Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 5, 2009
As some of you know, I do writing on the side from all the other stuff I do. You know about my book writing series which is listed above, and of course I’ve talked about writing articles for pay and creating article packages, of which one is now off the market.
A question I wanted to address is how one can write articles about things one knows nothing about. Most of us adults have forgotten what it was like to have to write research papers when we were in school, and truthfully, I’m not sure that skill hasn’t been lost with today’s kids. Anyone can parrot back what they can find on the internet. The real test of skill is taking researched content and putting it into your own words.
I’d like to talk about a writing project I did last Sunday for a new client, which will give an example of how it can be done. I was tasked to write 7 articles on a subject that I knew nothing about. Though I was given some keyword phrases, the purchaser told me I could pretty much write on anything I wanted to, as long as I got the topic right.
The first thing I did was copy his keyword phrases into Excel. Then I went to Google and typed in the main topic, just to see what came up. Based on the first page, and I have my main Google page set to give me 50 links at a time, I came up with 13 article topics I thought I could write on. I wasn’t sure those would be the final choices, but I was going to start there.
I went to 25 of the first pages that were listed, just to see what they were all about. When I saw information that I thought would help me, I copied it and pasted it into a different Excel spreadsheet, then formatted the columns so I could read it all. I then looked at certain words I was going to highlight, and looked to see how many different articles I felt I could get out of the original content I’d copied.
I came up with four ideas immediately, and three of them fit the topics and keywords that I’d initially been asked for. I decided to start off writing about the main topic, which I knew would lead into writing the other articles. This is always how I do things; for instance, when I wrote my first article package, which was on Twitter (that’s the one that’s now been pulled), the first article was on what Twitter was all about. That’s always the easiest article to write when you know something about the topic, but even when you don’t, it’s usually the easiest topic.
Next I went ahead and wrote the other four articles based on the information I already had. I didn’t plagiarize a single thing; every line I wrote was original, even if I used the same content. It was easy to do because I had multiple sources for each topic, and they all described the same thing either with the same exact words or different words. If the words were all the same, I’m creative enough to figure out other words; if they were different, I just altered some of them, rearranged others, and still came up with original wording.
At this point I still had three articles to write, so I decided to do some research on a couple more specific topics the client had mentioned, just to see what I could come up with. And I was able to figure out how to write two more articles on those keywords, and it really wasn’t all that difficult in the end. The thing is, if there’s enough research information on any topic, it’s fairly easy to write articles, and on these topics, there was.
Now it was time for the final article, and with the original research, I actually already had another topic in there, so I decided to go ahead and write it, and then I was done.
I shared the first article with the client to see how he liked it; he loved it! He liked it so much he went ahead and paid me before I’d even asked him to; how’s that for writing love? Two days later, he commissioned some more articles, and life isn’t so bad writing for him, even though one of the topics was somewhat difficult, as it didn’t have as much original material to pull from.
These articles ended up being between 439 and 656 words, and he only wanted each article to be more than 400 words. And, for that first set, it took me less than 2 hours to write them all. What’s he using them for? I didn’t ask, as, when you’re writing for someone else, you just write and give them away, and that’s that.
Anyway, that’s how I did it. If you have any more detailed questions, other than what the articles were on (no, I’m not giving that up), I’ll be glad to answer. For those of you who do write articles on something you have to research, how do you go about it?