Do you often find yourself staring at a blank Google Doc, watching the cursor blink, feeling like you’re going to hurl your computer through the window if you can’t kick your writer’s block?
Been there, (almost) done that.
But taking your fantastic blog post idea and actually turning it into a coherent piece of content doesn’t have to be this stressful every time. All you need is a writing process that’ll keep you moving forward. Learn our process to outlining a blog below to see how a content team churns out content without lighting anything on fire (yet).
Start with the end in mind
We usually start writing blogs when we have a topic to write about. Maybe it’s a commonly asked question or an issue you see rising up again and again in your industry. Or maybe you were told by a content strategist that you need to write a blog about xyz.
And yes, your blog post topic is a good place to start. But you should also think about the point of the blog. It’s not just to expand on the concept — although that’s important. You want to make sure that you have a next step or a reason for sharing. What’s the call to action? What do you want people to do?
We’re not saying you have to promote a product or a service or even get people to download your freebie. It could be as simple as “Try this today to see if it works for you.” For example, the whole point of this blog is to get you to try a new blog writing process. That’s our whole intention.
So start with the end in mind.
Then, get clearer on your topic.
Get clear on your topic
If you brainstorm your blog topics yourself, you probably had a specific idea in mind for this blog, right? Write down that idea or main point you’d like to make in the blog. If you have the “end in mind” it also helps you get clear on your topic. For this, we wanted to write a blog about something people really needed help with: Writing blogs faster. So that’s our topic. How to outline a blog so you can write it faster.
If you didn’t think up the blog topic yourself (i.e. the topic was recommended by a coach, SEO expert, content strategist, etc.), think about what you know about the topic off the top of your head. Think about how you feel or what your opinion is on the topic. Don’t dwell on it too long; this is just to get your brain going.
Oh, and don’t worry if the topic sounds “weird” or unfit for the title of your blog. You can always go back and change the title later into one that’s more likely to convert.
Jot down the essential bullet points and start writing
Next, type out three to five bullet points that support your topic. These are the main points you’ll make or areas you’ll cover in your blog.
For example, for this blog, those bullet points might be to:
- write down the topic
- start with the easiest bullet point
- move on to the intro and conclusion
- fill in the rest
It’s not all of the points we make (as you’ll see when you keep reading) but they’re the big ones we want to get out of our head.
From there, choose one bullet point that you can talk about the easiest or the most. Brain dump all your thoughts about this one bullet point. Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect or even coherent to anyone else, as long as you understand it. You can even write in phrases or more bullet points if that helps you organize your thoughts better.
Repeat with your remaining bullet points. If you can’t think of what to write for your current bullet point, move on to the next one.
Take a break
Topic, done. Main ideas in bullet point format, done. Supporting info, done. What’s next?
Put your laptop down and step away from the blog post. Seriously.
This isn’t required, obviously, but many of us on the Uncanny Content team like to take a break to refresh our minds and let the content marinate for a bit. (Plus, if possible, you should be standing up at your desk at least once an hour for your health. Stretch and drink some water, too.)
Taking a break also helps us juggle writing multiple blogs and other client content every day. This process keeps us moving, so if we’re stuck on a particular piece of content, we can give our brains a break and work on something else.
Work out the introduction and conclusion
Alright, break time is over. When you come back to your blog after working on something else or you’re taking an actual restful break, focus on the introduction and conclusion. Both of these are crucial for proper blog post structure.
This is a good time to write your introduction and conclusion because you’ve already outlined most of your blog. You already have a good idea of what you’ll say. Use what you’ve written to write a strong introduction that teases what your post will be about and keeps your readers reading.
As for the conclusion, well, you need one. Write something that wraps up your content in a neat little bow. You can keep it short, especially if your blog post is on the long side, and include a call-to-action (CTA) if appropriate. Just avoid ending your blog post with the last bullet point you write. No one likes an irritating cliffhanger.
Note from Latasha: If you’re not sure what your intro should say, skip to the next section below. However, you should know what your conclusion is — at least the CTA — before you start writing. There should always be a point to your topic and the piece you’re writing. Otherwise, why are you writing it? Jump back up to the top of this blog and read “Start with the end in mind” again.
Tackle the rest of the bullet points and flesh everything out
You’re almost done! Look back at your main bullet points and begin fleshing each section out. Just as you did when you started outlining your bullet points, begin with the one you can write the easiest.
Since we write a lot of different content for clients in all sorts of industries and professions, we’re not usually the subject matter expert for each blog we write. Fleshing out blog posts often means bouncing back and forth between writing from what we already know, fact-checking what we know, or doing more research.
If you’re writing blogs for your own business, you’re the subject matter expert! You’ll probably have a much easier time expanding on each bullet point without having to skip around or spend time on research. You already know the topic you’re writing about. All you gotta do is jot it down.
Note from Latasha: If I’m particularly stuck on words and feel like everything I write is trash, I keep to bullets when fleshing out sections of a blog. I just expand on each point in a sub-bullet until I feel I have said what I needed to say. Then, I can easily turn those into full sentences without overthinking it later!
Once you’re finished writing, give everything a once-over. Add content to strengthen your opinions or delete unnecessary fluff. You don’t have to write a brand new second draft, but definitely edit your content, checking for readability, flow, and SEO.
Use these handy tricks
“But Uncanny, I’m not a writer! This just doesn’t work for me, so what else can I do??”
We get that a lot. And lucky for you, we do have some tricks up our sleeves.
Trick #1: Record all your thoughts on the blog post in a voice note on your phone. Transcribe what you said. Boom. (Voxer is our fav tool for this because you can send links to your notes)
You might find this method easier if you process your thoughts better aurally. Plus, you can even have your virtual assistant or a transcription tool do the writing for you. Just take the time to read through your transcription and organize it into a strong blog post.
And for Trick #2, look back at any content you’ve already created. Got a YouTube channel or podcast? Transcribe one of your videos or episodes! Then turn that transcription into a blog. Again, just remember to turn it into a proper blog before you hit “Publish.”
Figure out a process that works for you
When outlining blogs, we start with the big picture and narrowing the focus. Take your topic and break it down into main points, then supporting points, until you can organize your ideas more easily.
We hope that sharing our method for outlining our blog posts will help you do the same, but if the steps seem wonky or out of place for you, change them up!
The most important thing here is to create a structured process for outlining a blog post so you avoid writer’s block. If you find yourself getting in a writing groove after writing out your main points or needing a break after the intro and conclusion, then you do you, boo.