MY CREATIVE PROCESS PART TWO: THE RESEARCH STAGE
Like most careers, it’s so beneficial to have a process in place for your work to help make you more productive. I’ve seen many designers approach this subject, but not bloggers.
My method may not suit everyone out there, and that’s completely fine. Instead, I hope it inspires and encourages you to think about your own creative process.
Having a creative process is a way of being able to craft the best content possible. It contains various steps that you have to take to get to a finished product. (Want to know why it’s so important to have a creative process? Check out the first post of this series!)
It wasn't until I started working in the online marketing industry for a living, that I began to understand how important (and eye-opening!) the research stage is.
I used to just write my content straight onto the page without any real structure or background information. But when I discovered that one - Google favours factual content, and two - readers build more trust with you when you include real facts - I started to take this part of my creative process more seriously.
Now, I’ve made it a priority to include research time when it comes to putting each one of my blog posts together.
This step gives me time to learn, time to explore and time to get even more creative. It’s become fundamental for the way I create content for my blog, guest blog posts and my freelance clients.
Here's an exclusive insight into the second step of my creative process and what this looks like for me.
WHY RESEARCH IS SO IMPORTANT FOR YOU
Research is one of the key factors that make a blogger successful. Coming up with the idea and being able to implement it is so much easier when the research stage is involved. Without research, you can spend hours or even days perfecting the art of putting a specific piece of content together.
When you’re just starting out, you want to get as much content up on your blog as possible. This is the best idea.
But most beginner bloggers skip past that fundamental research stage. This is a big mistake. The truth is - your blog posts will be much more powerful (and shareable) if research is included.
When you have your idea, you can easily get caught up in your emotions, without considering why facts, figures and research could be essential to your audience.
And honestly? I used to miss that step. I used to love creating content in the moment, from the heart.
But guess what?
I’ve not succeeded that way.
I learned from my mistakes.
And I learnt that without research, your content will never deliver as much as you want it to.
Research. After developing the idea and creating an outline, I start looking for more information about the general topic and my sections.
I believe that an idea can never be fully communicated without research - but that research can come in very different forms.
Here are a few ways I've gone about collecting research for blog posts:
- Hosting a poll on Twitter. This is really easy to do and very effective. Plus you'll be surprised at how many people will actually take part in it! Simply compose a tweet using a poll, ask your questions, list your answer choices and you'll get the results in 24 hours.
- Reaching out on Twitter. If sometimes I feel like feedback about a particular topic is going to be beneficial, I'll reach out to my Twitter community directly. Then I'll include their comments in my post by embedding the tweet. This post is a great example of where this sort of research can be used.
- Typing it into Google. This is so simple and completely depends on the topic of your post. Let's say you're writing a post about which social media platforms are best for your particular audience or clients to be on. It'd be useful to include some stats for each, right? So you can type ‘stats about Instagram’ into Google and pick out the best ones to include.
Important! - It's really crucial to remember that when you're taking research from other websites that you credit them so you're letting people know where you got the information from.
It's surprising how these research steps lay the foundation for each blog post. And it really helps to communicate an idea fully to my audience. This has become such a crucial part of my creative process that I can't skip it, no matter what I'm writing about!
Once I've got my research together plus the initial idea, I'm ready to start putting together a proper plan for the piece of content. This usually involves a big cup of tea, my notes and a fresh piece of paper and a pen.
I always write down a full outline of a piece of content at this point, including where I want all my research to go, before I start writing it properly.
This step is always the most difficult for me. I want to make sure I'm getting all the right information in, while making sure it flows right for my audience. I need to make sure the idea and outline is clear in my head before I can communicate that fully through writing.
But the point of this isn't to come up with a perfect solution. It's to get my creativity flowing so the actual post itself becomes easier to write.
HOW CAN YOU MAKE THIS STEP WORK FOR YOU?
I highly bet that for many blog posts you write, research could be crucial in adding that extra bit of credibility to your topic. That's why it's so useful to look at how this second step could work for you. So when it comes to creating your next blog post, set time aside to do a little digging. What piece of information would make your readers think, 'now that's interesting'?
Do you intentionally set aside time to do research for the content you create for your blog and social media? What other research methods have you found to be effective?