business blogging

Should I Put My Blog Posts on Medium?

should i put my post son Medium?Medium, if you don't know, is an open, easy-to-use platform where anyone can create an account to start writing and to share that writing with the world. Awesome, well known people like Barack Obama and Gary Vaynerchuk have used the platform to publish content, as well as plenty of not-so-awesome, not-so-well known folks. One strategy that many writers and marketers employ is publishing content first on their blog or website and then publishing it again on Medium a bit later with a link back to the original piece (or no link sometimes). Medium has incredible reach, and allows bloggers and writers to upload their own, previous published content with no consequences. So, I wonder, should I put my blog posts on Medium?

I Have More Than 500 Published Posts On This Blog

With more than 500 posts over the course of four or five years, it would seem like I shouldn't need the reach or any additional help. Anyone who has been writing that much for that long ought to have plenty of followers and ought to have quite a niche built out for them.

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

All the blogging was in a whole lot of fits and starts, and is also an archive of several different blogs, since many of the posts were from my freelancing blog and my two business blogs as well as anything that I decided to write for personal purposes. There's not a whole lot of cohesion to the content or to the process of writing all of the 500 posts. I somehow just happened to write all of it over the span of a few years.

However, many of these posts are just getting dusty. They were great, on point blog posts when I wrote them and they got a lot of traffic when they were originally on the business blog. But, the posts aren't doing much for me now. Yes, I do need to go back and update the information, make sure the links still work, pick a new photo and clean up the SEO portion of it. It's very possible the fact that I haven't done all that yet is hurting. With all this in mind, post my content on Medium may be a good thing to do with old content.

I'm Hesitant Because of the Decentralization

I'm concerned about doing this because I don't own Medium, and therefore I give up control of my content when I put in on Medium. If Medium shuts down, then all that content is gone. If Medium decides it's great, then they'll feature the post and promote it. If not, then they aren't going to do anything to help my content reach the people I want it to reach. If a post does really well on Medium, then I can't guarantee that those people will associate the work with me and the brand that I'm trying to build. It may increase my audience for a day, but I won't know for sure how many of those people will stick around and will read my next post or be interested in anything else that I might have to offer. At least when you promote and share your content on social media, you have a little bit more control then on platforms like Medium and LinkedIn.

Overall, it might be worth trying Medium with a couple of posts, just to see how it works and to see if I like it. Everyone talks about how great the platform is and the potential and exposure it gives people. As I said in a previous blog post, I just need to start talking and stop worrying about all sorts of little things that don't matter in the long run.

This is the Moment I've Been Training For

today is going to be the dayI haven't blogged in SO LONG, and getting back into the swing of blogging daily or multiple times per day has been a difficult process for me. Just several years ago, I was writing 1800, 2400 words a day with no problem. I was writing blog posts for clients, blog posts for my own blog, blog posts for free for different organizations and much more. Nowadays, I can't find the motivation to do a single blog post, whether it's for myself or for work. I'm not sure what the problem is, but the only way to fix it is to sit down and write a 600-word blog post like I am doing now. Then do it again tomorrow, probably for work this time. And the do it again the next day, maybe two blog posts (one for work and one personally). I ought to get into the habit of creating great content anyway, as I need to do a lot of it over the coming months to deliver value to our users and creating opportunities for people to get to know our brand and, ultimately, download one or more of our apps.

I Need to Grow the Brand

I have about six months to get as many people as possible using Inside and its various apps. As long as it's not illegal or a method that's just acquiring bots or something, I can use just about any marketing method that works to get the job done. It's quite scary in fact. There's a lot at stake. My boss is putting a lot of faith in me to accomplish something great. I don't want to fail or to be perceived as someone who is bad at this job. I've done similar work previously, but not at this scale or this pace. Working with various apps also poses new challenges that I've never overcome before, although I am equipped with tools that I didn't have when I blogged and did social media marketing in the past.

