Sunday, October 29, 2017

Interest Timeline Post 14 :: Write 31 Days

Many people like to read about the important dates that occurred in the history of their hobby, interests, country, etc. Let's say you are interested in muscle cars, specifically the Ford Mustang. Wouldn't it be interesting to know that Ford debuted the Mustang in April of 1964 at the World's Fair or that the car was name for a fighter plane, the P51 Mustang and not the Mustang horse depicted in its logo? Don't you now want to know why or how that was changed?

Those little tidbits of information are the kinds of material you could easily incorporate into a timeline. Choose some of the important dates of your topic, tell what happened during that year, and add little known facts. Of course, you could handle this any way you'd prefer, but one suggestion is to present each year in a short paragraph.

Using infographics is another way to pass along information to your readers. I've used Piktochart several times but a quick search for "creating infographics" found several other websites that do basically the same thing: CreativeBlog, Make Use Of, and Venngage, to name a few. Once the infographic is complete, you can upload it to your blog, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. By the same token, creating a true timeline is easily done in Windows Office or Excel. 

Some people might ask why anyone would go through the work of researching dates and information for a niche hobby. One reason is that it provides details and morsels of information that your readers may not know but has not had the time to research. Most of us are busy and finding time to cruise the web looking for information that we're interested in but don't need to do the things we love. In the Mustang example above, a Mustang owner doesn't need the information to be able to drive or care for his/her car. However, knowing it can add to the joy and pleasure of sharing the car with others. 

Another reason for writing this kind of post is that you can likely write more than one post if you or your readers enjoy either timelines or trivial info. For example, rather than write one timeline on the Ford Mustang, you can write a post on each of the major muscle cars, giving you as many articles as there are muscle cars. 

Conversely, you can divide the timeline into a few decades (or broad topics) per article. Write about the earliest Mustangs in the first article. Write about how it changed when muscle cars became more prominent as Baby Boomers began growing up. Then write the third timeline about the Mustang world since 2000. 

Photo credit: Lubo Minar @bubo

If you're really ambitious, you might write a historical timeline interspersed with questions and answers for your readers to quiz themselves on. Turn it into a game and give a prize if you desire, or include a survey and give the answers in a separate article. 

This is an idea that could easily become a ongoing post if you choose. The best way (for me at least) would be to write several posts while doing the research and scheduling them so that once they are written, I don't have to remember that it's coming up and find the time to do the research, writing, and editing. 

Finally, you need to be especially careful where you get your information and provide some form of documentation to the website. Actually, doing so makes you more of an expert in your readers' eyes. Misleading information, on the other hand, can hurt your reputation as a blogger and expert. Unfortunately, many wiki sites, are not monitored closely enough to be considered reliable. 

In the example I used concerning the Ford Mustang, while I started with a general search, I narrowed my search once I'd read a few blurbs. I kept close the website, museums, or those of Ford enthusiasts which had been on the web for many years, which means the site has experts and ample time to check/correct facts. I am not really a Ford Mustang fan: I simply remember seeing many at The Henry Ford in Detroit. Certainly I am not an expert! However, I trust the sites I visited because I checked my sources.

I consider a website trustful if it meets any (preferably two) of the following: the author has been published in printed media; the article comes from a company website, with the understanding that opinions may be biased; encyclopedias; university websites. I also try to verify some of the information in a second source. 

All of this may seem extreme, but there a few concerns going on. I am a former librarian, so research is relatively easy. I taught English writing for years with knowledge of what is exceptional research. Most importantly, I want my readers to see me as a skilled writer and researcher. To accomplish this, I must be diligent in making certain that my information is correct, my sources are good, and that I provide links back to those sources. If you want to accomplish the same, you must meet those standards. Readers expect posts that are interesting and fun and correct. Writing timelines for those subjects you and your readers are interested in is a great way to get into both informational writing and researching.

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