November 28, 2013
rosemary published this at 7:52 am
By Miranda Marquit
Pretty much every aspiring writer has heard this advice: “Write what you know.”
The logic behind this approach makes sense. A certain expertise and confidence accompanies knowledge, and the words come easier when you write on a familiar topic. But you don’t need to write what you know in order to build a successful blogging business.
It’s especially important to learn how to learn about various topics if you plan to provide content to other blogs. Today, I provide content to dozens of blogs and web sites each month. When I began as a freelance writer and professional blogger, I found that the topics I knew about weren’t in high demand. In order to land more clients, I began writing about things I didn’t know. That flexibility is one of the reasons I have so many clients today.
Approach Blogging Like Journalism
While many journalists eventually settle into specific beats, the reality is that many of those beats aren’t the result of chasing after what the writer “knows.” My journalism background provided me with tools I could apply to blogging, but you don’t need formal training to develop the following skills:
- Research: It’s possible to find information about almost any topic, thanks to the Internet. If you want to learn to write about something you don’t know, start with a little research. Just make sure that you understand how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
- Identify reputable sources for your information. When I first started writing about finances, I knew nothing about money management — beyond the fact that I had more debt than I was comfortable with. Research into the world of finances has not only allowed me to write about money, but it has increased my own financial savvy. Now finances fall into the category of “what I know” and I even have my own ideas about money management.
- Interviews: So, you aren’t an expert on a subject that you’re writing about. Find someone who is! Find an expert to interview, and write a blog post based around his or her viewpoint. One of the easiest ways to find knowledgeable experts is to turn to Help a Reporter Out (HARO). You can offer a query, and you’ll likely get plenty of eligible responses.
With the ability to research, experts to interview, and a willingness to learn, there is no reason to limit yourself, as a writer and a blogger, to what you know. In fact, getting outside your writing box is probably good for you (and your writing business) in the long run.
Expand Your Horizons
Even if you decide to focus mainly on writing what you already know, don’t limit yourself to those topics. Take the time on occasion to write about something you don’t know. It’s a good challenge that will force you to improve your writing skills. Plus, you’ll learn something new, and maybe interview someone interesting that you wouldn’t normally have met.
Too often, we think we can’t do something because it’s different from what we’re used to. Forcing myself to become knowledgeable about a topic I didn’t know turned me into a better writer, a more successful person, and helped me build a successful blogging business. Plus, I like learning new things, so it’s been fun, too.