Eventually, I Want to Revolutionize App Marketing

Small tangent, but there's an inbound marketing concept called The Buyer's Journey. It's the journey that every buyer goes through as they make their decision regarding their purchase. I think app marketing is completely focused on the decision stage and just getting the person the app. There's nothing really in the app industry on moving someone through a buyer's journey and working with a potential user to become an actual user. There's not a whole lot on ensuring actual users are happy users and doing things to turn them into fans and promoters of the app. The emphasis is so much on just increasing users and getting new users. I want to change app marketing by demonstrating that focusing on the awareness and consideration stages of the journey, you can still increase users while also having happier users who use your product more often and will do the work to get others involved. I suspect that by rushing potential users to the decision, or only presenting the decision, that folks who are still in the awareness and consideration states will ultimately delete or stop using the app because the app didn't meet their needs or solve their problems after all.

To Do That, I Need to Make This Moment Count First

I can talk about changing app marketing and what I don't like about it and what I could possibly do working at an app to provide a better experience to users when they consider, download and use apps. However, I need to accomplish a few things at work over the next few months. If I do that, while I talk about app marketing, inbound marketing, and whatever else comes to mind, then incredible things will happen.

I've spend several years blogging, several years learning how to do inbound marketing and content marketing, and I even started my own business to provide those exact services. All of that, I think was the training and the practice for this year and these next six months. I need to step up to the plate, take a few swings and hit a few home runs in the process.

The Streak is Dead Already

the streak is deadI'm no good at this. I used to be good at this stuff, but I've lost my touch. This is because I kept the streak alive for two days. Two. Whole. Days, and already it's dead. The daily word quota is dead too, as I only wrote 1,667 (qualified) words for one of the two days. It's all dead and I need to start all over again. What happened to me?

I've Done This Before

The breaking of the blogging streak? Yeah, I've done that before with the blogging case study and with the coffee blog and with numerous other ventures. We don't need to detail how I've lost interest in things, or ran out of money to do things, or had something happened that broke the flow of the streak.

By doing this before, I meant that I've previously started streaks that I've kept alive. One of them is Amnesty International. I've been with Amnesty International for almost 10 years now, starting with my freshman year in college (which was way back in 2006) and finishing with the present day. We have a meeting this coming Wednesday, and I will attend. In this time span, I've only missed a handful of meetings because I was sick or I had work to do. When I miss because I had work to do, I always felt like I made a bad decision and that I really didn't have anything better to do than to go to Amnesty. So, unless I'm sick, I go to Amnesty. I don't regret it, even if I have plenty of other work to do. The point is that Amnesty International is a streak that's still alive. It's something that I've started and kept doing. I didn't lose interest, or forget, or run out of time, or have other things get in the way.

Another example is Forward Saint Louis, which is an aggregator of left-of-center news & analysis. It started as a website and is now just a Facebook page. The site was started when the Tea Party was at its peak, and was started as a way to channel the voices, news, and opinions that ran counter to the Tea Party. Although, Forward STL wasn't intended to be a Coffee Party or anything like that.

Anyway, I came on in the summer or fall of 2012 to help aggregate news for them. By then, Forward STL has switched to the Facebook page. There was a group of us aggregating news, and by around September 2013, I was the only one still maintaining my weekly commitment to aggregate news. Everyone else had lost interest, or forgot, or ran out of time, or had other things get in the way. It's been about 18 months since I started, and I'm the only one still going. I can tell because all the posts from the past several months, with exception of one or two, are mine. I'm currently wondering if there's a way to turn Forward STL into something bigger or something more, especially since I'm the last one left. Aggregating news on a Facebook page is great, but it doesn't seem that awesome when that's all the brand does.

So, I CAN Keep Streak Alive

It's taken a while for me, but I don't think the problem is discipline. I've been very disciplined in other pursuits. Besides the two activism, political ventures I mentioned, I did a very good job with my business blog when that was still going. Over the course of 18 months (is that my streak average), I wrote over 200 blog posts about business blogging, content marketing, social media marketing, inbound marketing, and other similar topics. Those posts were excellent at bringing in traffic to the website, although I had a tough time converting that traffic into leads.

