Let’s talk about turning your blog from good to great. It all starts with a simple, yet powerful tool: the blog outline. Think of it as your secret weapon for cutting through the clutter of ideas and laying out a clear, engaging path for your readers.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steps of creating a blog outline that organizes your thoughts and makes your content shine. And guess what? You’re not alone in this journey—I’ve got handly blog outlines for you right here, just keep reading.
It’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive into the world of structured, impactful blogging with this helpful blogging tool. Let’s get started!
- What is a blog outline?
- How to write a blog outline in 8 steps
- What to avoid while creating an outline
- Blog post templates to save you time
- Tips for writing from an outline
- Wrapping it up
A blog outline is your roadmap to crafting a compelling article. It’s a simple yet essential document that lays out the angle and structure of your post. Think of it as your blueprint for clear and efficient writing, keeping you focused and on track. A well-crafted outline typically includes these key elements:
- Your topic: What’s the core subject of your post?
- Your angle: How are you approaching this topic? What’s your unique perspective?
- Your structure: What specific points will you cover to support your angle?
You might also consider adding working titles to your outline. Some writers prefer to finalize their headlines after completing the post, ensuring the title perfectly captures the essence of their article.
Why you need a blog outline
Blogging, whether for personal expression or on behalf of a brand, is all about making an impact. If your writing is muddled or your points aren’t clear, your message will get lost, and your readers will move on.
That’s where an outline comes in. It’s the tool that helps you clarify your thoughts before you start typing, saving you from endless rewriting and elevating the quality of your work.
- Overcoming the blank page syndrome: Every writer has faced the dreaded blank page, that moment of paralysis where procrastination suddenly seems more appealing. But with a detailed outline, that blank page becomes much less intimidating.
- Aligning with your editor or client: As someone who’s relied on detailed outlines countless times, I can vouch for their value. They go beyond what a content brief can offer, providing a clearer picture of the article’s direction, elements included or omitted, and the overall flow.
When should you use a blog outline?
In short, always. But here are some specific scenarios:
- For long-form posts: Especially for articles around 1,000 words or more.
- Complex topics: When your subject requires extensive research for accurate coverage.
- Delegating writing tasks: To ensure contributors understand the vision for the post.
Remember, the goal is to streamline your thought process and enhance your writing efficiency. But it’s not a rigid rule. For example, personal essays or short news blurbs might not need an outline. Trust your judgment and find what works best for your writing style.
Crafting a blog outline doesn’t have to be a challenge. Break it down into manageable steps to better navigate the process of organizing your thoughts and structuring your content. Let’s dive into these steps:
Choose your topic
First things first: what are you writing about? Choosing a topic is the foundation of your blog outline. Brainstorm ideas related to your niche, focusing on those ‘burning issues’ you’re eager to address. Jot down a few potential topics and pick one that resonates with you and your audience.
Select your content format
What shape will your blog take? Will it be a how-to guide, a listicle, an opinion piece, a review, or a news article? The format often becomes apparent based on your topic. For example, a topic like “how to write a blog” naturally lends itself to a how-to format. If the choice isn’t clear, take a cue from what’s ranking on Google for similar topics. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all format—it’s your call.
Figure out your angle
Finding your unique angle is like uncovering a hidden gem that sets your content apart. It’s where your topic meets your distinct perspective, shaping how you approach your subject. This angle isn’t just about what you’re saying—it’s about giving your readers a reason to care.
For example, if you’re discussing a popular tourist destination, angles like “The undiscovered trails of [Destination]” or “The best local eateries in [Destination]” go beyond just facts—they invite the reader into a story. It’s about making your content click-worthy and memorable.
Determine your format
Choosing the right format for your blog post can make all the difference. Each format caters to specific kinds of content and audience preferences. Here are some powerful blog post formats and when to use them:
- How-to posts: Ideal when explaining processes step-by-step.
- List posts: Great for sharing a compilation of ideas or tips.
- What are posts: Perfect for quick explanations or definitions.
- Case study posts: Use these for in-depth topics needing detailed analysis.
- Survey posts: Good for presenting gathered data in a less comprehensive manner.
- X vs. Y posts: Suitable for comparing products or services.
- Beginner’s guide posts: Excellent for introducing technical topics to newbies.
Evaluate the SERPs
Understanding the landscape of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is crucial. Look at the top-ranking posts to gauge:
- Readability: How easy is the content to digest?
- Relevance: How quickly do they answer the keyword-related query?
- Search intent alignment: Do title tags and meta descriptions match the user’s search intent?
Use the inverted pyramid method for structuring your post, starting with the most general information and becoming more specific. Additionally, check out the People Also Ask (PAA) boxes on Google for relevant questions to address in your content.
Nail down the specific subpoints you’ll make in each section
With your main points set, it’s time to detail what you’ll cover in each. Jot down a few bullet points per section, focusing on supporting your arguments. Include elements like:
- Brief explanation of your argument
- Examples and case studies
- Potential expert quotes and data citations
This stage is also perfect for conducting research and reaching out for expert opinions or quotes.
Plan out your introduction and conclusion
Your introduction should hook the reader, compelling them to read the entire article. Use the Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) formula for your intro:
- State the problem: Identify a challenge your reader faces.
- Agitate: Dive deeper into the problem, emphasizing its impact.
- Offer a solution: Introduce your post as a potential solution.
For your conclusion, outline how you’ll wrap up your points and leave the reader with a takeaway or call to action.
Find Your Data
Once the framework of your post is in place, it’s time to fortify it with specific data and information. Integrating credible data enhances your Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) and ensures your content withstands reader scrutiny.
E-E-A-T is a framework Google uses to assess a page’s quality and authenticity. While not a direct ranking factor, it influences how content surfaces for readers. Incorporating your own data strengthens your argument and builds credibility with readers and search engines.
