How to outline content

Having an outline for your content ensures that you focus on the most important topics, present them in a useful manner, and achieve the objectives you want. It can prevent you wandering from the main focus of the content and prevent your readers, listeners, or viewers becoming bored or distracted.

1.Pick the Topic

The first step in creating an outline is to pick a topic your audience will find interesting and useful. You can get some ideas by looking at paid products, either by looking at books that are selling well on or the products that are doing well on Niche forums and blogs can also be good sources for topic ideas, especially if you find sites that are active and have good interaction with lots of people asking and answering questions.

2. Decide the Primary Goal

Having decided on a topic you next need to set a goal for your content. Are you preparing content for a blog post, a video, or an audio presentation? Are you intending to pass on information, presell a product, or both? Is the content going to be presented as a set of tips, action steps, or in some other format? Perhaps your main intent is to provide motivation rather than information. Whatever the primary goal of the content, you need to make sure you are clear on what it is. Are you creating content that is going to be free or paid for? This could affect the depth and exclusivity of the information that you use. Lastly think about what you want people to do after they have consumed your content. Do you want them to take action, feel better, or have some other outcome?

3. Research

The next step is preliminary research. If you are creating content for use online you should start with a keyword search, using the Google Keyword Tool or some equivalent software. Identify the best keywords for your topic and use them within your writing, or as tags for video and audio content.

The next step of research involves gathering information. This could mean using Google, looking at books in Amazon, and searching for information on YouTube. You can also use physical resources and gather books from your local library or contact and interview experts in the topic.

4. Create the Outline

The next step is to create the outline itself. You will want to create your content so that it follows a logical order. If it is to be presented as step-by-step instructions you need to ensure you have all the right steps in the correct order. You may want to organise your content so that it starts at a beginner level of information and progresses to advanced. An alternative is to start writing about what can get you fast results and move on to what produces results more slowly. For example, if you are organising content about getting traffic to websites you could start by talking about online advertising, pay per click, etc. and then move on to the methods that produce results more slowly, like search engine optimisation.

5. Two Checks

Having created your outline you should then do a couple of checks. Firstly does it meet the goal that you identified earlier? Secondly, you may have a word count in mind for your content. If it’s a blog post 300 words might be sufficient. However if you are creating a chapter for a book you may want a higher word count.

Whether you are creating articles, blog posts, books, or scripts for video or audio presentations it pays to create an outline. This way you can ensure the finished product flows properly, contains useful information, and is more likely to reach the objective and produce the results you are after.


11 responses to “How to outline content”

  1. Hi David,

    Good tips. I must confess I’m not as organised as that usually when doing a blog post, although I would do the steps for an eBook.

    Will keep your points in mind for my next blog post.

    Have a great week, Joy

  2. Great guide David. I am still exploring various way of writing style. So far it has been writing free flow but with an ultimate focus in mind. That is, an useful post with worthy lessons that my readers can benefit from. Shall keep your tips in mind. Thank you. You are awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Ed. I find it often pays to have some checks when it comes to content. I ‘m guilty of sometimes publishing then finding I’ve missed something.

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