Building the Perfect Blog Post – Research and Statistics | – 016

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In this episode we’re going to begin a series about building the perfect blog post. We’ll cover the first component of a perfect blog post: research and statistics.

In the previous episode we talked about how to become consistently great at any topic in online business. We discussed how to take a topic like blogging, break it into components, learn more about each component, develop processes and checklists, then decide whether to do each part yourself, automate, or outsource it.

In this episode we’ll cover the first component of a perfect blog post: research and statistics.


Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here, welcome to My mission is to help you design, automate and outsource the technology of your online business. In this episode, we’re going to be in the series about building the perfect blogpost. In the previous episode, we talked about how to become consistently great at any topic in online business. We discussed how to take a topic like blogging, break it into components, learn more about each component, develop processes and checklists and then decide whether to do each part yourself, automate it or outsource it.

In this episode, we’ll cover the first component of building a perfect blog post, which is research and statistics. I assume you’ve already picked a topic to write a blogpost about. When you picked a topic, you probably had an idea of the main point or benefit you wanted to provide your audience. Hopefully this is based on a knowledge you already have or expertise you already have on that particular topic.

Another case is, maybe you don’t know that much about the topic yet so you don’t have a well formed opinion and in that case, this research process can help you get to forming whatever your opinion is on the topic or whatever the benefit is that you want to take out of this topic and provide to your audience. Either way, you need to either form your opinion or validate it and the research process is going to help you do that and then your content is going to be a lot better if all the points that you make are backed up by solid research, statistics, or other forms of evidence that your readers are going to put some weight behind.

In the previous episode, we covered in detail the three steps that are required for becoming consistently great at any topic in online business and content creation. Those three steps were reading the top three resources you can find about that topic so that you can learn more about it and get better at it, distilling what you’ve learned into instructions or check lists. So once you’ve read or found the top three resources, it might be books, blog post, et cetera, what you want to be able to do is to take the key points from that reading and distill it down into processes or instructions or checklists related to that particular topic.

Finally, you want to determine how much of that particular topic to do yourself, automate, or outsource. We mentioned, in terms of building up great blog post, there are 15 different steps that are in there, from research, all the way through to creating headlines and down into copywriting and off into social media promotion and so forth. You may or may not do every one of those steps yourself. Some might be outsourced to a virtual assistant, some might be outsourced to a service provider.

But if you break down every step of the process, read the top three resources about it, distill it into the checklist, and then determine how much to automate or outsource and you do that on a continuous basis, over time you’re going to get much better at each of those topics. For this episode, we’re going to go through that three step process for the topic of research and statistics for your blog content. Everything that I’m recommending in this series is actually something that I am going through myself in my business here with

One of the things I’m doing that we also mentioned in the previous episode is following Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice of basically documenting instead of creating. Instead of sitting down and thinking about, “Well, what are a whole bunch of topics I could talk about this year on the blog and on the podcast?” I basically said, “Well, what am I going to do this year to build my business?” I want to get better at blogging so I’m breaking that down into all the component parts that we’ll talk about over this series of episodes. I want to get better at live video, I want to get better at podcasting.

So in each of those topic areas, I’m going to go through the three part process that we just talked about and then as I do that, that’s going to form some of the key content that I publish out for everyone who is listening so that you don’t have to spend as much time going through this as I do. You can take advantage of the results.

On the topic of research, I did some research and I came up with a top three resources that I’m going to utilize and then I’ll include for you over in the show notes at The first resource is a book, it’s a fairly significant book and it’s called The Craft of Research, fourth edition. This is basically one of those college-level text books that talks about research in general and really goes deep on how to do proper academic research.

Now, I’m not suggesting necessarily that you have to write a research paper as every blog post, but I do think sort of in this day and age where so much of the content out there is poor and not well researched or not well backed up by any kind of factor, statistics of reason, that it’s good to get a base foundation in how to do proper research and how to write a proper argument or a proper opinion piece that is backed up by research.

