When I speak to people about what I do, they sometimes ask whether I’m an expert in all of the different topics I’ve written about over the years.
And while I’ve learned a lot of information about a lot of subjects along the way, I’d say I have more of a generalist’s knowledge across a range of topics than expertise in any one (which makes me great on a trivia team!).
But I’m never daunted if I’m approached to write something completely out of left field. In fact, I've always relished the opportunity to learn about something new.
My approach to a new subject
I won’t pretend it’s quite as easy to write about a topic I’m less familiar with compared to one that’s well-worn territory.
So, to help me along the way, I rely on these four tried and tested tricks:
1. I do research
Before I do anything I research the topic to see what’s been in the news recently, who the key players are and what the major issues are. I’ll also research the client I’m writing for (whether it’s a business or a publication) to get a handle on who their audience or customers are and what tone of voice the brand uses.
I read until I’m confident enough that I’ve got the basics down before I put fingers to keyboard, or pick up the phone to speak to anyone.
2. I ask questions
As a trained journalist, I’m well versed in the art of building a rapport and knowing what questions to ask - and how to ask them - to get the information I need.
This applies to either the client or editor, as well as any subject matter experts I’m interviewing for the content itself.
3. I park my ego at the door
If there’s something I don’t understand, I’m not afraid to admit it. I’ll ask for it to be explained again in simpler language or ask for an example, or try to explain it back to the interviewee and tell them to stop me if I get it wrong.
Because, chances are, if I don’t get it, the reader won’t. And I certainly won’t be able to explain it clearly if I don’t understand it myself.
4. I edit, and edit, and edit some more
I continue to research and edit as I write, and I edit and refine after I’m finished – to do this I read my copy out loud and print my work out and mark it up with a red pen.
Because while what I send to the client or editor may be called a first draft, it’s never actually that. What I try to produce is as close as possible to a final version, first time around.
Business, investment, personal finance or...anything else!
By virtue of my previous roles, experience and contacts I have come to specialise in business, personal finance and investment writing, but by applying the method above I really can write about anything.
To tap into my expertise for your next writing project - whatever it may be - contact me today.