How to Manage Your Knowledge Base
Once you’ve written many orders in any particular genre or topic, you accumulate knowledge that you have to store somewhere. Freelance travel writers all know the pain of trying to locate the name of that great hotel they once mentioned. Sure, you might have to dig through some Word files or past orders in the hopes that you will find that important statistic or link that Google does not seem to return to you now. However, there are better ways to do this. Solid content management is your key to keeping your knowledge base useful and always at your fingertips.
The detail of your organizational system depends largely on how deep you plan to build your knowledge, and also how much time or money you are willing to spend on the endeavor. Thankfully, the most basic forms of organization are no more expensive than your operating system or web browser. Create a system of files that allows you to save your work in a pattern that makes sense to you. Add subfolders as needed. Don’t forget that you have options to do this in cloud storage services as well. This old-school approach will help you a great deal when a simple text search through your files fails to yield the results you expect.
Tailor Desktop Search
If you rely entirely on your filing system because the desktop search seems like a veritable Cerberus preventing your saved information from reaching the light of day, you may need to adjust the way you create your files in the first place. Both Windows 7 and later and Mac OSX permit you to add tags to your files. Like adding tags to blog posts or YouTube videos, file tags are meant to make search that much easier and more accurate. You can also take advantage of full-text search options on both platforms, instead of just hoping that you will find what you are looking for in the file name. Mac users take advantage of Spotlight for this search, while Windows users may need to turn on this feature. It also works for Google Drive.
Create a Personal Library
Some people may prefer to build an actual database of sources that they can find with a few simple keystrokes. This is often a job for software. Although you can certainly spend a few hundred bucks to purchase EndNote for this purpose, there are free options as well. Zotero is a web browser add-on that allows you to select content you found while browsing, organize it, and have it ready for search, reference or citation as needed. It is designed primarily for academia but it has plenty of revolutionary uses for freelance writers.
As a freelance writer, you know that you are only as good as the information you can find. Knowledge management makes that process more sensible. That way, you can spend less time frantically trying to rediscover a good resource, and more time churning out great content.
Holly S is a writer of all trades, with a knowledge base that is only growing.