Now, some of us may have done a significant amount of this in high school or college or university and others of you may not have and so that’s one reason why I think it’s really critical to do that. Especially, as I mentioned, in this day and age where there’s just thousands of new sources where it’s very difficult to tell what is fact and opinion, so on and so forth, it’s going to be a lot better for your readers and for your reputation with your readers, if you understand how to do more formal research and you know, sighting of your sources, validating your sources, digging back to primary sources and not basically quoting research that quote somebody else and has become basically incorrect because of so many different iterations.

So that one is a tough one because that’s a pretty significant book to read. I’m going to follow this advice myself. I’ve got it on my Kindle and I’ve scanned it for some of the research for this post but I am going to do a little bit of a deep dive on that here over the next couple of weeks because I do want my blog post to be better. I want them to have a proper flow and to back up every one of my key points with data. That’s got to be one of the things that’s a differentiator for my content and hopefully from your content versus all of the other stuff that’s basically posted out there on the internet.

If you really don’t have much experience writing persuasive content then another book that you might want to take a look at is one that’s called A Manual For Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Again, this is another college-level text book. Very dense, not recommending you go through the entire thing but if you don’t really have any background in detailed or persuasive writing, or in research, or anything else along those lines then you might want to take a look at this and try and distill it down to some of the key elements you might want to add basically to your content writing and content creation process.

For the next two sources, I’ll go a little bit easier on you. These will be blog posts, not text books. But in doing research for ironically this episode about research, I came across a really great blog post that I hadn’t seen before. It’s called, How I Write Research Based Posts by Belle Beth Cooper. Again, the link to that will be over on the show notes at In her post, she breaks down a really good process that she utilizes in pretty much all of the writing that she does. Her process is fairly simple, but powerful if you do it consistently every time.

The first is choosing the topic that you’re going to write about and then she goes into a research phase of collecting, searching, and then evaluating your research. The second half of her process is something we’re going to cover in future episodes because I actually break it down into a separate part of building the blogpost. But the next part is structuring your post, drafting it, editing it, and putting the final touches on it.

The reason why I really liked her post is because each of those steps, especially around collecting, searching, and evaluating the results of your research, she includes a number of examples, tools, and techniques for how to do that. We’re going to cover most of those and more in this episode but again, for an alternative source and to show that other people do a similar type of process than what I’m talking about here, this is a good article to go check out.

Then the third of our top sources that I’m going to recommend is called The Beginners Guide to Writing Data-Driven Posts. This is a blog post by Neil Patel over on If you’re familiar at all with his content, you know that he does exactly what we’re talking about here, which is putting a huge amount of research and statistics into all of his blog posts., each of which tends to be really long form content, usually between 5,000 and 10,000 words at least. One of the quotes that I like form Neil’s post is this. He says that, “Content that’s backed up by trustworthy data will attract the attention of individual customers as well as businesses.”

So in his post, he breaks it down into five steps. One is, understanding what a data driven post is. The second is developing a content marketing strategy and knowing your audience. The third is writing data driven headlines. The fourth is writing data driven outlines of your blog post or content. Then the fifth is verifying your data’s accuracy. Again, just like the previous source, he includes a ton of examples, data, his own research and statistics in there. So this one is definitely worth checking out for another example of how to add good research into your blog posts.

The bottom line is that for every main point and ideally, all the points you make in your content, you want to back them up with one or more pieces of research. This is what’s going to separate you from everybody else out there on the internet that’s just spouting out their own personal opinions. If you just put your opinion out there and it’s not backed up, you’re really putting the onus on your audience to figure out, “Should I trust this guy or this gal, and what they’re writing and who are they and why should I listen to this?” But if every one of your points is backed up by two or three pieces of research, from already trusted sources out there, that’s really going to help separate your content from everything else.

So once you’ve completed the learning phase of research which is learning how to research by going through the top three resources that we just discussed, the next step is to distill what you learned down into processes and checklists. Now, as you know, I’m a big fan of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, another book that I’ll link to over in the show notes at In that book, he has a quote that I like about checklists, which is this: “Whenever you make a checklist, make sure it is exact, easy to use and incorporates just the things of the most significance.”

To me, that’s the difference between processes, instructions, and checklists. Processes and instructions can be fairly detailed and there are the steps you want to do every time you do a particular task or item in your work flow. Then checklists are basically the validation to make sure that you did all of the items that you plan to do. For the topic of research, I’ll be writing a separate blog post on the end-to-end process that I utilize that’s going to be summarized here in this podcast episode. But what we are going to talk about here is the actual checklists for the research process.

