So, in the digital age, how do the more traditional publishing avenues continue to create so much quality, unique content? The answer lies in the research. Magazines and newspapers tend to rely on offline sources more heavily for their content. They also tend to have more rigorous cross-checking done with every piece, along with a much more complicated editorial process.
There are three major sources of research that magazines and newspapers rely upon. Let's take a look at each of these sources. We’ll see how using each of them can vastly improve your own content.
While many web writers turn to interviewing experts on a given topic, journalists have been doing this for years already. Online journalists and bloggers often don't think to ask for the more well-known experts in a field. Though. That’s because they feel they may not command the same respect as a big magazine or newspaper would.
While a lot of “big names” may turn down an interview or opportunity to speak with smaller web writers, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You'd be surprised at the quality of expert and level of celebrity even smaller bloggers can get to interview. All you have to do is ask.
The real advantage that traditional journalism has had that many online journalists don't is a network of people they can always turn to for a quote or advice. But, you can do the same thing online. In some ways, it’s easier because you have global reach. Even if you're a smaller blogger, you have to treat yourself as a professional journalist in building your network. That’s what puts you a cut above the rest as a web writer.
The more experts that you connect with, the better content you can create. It's not a secret that who you know plays a big part in your success. You have to remember that while your platform may be small, you're still an online journalist. So, treat yourself and handle yourself as one. In reality, your platform is huge, even if your reach isn’t quite there yet. Then, the level of expert you can turn to or interview for your content will grow more quickly than you might think.
Books and Other Offline Publications
Another great way to create standout content is to consult books, academic journals, or research studies. These things are easy to find at your local library or with subscriptions that you can purchase online. The advantage of these publications is that they're often far more in depth than many resources you'll find just by searching online.
Another way to find many of these things from the comfort of your own home is using dedicated academic search engines. You can also search through academic papers written by experts in the field you're writing about. Like research papers and studies, these give you valuable information and insights for a given subject.
Some academic search engines require a paid subscription, but they're typically not very expensive. But, they're worth the investment, especially if you use them often. Some are even free, like Google Scholar.
You can use these resources to keep up on the latest research in whatever field you're writing about. Despite the easy accessibility of many of these resources, a lot of web writers don’t think to use them. By keeping your eye on the academic and literary scene, you can gain an edge over many web writers.
The General Public
Sometimes, the word on the street can be quite valuable. While experts are certainly useful in essentially being invaluable research resources, everyday people can be equally valuable for researching the right things. While this doesn't work for subjects like law or medicine, there are plenty of subjects that the public at large can give you valuable input about.
For example, say you're writing about affordable housing. While there's certainly plenty of content online about the subject, you want to share something that isn't just reported from what you found in Google searches.
Talk to a few people who actually live in affordable housing. They can give you far more valuable insights into how it really works than a dozen articles will. Meeting people who live the reality of the subject makes it a lot more interesting to read.
Also, posing questions about article topics on your Facebook or or twitter feed can get you a lot of interesting responses. It’s not a foolproof topic and it can be hit or miss. But when calls for thoughts and opinions work, they can be content goldmines.
Research is the Best Investment to Make in Your Online Content
Clearly, all of these research methods are easily accessible to web writers. But, since many web writers were not trained to be journalists, these may not always be clear options to many who write online. While these methods certainly require far more time and effort than purely online research, your content will be much richer for it.
Invest in building your network of experts, keep up on the latest books and research in your experts topics, and never be afraid to spark conversations about hot topics. All of these things can help you take your web writing and content to a brand new level! Maybe one day you’ll have a website that rivals any newspaper or magazine out there!
~ Phoenix <3 ~