Outlining your blog posts before you start writing is arguably the most important step.
When we work with clients, one of the most common mistakes we notice is that they’re jumping straight into writing without organising their ideas into a coherent structure first. While this isn’t always a bad thing (it indicates passion and motivation to get their thoughts down on paper!), it doesn’t always lead to a piece that is easy to read.
When creating content designed to be consumed, an easy reading experience should be at the forefront of your mind. Nobody wants to read a blog that jumps from one idea to the next quicker than a frog on a mission!
This is where that blog outline is going to come in.
But where do you start? And how can you turn your ideas into a blog that is clear, concise and customer focused?
We’re glad you asked!
Outline your Blog Posts
Step 1 – Overview
When you pick a book that you may potentially like to read, you most probably don’t just crack open the cover and get stuck in. The first thing we all turn to is the blurb.
A blurb is designed to give you an overview of the plot of the book so that when you begin reading, you have an idea of what you’re going to get.
The same process can be followed when it comes to outlining your blog.
The first thing you should do is write yourself a brief overview of what you want the blog to be about, as well as basic information that will be included.
This can be in the form of a short paragraph or bullet points – the choice is yours! It just means you’ll have something to refer back to throughout the writing process that will help keep you on track.
Step 2 – Research
This is the fun part! The best blogs are underpinned by in-depth research. Not only does this make your piece seem more credible, but it also paints you as an expert in your industry.
Once you’ve got your overview written – it’s time to get stuck into some good old Googling.
Read articles on similar topics, learn from other experts, collect facts and statistics, and note down all the information you want to use, and the links to where you found it (external links are brilliant for SEO purposes!).
Researching and adding this to your blog outline equips you with the knowledge you’ll need to write a convincing piece. It also speeds up the writing process – no more stop-starting to find facts to back up what you’re writing, they’re already in front of you and ready to be used!
Step 3 – Headings
To help you structure your piece, try noting down potential headings and subheadings once your research stage is complete.
This will help you understand how your piece is going to flow and will also enable you to work on one section at a time – far easier than trying to get through it all at once without a clear sense of where it’s heading!
When deciding on headings, pinpoint the most important pieces of information you want to share and section them into digestible chunks. Give these sections clear, concise headings and you’ll begin to see your outline start to emerge.
Step 4 – Structure
Devising a clear structure for your blog is one of the most important parts of your blog outline.
Take your now-headed sections and rank them in order of importance. Make connections between them and place similar sections next to each other in order – you can do this by simply numbering them.
When doing this, pay attention to the way the piece will flow. Are the sections linking together nicely? Are they following an easy-to-understand path to a clear conclusion? If so, your structure is sound!
A structure that isn’t quite flowing correctly can make your piece difficult to read, reducing the chances of your users actually getting to the end of it! By establishing a clear structure in your blog outline, you’re setting yourself up for success.
Step 5 – CTAs
The aim of any blog is always to provide readers and potential customers with something of value. Whether that’s a link to your product or service, a downloadable e-book for further information or simply the opportunity to sign up for your mailing list, this should always be included in your blog outline.
A quick CTA is easy to forget when you’re in the midst of the writing process, so outlining it before that process starts not only ensures that you remember to include it but also makes sure it has been well thought through.
Not every type of CTA will work for every blog post – consider the topic, tone, and overall message of your piece before deciding on the most appropriate CTA.
Step 6 – Outline Complete!
Your outline is complete! Sometimes, getting an outline down can feel like a waste of your time – why are you sitting down writing out a plan when you could just be writing?
While this may seem like the quickest option, you’ll find that going in cold can slow the whole process down. Instead, take the time to carefully plan out your blog post, outlining overviews, research, titles, structure and CTAs.
When you do eventually sit down to write it, you’ll find it much easier to do so and you’ll be left with a piece that is clear, concise, readable and valuable to your audience and potential customers.
Blogging with The Edwards Company
We know that blogging for your business can be time-consuming and adding a blog outlining process may feel even more so! If you’re struggling to find the time to blog but know how important it is to keep on top of posting regular content, we can help.
Here at The Edwards Company, we provide a range of flexible, affordable Business Blog Packages for businesses like yours. Whether you’re looking for 500 words per month or something a little more substantial, we’re on hand to provide you with content that converts.
For more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our brilliant copywriting team.