To be profitable in any niche it’s important that you understand how to conduct topic research effectively. It’s not enough to just do an internet search, although that is certainly part of the process. You also need to understand the problem, know where to locate the information, and which sources are best.

Define the Problem

First narrow down what the real problem is and what form the answers will take. Are you creating a blog post, a new product, or looking for facts to back up claims you want to make about your products or service? Once you’ve identified the real problem, write down what you already know about the topic. This will help you when you are searching for more information.

Most of us have some common knowledge that we don’t always know how we acquired. This is called “a priori knowledge”. It’s important to take advantage of this type of knowledge before you conduct formal research on any topic, because you can use the terms that you know and the ideas that you know to help you find more information easier. Once you have written down what you know, try to decipher what more you need to know by writing down a few questions to get you started.

Locate the Information

There are many sources that you can use for gathering information such as books, encyclopedias, magazines, videos, people, organizations and yes, of course, the internet. In fact, more than likely the first place you’ll look is the internet, which can help lead you to the other sources mentioned quickly. So start with the internet but don’t discount downloading or buying books, magazines, newspapers and other forms of information to study your topic more thoroughly.

Use phrases from the knowledge you already have about the topic to double check the facts you think you know, and to locate more information about the topic. In addition, use the questions you’ve developed to search for more information. Google Search is very useful because you can type in questions, phrases, and random words to get more information on any topic. For instance, let’s say you determined you need more statistics about your topic. You can literally type in “Statistics about xyz” and pages will appear that have stats about said topic.

Select the Best Resources

In addition to the information you find above, it’s important to evaluate the worthiness of any one source. Is the information up to date, who wrote it, when did they write it and who was the audience? How does the information relate to what you need to know or already knew? Be sure to collect the information in an organized fashion so that you can easily locate it again if you need to. Using a system like Microsoft OneNote can be very helpful.

Now is also the time when you want to locate people that you already know or who may know people who can give you more information and direct you where to look. Once you have this initial research out of the way, you can talk more intelligently to people “in the know” than before. So it’s a perfect time to get out the address book, or look at your LinkedIn connections to find people who can help you further.

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