Many of my clients have been long-term clients, meaning they've been with me for years. The average for them is two years, and for most of them I did blogging work. Granted, I get paid to do the work for them, which adds incentive to get the work done. But, it also means that I was doing a good enough job to keep going. If they didn't like my work, then they would have gotten rid of me a long time ago. The fact that I stayed for so long isn't just a testament to me sticking with something. It's also a testament of my talents as a writer.

I Am a Great Writer!

I am awesome! Perhaps I can start again?

The Next Few Posts are Pre-Scheduled for My Convenience

scheduling blog postsI do leave for Las Vegas tomorrow morning, so while I'm out-of-town, I've scheduled some posts for the next few days. I don't want to worry about posting while I'm visiting family and playing poker, so I've posted some articles that I've written for previous clients a year or two ago. Might as well, right? These clients aren't using the content (at least not anymore, as a few of them have closed up shop) and some of it is great content. Although I'm not going to include these pieces into my portfolio, some of them are still relevant and could be valuable to a few people. So, I've scheduled a few posts, and will return to extemporaneous blogging on the 10th. Or, the scheduled posts will at least stop by the 10th, as I won't guarantee I will post something next Thursday.

The Topics Might Be a Bit Off

When choosing which posts to schedule, I went with articles that were written well, that were still relevant today, and that were about something that my current audience would find interesting. An article about Facebook Places doesn't mean anything today, and I wasn't a big fan of this article I did offering tips for an effective websites (it might be worth doing over and publishing somewhere too). So, with the exception of one article, the blog posts scheduled all have something to do with the Internet or technology. When I first started freelancing and blogging for money, technology was a niche. It still is, but it's much more strongly considered a business topic than previously. I don't write about the latest iPhone rumors, or computer code, or how certain technologies work. I more cover technology as how it relates to business and how business owners and professionals can use it.  You know, the practical stuff. Hey, it's what I got.

What to Expect After My Trip

Well, I'll probably do at least one post about the trip, probably discussing my poker escapades and what I want my future to hold for poker. After I get that out-of-the-way, I do need to tackle several other posts I've started and haven't finished. These include my list of things I suck at, what I would do if I were the CEO of AOL, my list of empowering songs, and my wrap up of what I've learned in U.S. history. I have made progress on this venture, but finding the answers in a book is a little tougher than I anticipated. I don't want to look up every single thing online, but I am looking up more online than I wanted to, as I don't want to do borrow several books just to answer those questions.

Once I finish those blog posts that I've started, I can get to those on my list of 50 blog post ideas that I haven't started yet, primarily those questions regarding politics and international affairs. Since I'll be at my office more often, I will have more consistent access to a printer and can spend time doing research. It will help if I get that file cabinet that I said I would get a few months ago, and it looks like I would be able to get it by the end of November. I do have one last payment to a vendor this month, so I will have that money in November if I can't do it this month. I do need to work on my niche and keeping up with it. I also need to work on blogging in general. I think it's best that I consider myself similar to a musician, who is always going out to find gigs and to build an audience. I should do that but with words.

Why You Should Hire Me to Write Your Content

youre_hired Blogging for others is my bread and butter. It's how I've made a living and have built my professional reputation over the past few years. If you need content, whether it's web content, blog posts, eBooks, or white papers, then consider Allison Reilly as an option in getting those things done. Here's why you should hire me over anyone else to write your content:

I've Covered a Wide Variety of Industries

If you look at my portfolio, you'll see that my five years of writing and editing experience includes everything from identity theft to social media, from business answering services to small business technology. Even if I haven't covered your industry, or have only covered something similar, don't let that stop you from hiring a great writer. Industry experience is just one indicator of talent and success, and it's by no means an honest indicator of talent and success. My variety shows that I can be successful in any industry and that I can bring a fresh perspective to your content needs and content marketing strategy. Also note that most articles in my portfolio are at least 500 words, showing that I don't write short, fluffy articles that don't say anything at all. With every piece of content, I strive to provide something of value to the reader.

