Each piece of content we produce belongs to a bigger content marketing strategy with a target persona and keywords in mind. We break our outlines up into four different boxes: concept, challenge, cure, and conclusion.
How to Write a Blog Post Outline: Write Better Blogs with These 21 Tactics
Masooma Memon on December 22, 2020 (last modified on December 6, 2021) • 28 minute read
If you’ve been streamlining blog production and are stuck at how to write a blog post outline, know that you’re at the right place. Because, today, we’ll share not just ways to write an outline, but also sprinkle in tips to creating one.
But first, why create a blog post outline? Kasia Kowalska from Contentki answers this for you: “Outlines layout the main takeaways and the structure of the intended piece nicely, which allows choosing the best-fitting SEO keywords.
Secondly, if you’re working on an article with another person or team, outlines let you collect their feedback and internal insights before you write the first draft. This reduces the number of comments or change requests in the written piece to the absolute minimum.”
Nodding your head in favor of outlining? Great! Let’s give you a list of 21 ways that answer how to write a blog post outline, followed by an in-depth explanation of each:
How to Outline a Blog Post
1. Nail your working title.
My colleague Corey wrote an awesome post about how to pick a great working title. Go read it, now. I won’t go too much into the weeds here (that’s why you should read her post), but a great working title is specific. It’s "How to Use Images to Generate Leads on Twitter," not " Twitter lead generation."
Spend time getting your working title to something specific and easy to tackle in a blog post format — but don’t waste time getting nitpicky. You can refine your title later. The goal here is to have a title that gives you a very clear idea of what the whole piece is about. You can make it sound catchy later.
2. Write down as many distinct takeaways from the article as you can.
Next, you get to brain dump. Write down all the things you want your readers to get out of the article. These won’t always be the main sections of your article — it’s just all the things you want your readers to know by the end of reading your post.
This is the only time in the whole process you’re not worried about organization — just let your ideas flow naturally. You need to get out all of your wild and crazy ideas now so they won’t muck up your post later in the process.
Let’s use the previous example to show you what I mean. If my working title was "How to Use Images to Generate Leads on Twitter," I’d probably want readers to know:
3. Break up those takeaways into larger sections.
Now, we’ll take that jumble of ideas and place them into overarching sections. Think of it like sorting laundry — each thought belongs to a different pile. From your brainstorm, you should come up with a few big themes. Sometimes, one of your brainstorming bullets will be a theme in itself, but usually several bullets will fall under one overarching theme. You may also realize that there’s a theme that you may not have any bullets for, but the post definitely calls for it.
Lots of people recommend sticking to 3-4 larger sections, but it really depends on what type of post you’re writing. If you’re writing something that’s long and comprehensive, you might need more. If it’s a quick post, fewer sections would be ideal. But if you need a benchmark, 3-4 sections are fine.
Determine the Key Takeaway for Your Readers
The variety in types of blog posts you can use to accomplish your goal is pretty extensive today—and each of these blog post formats have slightly different functions.
Here are the most common types of blog posts:
Choosing the format of your post will help you narrow down what your big takeaway is.
Readers looking at reviews are often ready (or getting ready) to spend some money and they want your honest opinion, so that they can make an informed decision.
We’ll take this idea through each step of the outlining process, so that you can see how this article morphs into a fully baked blog post outline that can fuel the rest of your writing process.
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Step 6: Create A Marketing Plan
Try using the #R3MAT Method as your marketing strategy and watch how well your audience consumes your content. You can seriously watch your engagement levels rise when you get your messaging and timing aligned with your audience.
Run social media ads and use your blog post as one of the stepping stones in your buyers journey to move people further down the sales funnel. You can even create audiences of people who are just like the ones visiting your website now.
A blog post could be used as a way to solve a problem or plant a seed for the future because people usually take seven touches before they make a purchase.
Make sure you include social sharing icons on your blog so your readers can easily share it to their social media profiles. That is a great way to get your blogs exposed to a bigger audience.
Just think if you could get one person who has a following of two million people to share your article. Just think what that could do for your business.
So make sure you put your content on the social media channels that your audience is active. For example, you could go ive and talk about your new blog on the new Clubhouse app if your audience was active there.
⭐ Related Post: How do Facebook Ads work?
Step 7: Publish + Promote
Hit publish and make sure to spend more time promoting your blog posts than you do writing blog content. This is super important for the success of your blog.
There are other people who say promote 90% and create 10% and many other theories, but the point is to make sure you spend more time promoting your content than you do creating it.
HubSpot’s Fill In The Blanks Template. This is a good template for a basic blog post, but it’s short and it’s very, well, template-like. It can get you something serviceable in the 500-1,000 word range, but you really want to take the whole thing and expand it for a good modern blog post.
Content Rules’ Homework Sheet. This is a PDF from Content Rules with a template that works more like a worksheet. It lines up each element of a blog post and has you fill in what you’d want in that place, with some simple guidelines.
Writers Write’s Post Template. This template is an infographic-style rundown of the elements of a blog post, in a compelling layout and order. It can help you with both layouts and with rationalizing the different parts of a post.
I’ll say one thing before I let you go, though; template-based blog posts aren’t all that great. When you’re relying on a template, you’re removing your voice and style from the equation. You’ll have a better return if you simply hire a talented writer to do your blogging for you, at that point. Templates can be a good place to start, but the more of the template that’s left in the end, the less effective the blog post will be.
James Parsons is the founder and CEO of Content Powered, a content creation company. He’s been a content marketer for over 10 years and writes for Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, and many other publications on blogging and website strategy.