The Struggling Writer

The chronicles of a freelance writer as he tries to make a living.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The dangers of research

Ah, research - the biggest time waster the freelancer faces. Obviously research is important but only to a point. It's easy to keep going, because it's "for work". When is enough enough? Let's consider two examples.

While researching my article, "How To Recognize Sleep Disorders In Babies," I went off on a tangent as I researched cosleeping. It's a subject I'm interested in but ultimately it was irrelevant to the article. It wasted over an hour of my time.

Today I was researching an article on autism. I instantly found a great resource, an article with all the information I needed, and yet was disorganized and not that well written. It was easy for me to take the information from this piece, organize it better, and create my own article. But I hate to use just one source. So I start looking for another one. This was further complicated that when writing about things like special needs, I'm reluctant to use commercial sites. If I use them I should link to them, but that is an implied endorsement of their product. Eventually I found a piece that I used to add a paragraph to the article, but the bulk of it came from the original source. I could have gotten that article done in an hour; instead it took more than two.

I'm learning, though. I'm slowly getting better at popping out articles faster while still maintaining quality. I think this is going to be important for my gig at LoveToKnow Business. At $15/article, I can't spend all day on each one. I have to get better at popping them out faster so that I can increase my hourly income. If I can achieve 90% of the quality in 20% of the time, that's a good tradeoff. The piece will never be perfect, so learn to accept "close enough".



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