The internet is an abundant source of data, but not all of it is reliable. It’s important to focus on reputable sites like .gov, .org, .edu, and platforms like Statista. When outlining, use bullet points with hyperlinks to your sources for easy reference.
Researching your topic
Research is crucial in outlining. Here are some effective ways to gather information:
- Google Search: The go-to method for most bloggers.
- Google Scholar: Ideal for finding scholarly articles and academic research.
- National Institutes of Health: A reliable source for health-related information.
- Real Books: Don’t overlook the value of information in physical books or e-books.
- Competitor Analysis: Review similar topics covered by other bloggers for insights.
- First-Hand Information: Direct quotes or verifications from industry experts can significantly enhance your content’s legitimacy and impact.
Having these facts and data integrated into your outline ensures they are not overlooked and helps maintain the focus of your post.
Remember, outlines are not the stage for perfectionism. Here’s what you should avoid:
- Obsessing over grammar: Don’t get caught up in grammar during the outlining phase.
- Infusing brand voice: Save the brand voice integration for the actual writing stage.
- Focusing on SEO keywords: Avoid getting bogged down with SEO at this point.
- Overthinking the details: An outline is about direction, not the nitty-gritty.
The primary purpose of an outline is to give your project a clear direction and prevent that daunting blinking cursor scenario. Invest time in the finer details only once you’re confident in the track your content is taking.
You might have noticed that many blog posts follow similar structures. The truth is, most of the posts you read are variations of a few key templates. So, there’s no need to start from scratch each time. Pick a template that suits your format, and off you go! Here are four of the most common templates:
The list post
List posts, or listicles, are exactly what they sound like: lists. They can include tips, tools, techniques, myths, mistakes—essentially, anything that works as a list. These posts are ideal for non-sequential information that doesn’t require a specific order.
Example template for a list post:
- Title (H1): Catchy and indicative of the list content
- Introduction: Briefly introduce the topic and the value of your list
- List Item 1 (H2): Description or discussion
- List Item 2 (H2): Description or discussion
- [Continue with additional list items as needed]
- Conclusion: Wrap up and possibly include a call-to-action
The step-by-step guide
A step-by-step guide is perfect for explaining processes that must be followed in a specific order. This format works wonders for ‘how-to’ content.
Example template for a step-by-step guide:
- Title (H1): Reflecting the process or task
- Introduction: Overview of what the guide will cover
- Step 1 (H2): Detailed explanation of the first step
- Step 2 (H2): Detailed explanation of the second step
- [Continue with additional steps as necessary]
- Conclusion: Summary and potential next steps or additional resources
The expanded definition
Expanded definitions delve into the meaning of a concept and then explore it in more depth. This format is best when understanding the concept is key to following your post.
Example template for an expanded definition:
- Title (H1): Focused on the concept being defined
- Introduction: Brief overview of the concept
- Definition (H2): A clear and concise definition
- Expanded Explanation (H2): Broader discussion of the concept
- Real-World Applications (H2): Examples of the concept in action
- Conclusion: Recap and possibly a broader perspective or additional resources
The beginner’s guide
A beginner’s guide offers a thorough introduction to a topic tailored for those new to the subject. Choose this format when you’re creating an educational resource rather than an actionable guide.
Example template for a beginner’s guide:
- Title (H1): Clearly indicating it’s a guide for beginners
- Introduction: Set the stage for what beginners will learn
- Basic Concepts (H2): Outline of fundamental ideas or skills
- Step-by-Step Instructions (H2): If applicable, simple steps to get started
- Common Challenges and Solutions (H2): Address potential hurdles and how to overcome them
- Further Resources (H2): Additional information or advanced topics for continued learning
- Conclusion: Encourage readers and summarize key takeaways
Writing from an outline might feel tricky at first, especially if it’s new to you. But don’t worry, here are some tips to help you transform your completed outline into a compelling blog post.
Don’t start with the introductory paragraph or the conclusion
Contrary to what you might think, the introduction should come toward the end of your writing process. As you write, you’ll naturally fill in gaps and create metaphors or similes that you can refine and expand. By crafting your intro later, you can weave these elements in seamlessly, creating a more cohesive and engaging piece from start to finish.
Stick to your outline until you shouldn’t
An outline is a guide, not a straitjacket. It’s meant to keep your content relevant and focused on what matters to your audience. If you find yourself bored or confused, chances are your readers will feel the same. Don’t hesitate to tweak your outline, rearrange sections, or even go back to the drawing board if necessary. The goal is to keep your content engaging and on point.
Keep yourself and your readers interested
Your enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for the topic will shine through in your writing. If you’re feeling disengaged, ask yourself questions like, “What fascinated me about this topic originally?” or “Is there an expert’s perspective that reignited my interest?” Finding what excites you about the subject will help maintain your momentum and ensure your writing captivates your readers to the very end.
Creating a well-structured blog outline is a game-changer. It’s the foundation that ensures your content is coherent, engaging, and impactful. Use these strategies and templates to write articles that drive impact—and, most importantly—blog traffic.
Remember, the perfect blog post starts with a solid outline.
Why do I need a blog outline?
A blog outline helps you organize your thoughts, ensures your content is coherent and engaging, and saves time by preventing aimless writing.
Can you provide tips for brainstorming ideas for my blog outline?
Absolutely! Start by identifying your audience’s interests, exploring current trends in your niche, and asking questions that your readers might have. Use tools like mind mapping to expand and connect ideas.
How can I use subheadings and bullet points effectively in my outline?
Subheadings break your content into digestible sections, making it easier for readers to follow. Bullet points help list key ideas or steps in a clear, concise manner. Use them to structure your content and highlight important information.