When I research a topic, I like to draw material from as many different sources as possible. I look for authority sites on the web and extract content from somewhere between 10 – 12 different sites as a minimum. I also refer to books, magazines and encyclopedias. I obviously end up with a scratch file that is total mess – duplications, variations and even conflicting data. I would never even think about organizing this material into some semblance and then spin it. I would end up with a mish-mash of different writing styles. After all, spinning is essentially nothing more than synonym substitution.
This is where a more methodical approach is needed. This is what I have found to work best for me:
- I go through the content I have assembled and reduce it into a long list of factual statements.The “what, where, when, how” approach works best. I prefer short, single-line bullet points. Good information that is not “factual” I attach as annotations where they best fit. These include descriptions, clarifications “by-the-ways” etc.
- I then organize my fact list into categories and assign a heading and sub-headings within each category. This then becomes a draft document structure or Table of Contents. If I am writing a long report or an ebook, I then go to Amazon and look at the Table of Contents for their best selling books in the relevant niche. I find the “For Dummies” books particularly useful. If I have missed out on some important issues, I add them to my category list and do some more research.
- The next step is to sort and assign my list points to their appropriate category. Within each category, I then organize them into a logical sequence. This then becomes my “document outline”.
- I can now proceed to write the content in my own words. As I get deeper into the subject matter, I often have to modify the structure, particularly at the sub-heading level. This is perfectly fine as I am working within a defined structure.
This method is obviously a little time consuming. So be it, I am only interested in the quality of the end product. I am not in the camp that has the misguided notion that you can write a new ebook every single day of the week and publish it on Amazon.
I’d like to hear what method others use. After all, mix and match is the best way to best practices.