I Can Do Many Types of Content Marketing

Business blogging may be my bread and butter, but I'm not a one-trick pony. I can write things besides blog posts, such as press releases, white papers, case studies, web content, and email marketing campaigns. Although you may only need one type of content, it's best to have one versatile writer you can rely to do any type of content you may need in the future. It's better than hiring someone to do the blog, only to hire someone else to do press releases, and someone else to do SEO and web content. After all, content marketing is about all of the above, as you need multiple types of content across multiple platforms to maximize the strategy. You can get more out of your content if you do a series of blog posts, then turn that series into a white paper, then turn that white paper into a webinar.

Clients Love Me

My oldest client has been with me for almost three years! In that time I've written blog posts, press releases, and white papers with plans for additional content as well as no plans of stopping to write content anytime soon. Most of my clients have been with me for over a year, although I do have a few that have only become my client in the past two months. My clients wouldn't be my clients for this long if they didn't think I did good work and if they didn't think I could be trusted to deliver content on a weekly basis and to contribute to the business. To show you how much my clients love me, I have a testimonials from Nathan Strum, president of TelAssistant - Allied Offices:

I have been working with Allison for close to a year now and am extremely happy with her work. I was seeking a writer for our company blog about a year ago when I first contacted Allison. In the past when hiring a blog writer I have spent almost as much time helping the writer come up with ideas for the blog articles as it would take to write the article myself. Allison took charge very quickly and learned about our industry. She has been creating interesting articles for a year without the hand holding that most writers need. Our readership has increased and the arrangement is an overall success. We have doubled her work and will be adding more work to her plate soon. Her articles can be read at and

The sooner the words are written, the better. Contact me today if you have a writing project for me!

Why Blogging is Crucial to Your Personal Online Reputation

blogging online reputationThere's this notion that blogging is something that only crazy people do, people who want to post pictures of their cat or who have too much time on their hands. Businesses, or very important people, may do it, but its not something that normal people do. This notion needs to change.Everyone, at this point, has an online presence and reputation. Even if you avoid social media all together, there are always articles, documents, and your friend's content that can show up online under your name. Don't forget the possibility of someone having the same name, and a less-than-clean record, that could show up instead of you. You need something that can present what you want to present online and on search engines, and blogging is a great way to do that. Here's why blogging is crucial to your personal online reputation:

Show that You're an Expert

It's that whole conundrum with finding a job: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. Showing experience and expertise is tough without a job, but not impossible, and a blog is a great way to demonstrate both those things. For example, Ted Juch has a great blog on using Google Docs, and that's all that blog is about. Spreadsheets, documents, how to create them, and what you can do with them. Yes, it's geeky and niche, but no one else is doing it while many people have used Google Docs to do something at some point in time. Also, commitment to this topic means that Juch will be the go-to guy on anything Google Docs. It's too bad the blog hasn't been updated in a while, because a blog like that one is a great one to position yourself as an expert.

Work on Your Writing Skills

Nearly all companies, and all positions within those companies, seek people with great writing skills. It's a skill that's no longer reserved for English majors, copywriters, and marketing positions, but a skill that's hard to demonstrate unless you bring a portfolio to the interview (which isn't a bad idea). However, put the blog on the resume with the link, and the hiring manager can have a chance to see the blog and read a few posts. The blog will say a lot about your level of commitment and project management as well as your writing skills. Not only does practice make perfect, but there are tons of great resources out there (like this writer's blog) that specifically talk about how to be a better writer.

It's One Thing You Can Control

If you're applying for jobs, then you have to realize that hiring managers are looking at social media profiles and search results for additional information. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 43% of hiring managers who research applicants on social media sites say they have found something that has cost a candidate a job. You can't always control what shows up under your name, but a blog is one thing you can control. Blogs also connect with social media sites, so if your Facebook feed regularly features your newly published posts, then that's what hiring managers are going to see (versus those partying pics and status updates about hangovers).

