The first step to creating killer content is organizing your ideas into a cohesive writing piece. If you’re dreading the thought that your content might be on the thin side, start improving your outlines.
Knowing your audience inside out is what makes you a king of conversion marketing. And the best time to think about your big idea, your end goal, and your user intent is the outlining phase.
If your writers take time to think about those ‘meta concepts’ early in the content creation process, odds are they’ll find the best angle to deliver content to the audience. And this means success.
You’ll be able to fast-track your blog and teach your content team how to become better writers.
Today we’ll explore how to write outlines. You’ll be able to see how theory plays out in real-life examples.
In addition, you'll gain access to an article outline template handy for day-to-day use.
Do Your Research ReadingIf you’re new to a topic, a little bit of prep research would not go amiss. So, before you write your blog post outline, consult Google for a few initial ideas.
Take caution, though, because this can act as a double-edged sword. Minutes of skim-reading can quickly turn into hours of extensive research. So, you want to harness your intent before letting it fall prey to the charms of the search engine.
So, create a checklist for your research. This will keep you from going down the rabbit hole and losing more time than necessary.
Here's what your research checklist can look like:
- Scan other blog articles for knowledge gaps that you can use in your article.
- As you read, aim to develop your own perspective, a different angle to your topic.
- Make sure you grab any interesting into material that you can use further into the writing process (think visuals, quotes, authority sources).
Know the End Goal of Your Blog Post ArticleThe best way to structure a blog post is to know what your agenda is behind writing it. In other words, your post will read well if you outline the article with your end goal in mind.
This will keep you from wandering off on a tangential point as well as help you hit all the right notes with your audience.
Each article is set out to achieve an effect. You might want to sell a product or get your readers to share your article on social media. So, you’ll want to align your article with that specific goal.
But you also want your article to resonate with your audience. Otherwise, you’ll write to no effect whatsoever.
Now, to do this right, there are three important concepts you should consider:
Big Idea: The big idea will give you the focus of the article. It contains benefit statements for the reader i.e. what you want your reader to learn. This is your promise for the reader, the one you will fulfill by the end of the article.
Target Audience: Defining your target audience helps you keep in mind who you’re writing for. It's only when you identify people that you can give them what they care about. This can mean the difference between a good storyline or a piece of content that sends people to sleep.
Search Intent: Search intent is the combination of words people use as they type in their search query in Google. Once you understand what’s bugging your reader, you can focus on providing a solution.
Brainstorm Your Main Points and Arrange Them Into Sections
The key to writing a good outline is letting your imagination run wild and then structuring.
So, this is what you do. First, let your hair down and think of as many ideas as you can on a given topic. Note, though, that you don’t want to go too wide into the topic, you want to go deep. Avoid fluff and explore the topic more deeply to find solutions that speak to your reader.
Once you’re done freewriting, it’s time to organize your points. Don’t worry, it’s as easy as placing your ideas into several meaningful sections.
Make your headings snappy and ensure each section includes a sufficient number of supporting points. And voilà! There's your well-outlined blog post!
Beef Up Your Blog Post Outline With Credible Sources
The thing is, your end objective is not to churn out a bunch of mediocre quality articles. Your readers crave well-researched articles supported by quantifiable evidence. Including statistics, examples, and numbers will add authority to your writing.
“Because numbers add substance to an argument. They show you know your field. They instantly make your content more factual.” Source: Copyblogger.com
It’s a good idea to think about how you’re going to hit this benchmark right in the outlining phase. So, make sure you pepper your blog post outline with some hard data and some cross-references to authority sources.
As you go along with your research, drop any relevant links you find into your blog post outline.
Edit and Trim Your Blog Post Outline
Last but not least, it’s time to polish up your blog post outline. Here's where you tie up any loose ends and cut any stray ideas.
Only points that are relevant to your end goal are fit to survive. So, show no mercy to an idea that might have gone off the rails. Also, make sure the succession of your ideas follows common sense.
Remember, you’re taking your reader on an educational journey that flows from your big idea to your final CTA, your end goal.
Ready to Write Your Outline? Use This Article Outline Template
So, what’s your next step? It’s time to rock the house and put the word out to your writing team. Outlining their articles will cut down on their writing time and make them better writers. Not too shabby, right?
Before you provide them with more in-depth training, pass this article outline template on to them.
Just copying and pasting the template below will help keep their articles from getting off-topic.
Title: Put Your Amazing Eye-Grabbing Title Here
Big Idea: What's the purpose of this post? What will you achieve by writing on this topic?
Target Audience: Who is likely to find this information useful? Other blog writers? Business managers?
Search Intent: What will your reader be typing in their search bar when they come across your post? 'How to write a great outline for my blog post', etc.
Keywords: A collection of short phrases intended to trigger SEO recognition. These should be used early in your article as well as in a sub-heading. 'Writing blog outlines, the article outlines, writing an outline', etc.
- Introduce 3-5 points that you'll be covering in your article. Don't spread your content too thin. You want enough words to go beyond the surface of your chosen subject.
- You can add a link if you're going to reference an authority source.
Section 1: Catchy Subtitle That Compliments Your Headline
- A few points about the content of this section
- A link to a product or maybe a reputable source
Section 2: Repeat Section 1 with a few bullet points and a relevant source
Section 3: Repeat Section 1 with a few bullet points and a relevant source
CTA: Make sure your reader understands this transition. This can be done with a sub-heading or clear segue that signals to the reader that the call to action is coming up.
- Link to the product your selling
- Sentence or two on how you will 'sell' your product
So, now you’re ready to kick off your articles with an expert outline, saving you valuable writing time and keeping your articles on-topic. Happy outlining!
About the Author:
Katrina McKinnon is the founder of McKinnon Group. We create content - at scale - for content marketers. Buy pillar pages, skyscraper posts, blog articles, People also ask articles, content upgrades and more.