For research, I break it down into two different checklists and processes. The first is what I call “ongoing research”. What I mean by that is, if to be most productive in content creation, you really need to leverage or maximize all of the different things that you do. Most of us do a lot of reading and browsing and collecting of information on the web. What I’ve done is basically turn that into an ongoing process of research. What I mean by that is, I’ve broken down the way that I consumed content into a couple of different steps.

The first step is collecting. So basically, I want to be made aware when there are new pieces of content out there that might be useful that I might want to put into my collection of research or information about a particular topic. These can be RSS feeds, podcast feeds, YouTube subscriptions, basically any form of subscription to sources of content is something that I put under the collection category.

The next category is alerting. Basically if I’m thinking about writing about a specific topic, as an example for blogging, I try and plan my topics out at least a month in advance. As I’m recording here, we’re just about into the month of May 2017, and so I already have a list of the topics I’m going to be writing and podcasting about in the month of May. So what I want to do for those topics is setup alerts and these could be in Google alerts or BuzzSumo and basically setup this alerts for the topics that I’m going to be writing about. That way I’m going to get notified if any new content comes out during this time.

One simple example of a Google alert that you can setup that’s going to really accelerate your research process is something like this: Basically in Google alerts, type “study or research or statistics then + and then our topic”. Let’s say in May I’m going to talk about podcasting, what I would do is setup a Google alert for “study or research or statistics + podcasting” and you could type that query in now or you can do it as a Google alert but the top five results that I get back from that query are exactly the type of information I would want for blogpost or creating content related to the topic of podcasting.

So as an example, the top five results are, a Podcast Research Report from Edison Research, The Podcast Consumer Report from Edison Research, Five Key 2016 Podcast Statistics from Convince and Convert, A podcasting Fact Sheet by PEW Research Center, and 10 Podcasting Statistics Every Marketer Should Know by MediaKicks. So just by the titles, I know, there’s going to be some great content and research in there that I can utilize if I’m going to be writing about the topic of podcasting.

The next thing I do in my ongoing research checklist areas, after collecting and alerting, the next thing I want to do is bookmark or capture that content. So if the sources that I have coming back to me are blog posts or any kind of website, I use Get Pocket as my bookmarking service. The reason I love Pocket is because basically I can collect up all of my bookmarks and I can tag all of these items based on their topic or any other attribute that they have. So as an example, those five results that came back from the Google alert on podcasting, some of them — all of them I have a tag with the podcasting topic.

Some of them, the two that call out statistics, I would definitely add the tag of “statistics” to. That way later on, when I’m doing my research about the podcast and topic specifically, I can go into Pocket and I can say, “Okay, well show me everything that I tagged with the topic of podcast and the tag of statistics.” And then, if you think about it, over time, since I write about, you know, a broad but still defined topic area, if every time I am browsing the web, whether it’s just a dedicated research section or just wasting time at night, going through different websites and so forth, every time I find something interesting, if I do that bookmarking and tagging, I’m going to be building up a huge database of interesting sources to use so that in the future, I don’t have to go do that phase of research. I’ll know that I just have to go into Pocket and basically everything I’ve read in the last year is going to be in there.

Then the final step on the ongoing research check list after collecting, alerting, bookmarking, and tagging is note taking. For this, you can use Evernote or OneNote or whatever your note taking application or best form is. This is the primary reason why I don’t really do handwritten notes anymore because of the tagging and search capability that Evernote and OneNote provide. Again, throughout the year, if I take a lot of notes, it would be very tedious to go back through paper notes and find every time that I talked about or found interesting information about a topic like podcasting or blogging. The main reason for switching over to the electronic form of note taking is again, the tagging and search capability.

The main point of this ongoing research process and check list is to just build this into your default behavior. The reason is this is going to save you a huge amount of time when you need to go into the next step, which is called “topic specific research”. Before we jump into the topic specific research, I did want to call out a couple of the key items that you want to do in that ongoing research checklist. The main things that I’m looking for are facts, quotes, statistics, or case studies.