Don't forget that the more you write, and the better your writing, the higher it will rank on search engines. The more posts you create equals more pages to find online and more positive ways for others to find you online. Also, your name is one of the easiest things for you to rank for you, so if you don't like what you see today when you type your name into the Google search bar, then that can change if you decide to blog and to blog often.

How Do You Define Quality Content?

defining quality content And is more quality necessarily better or desired?

This is a question that I struggle with every time I have to work with Zerys, or that I think about having to work with Zerys. Zerys is a project management tool designed specifically for content projects, with a built-in marketplace of thousands of professional writers. There's some great writers on Zerys, and out there in general, but it seems that for every great writer there's at least one horrible writer competing against them, wanting to do work for me but really just making me incredibly frustrated (I could do a whole post on the stupid things these people write and expect to get paid for).

But, they somehow got into the system, which makes me wonder about this idea of "quality content". When it comes to the content that's needed for content marketing projects, you of course want stuff that's quality. But, I do think that part of the definition of quality is something that's just good enough to engage the reader and to accomplish the marketing goal. I also think that quality content should include formatting, such as subtitles, bullet points, numbered lists etc. There aren't enough writers (and even clients) out there who understand how these small things bring great value to a blog article or a web page.

Quality is Objective, To a Point

Everyone can agree that quality content doesn't have any spelling or grammatical errors. Quality content makes strong arguments and backs those arguments well. Quality content is easy to read and doesn't have awkward phrasing. After that, quality is subjective. Things like tone, length, and perspective, and what's preferred, differ from person to person. Those things change depending on the comment format and the specific marketing goal. The objective parts of quality have no excuses. Those parts can be fixed and improved upon as you practice writing and as you revise. The subjective parts needs to be known before you even start writing, as they can make a huge difference in what needs to be written and how. An article that's meant to inform will need to be written differently from one that's meant to persuade.

I bring this up because one of the most common complaints I get from potential clients about my writing is that "it's not the style we wanted" or "prefer a different style."

I don't know what that means.

If you do, please explain it to me. "Style" can mean a whole range of things while meaning nothing at all. Style includes diction, sentence structure, organizational structure, and writing goal (to inform, persuade, or entertain). It could also be a euphemism for, "I didn't like it." The latter is at least somewhat constructive criticism that I could work with and think about with my current clients and with my next new client. I can't do anything with, "prefer a different style." On the one hand, style is relatively easy to fix. I just need to know the style that's preferred. On the other hand, I also suspect that those clients don't really know what style they want, and because they don't know what they want, they can't take the time and to work with me to improve or to do better.

You Don't Need Hemingway to Do Your Blog

Even if Hemingway was alive and available, I'm really not sure how many people would jump at the opportunity to have him write the blog. He probably doesn't have the right style, or wouldn't end every blog post with a call-to-action to call the company, and certainly wouldn't care enough about keyword density. Somehow, I think that some would argue it's too much quality or not the right kind of quality.

What Do I Do with This Inbound Marketing Stuff?

what to do with all this inbound marketing stuf It stresses me out that I don't have much idea of what to do with all this inbound marketing, business blogging, and content marketing knowledge. The best I have is that I can apply it to online media and publishing, but that's about it. For some reason, I feel like I should do something more with it besides applying it to something else. It's still interesting and important stuff, so I want to keep up with the topic without just passively consuming it or reading up about it. I want to apply it in ways besides improving my business.

Consulting Work?

I could turn most of Stirring Media's current services into consulting work. I think there's less competition for things like inbound marketing consulting and content marketing consulting, versus being a marketing agency or providing those services. I also think that I would make a very good consultant. One of the most frustrating things about the work I was doing previously (and now, to an extent. I still need to make an income as I build the online publishing portion) is that consulting isn't in the contract so I usually felt somewhat constrained when providing services. One clients only posts 250-350 word posts. Even if I do give them 600-800 word posts, they cut out half of it and post a 300-word version. I could say something if I were a consultant, but would saying something mean anything if I just provide the service? They're not paying me to listen to me, and even if they did listen to me, would they tell their other contributors to double the size of their posts? I really don't know if they'd change, even though the change would make my service more effective and their blog better. As an agency, you can't really be an agency of change unless a client hires you to be an agent of change and to create strategy as well as content. However, if you're not hired to do that, it's then a hassle to get some money's worth out of the information. You don't want to do too much consulting for free.

