Research is an oft-overlooked component of content creation and marketing. Clickbait-style headlines and top-notch graphic design are the most eye-catching elements of countless pieces of viral content. Oftentimes neither of those would be possible without a foundation built on well-researched data.
While sometimes a single source can provide all the information needed to put together a perfect piece of content in a few simple clicks, more often than not you will need to put in a bit more work to find the data you need.
We’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to keep in mind next time you’re hunting for data.
Can’t find it in the present? Try going back in time
There’s a modern adage claiming that “The Internet Never Forgets” and nowhere is that truer than Archive.org’s Wayback Machine. This is a surprisingly useful tool for content researchers as it regularly archives millions of websites.
Utilizing this tool allows anyone with internet access to find and view an incredible amount of information that has been removed from the web for any number of reasons. Whether you want to read the now-closed blog of the newest member of the royal family or you need to find Bachelor episode recaps from the early 2000s to complete an analysis of the show, the Wayback Machine is the go-to source for information that would otherwise be lost to the digital ether.
Spreadsheets aren’t the most exciting things in the world, but they can be your best friend when you’re researching for your content. Once you’ve found the data you want to use, spreadsheets allows you flexibility when it comes to manipulating and reviewing it for insights.
These wonderful little programs make your information searchable and sortable. This allows you to manipulate it exactly how you want to with customized formulas, and give you the ability to create and label multiple pages in a single document makes it easy to organize multiple sources and types of data, making it much more manageable to comb through large amounts of information to find the right points to highlight in your final product.
Don’t be afraid to start over
When it comes to research, the first source of information you find isn’t always going to be the best one. While it can be frustrating to scrap hours of data collection, it is more than worth it to improve the final product.
Journalists appreciate the well-executed and properly researched content. Even if it is inconvenient in the short term to start over with a new source of information, in the long run, it is more than worth it to produce the highest quality content possible.
Be patient and learn from the past
Sometimes the research portion of a project proves to be incredibly frustrating. But that’s something that can be true for any number of reasons. Maybe information you assumed would be easy to find is proving impossible to locate. Or the early data you do have is less interesting than you envisioned. In these cases, it is tempting to throw up your hands and give up. But, that would be the wrong approach.
With so much data readily accessible from so many different sources, the better course of action is to keep chugging along. It’s more likely the data needed to make your content perfect is out there somewhere, just waiting to be found.
You’ll never discover it unless you are actively searching, no matter how frustrating it may seem at the time.
This steady, patient approach has another benefit. It can teach you how to become a better researcher because you may discover sources of information you didn’t know before. Taking note of those kinds of sources, as well as how you found them, can pay off. Especially when you take that practical knowledge and use what you’ve learned to conduct more efficient research in the future.
High-quality research can and will elevate your content. And hopefully, these tips can give you a leg up while collecting data for your next bit of killer content!