How to Improve Your Content Creation: 4 Outline Writing Hacks [Plus Bonus Example and Checklist]

November 2, 2020

James Scherer, a Content Marketing Institute’s content strategist once said:

“If we face the truth, we know that content marketing is about making money.”

Yet to monetize your content marketing efforts, you need content that engages at each touchpoint. And for that, you need quality content.

The good news is: you can start small. Writing blog post outlines can help you write better content and cut your writing time.

Below are four outline writing hacks that will help you improve your content creation.

1. Use Brainstorming Tools to Kick-Off Your Prewriting Stage

Writing a blog post outline starts with a brainstorming session.

You can kick-start the process by coming up with your main idea for the article. Then work your way up to cover the most pressing questions related to the topic.

Your audience will reward you for it. Because this is the reason they’re making an online query in the first place. And so will Google. Since it’s likely to move you up the SERP positions if you offer relevant answers to your readers.

When you offer relevant authority content you’re halfway through to getting more traffic and sales. The rest is down to your ability to build a backlink profile and promote your content. But that’s another topic.

Starting an outline from scratch isn’t easy. Yet, there are a handful of great online tools that can help you come up with ideas for your outline.

  • Quora. Use this tool to explore the answers your target audience is seeking. Use it to segment the questions by relevance and then answer them in your post.
  • Reddit. This social news aggregation and discussion website is a wellspring of content ideas. Browse through your niche discussion threads to get ideas for your article subtopics.
  • Answer the Public. This tool can help you stretch out your tentacles to explore the most common questions related to your target keyword. Another great source of information to help you make the most of your topic.

2. Create a Fully-Developed Blog Post Outline

Want to create top-shelf content? Write a fully-developed outline first.

But before you put any words on paper, think about the following four concepts.

They’ll give you a clear focus for writing your entire post.

You’ll be able to adjust your content to both your and your audiences’ goals. Just what effective content writing is all about.

So, give these concepts a little thought before you proceed with your outline writing:

  1. Your target audience. If you have your buyer persona outlined already, that’s great. If not, figure out who might be interested in your products and then target your post to these people.
  2. Your content goal. Are you targeting the post to the top-of-the-funnel or bottom-of-the-funnel audience? The contents of your content piece will hugely depend on this.  
  3. Your search intent. Knowing the intention behind a search query lets you tailor your content so it satisfies both Google and your readers. Google wants to select the most relevant results for searchers. And searchers want to read what’s relevant to them.
  4. Your article CTA. You need an effective CTA so your writing can produce an effect. Get your CTA aligned with your content goal to move your visitors further into the sales funnel.

Now a few more words about writing an outline.

It’s generally recommended to go into as much detail you can. It will save you TONS of time later in the writing process. But there’s more to it. This:

  • Keeps you from writing thin, low-value content. 
  • Allows you to explore the topic more fully and add more value to the reader. 
  • Adds more focus to your article which improves the chances it will come out better when finished. 

3. Outline Your Article Body

Your outline should look like a list of subtopics followed by a bullet list of supporting ideas. When the topic calls for it, you’ll branch deeper into the structure and create sub-sub-topics.

Whichever way, putting in more details into your outline will save you a lot of hassle down the road.

“Putting in more details into your outline will save you a lot of hassle down the road.”

The WorkFlowy tool can help you organize your ideas into complex structures. It’s useful when creating long-form content, such as pillar posts. Or you can choose to rely on your wits to do this step.

If you want to make your job easier, plan your content even further. When sketching your article body, make sure you tick the following boxes

  • Shortlist the ideas you want your readers to understand by the end of the article.
  • Make sure you deliver the main takeaway promised in the article heading. 
  • Structure your blog post so it answers the questions from step one. 
  • Use relevant data and provide supporting evidence for your claims. 

4. Draft a Compelling Post Lede

Did you know 55% of people read blog articles for 15 seconds or less? That’s exactly what makes it such a tough job to craft a compelling lede that will make your readers want to read on.

Because, if it doesn’t hit the mark, they’re going to bounce off your page and head over to a competitor. 

So, that’s also why you need to put 100% effort to make your intro shine. Think of this as your five minutes of glory as a content writer.

You have one sentence, your blog post lede, to hook the reader in. You better not fail here! Because this is where the fate of your blog post gets decided.