Any time I see a list post or an expert roundup or anything like that on a given topic area, I almost always put this into my book marks and into Evernote. Because again, those are just great sources where somebody else has already done the research for you. Again, if somebody did a roundup of 50 quotes by the top podcasters in the world or something like that, that’s going to be a great source to pull from when I do my own posts or content about podcast. It’s going to save me the time from having to go do all that research.

What I will do is collect that wand when I go to use it obviously, I’m going to site both the source where I got it from, that expert roundup post, and then also the original person that made the quote. So again, the idea here isn’t stealing other people’s research, it’s really just leveraging what everybody else has already done and then building on top of that while making sure that you site both the original person who said the quote and the person who did the heavy lifting of collecting them all up.

So again, I have category tags in Pocket and in Evernote for each of those scenarios. If I’m looking for podcasting facts, podcasting quotes, podcasting statistics, or podcasting case studies if that’s the topic I’m going to write about, it’s more than likely I’m already going to have some of that data already collected through this ongoing research process. Then, as I mentioned, the next step is topic specific research and your process and checklist related to that.

On this part, we’ll talk about some of your primary research sources first. So if you do have an ongoing research like process like we just talked about, then your first place you’re going to start looking is your own notebook and your bookmarks or tags and pocket or whatever equivalent application that you use. This is the part where it really saves time, if you’re not planning for this particular blog post that you’re going to write to be an epic or a definitive guide or anything like that, it’s just a regular one to 2,000 word blog post on a topic, then you may not have to do additional research. You may be able to go just off of what you have already collected in the past.

In this particular case, I go back through and look at my notebook and look at Pocket, go into those topic and category tags that I’ve been mentioning and see how much information and data I have about the topic. If at that point I find I’ve got five really detailed articles that I found about it and I’ve already got a roundup of quotes and I’ve got list posts of statistics and some case studies, then the collection phase of research might be done. It might just be, “Okay now I’m going to go into this sources and pull out the specific items that I want to include in my blog post.”

If for my own going research I don’t have a lot of good research already collected then this is the phase, the topic specific research where I’m going to go out and do that collection. Obviously there’s a bunch of different ways to do this, you know, Google or Bing are your friend, right? We can go to search engines with proper queries like I talked about earlier with the specific type of thing you’re looking for and then plus your topic keyword. That’s going to pretty quickly bring back a whole bunch of different sources that you might want to utilize.

After that, there could be other more specialized places that you go to. I subscribe to a statistics site called Statista where they do a lot of both original research and collecting up research from others. That’s an entire site and service that’s dedicated to statistics specifically, as well as charts and infographics and other really interesting forms of data. So that’s when I happen to subscribe to, that’s fairly expensive so most people aren’t going to do that. I think it’s like six or $700 bucks a year, something like that.

But generally, by having a subscription to that service, it’s almost guaranteed that I want to be able to put in five to 10 really interesting statistics or info graphics into my posts. Obviously, other things that you are going to be looking for if you research your books, research papers, other different types of content out there; different podcasts about the topics, videos, things like that. The last part of videos is really interesting because generally I think a lot of people when they are thinking about research papers aren’t really thinking about video. But if you think about it so much original content now is being created as videos.

So one of the things where you could extract maybe some key data or information that most others won’t have is by checking out the videos that the influencers or the experts on these topics we’re creating and then if you are lucky, they’ll have transcripts of those videos. So you’ll be able to go through the text form of whatever that person presented and start basically pulling out some of the key points or data or statistics or other pieces of information.

So one of the things about making your content unique is if you are able to find information that nobody else is able to find. By definition, that’s going to make your content unique and maybe separate it from others. Then the last thing that we’ll talk about in terms of research sources is the library and you may be saying, “What? The library in 2017?” So if you haven’t been to a library in a while, it’s obviously going to be a lot different than when any of us were in school five, 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

I’m getting a little on in years at age of 41 here so yeah, when I was in high school there weren’t any computers in the library. You were going with this old card catalogue thing and try to find stuff and walk up and down the halls and basically looking for books. But these days, one of the most important things about the library is the librarian is a trained researcher. So all the stuff that I mentioned earlier about reading the craft of research and going back to core principles and learning how to do research, if you go to a large library those librarians that’s what they do, that’s what they love.

