on the social media is 100% true. So you would do well to avoid such information.

Google – Your best friend!

Oni has mentioned a number of times here on WritersinCharge, and it certainly is a fact, that, if used properly, is any writer’s best friend. If you know how to use Google search effectively, you may not need to use any other resource for research. Use different query types on Google to search for specific file extensions and databases. You will find detailed information on using different Google search operators over here.

While working on a project on trade & shipping documentation and the most common problems that businessmen face, I found the “filetype” searches extremely useful as they lead me to a number of original scanned shipping documents of organizations that I could study closely.

Talking about Google search, Google Scholar is another tool that you cannot afford to ignore as a writer. It not only fetches quality content results from millions of research journals and ebooks but also gives you a very good idea about the credibility of those results by showing the number of times they have been cited by other authors.

To Write Well, You Need to Read Well!

That stands true for writing in general as well. However, when faced with projects on a specific niche this is the fundamental step for every writer. Find out the most popular writers on that niche, from the top blogs and websites, and read their work. The more you read the better you will be able to write.

This has been my go to technique since I stepped into freelance writing. Every niche has its own terminologies, jargons and specific vocabulary usage. If used incorrectly, you may communicate a completely different message from what you originally intended to. Also, there are certain benchmarks, standards and norms in every industry or niche that you need to know about when writing on it. Use websites like Yahoo Answers and to fast track your learning in the areas you’re about to write on. If the topic you’re about to write on has lots of numbers involved, make sure that you interpret those figures correctly by cross verifying them with other similar articles. You must ensure that you have your homework completed before you start moving your fingers.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – Maintain a Research Archive

The last thing, as a writer short on time, you need is doing all the research and fact finding without maintaining a research archive. As a writer, your time holds immense value. Therefore, you need to start valuing it as well. Try organizing your stuff so that you may use it if a need arises in any future projects. I am not talking about using sophisticated tools or management software, you can maintain important archives with simple tools like email labels, highlighting your emails, online link bookmarks and organizing your stuff in folders and directories so that you can refer to them anytime. You can also use Google Docs for maintaining useful links and building your personal research library online. Many freelance writers underestimate the value of organized work. We are professional writers and there are some professional norms that are useful even if you are operating from your home office. I have been following this practice for a number of years now and there are times when I do not even need to research on a certain topic at all since I already have so much information and previous content on it in my library.

To sum it up for you, research is all about being well prepared on the niche you’re about to write on. There can be a thousand more ways you could improve this research process. But that was not the point of this guest post. The objective of this post was to make you wonder if you are putting in enough effort and time in creating content that is not only rich in information but gives your readers the value that attracts them to your writings in future as well. And that, as I said before, can only be possible if your simplified words have comprehensive research to back them up.

If you benefited from ‘Content Research – Things You Need to Know as a Writer’ please share it on your social networking sites and with your writing friends.

Jawad Khan is an e-business Project Manager, a passionate marketer and a freelance content writer who loves to write about different strategies to generate tangible results for businesses through quality content. He writes regularly on the subjects of Entrepreneurship, Project Management and WordPress on his blog WritingMyDestiny


16 replies on “Content Research – Things You Need to Know as a Writer”

Saeed | Freelance Bloggersays:

Hey Jawad,

This article came just at the right time for me. Research is one of the principal steps to writing quality articles / blog posts. Unfortunately, it’s a task that most freelance writers dread. I used to do that, too. But I’ve stopped now. I’ve grown to love do thorough research for any article that I’m working and it shows in my work.

Thanks a lot for sharing your insight about this topic.

Jawad Khansays:

Glad you liked the article Saeed.

Great article, I think this is something that cannot be stated enough when it comes to producing good content.

You’re right when you say that Google can be a good source of information if you know how to use it correctly. There’s alot of fluff out there and you have to be careful where you get your info from. I love the tip about “filetype” – I’ve never heard that one before and will have to try it out on a few of my next blog posts.

Your suggestion about the “.gov” or “.edu” links is something that I already do that has worked really well for me – what I like to do is a search like this .gov: “keyword”. You’d be surprised at the vast amount of solid, factual information you can get with these types of searches.

Also, looking up trades associations has been an excellent source of information, if not a starting point at least.

Thanks for the post!

Jawad Khansays:

Really glad you found the article helpful. This .gov technique really helped me gather authentic information on some of my assignments.

But in general, I feel, Google is the best thing that ever happened to writers 🙂

Good one Jawad. Nice tips.

Jawad Khansays:

Thanks Wajeeh!

Hey Jawad,

This is fabulous article! And you offer some researching tools. Though, I would like to just throw out one that I feel is a must use as well which is Google Reader. This is a great way to follow only the what you want.

Though you did teach me a new site to check out being I am very interested in checking this one out especially now since Linkedin answers is gone.

Thanks for the nice article,


Jawad Khansays:

Hi Eric,

Thanks for mentioning Google Reader. You’re right, its another “must have” for writers.

Thank you for reading and liking the post!

Nice post jawad,but don’t you have a website for writers to visit and learn more about your writing technique?.

Jawad Khansays:

It’s on its way Emmanuel! 🙂

Great piece of writing. Hope all new writers will follow your tips to get more success. Thanks for sharing.

Jawad Khansays:

Thank you for your kind words Lakhyajyoti. Glad you found it useful!

Chandan Sanwalsays:

Great tips for all writers. Google is the best friend for all writers. Thanks Jawad.

Jawad Khansays:

You’re welcome Chandan 🙂

Jawad Khansays:

You’re welcome Chandan 🙂

Kyriakos Tofisays:

Yahoo answer is a great tool to reassure your information is true!

Comments are closed.