You can’t be an expert on every industry but, if you don’t get into the habit of adapting to new subjects, how will you ever become a prolific writer? Maybe you’re a genius when it comes to knitting, but there might not be enough work on knitting every month to keep the lights on. Sometimes you have to jump into a new industry with both feet and learn as you go.
Most article writers lean on a solid foundation of research, they don’t put any words down until they have a pretty solid grasp on the material, and they keep reading as they go, double-checking their facts to ensure accuracy.
In addition to your research, a knowledgeable friend can be a secret weapon in your arsenal. If you’re writing about the medical industry, for instance, there’s a good chance that you have a friend who works in nursing or is going to medical school who may be able to help you out.
Leaning on a knowledgeable friend can be a great way to ensure accuracy in your work, but it can also put a strain on the friendship if they think that you’re getting free work out of them. Here are a few techniques to draw from your friend’s expertise without making them want to block your emails.
Have Them Proofread a Couple Articles
Have them proofread just your first two or three articles on a given subject until you’re confident that you can go it alone. The trick is that you want your work to ring true to industry insiders, and your expect friends can gauge this better than you can on your own.
Buy Them Lunch
Have your friend meet you at a favorite diner and buy them lunch while they go over your article on your laptop or phone. When you ask a friend to proofread for free, it sounds like unpaid work. When you ask them to proofread for a meal, it sounds like a free lunch.
Pay a Commission
If you want to keep bringing your friend in to check out your articles, paying them a commission of, say, 5% is a good way to keep them enthused.
Ask a Few Questions
Proofreading and editing articles is work. Answering a few questions is just chatting and most people are actually quite eager to talk about their professions. Before you start writing, ask your friend a few questions about the trade to send you in the right direction.
The truth is that most people are happy to help their friends. Rely on them too much and it becomes like a second job for them, but lean on them when you need them the most and you may be surprised to find them quite forthcoming with the inside scoop on their trade.
Gilbert S lives and works in New Mexico with his wife and two cats. When not writing, you can find him drawing or playing a round of Team Fortress 2.