How do you create a blog post outline in 5 minutes?
I’ll show you the steps so you can repeat the same process over and over to create high quality content for your blog.
I still remember back when I started blogging. Each time I had to write an article, I’d take anywhere from half and hour to an hour just figuring out what subtopics to include.
Looking back, that was a lot of wasted time.
Not only wasn’t I sure if the subtopics were what people wanted to read, it also took a lot of work to figure out the subtopics.
If you have a similar problem, then look no further.
Below, I lay out an effective step by step method of outlining your blog post fast.
More importantly, it ensures that the sub topics you include are things readers are interested in.
Before You Get Started
Like most things, creating a blog post requires a little bit of planning. This may seem like an extra step…
But, it’s an important one.
It will make sure that the post you’re writing is has a GOAL or PURPOSE.
That way, the hours you spend outlining, researching and writing it pay off in the short and long-term.
Brainstorm Big Topics in You Niche
This is step 1.
You want to brainstorm a big list of topics in your niche. If you already know the niche, then it’ll be much easier to come up with these topics.
The good news is, you only need to do this once or twice a year, depending on how many seed keywords you have.
If you come up with a huge list in one sitting, you may never need to do this again!
It’s also worth noting that at this point you don’t need to be super specific about the keywords. Instead, just focus on the big topics
For example, if the niche you’ve chosen is Yoga, here are some major topics you may want to consider.
- Yoga poses
- Yoga benefits
- Typesof yoga
Notice that they’re very broad and general.
Here, the bigger the topic the better. And, your goal is to list down as many big topics in your niche as possible.
This will allow you to use these topics and break them down into more specific detail later on.
Why bother doing this?
This big list will give you a set of “seed” keywords to work with. These seed keywords are often, the biggest, most important topics in your niche.
From there, you’ll be able to run these seeds in keyword tools to find tons of keywords for each of them.
And, it’s the long-tails (words that are at least 3 words long) that you’ll be targeting. That’s because there’s less competition on long-tail keywords.
As such, you have a better chance of ranking on search engines like Google, Pinterest and YouTube.
How to Come Up With a List of Seed Keywords
Some are obvious, like the ones above for the yoga example.
And the more you know your niche, the better you’ll be at figuring out which keywords are “big” topics within the niche.
Let’s take another example. This time let’s say you’re a cook, chef or have taken culinary classes once upon a time.
As such, you know your way around the kitchen.
So, if you have a food blog and want to find seed keywords for cooking, it’s easier to come up with them.
That’s because you know the different types of recipes, the basic cooking techniques, different skills needed like knife skills and storing ingredients.
These are some of the main topics in cooking.
What If You’re New to Your Niche?
If you’re just starting out on a niche or don’t have a lot of experience in it, that’s not a problem either.
All you need to do is search the web a little. At the same time, try to familiarize yourself with your main topic as well. After all, you’ll be writing blog posts about it later on
Anyways, here are a couple of easy ways to find seed keywords for your niche if you’re new to it.
Method 1: Wikipedia
This is the web’s “encyclopedia”. At least, that’s what’s its name suggests. And, it’s pretty much become the source for understanding most things.
What’s great about Wikipedia is that each page contains a table of contents. That is, for each term or subject matter, it lists down many of the topics for that subject.
Going back to our yoga example, here’s the Wikipedia page for Yoga.
As you can see, one glance and you’ll quickly the basic things about yoga, including it’s:
Then, scroll down the to bottom to the “See also” section.
There, you’ll find a few more topics, including:
- Yoga gurus
- Yoga schools
- Yoga series
If you follow these links, you’ll uncover more seed keywords.
Remember, for now, all you need to focus on are the biggest keywords on your niche.
Method 2: Check Out the Biggest Sites in the Niche
The biggest sites in your niche are bound to have comprehensive information about your subject matter. As such, they’re a good source to find big topics that will serve as seed keywords.
To find these sites, just type in your niche in Google search.
Show results (#1 wikipedia, #2 webmd, #3 yoga journal, etc)
The results will often show you the top items for your subject. Your goal here is to skip the general sites and choose only those focusing on your niche.
For example, skip
- Wikipedia (you’ve already checked that)
- WebMD is a general site about health, so skip that
- The videos show Yoga With Adriene. That’s worth a look.
- Next is Yoga Journal. Let’s look at that too.
You get the point, right?
One look at the Yoga Journal’s website and you know you’ve hit jackpot.
Just look at the menu.
It shows you:
- Yoga poses – these are the same as the asanas
- Practice– this is all about sequences, which are the poses arranged in order based on your needs
- Yoga 101 – probably the basics
- Mediation– apparently, this is one aspect of yoga
Then a few others.
Take note of all of them.
Often, sites will have drop down menus that show sub-topics for each menu item. Or, you can likewise click on the menu items and follow the breadcrumbs. These will lead you to discover more keywords.
In this case click the funny looking hamburger at the side to show the drop down menu.
Then, if you click the “+” sign beside each menu item, you’ll find more topics.
For example under Yoga Poses, you have:
- Poses by Anatomy
- Poses by Level
- The Yoga for You
- Types of Yoga
- Yoga Sequences
- Yoga by Benefit
So, by opening the other menu items, you’ll find even more.
Doing this is helpful because:
- It lets you find seed keywords for your niche. These will help you find keywords for articles you’ll be writing about later
- You’ll get to know the main topics in your subject matter
- You will also see what the biggest sites write about. There’s a reason they put a lot of work into creating that content (readers in your niche like them).
