Preparations and research for writing a professional blog article take on many forms. Writers conduct Internet searches, research print material, view other relevant published material for examples, and conduct interviews in order to produce an informative blog article.
I’ve often compared blog writing for business owners to being a news journalist, in that many of the mentioned research practices are used for both styles of writing. I will discuss a few tips on how I approach the process of turning pages of messy interview notes into a professional blog article to be used as online content for small business owners.
Recently, I was part of a collaborative effort to produce a technical blog article to be used on a client’s website. I was assigned as writer of the article. The article discusses problems the client faced and solutions on how the business solved the problems.
In order to gather the information needed to write the article, I took part in a five-way conference call with representatives of the client’s business, calling in from different parts of the country. The conference call allowed me to interview all parties involved at one time so that all information could be relayed amongst different departments in the business.
One job of a good interviewer is to let the subjects talk freely and uninterrupted while giving the interview. If the interviewer interrupts them with clarifications and questions, then the flow of the subjects’ responses will be hindered, thus the writer may not get the information needed. The subjects need to feel comfortable when giving their input, so questions should wait until they are done speaking.
With regard to the technical blog I recently created, my notes from the conference call resulted in pages of messy bits of information and scribbles of arrows and lines drawn from one subject’s thoughts to another. I was able to let the subjects talk openly at a steady pace while bouncing thoughts off of each other, thus the notes from the interview were extensive and jumbled.
I simply listened to the subjects speak and wrote down everything I could. This was good news for the clients, but bad news for the writing process. After the subjects were done speaking, I went over my notes and clarified a few questions for spots where I wrote too fast and missed some items, but for the most part, the clients were able to have a conversation without interruption.
When taking notes during an interview, one reason I use a pen and paper is that I can circle things and draw lines to items that relate to each other. The subject may not always present information in order, and may refer back to a certain topic after talking about several other items along the way. As a writer, it’s my job to connect these thoughts for the final product. During a fast-paced, note-taking interview, I find that drawing circles and lines connecting thoughts is a good way to organize on-the-fly while letting the subject talk.
Once the interview is over, it’s the writer’s job to sort out the jumbled mess of notes and turn them into a finished blog post. I start this process with a clean sheet of paper used to form an outline for the piece. Once a detailed outline is created, most of the writing is done and leads to smooth sailing towards a finished product.
To create the outline, I sort out all related topics of my notes with different colored highlighters. As I read my notes, I highlight the information according to how the topics will be discussed in the blog. In other words, all notes talking about ‘topic A’ are highlighted in blue, all notes about ‘topic B’ are highlighted in green, and so on.
When the highlighting is done, the notes become much easier to organize. The rainbow colored mess provides a foundation to create the outline. I can now begin to form a story from the notes, deciding which topics fit best for an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
“When the highlighting is done, the notes become much easier to organize.” <Tweet this Blogging tip!>
Once I’ve organized the notes accordingly, I re-write them in consecutive order to make an outline. As each bit of information is used in the outline, I simply cross it off my original copy of notes until everything on the page is crossed out.
There may be a few ideas jotted down in the original notes that don’t have a place in the finished product. They may be thoughts that just don’t fit in the puzzle, and if they don’t help the blog article, they should be discarded. It’s always better to have too much input than too little.
Once a detailed outline is produced, most writers will have little trouble translating it to a finished piece. The clients will be happy, not only because they’ll have a nice finished piece, but also because there is little stress, time, and trouble on their end when they provide the interview.
I always welcome further input from other blog writers on the subject, so please provide any and all feedback in the comments field. Or, if you are interested in having your own blogs written, contact us for further information on our blog writing and posting services, or reach out to myself on Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnatsb .