Most freelance writers have areas of expertise. When they get assignments in those areas, life is good. Words flow easily as the writer transfers his knowledge of a topic through the keyboard into a stellar piece of writing.
But it’s bound to happen: the inevitable assignment on which the writer isn’t an expert. What? You want me write an article on hockey? Me?
Relax. If you’re a curious person with good research skills, you can still write smart content – even if you’re not an expert.
Research the Topic
The first step to writing content in an area you’re not very knowledgeable about is to do some research. No surprise there, but it still bears repeating. Just like taking your vitamins helps ensure a basic level of good health, doing basic research ensures that you’ll have a basic level of knowledge about the topic at hand. You owe this to those who will be reading your work.
Concentrate your research time on reputable sources. For health-related topics, for example, the Mayo Clinic site and FamilyDoctor.org are good choices. Check out the websites you’re studying to ensure they’re free of bias.
“Live” in your Topic
Even though you’re not an expert on, say, archery, there are many people who are. Pretend you are a fan of your topic, and brainstorm where you might go online to find like-minded people: archery groups on Facebook, perhaps, or archery forums. Spend some time in these groups. You can ask questions, but you’ll learn a lot by simply reading what experts and fans are saying. What are current topics of interest here? What are fans wondering about and asking?
Another way to learn what’s “hot” on a given topic is to do a Google AdWords search. This tool lets you see how popular various search terms are. Determine some popular search terms related to your topic, and incorporate these into your writing.
Interview an Expert
If you’re not an expert, find someone who is. The internet is your friend here: search for authors, government officials, or bloggers who have written books or articles about the topic you’re researching. Most authors are happy for some publicity, and will be happy to respond to emailed questions. If you have some questions about your topic after researching, chances are your readers will as well. Ask these questions to your expert.
You Don’t Have to be an Expert
Finally, relax. Chances are, your assignment doesn’t require you to be an expert. If it did, it probably would have gone to a college professor. The average reader is looking for the answers to basic questions, written in an easy-to-understand way. As a writer, that’s what you are an expert at.
Stepping outside your comfort zone is a good thing for you as a writer. It keeps your research skills sharp, and it will keep your writing fresh. Who knows? You might discover a whole new area of interest!
And if you’re still feeling insecure after taking all these steps, there are quality content producers who can do a great job for you.