Writing blog posts can be taxing and time-consuming if you don’t prepare for them.
You may struggle with having a direction for your blog post or with coming up with content to write about.
However, there is a simple solution to these writing problems: creating an outline.
An outline is a simple way to plan your blog posts and set yourself up to write quickly and effectively.
Check out the five steps below to learn how to create a killer outline for your next blog post.
Why Create an Outline
There are many reasons why it can be useful for writers to create an outline before writing their full article.
For many, this helps with speed.
Having all your information laid out and ready to go makes it easy to simply plug it into your article rather than searching for that information while you’re writing.
An outline can also help with organization.
It allows you to think through your article in sections and decide which information you want to include in each part of your piece.
A blog post outline can also help you to write a more effective post.
When you create an outline, you can get an idea of what your article will look like as a whole.
This allows you to identify the most valuable information to your target audience and what information doesn’t need to be included.
Ultimately, an outline saves time by keeping the writer on track.
It prevents you as the writer from having to constantly brainstorm about what else to write so that you can focus on producing good content based on the information you know you want to include.
Outlines look different for different writers.
Some writers like to be very detailed in their outline, writing out their introduction and conclusion and including details they want to mention in each section.
Others prefer a more brief outline, only listing a few subtopics and notes.
Whichever way you prefer, your outline should serve a purpose and help you write your article.
There are 5 simple steps to consider that can help you build an effective outline.
1. Determine Main Topic
The main topic of your article will guide everything about it.
Therefore, deciding on the main topic should be your first task when starting any article.
You want to understand your article’s specific topic well and ensure that it is not too vague.
For example, if you want to write about sweaters, is your article going to be about a type of sweater?
Is it going to be about what different sweaters are made of or how to take care of them?
There are many different things you could focus on.
An important part of determining a good main topic is knowing your focus within your niche.
You should also consider your readers.
▶ Who are they?
▶ What information is valuable to them?
▶ What questions do they have about your niche?
This should guide your main topic, as well as the information you choose to cover in subsections.
When creating your main topic, you can also brainstorm subtopics that may be relevant.
If you have some knowledge about the topic you’re writing about, you may already have an idea of what information you want to include in your blog post.
Overall, the key to picking a good main topic is ensuring that it is broad enough that you can elaborate on it in subsections but not too broad to where there is too much information to cover.
It should take into account your readers’ interests and questions and provide value to them.
2. Research Information
Once you’ve decided on the main topic and brainstormed a few subtopics, you can start researching to learn more about your topic and which information you should include in your blog post.
Before you start researching, consider the knowledge and experience you already have relevant to your topic.
▶ What information do you already know?
▶ What subtopics are you knowledgeable about but need additional information on?
Researching to fill gaps in your existing knowledge is an effective place to start.
You should also research subtopics that you want to include in your article.
The simplest way to do this is to do a Google search of your subtopic.
This will help you find more information to include in subsections that you may have little to no knowledge about.
As you’re researching, you should get inspiration for what else to include in your article.
If you’re looking for additional ideas for subtopics, you can search for some of your main keywords online.
This will show you which are the top-ranking articles related to that topic.
You can look at these articles to get inspiration from the information they include.
You can also look at the ‘People Also Search For’ or ‘Related Searches’ sections when you do your Google search.
This can help you get an idea of what questions people have about your topic, which tells you how you can provide value to readers looking for this information.
Find ways to incorporate answers to these questions into your article and subtopics.
While you’re researching, you should keep track of the sources you use.
This stage in creating your outline can help you find non-competitive, effective external sources to link to.
If you or your company has an existing blog, you can also review it during this time to find past blog posts that are relevant to your topic.
You can link these within your post to drive more traffic to your website. Bookmarking these pages or keeping a list of them are effective ways to record these links.
3. Finalize Subtopics and Subpoints
Once you’ve researched your topic and found sufficient information to build your article, you can organize your outline.
Finalize the titles of your subtopics and decide what each section will be about.
You should also determine how you want your article to be laid out.
For instance, you could organize your article with numbered subsections, as a how-to guide, or as a basic header and subheader format.
Using the information you collected while researching, you can determine which information, or subpoints, you want to include in each section.
Many writers will use bullet points to list the information they want to include in each section.
As mentioned, different writers prefer different levels of detail in this part of their outline.
Some may include a lot of detail for each piece of information, while others may simply list different points that they want to address.
Ultimately, you’ll need to decide what works for you.
Whether you decide to include a little or a lot of detail, you should use bullet points or other lists to organize your information into different subtopics.
Once you’ve done this, you may find that there are still gaps in information.
If this is the case, you will want to do some more research to fill these gaps and build a more complete article.
On the other hand, if you think you might have too much information, you should consider how to reduce it.
Your topic may be too broad or you may just be trying to cover too much information in the scope of one blog post.
4. Have a Clear Direction for Your Blog Post
Once you have an idea of how you want to organize information in your blog post, you should consider your tone and the delivery of your content.
Think about your audience and messaging.
How does this play a part in your blog post and the way you will write about your topic and subtopics?
It helps to be conscious of this when creating your outline, so that you have a clear direction for your article.
Having a direction for your article is important so that you know how you want to portray your content to your audience.
It can help to ensure you are achieving your purpose with your article.
Without a clear direction and purpose, you may have difficulty writing along one train of thought and your blog post may come off as chaotic.
Therefore, it’s beneficial to think about these aspects of your article from the start.
One of the biggest benefits of creating an outline is that you can review it and make sure all the pieces work together before you start writing.
Once you’ve determined your topic, subtopics, content, and direction, you can do just that.
Look through your outline and decide if it looks complete or if you need to make adjustments before you start writing.
You may need to go back to earlier steps in creating your outline and adjusting.
For instance, when you look at your outline as a whole, writers commonly notice gaps in information or too much information in areas.
If you are noticing informational gaps, you should go back and research more to ensure your readers get all the information they need to know.
If you feel there is too much information, you may need to narrow the scope of your topic, or you may just want to reduce the information in your outline.
You may also recognize a lack of discrepancy between your purpose and audience, and your blog post.
You may need to alter your outline to better fit the blog post’s purpose and provide value to your audience.
Lastly, when looking at your full article, you may feel the need to reorganize a bit.
For example, you may want to shift one section earlier in the article to make it more effective.
Some of these revisions can happen while you’re writing or after as well, but adjusting when creating your outline can help you write quicker and with more flow.
Get More Tips About Quick and Effective Blog Researching
Overall, outlines are a good way to plan out your article and set yourself up to write quickly and effectively.
They can help you organize content and ensure that your blog post works as a whole before you start writing.
Outlines are just one part of effective writing for blogs. Research is also important.
Check out the 100% educational workshop we did, called:
✅ Learning Outcome #1 – Killer Content Research Tactics
You’ll not only learn the “where” but the “how” of content research. It’s much more simple than you think!
✅ Learning Outcome #2 – Content Research Tips: Ignore at Your Own Risk
We’ll provide you with additional tips for you to consider when executing your content research. Ignoring these tips could hamper your growth.