So not only can they help you potentially do some of the research, they are going to give you tips on the process, they’re going to know all the different sources that are out there. Right now the lazy people blogging are just doing Google searches. They are going to the top three articles on the topic and they’re basically going to effectively reiterate the key points that everybody else has already read.

The people that are really starting to separate themselves and make their content better are going deeper than that. So they might be looking at research papers, studies, academic journals, pulling really interesting and leading-edge information out of there and going deeper on the topic than just the top three quotable or tweetable things from other content that’s out there.

So again, this requires work, right? This is not going to be a scenario where following this process you’re going to be able to crank out three blog posts a day. But if you do more detailed research, it is going to give you the ways of separating your content from other people that are out there. So generally to surround a topic with good research, what I try and do in this topic specific phase is basically get top five lists. So I do want to find the top five blog posts about the topic, top five podcast. I go on to Amazon and find the top five books on the particular topic.

But then as I just mentioned, I also try and go out and find the five best research papers or studies about the given topic; the five experts or influencers on the topic and then generally some other checklist items as well like I want to get 20 key statistics about the topic or 20 different quotes from experts on that particular topic area. So as I am doing this topic specific research that’s what I’m trying to do is basically build out that list of items. Now there are some tips and shortcuts that you can do in here that can save you some time.

So when I say “finding the top five books on a topic”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m obviously going to have the time to go out and read all five of those books. But what I do-do, just like any good high school or college kid on productivity is I’m going to look for the crib notes on those particular books. So I’m going to look for sources where somebody else has read the whole thing and basically pulled out the key content or the key topic items or conclusions from that material.

So one easy way to do this is just a simple web search, which is “book summary” and then the title of the book. So if you do that basically on any relatively popular book or topic, you’re going to get back a lot of different people that have either reviewed the book or gone to the trouble of really summarizing it down. To some people, their entire online business is basically doing book summaries where they’ll take a 300 page book, they’ll distill it down into 10 pages of the core content.

So if you don’t have time or desire to really learn about the particular topic that you’re writing about, or maybe if you are already an expert and you’re just looking for sources to back up the points that you are going to make, that’s a good way to use books for that process but without having to spend the hours and hours reading each of them cover to cover.

So again for the topic specific research that’s basically what I’m going to do. I’m going to go on my own collection first, my notebook and my bookmarks. After that, if I don’t have enough content there, I’m going to go do web searches, statistic searches, searches for experts and quotes and then I am going to build those top five lists of the sources that I want to utilize. Once I have collected up those sources, then what I’m going to go through is read them and then start pulling out the key points or the key pieces of data that I want to include in the content that I am writing about that particular topic.

So then the third and final step in the research process and getting consistently great at that overtime is determining how much of this process to do it yourself, automate, or outsource. As you can tell by now research can be a very time consuming activity. How much time you spend on it, for both your general research as well as the topic specific research, really depends on your specific goals for your audience and your business or brand.

If you are blogging for volume, or talking about current events, or your focuses is “quick tips for busy people” on a particular topic or anything along those lines, then your research might be limited to just trying to find attention where having statistics or case studies. There’s nothing wrong with that; if that’s the form of content that you are doing then you want to obviously align your research efforts to both the amount of time you have as well as the value of that for your audience.

If your audience really values the quick 500 word blog post with one key actionable tip or point, then you’re obviously not going to spend eight hours of time doing research to write a 500 word blog post. On the other hand, if you are trying to be the expert or the influencer in your niche then long form content backed up by a lot of research, like we’re talking about in this episode, might be something you need to do for every blog post. That’s something, to be honest, I am struggling with in terms of really trying to focus in on the content that I do for

My default is to want to be exhaustive on every single topic, but obviously that is hard to do and produce content at high enough volume to keep the attention of the audience. So one of the things that I am doing is mixing it up. I am basically taking a topic per month and then really going deep on that topic. So each individual piece of content, like the blog posts and the podcast episodes, are detailed and backed up by research. But not every one of those is going to be a 15,000 word blog post and a three hour podcast episode.

