Guest Post by Harsh Athalye
Blogging revolves around creative topic ideas. But ideas don’t come easily. The harder you try, the farther they go away from you. Like a butterfly, just when you think you are inches closer to an idea; it flies away from your hands. But ideas alone don’t make it easy to write a blog post. An Idea needs to be expanded into useful, interesting and comprehensible write-up. How to expand an idea? You need to make a little bit of research to dig into the background of the topic, to see other people’s thoughts, news related to your topic, relevant images, quotes, useful resources, links and so on. Thankfully, internet has evolved into such a huge monster of information that you can find information on almost any topic. Beware though; you can easily get lost in this ocean of information. So how to effectively research for your blog post without getting carried away?
1. Have Structure Ready
You just had your moment of EUREKA! Great, what next? Don’t open your blog and start pouring your heart out. Instead, think about the idea a little more. Is it viable topic for expansion? Is it relevant to your blog? Can you make it interesting? Jot down the key points relevant to your idea. Once you have your post outline ready, it is far easier to dive into the web of information to add more spice to your post. Researching on topic without outline is like driving without address, getting lost is the best reward you can get.
2. Time Your Research
Face it. Internet is highly distracting. You don’t believe me? Just open Google reader and skim through daily feed updates. I am sure you will easily open atleast 5 more tabs on your browser to open embedded links. If you are researching for your blog post, you better time it by using stopwatch or by using online timer sites like eggtimer. This will keep a check on your surfing time and keep you focused on your topic.
3. Choose Specific Topic
Human mind is a funny piece of creation. So many ideas fly around in my head when I am not writing. But not all are worthy of noting down. You need to weigh your ideas carefully to see if it is too broad to write. For example, if you got an idea about “10 killer windows applications”, you should see if it can be broken down to be more specific, say, “10 killer windows photo editing applications” or “10 killer anti-virus software for windows”. Narrowing down an idea can help you do targeted research and may even provide you ideas for future blog posts.
4. Use Offline Resources
Information does not have bounds. Not all facts and figures are online. You can even search relevant magazines, newspaper articles, research papers, journals or even books for expanding your topic. Sometimes, even a picture, a TV commercial or a quote gets me to think where I can use it in my post. The most important thing with offline sources is, you have the information to build upon no matter where you are, whether you have PC or net connection. All you need is pen, paper and focused mind.
5. Take Down Notes
Let me ask you a question. Have you read any book or seen any movie in the Harry Potter series? The one magical object that particularly stuck in my mind was Pensieve. For those who are not Harry Potter fans, a Pensieve is a magical pot in which a wizard can put his memories. Alas! We are not wizards, but if we would have been wizbloggers (Wizard + Bloggers = WizBlogger), I am damn sure that Pensieve would have been a hot gizmo in any blogger’s arsenal. But, hey, don’t let that make you feel down! So what if we don’t have Pensieve, we have pen and paper to capture any idea. Always carry tools to write down your ideas – may that be iPhone, Blackberry, PDA, Laptop, Journal or as simple as a Notepad. You may never know when you are hit by a brilliant idea. My friend, a brilliant idea and a beautiful girl don’t wait for long. In fact, you may get better luck with the latter one.
So, how do YOU do it?
Now, that I have shared my tactics, what are your methods to do the research for a blog topic? Which method works for you? How do you limit your time without compromising post quality? Please share you ideas, opinions in the comments below and if you like the post, please spread a word.
This guest post was written by Harsh Athalye, a tech blogger who rambles about latest in the field of internet and technology on his blog – Let’s Geek.