There is the Stirring Standard

I started this site a while ago as a publication that sources most of its content from business blogs. The point was the give great business blogs a platform for their content, a way to have the good stuff rise above the rest. It would also be one more way to get found online and to set some standards for what's considered good content. This is something that needs to happen soon as more and more folks jump into content marketing, so we're all starting to just drown each other out and to make it harder for our target audience to find our content. Also, this site would have been a way to give businesses and their stories a little more legitimacy while building back links. I believe businesses have good stories to tell and can offer something valuable and beneficial to people. I think businesses can go beyond selling a product or service, much more than was possible or necessary than years past. People don't want to be sold to anymore. Anyway, still don't know what to do with the site. Not sure if I would pursue the business blog idea.

At least with consulting idea, I have an additional source of income that I could utilize right now. I also wouldn't need to delete so many pages from the website. I could simply rewrite most of them, so I would only take a temporary hit to SEO instead of a permanent one (it would be permanent because the pages would be gone, and it would probably leave broken links strewn across my website, which would also hurt). I better add this to the revenue model, and then send all my homework to my business coach.

3 Things That Annoy Me as a Former Content Marketer

annoying things about content marketing One of the things that's especially difficult about changing the direction of your business is getting out of those old habits. Since I"m moving into online publishing, where inbound marketing and content marketing have their place but not their former prominence, I am having some trouble figuring out what to do with my business blogging and inbound marketing knowledge. I understand that it could prove useful when creating our own stuff and marketing said stuff, but I don't quite need to keep up with the ins and outs the same way I now need to for online publishing and media (which, from initial research, is proving a little harder than I thought).

Through all this, I came across some of the many things that annoy me about content marketing. Primarily, it's when people do it wrong and the right way is seemingly obvious (or should be known by the person/entity committing the transaction). Now that I'm moving away from the business, I can vent without worrying of the perception that I am just harping on competition. Here are three things that bother me about business blogs and content marketing:

  1. Marketing agencies with horrible business blogs (especially if they offer blogging services) - There aren't many marketing agencies these days that are strictly direct, traditional, or offline marketing. Nearly all offer primarily or entirely online marketing services. A major part of online marketing is business blogging, and this cannot be ignored or washed over as if blogging is going to go away tomorrow (because it's not). Therefore, it bothers me when a marketing agency doesn't even have a blog, or doesn't even follow blogging best practices (like publishing something once every two months, or not including photos with their posts). It's even worse if the agency offers blog writing or business blogging services of some kind. I think it's very representative of an agency and its services when it can't even do its own blog and its own online marketing right.
  2. Great business blogs with no easy or obvious way to subscribe - I came across an excellent online media and publishing blog today through my research. I wanted to subscribe to the blog, but I couldn't find a place to follow it or to put in my email. I couldn't even subscribe via RSS feed. I suppose the only way to follow the blog is to bookmark it. But, isn't part of the point of having a great business blog is building a subscriber base? You can't even tell if someone's bookmarked your site. I have no interest in this company's custom content or SEO services. I just want to read your blog, share your content, perhaps write a response to an article or two. I guess I'm going to have to take that elsewhere.
  3. Horrible Formatting - Just an FYI, something like the example below looks horrible:

horrible formatting

First of all, what kind of a caption is that? I can't even tell if that's supposed to be a caption, or an introduction, or an interesting side note. It's kind of long for a caption, and doesn't say much about the picture. If you have an educated guess, please tell me in the comments. Second of all, why is this "caption" to the side like that? It gets in the way of the actual lead sentence, and forces the picture to be small. Besides, there's all that blank space. Why isn't is underneath, so it's not confusing to the reader of where you should start reading? Third, giving your next paragraph, or introductory paragraph, or whatever that is, such minimal real estate is awkward and constraining. Fourth, pictures should be aligned on the right, not the left. People read from right to left, so starting with the picture is jarring and ruins the flow of reading the content.

