The 10-Minute, 10-Step Solution For The Best Blog Outline
Do you swear that you do a better job writing if you don’t plan and instead, just write in the moment? You may feel better about your writing experience when you do that, but that doesn’t make the actual writing better. When you are trying to inform or create a structured outcome from your blog post, more planning is better. Outlining what you’re about to write isn’t done the same way by every writer. Outlining, at its barest, is you knowing ahead of time the general idea of what you’re going to write. It’s the road map, the skeleton, the structure, the foundation—you take your pick. Either way, if you’re serious about blogging, some form of blog outline process should be in your writing toolbox.
In a previous post, How Planning Your Blog Content Can Help You Get More Done, I laid out an argument for planning in terms of how it can help you save time. However, planning your content with a blog outline can do more than help you save time—it can help you be a better writer. It can help you train your thought process and keep you from growing a wandering thought process. It also helps you get past writer’s block.
The practicing of outlining is beyond mere planning. It’s a conscious devotion to developing an idea, logically and persuasively. One thing I find very helpful with setting up a basic blog outline, particularly for posts that I need to do a lot of research for, is that I can plug links, snippets, and notes into places on the outline and worry about writing after all the research is done. In this situation, the blog outline helps me know what to look for and what search terms to use. This is a real time saver. There are few things I dread as a writer than a random and orderless collection of research links and notes. The outline lets me write in orderly piecemeal, one section at a time. When I am done, I can go back and streamline the post as a whole so it doesn’t read so choppy.
The 10-Minute Blog Post Outline
But good news: You don’t have to follow this rather strict approach to outlining. You only have to understand the basic idea that is at work in blog outlines, and apply a flexible version to your blogging.
1. Find the Big Idea
Your post isn’t a collection of main stand-alone points (unless it is a list post of that nature), but with supported points that are related and point back to the Big Idea. If you have lots of Big Ideas in one blog post, you will have a disjointed blog post that would be better broken up into separate posts. What’s a Big Idea? It’s the thing you base your headline on. You can only have one Big Idea per post. So with outlining, you take your Big Idea (headline), break that Big Idea into a handful of Key Points, and then support those key points. What’s a Key Point? A key point is a car without wheels. It needs the rest of the wheels to go anywhere. Together, your key points lead the reader to a conclusion or place of understanding. On their own, they are merely interesting facts or ideas. So what does a ten-minute blog outline approach look like? Remember, you’re not writing the post in ten minutes, but outlining it so it is easier to write.
2. Understand what the end result must be
3. List what you have to mention
Depending on what your goal is, there might be specific things you might have to mention. Make a list of them. For example, it might be specific data, like I mentioned in step one. Perhaps your team has gathered up various data from your website analytics. It’s up to you to decide what context you are going to give this data, but whatever you choose, you have to include it. “Jim, we’ve seen an increase in traffic ever since we changed our site’s header design. Here’s the data. We think it would make an interesting blog post.” Or, perhaps you’ve agreed to feature the infographic or some product announcement from another brand. Whatever the case, if you have a specific piece of information that has to be in the post, you need to center the post around it or it will seem awkwardly added on. Not all blog posts will make use of this step.
4. Figure out what you don’t know
5. Figure out what you do know
6. Organize all of the lists into related groups
If you find a grouping that is made up of only one item, get rid of it. It’s going to be too weak to stand on its own, and it clearly doesn’t fit the Big Idea very well because there was nothing else it paired with. When you do form groupings, you start to see how almost any blog post has the capability of being long-form or short-form, depending on what you decide to do in the next step.
7. Create summarizing headings
Now that you’ve grouped all of your potential content, give each grouping a heading that summarizes what it’s about. This isn’t likely to be the heading you use in the final post. It’s mainly meant to be helpful in deciding what stays and what gets cut, and how to write that section.
8. Reorder and cut the heading groups
Start to order your groups in a way that fits logically, flowing down from the Big Idea into your end goal. You might want your blog post to persuade, to sell, or to inform. You may want to present your information in terms of cause-and-effect, problem-and-solution, or compare-and-contrast. You can do so much with how a post ends up simply by what you do in this step. If you get the arrangement correct, when you write the post, you’ll stay on the path. Outlining helps writers stay on point and stay focused. If you don’t cut material that doesn’t fit, your outline is loose and will lead you astray.
9. Refine each heading group
At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what your post is going to be about. You have your Big Idea, and you have the sections of copy that will support that big idea topped by a guiding heading. By arranging the groups earlier, you committed to an angle. Rework the headings to help you, the writer, write copy to that angle. Again, this is likely not the final heading the reader sees, but one that gives you direction. Your final heading might be "The 10-Minute Blog Post Outline System", but the one you used while writing it might have been "The Basics Of Outlining".
10. Start writing your draft
At this point, you’re ready to write the post. You know where you’re headed, you know where you will end up. You know specifically what you need to research, and where to dump that research back in your draft. You know that your own ideas are where they should be and you don’t have to worry about forgetting to include them. An outline like this will make much better use of your time.
Step 1: Keyword Research and Analysis
Keyword research and analysis is the process of identifying and categorizing keywords for use in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns. It is by far THE MOST IMPORTANT step in your blog outlining process.
Keywords are broken down into two MAIN categories:
The Challenges with Keyword Research
More difficult keywords have a lower conversion rate, but they are still relevant to the topic of your blog post. This is why including both higher volume and mid to low difficult keywords are important, since each has a chance of bringing a new audience to your blog post.
The higher your blog post ranks on search engines, the more likely you are to generate a lot of traffic and become a successful blogger as a result. This is why you SHOULD NEVER underestimate the power of keyword research.
Step 2: Choose the Best Blog Post Title
Bramework NEW Blog Title Generator Tool
This is because popular search engines like Google will only display the first 70 characters of a title, and if you write something longer, the headline might not make sense to the reader.
Why You Need to Spend Time Working on Your Blog Title
The way you phrase your headline always depends on the topic you write about. There are some titles that have a high chance of attracting readership, though, no matter what your topic is – they offer a solution to a problem.
Here are a few examples of blog listicle articles:
Here are a few examples of blog “how to” articles: