In today’s live stream, we covered why it’s so important to outline content before you write the actual blog post, ebook, etc.
The main reasons that I covered in the video are:
- Writing headers out first allows you to include all the important information so you don’t miss anything.
- A piece of content is easier to write (and usually faster to write) when it has been outlined first.
- It allows you to gather research beforehand so you make sure you have enough sources and statistics to back up your main points
- Helps ensure all sections are roughly equal. If you find they aren’t equal, it may help you evaluate if a top header needs to turn into a subheader.
- Writing a call-to-action while outlining first usually results in a stronger CTA because you aren’t already mentally fatigued from writing the entire article.
Here is the transcription of the video:
Make Sure You Include All Important Information
The first thing that I think is probably the most important is it allows you to include all the important information. So by breaking it up into headers, you can make sure that you are covering all the topics you want to cover. For me, that’s really important as a paid writer for a lot of technical topics, is a lot of times the client will have a few things specific in terms of points that they want to make sure to cover in the content. And so if I don’t outline them, a lot of times I may forget it or only mention it at the end or have to go back and redo it, which is definitely not the best approach, and so outlining everything with headers ahead of time just really makes that a lot easier.
Content is Easier and Faster to Write
The next thing is, for me at least, it’s a lot easier to write the article when I’ve already outlined it, so I know what I have to cover, how many sections, and one thing I do, and I don’t know if this is just a quirk of mine or if everybody does this that writes a lot, but I will list out my sections, and then I know I have a word count that I want to make sure I hit, and I’ll divide how many sections, plus combine the intro and the outro, and divide that by the word count to figure out about roughly how many words are going to be in each header, each subtopic. So for me, that really helps me get a better idea of how long each header should be and to make sure that they all about have the same info and length in all the sections, which is another thing that I think is really important when it comes to outlining.
So not only is it going to keep you organized, it’s going to ensure that you’re covering all your points equally, and if you find that one of your sections is getting way more content than maybe the others, or maybe you get to the bottom and you realize you’ve already hit your max word count that the client wants to hit, then you kind of have a good idea of what sections need to be cut down.
There have also been times where I’m halfway through and I still have three sections to go, and I’ve almost hit my word count, and I’ve been able to go back to the client and say, “Hey, I’m already at 1,000 words and I’ve only covered half of what you want me to cover. Do you want me to double the word count? And that’s going to, of course, increase the price, or would you like me to maybe do a part two?” So I’ve had clients that have wanted one of those things or the other, and so having the headers kind of helps you as you’re progressing to see that all the information and each header gets enough content to explain the concept. If you find that one of the sections is really light as you’re actually writing, then that may mean that it needs to be a sub-header of a bigger header topic that you’ve already covered.
Prepare Research and Sources Ahead of Time
So another thing that I wanted to make sure to point out when it comes to outlining is making sure that your research is all in place. So like I said, sometimes I’ll write a lot of really technical content. Lately, I’ve written a lot of content about the internet of things (IoT) in manufacturing and how that can be used with HVAC systems or scheduling facilities management, and so what comes with that is a lot of research and resources. So a lot of times, I will have the client give me some sources that they want to include or just to help me, and that’s a good start, but then many times as I’m outlining, I’ll also look up main topics that I want to make sure to have sources for and I will also look at maybe for statistics that are going to help me prove my point.
So for instance, if this was an article, which I will have a recap of this video on my blog, and my blog is sixstories.com/marketing-blog by the way. So there will be a recap there. So for instance, I’m talking about outlining your article. I would maybe look for a statistic about how outlining makes you write faster because your point seems more valued and you seem like more of an expert if you have proven statistics that are going to back you up. So that is one of the most important things I think when it comes to the research beforehand and getting that research and outline whenever you are getting ready to actually write the article. I see Michelle is on Instagram. Hi, Michelle. I’m sure this probably isn’t interesting to you, but I’m glad you’re here.
Have a Stronger Call-to-Action
So one of the last things I wanted to make sure to cover that I think a lot of people don’t think about when it comes to outlining articles is sometimes I will write the call to action when I’m outlining the article, and that makes sure that not only do I include it, but I also know what I’m working towards. So one of my clients, Woobox, they do content management for social media, so you can run content and sweepstakes on Facebook or Instagram, blah, blah, blah. So they always like to have a call to action in their articles, so I will include that at the end, and sometimes I’ll weave it in as part of the last section. And so I will already write the call to action, so then when I get to that section, as I’ve written the article, I know what I can work towards and write towards the kind of weave in the call to action more organically. Because I know what it is ahead of time, I have a better idea of what to write towards it, and that actually saves me time.
I think writing the call to action before you’ve actually started writing the articles, not only does the call to action come easier to you, in my experience, it’s a little bit more of a stronger call to action. Maybe because I’m not as tired and fatigued from the mental load of writing the article. I don’t know.
So those are my tips for why outlining a blog before you write it is really important. To recap, outlining, make sure that you’re including all the important information, which is really good if it’s a technical article. It’s usually easier to write the article and faster, in my opinion, if it’s already been outlined. You can gather research and sources beforehand, so making sure that you have those sources to back up your main points, which are usually the headers in your article. It’s going to help you ensure that each section has enough information and it’s equal. So you don’t want to have one section have two or three times as much content as another section, and if that’s the case, the lesser content in a section might need to be a subheader. And then finally, it’s going to help you decide on your call to action ahead of time, so it’s a lot stronger and it’s more natural in the content itself.