As a side note, I understand that this isn't always necessarily the fault of the writer or the content marketer. One of my clients just updated his blog, and now the formatting is atrocious. You can't get the pictures to format correctly. I have no idea what he did and I have yet to figure out a way, if any, to remedy it on my end. However, don't leave something like that up for everyone to see, especially if you can fix it. It reflects badly on you while hurting the user experience.

Okay, I'm Finished

Time to put myself and my talents to better use.

How Speech and Debate Has Been Crucial to My Career

research skills I just finished a trial article for a potential client, a Boston non-profit that works with public and private partners to improve the parks and green spaces in the city. The client wanted an article about Portland, Ore. park system, and how they handle public and private partnerships. I've never been to Boston, and have never worked with any system park system. I have minimal experience writing and covering government projects and funding. Usually, in this line of work, such expertise might be preferred but it's definitely not required. What's required is that you can write well, understand the format you're writing, deliver results with your work, and not need any hand holding throughout this whole thing. It's harder to come by then you'd think. It's also tough to come by if you don't communicate what you need all that well, but that's another story for another day.

What does this have to do with speech and debate, an extracurricular activity from high school?

Well, I finished the trial article in just over an hour. It was 700+ words, and that hour included research time. I'm worried I might be too efficient, hurting only myself because I'll only get paid for an hour of work, instead of the five the client originally budgeted for. I suspect I am able to be so efficient because of my speech and debate experience.

My Speech and Debate Experience

I did speech and debate for three years in high school, primarily competing in international extemporaneous speaking. If you don't know, in international extemporaneous speaking, you have 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech about international current affairs. You don't know you're topic until the start of your 30 minutes. With a time constraint like that, you have to do the research and analyze what you are reading the research at the same time. Is this information even useful? How does it answer my question? How does it fit in with what I've already researched and learned? How credible is it? You can't waste time.

On top of that, you have to work with the articles and information you brought to the tournament. You can't use the Internet or go on the computer. You can't ask your teammates for help. You have your head and those hard copies, and you have to make it work. You can't learn everything, even if you wanted to. It's also best that you leave yourself some practice time, so although you have 30 minutes, you really have 15-20 minutes to do the research and to compose the speech. You don't want the first time you're delivering the speech to be the one that counts toward your points, if you can help it.

Research Skills are Necessary, Especially in this Google Era

I remember that I took a public health class the second semester of my senior year. Thought it would be interesting. We had to do a 10-15 page paper as our final. Could've been worse. I remember some of the students complaining that they had too much information for their papers, that 15 pages wasn't enough and that they had no idea how to reduce the overload. I don't understand how this was such a problem. I mean, you're not going to do 20 pages. You're a college student during the last few weeks of school. You should be happy that 15 pages are going to come so easily.

Another lesson I learned from speech and debate and all that research: you gotta know when the stop. I'm not writing a 20-page paper here, so although I want more than enough research to write 10 (I don't want to be stuck with less than I need), I also want to give myself room to leave something out. I want enough to form a cohesive 10-15 page paper from start to finish. I have to narrow my topic from the beginning. I have to construct the narrative in my head as I read each piece of research and organize all the journal articles and sources I've collected. It's college. There's not necessarily a right conclusion, just a solid one based on sound logic and argumentation.

I'd say the cohesion came from speech and debate too. There are only consequences to preparing an eight minute or a 10-minute speech, so you learn the amount of research necessary to deliver a seven-minute speech (by the way, it's introduction, three main points with two to three sources per point, and a conclusion). As someone who's been writing to 600-800 word posts for at least a year now as part of a professional standard, I know what that looks like and I know what that takes. The hard part is accomplishing what a 800-word post can in 400 or 500.