As a freelance writer, there will inevitably come a time when you are faced with how to write a blog post you know nothing about. In fact, I’d venture to say there will be many times throughout your career when you will have to write about a topic you know nothing about.
This is what draws many of us to content writing in the first place: the perpetual opportunity to learn something new, to push ourselves outside our comfort zone, and to test the limits of our writing abilities. However, this kind of adaptability doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The skills needed to feign such expertise may only come with time and a lot of practice, but they are skills that anyone can learn.
As a writer, you’ll often have to “fake it ‘til you make it.” But, if you’re willing to dive in, you’ll be able to tackle any topic that comes your way.
So, are you ready to learn how to a write a blog post about something you know nothing about? Let’s get started.
Research, Research, Research
The very first thing you should do when approaching a topic that you are unfamiliar with is to sit down and do some good old-fashioned research. Now, I don’t mean you need to take down the dusty, old encyclopedias from your shelf; for that, we now have the Internet. But what I am telling you is that there are no shortcuts. The best way to familiarize yourself with a topic that is foreign to you is to do just that, familiarize yourself with the topic.
Before you even begin to put pen to paper (or finger to key), you need to take to the Web and start looking for reputable sources on your topic. (The keyword here being reputable.)
When seeking out your sources, be sure to:
- Rely most heavily on credible publications from universities, government bodies, and trusted research institutions.
- Be wary of any source that offers facts or statistics but no evidence to back them up.
- Incorporate news sources into your research.
- Check your facts and statements before you use them in a blog post.
If you follow these simple rules, you should be able to compile a list of sources that can get you up to speed on your topic and allow you to write with confidence, or at least pretend to.
Understand Your Audience
In order to sound like you know what you’re talking about to the readers of your blog post, you need to understand who those readers are and what they want to know.
Are you writing for businesses or consumers? Is your audience comprised of highly-trained professionals who have been in their industry for years? Or are you writing to shoppers who are seeking more in-depth information about a product or service? Are you writing to C-suite executives, college students, stay-at-home moms?
By taking a hard look at who will be reading your post, you can identify the type of language you should use and the depth and breadth of information you should provide.
For example, if you’re writing a post about IT security software for businesses, you’re likely writing for an IT audience that has a solid understanding of that industry and the technology on the market. It will probably not be appropriate to write an entire post on “why your business needs security software.” Instead, you’ll need to get on their level and find a way to provide them with information that is relevant and useful to them.
On the other hand, if you’re writing a post about dog walking services, your readers probably won’t expect (or want) a great deal of technical detail.
Find an Expert
If you really want to talk like an expert, you need to get a taste for how the experts talk. Find an expert in the field that can help offer a unique perspective on the topic and guide you in your research.
Ideally, you’d like to talk to a personal contact who can provide insight into the industry and answer some of your questions. But, considering most of us don’t have a Rolodex of subject-matter experts at hand, you may have to connect with them in other ways.
- Search social media outlets for thought leaders and industry experts and follow what they have to say.
- Call up a source at a local business or university who may be willing to give you a brief interview. (This is a great opportunity to get quotes you can use in your post!)
- Read other blogs written by experts.
- Ask your client if they have time to talk to you about their industry.
Take an Online Course
If you plan to write for a customer on a continuing basis, it may be a good idea to enroll in a basic online training course. Not only will this minimize your research time in the future and make you a more knowledgeable source on the subject, but it will also add credibility that could help you pitch posts to similar clients in the future.
See what free courses are available online that might benefit you as you familiarize yourself with this new topic.
The most successful freelance writers out there are the ones that can take a subject they know nothing about and present it in a way that makes it seem as if they’ve been writing about it all their lives. However the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy will only take you so far, and in truth, it requires a lot more “making” than “faking.”
At the end of the day, the abilities to perform quality research, seek out credible sources, and truly tap into your audience persona are some of the best tools you can have in your writer’s toolkit. And as you hone these skills, you’ll know just how to write a blog for that new customer, whether you are familiar with their industry or not.