I was asked recently, "How do you write blogs if you don't know anything about the topic?" This is a fair question. Writers and bloggers for any company in any industry will come to the point where they have to write on a topic they aren't familiar with. So how do you write a blog on something you don't know much about? Read on below and find out!
"I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done."
- Steven Wright
Through the internet, we have access to ebooks, scholarly articles, and other resources that help us become industry leaders of whatever topic we choose. It's a lot like writing research papers back in college.
Let's talk about some ways to write articles about topics you're not so familiar in and how to make them successful.
How to write about a topic you don't know much about
Create an outline
There have been a couple of articles I have written where I wasn't familiar at all with the topic and some where I was very familiar with the topic, but I usually always create an outline. Even for this article I've outlined heading topics and what types of ideas I want to go over and when they should come up.
Outlining is really just a way to organize your ideas. It's easy for me to get lost or forget ideas when in writing mode on one piece of the article; so it's like placing bookmarks throughout the draft.
Research the topic
This is the most important part. When writing an article on a topic that you don't know anything about, or one that you know a little bit about, always make it a point to become an expert. There are hundreds of sources to find information and find inspirations.
Do you remember in school writing essays and papers on topic you were vaguely familiar with? Think of it like that; the same rules for the most part, just with less hours in the library.
When finding sources of information, you might want to double check their accuracy, credibility, and the date it was written. Information and ideas change over time, so if you're writing an article on social media and you're using an article from 2010, your information will probably be outdated. On the other hand, using an industry leader as a reference is a great way to boost credibility in your article.
Sometimes diving in and getting your hands dirty is difficult, especially when you're not sure where to start. You don't even have to start in the beginning necessarily. Sometimes starting in the middle or towards the end can help shape your understanding for which direction you want to move towards.
Once you actually sit down and get started, you might surprise yourself with how fluid your writing becomes. Especially after you've outlined the article and learned a little something about the topic.
How to be successful when writing about a topic you don't know much about
Add some personal experiences, insights, and ideas into the mix
Not only will your ideas spark some life in your writing, it will also help you stand out from other people's writing on similar topics. When writing on a topic you're not familiar with, it makes sense that you might not have firsthand accounts you can share, but there are always twists and insights you can provide for your audience that might really click with some people.
Gain and establish credibility
Writing an article on something you're unfamiliar with is one thing, but how do you get people to listen to you? You didn't venture out of your comfort zone for no reason. Establishing credibility will help shape people perceptions of your article.
Well, credibility can be defined as being trusted, believed in, or convincing.
Changingminds.org lists 4 types of credibility:
- Initial credibility: how much people trust you before someone reads your article
- Presented credibility: an introduction or reference from someone with high credibility about your qualifications on the topic (if your article is being featured somewhere, etc.)
- Derived credibility: the credibility you earn while someone is reading the article (your presentation, etc.)
- Terminal credibility: how your audience feels about you after reading the article
Credibility is important even if you're an expert in your field. It's the difference between people listening to you or brushing you off. So if you're writing on a topic you're not familiar with, having some degree of credibility prior to the article will at least bring people to read it.
If you do your research and write a really great article and present it well, you have the potential to gain some credibility. This will help in the future when you decide to write on more and more topics.
Writing on topics you don't know much about happens more often than you think. Luckily, there are ways to craft some great articles even if you don't know what you're talking about. By outlining your ideas and becoming an expert on the topic through tons of research, it's possible to write really great articles, even if you're not an expert in the field.
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