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Creating Expert Blogs -- Phase One: Research and Securing Authenticity

posted Jan 19, 2017, 8:01 PM by Rahni Jere Sumler
Writing this on the Eve of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration has inspired many thoughts about the status quo and how to change it.
What was immediately clear was that traditional media has failed this country. According to the HarvardKennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
 studying main news outlets during the election cycle, policy was never discussed as much as poll projections or scandal. This lead to the most uniformed election cycle in this country history, the news never provided the information about people's concerns.

 We are going to have to rely on more savvy and more accessible digital media. The goal here is to give you a simple research that not only builds your authority, but is also an active means of serving the people first.

rolltop desk- perfect place to begin your research

By User:Julius999 - Own work, Public Domain,

Community Diary by Rahni S.

Blogging, and general writing, is broken down into several phases: research, converting research into ideas we can use and delivering those ideas in a digestible format. Today we will focus on research and preparing the information we find for converting. Writing is easier with all of your ideas organized in one place. It also crucial that we single out useful information while making active choices about what will increase the "remarkability" (blogs worth remarking about) and notoriety of our blogs. That being said, this "Research Phase" is broken down into two parts: finding topics and finding sources with authority.


Importance of the Research Phase

Specifically for finding topics within this stage, our goal is to take research and determine if it can be turned into something meaningful.  In addition to avoiding wasteful work, regardless of your determination, things deemed "unuseful" are still within your topic. It's still an opportunity to learn.  Author Eric Ries's "Lean Startup" talks about the capital gained from learning at length. 

Regarding finding sources with authority within this phase, this addresses the "macro" yet very impactful problem of fake news influencing the voting habits of the population. While it will take some cultural solutions on part of the public, having good sources is an excellent way of building trust with your audience. For our purposes of becoming an expert within our field, contributing to a "Sourcing Culture" is also the primary way of building relationships. Further, this step is accessible to everyone and exists in other well established communities. Wikipedia has been serving as a free, free to edit, reliable source of information for several decades. It maintains the reliability of its pages through its "5 Pillars of Community Principals", one being "Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view". Specifically, Verifiability ensures that all articles can be checked by its readers by looking at  reliable source. I will be using some of their guidelines in our the process.

The Research Phase Process

The goal of this phase is to create a schedule of topics and all the information needed for writing your blog. The schedule will be an excel spread sheet with these categories sorted by "Topic":

  • Related questions to the topic
  • Social media of people answering the questions
  • Other Suitable Sources within the answer (list, if applicable)
  • Related keywords (list)
  • Associated image
Some of these items are better saved for the phase where we are writing the blog, such as "Related Keywords" and "Associated Image". These two are particularly easier to fill once you have the entire blog in mind.
When looking for topics, they need to be within your target field.  They should also address questions people are interested in and, therefore, should help you build notoriety. 
When considering topics in your field, please revisit or look at "Phase Zero" from last week. This phase is essential for achieving notoriety, remarkability and is the only way you can build up the credentials needed to be considered an expert in your field. For a more in-depth explanation and for the process itself, check out the post.

Determining a stated need in the community requires answering questions from that community. An easy way to do this is through freelancewriter Niklas Goeke's  suggestion ofsearching on Quora for your topic. This social media platform it allow you to collect questions by topic and gleam other important information for completing other phases. Each question has a list of answers. From the best answer you should get:
  1. Social Media of answerer (usually made available)
  2. Link of answer
  3. Short summary written by you
  4. Source of the answer (if available)

Writing the summary will help to determine important information. The act of writing it yourself also helps you determine the worth of the information and, most importantly, is the first step before creating something new.

The questions may also have sources. To secure your authority, ensure you only include authentic sources:

    1. Research published by Universities

    2. Research backed by Universities

    3. Research backed by governments

    4. Research based organizations that publish data and how their data is analyzed

Phase One is important, but it is also critical to not spend too much time in this phase. More time should be spent building relationships, since the ultimate goal is to become an expert in your field. Therefore, do your research in short bursts. Test the blogs you create, fish for more questions, and begin the process again.