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!
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.
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!