How Can You Write Killer Content in No Time Flat? Learn the Art of Outlining!

How do you write a blog post? Writing strategies among bloggers tend to be fairly loose. If you’re like most bloggers, you use a freestyle approach to content creation: you write a post from title to end without any planning, editing or proofreading. You might run a spellcheck, but that’s about it. Doing anything else is just too much work!

But what if I told you that you may actually be working harder than necessary? What if you could find a way to work faster and to write a better blog post? It’s very simple, actually: just learn to outline your posts before you write them!

Killer content in no time flat | #blogging #writing
Most writers think outlining takes more time when in reality it increases productivity
(Image created in Canva using free elements)

 

How to Write an Outline

Many bloggers don’t know how to write an outline. Because they believe it will take more time, they prefer to free-write their posts. They don’t realize that creating an outline can help them to get more writing done in a shorter amount of time – and it can even be better quality writing!

Writing an outline is pretty painless. While you may think it’s going to take you more time, outlining is actually one of the writing strategies that successful freelance writers use to get their work done faster. Here’s how to create an outline for your blog post:

Step 1: Brainstorm Some Details

Before writing a blog post, take a few moments to jot down some of the things you already know about the subject. Just write the ideas as they come to you, in no particular order. You can write them on a notepad or in a word processing document, or you may prefer to use a graphic organizer.

Don’t try to write out full sentences at this point. Bullet points are fine at this stage. And don’t edit. This is an exercise in generating ideas, not judging them. Just create a list of as many ideas as you can generate in a fixed amount of time – say, five minutes. Once the time is up, stop writing.

Step 2: Choose Your Main Points

Once you have your list, see if you can group any like ideas together. In the process of grouping your points, you will likely notice that some are major points while others are sub-points or serve to explain or illustrate those larger points. It may help you to arrange these sub-points and other details under the bigger points; you’ll flesh out these arrangements later.

Once you’ve attempted to group all like points, look for points that don’t belong to any group. These are likely points you’ll want to leave out of your post. They might be a great starting point for a later post on the same topic, though! So never throw them out completely.

Most writing consists of between 3-5 main points, so pick out at least 3 but no more than 5 main points for your post. Try to choose ideas that will work well together. Any unused ideas can be reserved for a later post, so resist the urge to try and jam it all in!

Step 3: Create Your Outline

Arrange your main points in an order that makes sense and flows well. If there is a natural chronological order to your subject (as in a recipe or how-to post) just go with that order. If you are writing a persuasive piece, you’ll want to put your strongest arguments at the beginning and end of your post; put the weaker or less significant arguments toward the middle of your outline. If you are writing a comparison, you might choose to alternate back and forth.

Whatever the arrangement, each major topic of your post is now a sub-heading. And all of the sub-points are going to be sentences in the paragraph you write for that sub-heading. At the beginning, you’ll have an introductory paragraph, which is often used to list the topic areas you’ll cover in your post. At the very end of your post will be a conclusion, which you may want to use to pose a question for readers to answer in the comments, or to deliver a call to action.

Now you have the skeleton of your post. It takes a few extra minutes of work to make your writing outline but your post is now better focused – and the bonus is you also have ideas ready for the next post on the same topic!

 

Benefits of Outlining Your Posts Before You Write

  • Brainstorming, freewriting, and mapping ideas are all great ways to combat writer’s block;

  • Creating an outline helps you narrow your topic, which can help boost SEO;

  • When you write a blog post from an outline you tend to be better at sticking to your topic;

  • Writing a blog post from an outline means less editing once the post is written;

  • In the process of eliminating topics from your outline, you will discover ideas for future blog posts.

 

Boost writing productivity by using an outline| #howtowrite #outlines
Learn how to write an outline and boost your blogging productivity
Please Pin this article – remember sharing is caring!
(Image from a public domain graphic by Viktor Hanacek/PicJumbo)

 

Original content © 2016 Kyla Matton Osborne

This article was published on my writing blog, RubyWriter. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

Advertisements

23 thoughts on “How Can You Write Killer Content in No Time Flat? Learn the Art of Outlining!

    1. And thank you so much for stopping by, Miss Angie! I’m so glad everyone was pleased with the tutorial. It’s such a pain to not have a StumbleUpon button on your blog…

  1. I reckon that is what I do, I have a idea sheet on my desk and when I get one, whether I am cooking or something else I run in and jot it down. I am not a professional but I try my best to write a good blog, I am a personal blogger.

    1. Ah Andria, I see your comment double-posted (once as “Anonymous.”) I guess there was a hiccup when you submitted, LOL! Anyway, I think it’s great that you are using outlines in your own way and aiming to write a quality post each time. Anybody can write well: you don’t have to be professional :D

  2. I reckon that is what I do, I have a idea sheet at the desk, when I get an idea while say … cooking I will run in and jot it down, shorthand what its about and go back to cooking, although I am not a professional I do try my best to write a good blog, even if I am a personal blogger.

    1. It sounds like you’re doing exactly what you need to be doing! Good on you for taking the time to sketch that outline while the idea is still fresh in your mind!

  3. Kyla, you make it sound so easy! I’m one of those that just start writing without a plan. (I just finished 2 that way) I think I’ll take your tips and see how it goes!

    1. Thank you for saying so! I hope you’ll give outlining a try and let me know how it works for you :)

    1. You are probably one of the few who bothers to outline! I’m glad it works for you :)

    1. The biggest problem with freewriting is that most of us tend to ramble or to wander off topic. While that may be charming on occasion, most people who are searching for web content want the answers fast. And most search engines are looking for a focused page that has a single topic that uses at least some keywords and semantic matches.

  4. Great advice, thank you! It does take an awfully long time to write some posts so Ill give outlining a try.

    1. Remember that you can write two or more outlines in a single sitting, especially if you have a lot of ideas on one topic. If you start to fill in the topic sentence for each heading you will have the beginning of your writing done. I’ve even seen some teachers these days showing their students to write the details into their outlines in full sentence form, so essentially the body is written y the time the outline is complete. Then the student just has to write the conclusion and introduction, and pick a title for the work. This is certainly a viable option for bloggers and content writers too!

    1. Most of us lack the discipline to outline as a regular habit. Good writers can often get away with it because we can edit as we go and get things better organized. But it really shows in the posts of anyone who never went through that process of learning to focus, outline, draft, edit, and so on.

  5. Getting flashbacks to my high school senior thesis over here! But you’re so spot on…. outlining makes the process so gloriously uncomplicated. There’s nothing wrong with a little freewriting if you’re in the flow but actually having your points spelled out makes it structured better (in my opinion).

    1. Much agreed! Freewriting is great for a personal story or a rant, or for a topic that’s quite social. I also use freewriting to generate ideas for outlines, the same way I do brainstorming. That’s a great practice if you’re stuck on how to get started. Sometimes putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – helps to get the ideas flowing much better than trying to write up lists or bullet points. I suspect it’s because most of us freewrite in sentences, and the act of writing out full sentences tends to encourage the flow better than the stop and start of listing out bullet points.

  6. This is fabulous and so needed ! I struggle a ton cuz I don’t write an outline haven’t done it since college days! I think this would help with batch writing too.. Having a bunch going at once. I struggle with posting more than once a week .. This prob will help!

    Thank you !

    Valerie

    1. Yes, definitely! If you want to set up several outlines at once you can do that. It definitely helps when you want to prep a batch of articles on related topics. You can actually go the extra step of filling sentences into your outline as you create it, so part of the writing is already done when you sit down to create your draft.

    1. I’m glad you found this post useful, Kirsten! Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope you’ll find that writing from an outline boosts your productivity :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s