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Blogging Best Practices: Best Places to Lurk Online (for Research)

blogging best practices scooby doo.pngCongrats! Your marketing agency or department needs you to blog about an obscure piece of health care technology. Or it needs you to sow the seeds of content marketing on elastomer blend vs. photopolymer flexographic printing.

Your first thought as you open a new Google Docs file? “Oh, crap.”

We all need a reminder of blogging best practices from time to time -- especially blog writers researching foreign topics. I can relate. It’s a miracle I can use a screwdriver, yet I blog about the merits of 201 stainless steel roll formed components. But remember, these in-the-weeds industries and subjects benefit the most from content marketing.

Doing research kinda sucks, but it’s imperative to obtain facts, numbers, and links that’ll back up your stance. Here are ways you can work around your (understandable) ignorance to yield a consistent, healthy blog, no matter the topic:

Blogging Best Practices for Research

1. Industry News Sites (Your Industry & Your Clients')

The easiest option for info reaping is Google searching your topic and checking out the first page of results. Making sure you are using the right keywords will help you hit on the relevant material your target audience craves. This method is especially useful if you’re writing about current trends or news.

Paraphrase the valuable information while sprinkling in your own knowledge. For the love of God, do not directly copy and paste unless you like lawsuits. If someone says something better than you can say it yourself, link to it.

You can even let the info come to you by signing up for industry newsletters. I deposit mine in a separate email folder set aside for future social media posts. I also bookmark articles when I know I’ll blog about that topic soon.

2. Social Media & Forums

Know your industry and your audience. See if companies and individuals are sharing useful content on social media. Check a hashtag to find posts relevant to your topic.

Reddit is a cool tool for bloggers because its users are often knee-deep in more technical discussions. If you’re stumped trying to understand a process or term, these folks might have your answer. Maybe they’re even sharing links that you can use.

How about researching content through other industry forums? Google search for forums dedicated to your topic’s industry to learn what people are talking about:

  • Are there any services giving them fits?
  • What do they love about a certain product?
  • What do they wish they could find a solution for?

3. In Your Clients' Backyard (Metaphorically)

blogging best practices hawking.jpg
^ Not you. ^

Don’t be bashful about badgering your client or boss for details. They’re paying you (hopefully) good money to get it right. If your article is factually flawed, it’s not going to convert and leads won’t share it.

Communicate at the beginning of the relationship that you can’t possibly know everything. Chances are they’ll understand you’re a marketer, not Stephen Hawking. Establish a relationship with at least one person who understands the nitty-gritty details of welding, underground utility work, or whatever you’re writing about. Depending on the company’s size, that person may be an:

  • Engineer
  • Sales VP
  • The owner himself!

4. Stalk Your Client’s Competitors

From NFL teams to fast-food companies, everyone “borrows” successful trends. It’s time you got in on that. (We won’t tell anyone.)

Round up a list of competitors. (We use HubSpot’s competitor report tool.) The most digitally successful ones may have valuable information in their:

  • Blogs
  • Product description pages
  • Social media posts

Again, make sure you rewrite the material to avoid legal issues.

Save Time and Frustration

Looking around for a little inspiration will save you both time and a hassle. Check out others’ ideas and turn it into your own output.

If you’re writing for an external agency, class is dismissed. If you’re writing for your own business and struggling to keep up with content marketing, maybe passing it on to a trusty partner is better. If that’s something you’re considering, be prepared to ask these questions.content marketing for brand awareness