When you read a great blog post, do you ever think about how the writer put the piece of content together? Probably not, because you’re too impressed with the material to worry about the fine details. However, if you want to create blog posts that reach your audience in a significant way and encourage them to take action, you can benefit from studying posts that capture your attention.
For many great writers, step one in writing an excellent post is spending time creating a very detailed outline. Ready to learn how to do that? Let’s jump in.
Start With Research
Even though the outline is an essential step in the writing process, I rarely jump right into it without collecting data and finding resources to link to that will back up the material I’m planning to present in my blog post. I find it much easier to create an outline when I already have the data and sources I’m going to use right in front of me.
Doing all the research first allows me to know where I’m going to include the data, links, and quotes, and that makes it easier to structure the rest of the post around those facts.
How To Write A Blog Outline
Once I’ve collected an adequate amount of research for my blog post, I transition to the outline phase of the writing process. Before I go writing down everything I want to say, I scribble out a simple outline that I can follow when it’s time to produce the content. Doing it this way allows me to organize all of my thoughts into logical sections, which makes the writing process infinitely easier.
If you’re having trouble coming up with a detailed outline, remember that you can refer to your framework whenever you need to. Although the framework is a much less detailed version of the outline, it can still help you decide what material you want to cover and what questions you want to answer in each section of your blog post. It also will give you an idea of where you want to go with the ideas you’ve laid out in the research phase.
No matter what kind of blog post you’re writing, though, or how much time you take, using an outline can reduce time, stress, and worry. Plus it keeps you organized and on track, especially if you’re writing something long and involved. – Leah McLellan, SimplyWriting.org
How Should the Outline be Structured?
Typically the best blog post outlines are made up of the following key pieces:
- An eye catching image.
- A strong headline that grabs the attention of your readers and persuades them to continue reading.
- An opening that peaks a reader’s interest and gives them clues about how your post will help them answer their question’s and solve their problems
- A sub-heading that includes your BIG promise. The big promise will encourage your readers to read your entire piece of content.
- A section of body content that will connect with your audience on an emotional level. When you tap into a reader’s emotions, you increase the likelihood that they will stay engaged with the content.
- An initial call-to-action statement that encourages your audience to do something you want them to do. You may want to try something like a “click to tweet” quote or something else to build the authority of your brand.
- A second sub-heading that gives another BIG promise to your readers. In this section, you’ll tell your readers exactly what they’ll learn from you in this post.
- The second section of body content that gives your readers practical information they can apply in their lives. If the content in this section helps them accomplish something, you’ve done a good job.
- A closing call-to-action statement to tie everything together. Here you’ll ask your audience exactly what you want from them: to subscribe to your blog, to download a piece of premium content, or to purchase something.
What Else Is Crucial to a Great Outline?
If you’re still having a tough time creating your outline, consider the following tactics to make your outline stronger:
- Catchy titles. Consider HubSpots Title Generator or CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. We used the headline analyzer for this post and got a score of 72. Most of CoSchedule’s posts are in the low to mid 70’s, so that’s the benchmark we shoot for.
- Short paragraphs and sentences with a low character count. Ultimately you want your post to be written at about an 8th-grade level, and long and lofty prose will put it over the top. Check out the Hemingway app to get a score.
- Include images throughout the outline.
- Break up your posts with multiple headings and sub headings so the various sections of the post can be easily identified,
- Turn your outline into a list that can be easily translated into a blog post.
- Make the important sections stand out (bolding, different colors, italic, etc.).
- Make sure your call-to-action statements are clear and concise.
No matter how you structure your outline, just remember that most readers won’t read everything in your post, but they will scan for important details. You must consider this when creating your outline—make sure you spend extra time crafting a great headline, sub headings, and call-to-action statements. When you format your outline in a way that is easy to consume, it will make it so much easier to write your blog post in a similar fashion.
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