Regardless of which model you choose, the final step on this whole topic is to determine how much to do yourself, how much to automate, and how much to outsource. So in terms of automation, for the background or ongoing collection of research material, I automate a fair amount of that. So I subscribe to hundreds of blogs and podcasts; it doesn’t mean I listen to all of them but I do have those coming into the top of my content or research funnel. I have specific lists on social media for certain topics. I’ve set up content alerts in BuzzSumo and Google Alerts for some of the key topics that I tend to create content about. So there’s always a stream of incoming sources for the key topics that I tend to write about.

As I mentioned previously, for any incoming source that I might reference in the future, it gets saved to Pocket or Evernote. I use Pocket for websites to bookmark them and tag them and then I use Evernote for PDF’s or any other sort of downloads or file types that I can’t do a bookmark on and then when I do tag the item, each time I put both the topic and the type of content. So the topic tag, again, might be “podcasting” and the content tag might be “statistics” or “quotes”. That way later, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times, if I’m looking for each of those particular types of content, I can just search off of tags and then get back only the sources with that item in it.

So in terms of outsourcing of research, personally right now I do most of my own research. So as I said, I am in learning mode about everything in online business and I am trying to become an influencer in the space by becoming an expert on these topics and helping people design, automate, and outsource them. So it doesn’t really make sense for me to outsource the research to somebody else. I want to learn about these topics, I want to read what everybody else’s opinion is, and then form my own and then communicate that out to my audience.

So again the basic premise of my content at is that as I go through this process for my business, I am documenting everything as I go so I can provide that out to you and the audience and save you a huge amount of time so that maybe you don’t have to do as much, you can just build off of the results and the output that I have created. So again, the ongoing research process, I do a lot of that myself and I’ve just embedded that inside of my web browsing time. So again, I save everything interesting and then I am building up this really large database of sites and resources and content.

So right now, for me personally, the only part of the end-to-end research that I outsource in some cases is the topic specific collection of sources. So I mentioned the top five blog post, top five podcast, all those types of things. So when I do my content scheduling and, again like I mentioned, for the month of May let’s pretend the topic is going to “podcasting” or “blogging” — it’s going to be most likely going to be “blogging” — I will come up with a list of topics. I’ll give that list of topics to my virtual assistant and I’ll say, “Please send me a report back with all those top fives that I’ve mentioned earlier in the episode.”

So instead of me going out and doing Google searches and separating out the results that are relevant to those and aren’t, that part I can outsource to my virtual assistant and so that way when it comes time for me to start looking at the research and consuming it, it’s already there and ready for me. I don’t have to go out and do those searches and separate the good stuff from the bad stuff. So just given the nature of my business and content specifically and the goal of being an influencer, I’m still going to do most of that stuff myself.

Plus, I also happen to find that to be the most interesting part of this whole process of content creation. I love learning new things, getting deep on topics, and then distilling it down into the core essence and turning it into some form of system or process. So again, since I love that part of it that’s basically what I am building my whole business around is helping others who maybe aren’t as interested in doing that and really just want to get the end result an d get the tips, get the checklists, and things like that.

So because that’s my main focus area that’s why I am tending to do more of the research myself maybe than you might. So again in your case, you need to look at what is the value of doing the research yourself versus outsourcing it. Fortunately in this area outsourcing is easy to do for research. There are just thousands of people on Upwork and other freelance sites that are willing to go do this type of research at a relatively affordable rate.

So to conclude this episode, within the overall context of an end-to-end process for creating consistently great blog post, proper research is one of the first steps that’s why we have covered it in this episode. In this episode we broke down the research process into its own sub processes and those were three, which are: read the top three resources you can find about the topic, in this case research. Distill what you have learned down into processes and checklists, and in this case we broke it down into two different processes, the ongoing research process and the topic specific research process, and then the final step was determining how much to do yourself, automate or outsource.

So this episode was pretty danced with references and checklists and things like that so I encourage you to head over to the show notes at for access to all the checklists and links to all the resources mentioned. You can put this episode into action by reading the top three resources that I’m providing, creating your own processes and checklists, and then deciding how much to do, automate, or outsource.

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