The Content Creation Process: Research

Content Creation Process ResearchContent creation is an involved process.  Jay Baer uses an average of 3 hours as a guide for how long it takes to research, write, and edit a blog post.  The important part of that is that there is more to writing a good blog post than just writing.

Building good content takes time and in order to do it properly, you should have a process in place that you follow.

Here are Concentric Content Marketing, our process is as follows: Research, Ideation, Storytelling, and Refining.  Today we’re going to explore how we kick off our process with thorough research.


We always start with research.  This stage includes two components – ongoing research into your audience and industry, as well as individual research on a specific topic that you will be discussing in your content.

The first component is one that I recommend building into your daily routine as a content marketer.

If you’re creating content, you should already understand who your audience is and what types of challenges they face.  But even if you have already built out complex audience personas, it is critical to continually stay in touch with the daily lives of your audience members through ongoing research.

There are a few easy ways to incorporate your research into your daily work.

First, envision your day as your audience member.  Where would they turn for information?  Set up accounts to follow the sources of information that you think your audience would turn to.

I recommend using an RSS feed reader to build out feeds of industry specific blogs.  Create Twitter lists of handles that your audience might follow, join LinkedIn groups for their industry and roles, and follow Google+ communities dedicated to their work.

Review these content aggregation tools on a daily basis.  Personally I always sit down first thing in the morning, check my email and then open my social feeds as well as my audience’s social feeds at the same time.

Out of curiosity I did a very unscientific experiment and I spent one week following this daily method, and one week without this daily research.

During the week that I did my daily research, ideas for blog posts came to me on a regular basis while I read through industry articles.  But during the week I did not do daily research, it took me an additional 25 minutes per blog post to research topics and discard those that had already been thoroughly covered.

The bottom line is that by dedicating time every day to putting yourself in your audience’s shoes, it will be much easier to recognize important trends and changes in the industry and create engaging content around those subjects.

The second component of our research stage is researching an individual topic.  Lets say that you’ve done your daily work and you’ve noticed a few articles covering a new platform that could be of real use to your audience, but you’ve noticed no one has talked about one specific aspect of this platform.

This is where research comes into play.

First, you need to make sure no one else has covered this topic yet.  The last thing you want to do is become known as a source of stale information.  Do a Google search, check news feeds and confirm that you’re boldly going where no one has gone before.

Next, gather your data from reliable sources and keep track of those sources (you’ll need them in the Storytelling phase).  New platform?  Go straight to the source, sign up for an account and take screenshots.

As often as possible, gather data and quotes directly from the subject of your content.  When that isn’t an option, make sure you’re getting your data from a reliable source, and follow their citations to find out where they got their information.

If you see a study quoted but can’t seem to access the study itself (lets face it, sometimes you can’t afford to pay $400 to download a pdf), in that case, best practice is to have at least 2 independent sources for the data.  

Finally, make sure you’ve researched all sides of the topic.  One of the tenants of our content marketing code of ethics is that we expect our marketers to discuss all sides of subject.  Don’t ignore a bug in the programing simply because you like the new platform – inform your audience and leave the decision to them.

Now you’ve thoroughly investigated your audience and your subject.  You have officially reached the end of the research stage.  If you want to build your own strategy and gain access to our research toolkit  sign up for our research workshop below.  Blog readers get 30% off their ticket price with promo code STOPFAILS.


  1. says

    Really useful advice Cate. I love that you actually tracked the value your research has. My guess is the productivity loss would become exponential in relation to the amount of time you spent away from it.

    There’s no better place to go for research than your customers…. After all, who knows them better?



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