Illustrated by Fahren Feingold
When’s the last time you looked for a mattress?
For me, it was three years ago. My partner was about to move in, and the prison cot set-up that had seen me through the magical last few years of solitary bachelorhood had outlived its usefulness. It was time for an upgrade.
A mattress is an important investment, right?
Generally, we spend more time on them than we do in our cars, for instance, and they can impact our health and well-being. I undertook my mattress research with a zeal that made me wonder if I’d missed my calling as a … well, I’m not really sure what. A mattress researcher maybe? But I enjoyed the process and got a lot of satisfaction out of it. I pored over websites (mainly the great Sleep Like the Dead), visited retailers, quizzed dealers, tested the quality of various models, and sought out opinions from peers and experts.
The day I purchased my mattress from Sleep Designs, a family-owned small business in Houston – which I discovered during my research is the mattress-manufacturing capital of the world – was one of the proudest of my life. This baby was pricey, but worth every penny. Each time I lovingly rotate it and lie down for a restorative slumber brimming with happy dreams, I’m reminded of how well my hard work paid off.
It’s the same feeling I get when I finish a blog post for a BuzzFarmers client, except that my office chair doesn’t have any foam-encased perimeter support or quilt foam.
Make Blogging Research Your Mattress Shopping
Your blog is an important investment, too – perhaps even more important than your mattress. After all, it impacts the health and well-being of your business.
BuzzFarmers clients see a boost in engagement almost immediately: They get 70% or more of their leads through their blogs, and 97% have acquired a new client or customer through their blog in the first month of an original content campaign. Our clients increase leads through their blogs by 1,900% on average, as opposed to before they began blogging.
If you’re not converting website traffic into customers, you’re probably leaving a lot of revenue on the table. And if you’re leaving revenue on the table, you’ll probably lose more than a little sleep.
At the same time, you can’t just throw some copy up on your site and call it a day – your editorial team must produce quality content that’s optimized for search and social. Your art directors and designers must come up with great graphics, illustration, and photography. And regardless of your product – it could be mattresses, jewelry, on-collar activity monitors for dogs, or anything else – you need well-researched posts that provide reliable and relevant information.
If people can’t trust your content, they won’t trust the promises your product makes.
You don’t put that product on the market unless it’s as close to perfect as possible, right? Your blog is going to drive sales of that product, so it, too, must be unassailable. How do you get there? The same way I got to my mattress: By researching with due diligence.
As Esquire’s Chris Jones said recently at the Power of Storytelling conference in Bucharest, “A problem with many writers is that they put too much emphasis on writing. Good writing cannot fix poor ideas and reporting.”
Don’t get me wrong: I love good writing. I’m sure Jones does, too, because he’s a great writer. But just as when you read one of his great pieces or listen to a great album or watch a great movie, when potential customers encounter a great post on your business blog – an entertaining and informative one – somewhere in the back of their heads, they’re thinking “Somebody busted their tail on this thing, and I appreciate it.” That sort of response can only bode well for your product, because you just never know who’s on your blog reading about it. It could be a future client, a curious investor, or an industry peer sourcing your work for their own.
Pore over websites. Track down the data. Keep an eye on the competition. Test your content delivery mechanisms. Interview experts. Check your facts. Double-check those facts. And post.
Then you can rest easy and count dollars instead of sheep, because your business blog is going to become a source of revenue. Maybe not overnight, but soon after.
18 Resources for Blogging Research
Gathering context and evidence online just lays the groundwork for a successful post, but let me get you started with some of my go-to blogging research resources (listed alphabetically). There are many more where these came from – never has there been a better time to be a content producer – and remember that the BuzzFarmers blog is here for you, too!
A catch-all site covering pretty much any category you can come up with, About.com puts its expert contributors through a rigorous qualification process.
One of the best magazines in the world provides an exhaustive source of industry news and market data.
Show me a curator of online content and an essayist on creative culture with superior taste, trustworthiness, insight, or relevance, and I’ll … probably reject your suggestion out of hand, because it would not be possible. Sign up for Maria Popova’s Sunday newsletter to receive a fast-acting booster shot of intellectual curiosity and an ever-expanding base of knowledge for your blogging research.
These pioneers of content marketing will show you how it’s done, setting a strong example while serving as serious inspiration. Their articles are sharp, funny, and authoritative. The gold standard, and a great place to start – or at least pay a visit to after you’ve finished reading every single post on our blog!
DMR has a little bit of everything, and can provide color, context, and cold hard numbers for your trend posts.
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The mother lode of official government data.
Search by topic, customize your preferences, and get a sense of what everybody’s reading and writing about.
Google Analytics can give your blog direction, monitor its progress, and help you brainstorm post ideas with its keyword tools. There’s always its little-known search engine, too.
This academic reference juggernaut was built by librarians.
As was this one. It might look like an ordinary search engine, but its results are curated by serious information gatherers.
If you’re a) writing from an American point of view and b) you need some primary sources for your posts, American Memory is a solid place to start.
Moz is a B2B service provider, but they have a ton of free information, advice, and best practices to juice up your blog’s SEO. An exceedingly cool company that makes the science behind content marketing more accessible.
Used by reporters, academics, and researchers, this repository of stats and data is essential.
So, you’re still reading, which means you dig the idea of building stats and data into your blog as a solid foundation. Well, consider the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project the cement truck pouring the concrete for that foundation. It provides what’s arguably the most useful site for analysis on the web’s daily impact in our lives, both personally and professionally. Essential!
An awesome collection of free eBooks, and an admirable project that will pay dividends with careful research.
Categorized by industry, this curated site will give you a bird’s eye view of business basics.
Big government? More like big help for small businesses! And for content marketers writing about small businesses!
A great cheat sheet for those of us who are aren’t the tech-savviest but still want to learn the basics behind building a better blog.
Good blogging research demands time, skill, and diligence, but without it, your business blog will lack gravitas and authority – and your product will lose out on potential customers. Try these sites the next time you start planning a post, or when you need some numbers to back up your claims. They’re reliable, and your blog will be, too.
Which blogging research sites did we forget? Have any favorites? Let us know in the comments!