Writing blog posts and SEO articles are our bread and butter at GrowTraffic. It’s something I do day in and day out so the process I use is kind of second nature and not something I think about too much. However, a client of ours asked me about the blog writing process today so I thought I would share how I create a blog post outline, whilst it’s fresh in my mind!
Learning how to create a good blog post outline will save future you time – so start today.
Create A Blog Post Outline To Defeat The Fear Of The Unknown
Every content writer or marketing manager will be familiar with the blank page of doom staring back at them…even after you’ve created a content brief, sorted out a keyword strategy, and even got your content calendar nailed down with blog post titles…you still can’t bring yourself to just write the goddam thing!
There is nothing more terrifying than staring at a blank Word document knowing you must somehow pull at least 800 words out of your…somewhere.
However, this feeling of disorganisation is just that – it’s a feeling. A feeling that will go away once you have the solution.
The solution is to produce blog post outlines so detailed, so juicy and informative…that when it comes to writing the blog post, it’s easy and you no longer fear the blank page of doom.
Creating A Blog Post Outline That Works For You
Every writer will have their own way of doing things and once you get into the swing of creating a blog post outline, you will tweak the process to work better for you. Here is what I do:
First, I gather any information I need to help me write the blog post and is relevant to the task. So if I’m writing for a client, I will refer to any notes they have given me on tone of voice or brand voice, I will check the content calendar, I’ll look at the content brief, and will also consider SEO. SEO may not be a consideration for every writer at this stage but it’s always there for me, just vaguely so I’m aware of the keywords I’m targeting and how the client is currently ranking for those keywords. Starting this way I feel organised and ‘well armed’. If you write for the same clients on a regular basis, this step needn’t take long – I’ve been writing for some clients for a few years now so I’m very familiar with the tone of voice they like, for example.
Put some meat on the blog bones
Next, it’s time to crack Word open and get some words down! First, consider what sections the blog post is going to have. The layout of my blog posts usually looks something like this:
Call to action
Don’t write anything for the introduction. I personally find it much easier to write the introduction last. Once you’ve written your blog you know it so can make a proper introduction.
I will usually give my headers ‘working titles’, or sometimes just leave them as ‘header #1’ etc until later. The most important task here is getting each section filled out with the information you want to include in each part. Remember, you aren’t writing the entire post – just getting down on paper what you want to write about. You should include all the elements you want to include in each section though. So that could be links, quotes, images, graphics, key points, questions, or statistics. Sometimes you may have specific materials your client has asked you to include – now would be a good time to work them in.
During this stage you’re going to be doing quite a bit of research, so reading about the topic you’re writing about, maybe asking others for their opinion, looking to see what other blogs talk about and what you can add to the topic and so forth. So, don’t worry if this stage takes you a good hour. You will still save time when it comes to writing the blog as you have everything you need to work through the words quickly. You can also be very brief if you like…I just find it easier to be quite detailed. I should also note that if I’m writing blog outlines for myself, I would be embarrassed if anyone else saw them! I don’t pay any attention to grammar/spelling and don’t write in full sentences. I fix all that later on.
Blog post outline approval
The next step will depend on third parties involved in the blog writing process. I don’t typically send outlines to clients – I send finished articles and take edits from there. I don’t have an editor either, so my outlines are for me really. In the past, I have sent outlines to clients because that’s the process they requested but I would rather create a content brief with them and then just let them have the finished articles. The only exception to this is if I’m writing huge pieces such as an e-book or whitepaper. Because those sorts of pieces take significantly longer to write, I’ll send the client an outline just to double check we are definitely on the same page!
Time to write!
Finally, you should be on to writing the blog post and your fear of the blank page doesn’t exist anymore because you have a lovely blog outline! Provided you created a detailed brief, you should be able to write your first draft quickly.
When I’m writing the first draft, SEO considerations will also come into play, and I’ll be thinking about keywords and long tail keywords. Remember though that if you’re having to force it, something is wrong somewhere. If you are writing blogs that are relevant to your audience and your research was done correctly, working keywords into the content shouldn’t be that hard.
With your first draft completed, it’s time to check your work and make sure everything is ok. Pay attention to grammar and spelling, and ensure the blog meets the original brief, is SEO optimised, and well…reads well! At this point, you can fire your first draft off to your client, or a colleague, or if you’re writing your own blog posts, upload it to your website.
There you have it, that’s how I create a blog post outline most of the time. try it and see if it works for you! If not, tweak the process until you feel like you know how to create helpful outlines and defeat the feeling of dread when it comes to writing!
Bonus – Cheat Code For Writing Blog Outlines
Something I wanted to add to this blog post is the possibility of using ChatGPT to help you write blog outlines. This is something I have been experimenting with this year and I hate to admit it, but it’s helpful.
Yes, I’m a technophobe that works at a digital marketing agency…these robots do come in handy sometimes though.
ChatGPT is very handy at helping you with content – so long as you aren’t using it to produce the content itself…do not, under any circumstances ask ChatGPT to write blog posts for you and straight up copy and paste the results as your own work.
Use ChatGPT to help you generate ideas for blogs, you can almost collaborate with it as though you were in the office with a college bouncing ideas off each other (or have I been working on my own for so long now that I think of a robot as my colleague?)
Anyway, to get help writing a blog outline, simply feed ChatGPT your blog title, any points you need to be included and ask it to produce an outline for you. Nine times out of ten, the results are quite good, and it certainly gives you a starting point. Just don’t trust it so much with statistics or quotes, it sometimes has trouble when you ask it for the sources and it’s better to find the sources yourself.
So, not really a cheat code but let me tell you, when I first started doing this it almost felt illegal! I’m learning new ways AI can assist me with blog writing all the time now and don’t see it as the enemy!
I hope sharing my process with you has been helpful, as always, if you have any questions, please get in touch.