One of the most important skills a content writer needs is research skills. You can’t craft a good blog post if you don’t thoroughly understand the subject you’re writing about.
We know our clients are busy, so we have devised a process to help us gather the information we need without requiring lengthy phone calls. We create blog posts as a team of content strategists, writers, and editors, which lets us share the knowledge we accumulate about the client’s business.
Today we’ll walk through how our team masters new, complex subjects in less time, for a process that lets us research blog posts effectively.
Research begins before the writer receives the assignment
Research for the blog post begins before the assignment makes its way to the writer at SaaSpirin. Our content strategists come up with the overall idea and angle for the post based on our client’s goals.
The strategist provides the working title for the article, researches a target keyword, and creates a brief pitch about what the article is going to explore. This pitch — usually just one paragraph — tells the writer what the post should cover, and it also tells the client what to expect in the finished post. We choose an angle that makes sense for the client company and where its customers stand on the subject.
As the strategist accumulates knowledge, he or she feeds it into our system, which supports our writers and editors with notes.
The job of the writer is to take that information and create a valuable, well-researched piece of content around it within the target word count. Working from a pitch rather than just a headline means the writer already has a head start because the strategist has already defined the scope and angle.
How we get to know the client
It's incredibly important to spend some time researching the company so we have a better understanding of who it is we’re writing for.
There are two ways we do this without requiring lengthy phone calls with multiple parties at our clients’ businesses. Instead, we:
- Conduct an onboarding questionnaire
- Sift through your company website/blog
Answers to the onboarding questionnaire help us to find out more about the company’s products or services, goals, competitors, and target customers, all of which inform the content we produce. Our writers always have access to this base information, in addition to the pitch and notes about the topic.
So, for example, if one of our client’s stated goals is to drive newsletter sign-ups, we might make a note to include a CTA in the conclusion of the blog posts encouraging readers to sign up.
Looking at existing blog posts on the website of the company we're writing for helps us to get a feel for the tone of voice they usually use, which enables us to mimic that same tone and create content that better fits the company's branding.
Where we find high-quality, authoritative sources
The next step is to find great sources that give more insight into the customer’s mindset. We look for this in three places:
- Content from competitors
- Articles published in industry media
- Content that’s ranking on Google for the topic we’re writing about
One of our writers gives some insight into his process here:
“I like to search for the title/keyword of the subject I’m writing about and read through the top 5 existing posts on the topic that appear in the SERPs, disregarding any posts that seem to be badly-written or to contain outdated or incorrect information.
The aim is to take all the valuable information from these posts, eliminate superfluous fluff, and write something even better.
The first time I read through the posts, I like to do so without making any notes whatsoever. Instead, the goal is to just digest the information and get a foundational understanding of the subject.
After that, I’ll read through them again, this time thinking about what kind of sub-topics and angles each of the blogs covers and whether or not it’s valuable, and then note down the key concepts that each post covers which fit within the scope of our article.”
Other ways we find information quickly include looking under the ‘news’ tab in Google search results or narrowing our research to a format like scholarly studies. This helps us weed out the superficial content that sometimes dominates the SERPs.
How we support with facts, data, and statistics
During our research, we note relevant facts, data, and statistics. These help to shape the points we’re making.
For example, let’s imagine we’re writing a blog post on ‘the benefits of live chat software’. In one section, we’ve planned to write about how live chat software helps increase sales by giving customers instant access to your sales team because we saw that ‘38% of customers are more likely to buy from a website with live chat support’.
This not only adds value to the article, but it also gives us an opportunity to link out to other high-quality, non-competitor external sources. This builds credibility with our readers and helps with SEO, too.
See how our research process translates into published blog posts
As you can see, researching and writing a blog post from scratch is a lot of work, and at SaaSpirin, we make it a team effort.
We’ve got our research down to a process that works for our writers, so we don’t have to spend hours on the phone with clients. With notes and supporting data gathered with a critical eye, our team is ready to create awesome blog posts.
If you’d like to see how it all comes together, check out our samples page.