I write a minimum of six blog posts a week on more than 20 topics. Some of the topics I know a lot about, others I’ve learned, and still others I’m a novice. Last week I wrote six posts from my knowledge, but I still researched the topics for three reasons—to fact check, look for links and quotes to include, and last but not least—maybe somebody knows more than me—you think?  There’s never been a time that researching a post wasn’t a good idea.

When to Research

The best time to complete research is before you begin writing. You might find your facts aren’t facts and you may find information you want to add to your post or quotes you’d like to include (with full attribution and links). Researching before you begin writing will inform and direct your writing.

How to Research

The easiest way is to google your title, topic, or both. Once you’ve done that, scroll to the bottom of the first page and review, “What people ask for” and “Related Searches” you will often find interesting ideas and angles you hadn’t considered.

Who Should You Trust?

On a Google search I look for reliable and trustworthy sources. For example, if I’m researching leadership I may look for leaders who have influenced me— Ken Blanchard, John Maxwell, or John Wooden. I might look for credible publications such as Entrepreneur or INC. If it’s a narrower search such as, leadership in small business, I might see what the SBA (Small Business Administration) or the Wall Street Journal has to say. Look for experts and trusted sources that fit your topics.

Face-to-Face Research

For the topics on TKO’s products and services, I check suppliers such as 3M or Avery Dennison as well as industry periodicals like Sign Builder Illustrated, but more often than not, I pick the brain of one of our experts here at TKO. I sit down with members of our team for a few minutes and brainstorm using open-ended questions focused on a single a topic. Occasionally I’ll email the questions when that’s a teammate’s preference.

How Long Should Research Take?

It can vary by topic, length of post, and the level of knowledge the writer has on the topic. However, I seldom take more than 30 minutes whether I’m researching online or F2F (face-to-face). On average I spend 5 to 10 minutes fact checking and looking for reputable sources to quote and backlink.

Caution: Wikipedia isn’t the Answer

Wikipedia has an answer for everything. It sounds like the go-to source on any topic. But there’s a problem. It may not be factual. I seldom reference Wikipedia; however I will review the content, and use Wikipedia to find resources. Why don’t I reference Wiki in a post? Because the information in Wiki, as helpful as it may be, isn’t verified.

Research is the First Step in Writing

By taking the time to complete research, you’ll be prepared with facts, quotes, links, and ideas. Online and face-to-face research can give you insights  you otherwise wouldn’t have realized. How do you research content?