Luckily, there are a few hacks that can help you master your lede writing skills. So, here we go:

  • Make it short and sweet. Use just a couple of sentences. Make them upbeat, snappy and right to the point. 
  • Keep it specific. This is where your reader picks up the information about what the article is about. Make the takeaway crystal clear so your readers know what to expect.
  • Spark curiosity with your lede. Give away one part of the story but make sure to create a teaser that will make your readers curious to read more. 
  • Include your target keyword. Make sure your lede contains your primary keyword. 

Use the checklist below so you remember to tick all the boxes needed to write a great blog post outline.

How to Write an Outline to Improve Content Creation: Your Checklist​

1. Use Brainstorming Tools to Kick-Off Your Prewriting Stage

Cover the most pressing questions your audience is seeking answers for. Use the following tools to look into those questions:

  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Answer the Public

2. Create a Fully-Developed Blog Post Outline

Start outlining your blog post by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who’s my target audience?
  • What’s my content goal?
  • What’s the users’ search intent?
  • What’s the intended CTA for this article?

Once you have your answers, use them to create a detailed blog post outline.

3. Outline Your Article Body

Organize your article body into main topics, sub-topic, and sub-sub-topics. Then:

  • Make a list of points you want your readers to understand.
  • Deliver the main takeaway promised in the heading.
  • Answer the questions you came up with during step one.
  • Make sure you support your points with relevant data.

4. Draft a Compelling Post Lede

Keep this front and center. A compelling lede is paramount if you intend to keep your readers engaged when reading your piece of content. Here are a few hacks for writing better ledes:

  • Keep it short and specific.
  • Spark curiosity.
  • Include your primary keyword.

Your Blog Post Outline Example

Check out this outline example and use it as your free blog outline template.

Article Title: 4 Reasons Why You’re Still Looking for an Online Job in Futile

Introduction

Your blog post lede: More than 48 million people have registered globally on job boards allowing them to sell their labor online. The fact it’s hard to land a job is not surprising. What mistakes are you making?

You’re using a generic resume for the job 

  • In some cases, hiring managers use technology to weed out generic resumes. (Include source: https://www.jobscan.co/applicant-tracking-systems)
  • Tailor each resume you send to the specific roles you’re pursuing.
  • Highlight the relevant skills and experience and use specific keywords from the job description. 

You might be overqualified for the role

  • Only articulate the skills relevant to the position and hold back the high-level one.
  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the company and build your skills and qualifications around their needs.
  • Articulate in your cover letter how your extra skills make you an asset to the company. (Include source: https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/guide/how-to-write-a-cover-letter/)
  • Explain what’s drawing you to the company and why you’re okay taking a step back in your career to come on board.

You’re underqualified for the role

  • Avoid applying for roles that are above your skillset and your abilities as it only results in a pile of rejection letters.
  • Study the job requirements for the role you desire and take stock of your shortcomings. 
  • Search for websites with less severe competition. (Include source: https://www.quora.com/Which-freelance-sites-are-best-for-beginners-where-there-is-less-competition-and-easy-to-get-jobs-relative-to-other-sites)
  • Make an effort to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge.

You lack a job search strategy

  • You need a proactive strategy to land a job.
  • Make the effort to network with professionals and thought leaders in your target sector. 
  • Create a name for yourself and grow your reputation and have prospective employers reaching out to you.

CTA

Job searches are easier if you have a solid set of in-demand skills going for you. Enroll in our expert online job training today. 

CopySmiths Is the Solution to Your Content Creation Needs

We live in an era where content marketing works as a driving force behind business growth. So, only quality content can set you apart from the competition.

The four outline writing hacks above will give you the end-result you want – improved, quality content.

A good blog post outline will help you put all the puzzle pieces of your article together. And if you’re struggling to tie any loose ends when it comes to content creation, outsourcing is a viable option.

You can trust CopySmiths to help you scale your content when you most need it to. We have over 20 years of experience in creating content for the web. Feel free to browse our examples, or see how you can partner with us today.

Photo by Pexels

 

 
Author: Katrina McKinnon

We create and amplify content for SaaS, Enterprise, Startups and You. Attract and engage your audience with our content marketing service. Get in touch

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