How Do You Write About Topics You Know Nothing About?

Quite often new writers are given the advice, “write what you know.” As a freelance writer, this doesn’t always work.

While you can easily follow that advice when writing for revenue sharing content sites, when a client needs an article on a specific subject that you have only the vaguest knowledge of or interest in, you don’t want to turn them away. And you don’t have to.

As a freelance writer, you should be able to do research both on and offline on nearly any subject.  You should be familiar with a variety of research tools and resources you can use to gather information at a moment’s notice, beyond just a simple Google search.

If you do not have a library card, get one now. If the library is currently closed, make that visit as your top priority on tomorrow’s to-do list.

You may think that your local library doesn’t have any books that would be applicable to most of your writing assignments, and that may be correct (though you might be surprised!), but a library card at even a small-town library comes with online access to a number of very valuable databases and content not accessible from the general web. Having a library card will most often mean that you can access this information for free with a username and password issued by your library.

ELibrary, as pictured above, is one of those possible databases. Once logged in you can search scholarly articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles, transcripts of video, and other information that’s not readily available online.

Other resources, like those from the Gale Group, offer specific collections that libraries can subscribe to. The  collections your library has depends on the demographic of your area, but could include collections about literature, general reference, business, law, economics, criminal justice, agriculture, media, culinary arts, environmental studies, and more.

And don’t forget that your library has books. Really. As antiquated as it may seem to research topics using print on paper, there is some information that is best presented in print, and some information that you may not find online.

What is more, sometimes even just reading the chapter headings or the table of contents of a book on your topic will give you ideas about article topics and themes.

Depending on the clients you are hired by, there are other online databases you may wish to add to your arsenal, like Eric for educational resources, PubMed for biomedical literature, and Scirus for scientific information.

Google is great, but the more information you have at your fingertips, the better you can do your job. Get to know ALL the resources available to you, and you’ll find that you can write competently on any subject your assignment requires.

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