By this point, we know how important blogging can be to promote your business, the trouble is that sitting down and writing out a blog can be really hard, especially for those of us who don’t do a lot of writing. But fear not, there’s a very simple thing that you can do to make the whole process easier: outline!
What is an Outline?
An outline is simply a way of organizing your writing before you actually start writing. They break down the final piece into the individual points and subpoints that will make it up, and are generally organized in bulleted or numbered lists.
Why Should I Outline?
The obvious benefit of outlining is that it helps you flesh out your idea while everything is still abstract. You don’t have to worry about phrasing, spelling, grammar, or anything else; you simply build out your thoughts. It’s the ultimate form of distraction-free writing.
Outlining allows you to try out different ideas without dedicating too much time or getting attached to what you have written. It’s much harder to change something that you’ve invested time in, but changing an outline is relatively simple.
By putting a little time into outlining up front, you’ll find that you’re able to write much more quickly because you already know where you’re going, and what points you need to hit along the way. Because of this, you’ll find that your writing also becomes more focused and effective.
Finally, outlining can help you establish basic, reusable structures for your writing. Not only will this help your write faster in the future, it makes your content more consistent overall.
These are not minor benefits; outlining is incredibly useful.
Okay, So How Do I Outline?
One of the best parts about outlines is how simple they are to do. Here’s your basic process (in outline format, no less):
- Pick Your Topic, Objective, and Audience
- Your topic is the overall point of the piece
- The objective is what you want this piece to do (e.g. lead generation, comments, newsletter signups)
- The audience is who you’re writing the piece for; the more targeted the audience, the better the piece will perform with them
- Identify Your Main Talking Points and Conclusion
- You should add each talking point as a separate line in your outline
- By having your conclusion set before you start writing, you’re much more prepared to support and built toward it
- Find Your Supporting Arguments
- Supporting arguments should flesh out each of your talking points, and all should work toward your conclusion
- Expand as Necessary
- As you outline, you may find additional talking points and supporting arguments to build out your piece
- Editing is an important step; remove anything that redundant or that doesn’t add directly to your conclusion and objective, and tweak talking points to better appeal to your audience
That’s it! Armed with a solid and well-edited outline, you’re ready to sit down and do some writing. Just don’t let your excuses get in your way.