After doing this for a few big sites, you’re done!
Figure Out What the Goal of the Article Is
Why are you writing the article?
The simple answer here would be, it helps your audience.
While that’s true, here, you want to go a little deeper.
Here are some things to consider:
- Who’ll be reading the blog post?
- What will they get out of it? What should their take away be?
- What do you want them to do? Do you want them to engage in the comments, click on other posts, check out your products or something else. This will be your CTA (call to action).
Ultimately, the most important thing for you is what’s the purpose of the article?
- Is it a viral-style post (to get traffic)?
- Is it designed to make money (review an affiliate product, present your own product or recommend a course?)
- Is it meant to get more email sign ups? Thus, you have a great lead magnet (freebie) created for it.
- Is it a post that’s designed to attract backlinks?
These are just some of the reasons for writing a post. Ideally, each blog post should have an end goal or purpose.
Find Topics People are Searching For
This is where the time you spent collecting seed keywords comes in. Doing that work beforehand cuts down the research time here.
That’s because you already know the major topics to look out for.
Now, all you need to do is drill down on these seed keywords to find specific keywords that people in your niche are looking for.
This step is critical! So don’t skip it.
Keyword research is important because it ensures that people are interested in the topic of the blog post you’ve spent hours writing.
If no one’s interested in the topic, then no matter how awesome the article is, no one will care to read it, right?
So, how do you do this?
Your approach to keyword research will depend on what traffic source you’re writing for.
If You’re Writing For Google Search
The goal here is to find keywords that people are searching for. Doing so ensures that the content you write is something people want to read about.
Step 1: Type in a seed keyword into Google search
Once again, let’s take the yoga example.
In this case let’s use yoga poses
Notice that when you type in yoga poses, Google’s auto suggest will drop down a list of related keywords. These are based on what you’ve typed.
Take note of these keywords.
Then, go down to the related questions.
Expand an item by pressing the down arrow to the right side.
This does 2 things:
- It shows you the “quick” answer. Note that the answer isn’t always the best. But Google’s tryingand constantly getting better at it. Google has added this because it knows that people want instant gratification. This saves them the time of clicking just to check an answer.
- It also adds more questions. When you click the arrow, you’ll notice more questions show up.So, you can keep clicking to see more relevant questions people ask about the topic
Now, compile all the auto suggest and related questions.
Figure out which ones are relevant for your article and which aren’t.
And, organize them in the order that makes sense.
If You’re Writing For Pinterest
On the other hand, if you’re writing for Pinterest, you’ll want to take a completely different approach.
The reason is that Pinterest has it’s own search engine. And while some of the keywords in Google will overlap with those on Pinterest, the search behavior of people on both platforms are different.
As such, if Pinterest is your main traffic source, you’ll want to use these steps instead.
Step 1: Type in the seed keyword in the search box
Again, let’s use the yoga example.
Like Google, it will populate the search drop down box to suggest some keywords. These are the top keywords people are looking for when it comes to yoga.
If you use another keyword, Pinterest’s search will show you the most relevant ones for that keyword as well.
Take note of them.
Then, click enter.
Step 2: Check the “Keyword Bubbles”
Once you click on enter, you’ll see more suggestions. This is a more comprehensive list of what people on Pinterest are searching for.
They are also the top keywords Pinterest users are searching for when it comes to yoga.
Note down the keywords in the colored blocks that show up.
- The auto suggest results
- The keyword bubbles
Are the keywords you want to use for your article topics.
Also, if you click on one of the keyword bubbles, you’ll go into that longer-tail keyword.
Step 3: Take note of the Pins that show up on the first few rows of the results
These are the pins that Pinterest ranks the highest for your particular keyword.
Unlike Google, the relevance of the results in Pinterest is somewhat more diverse.
You’ll see all sorts of posts related to the keyword you entered. Sometimes a bit less related to the main keyword. That’s because there are a few other factors that go into Pinterest’s search algorithm besides relevancy.
In any case, your job here is to note down the similar topics.
Often out of the first 20-25 pins, you’ll notice a pattern. That is, many of the top results talk about a particular topic.
When that happens, choose those topics to write about for that keyword.
Step 4: Analyze the Pins and the Content that comes with it
Here, you’ll want to take note of 2 things.
- The Pin image
- The article itself (when you click through to the blog post)
In Pinterest, the Pin image is everything. That is everything in that image.
That’s because a large part of Pinterest’s algorithm focuses on quality images. So, the more people click on and share a Pin, the higher in will likely rank.
As such, your blog content is only secondary to the pin.
Readers will have to like the pin before they’ll want to click to see your article.
When it comes to the Pin image, here are a few things to note.
- Designs. This includes the image,text, fonts, colors and style
When you click on the Pin image, note the
- Titles, descriptions and number of repins
Now, you’re not going to copy their designs or descriptions. Instead, you’ll use them as inspiration.
You know people like to click on their images. And, that the images have engaging text. That’s why they work and rank well.
So, your job is to figure out what similarities and patterns they have in common.
Then, test those theories with your own pins. This gives you a better chance of creating pins people are more likely to repin and click through.
Finally, make 3-5 pins for each post. This lets you have more images to post
It’s also a good idea to check out what people are writing for that topic.
So, click through to their blog posts.
This will give you an idea of what kind of articles people engage more with.
Again, use them for inspiration. Never copy anyone else’s work.
Find the Information that Fills the Outline
This part is simpler. You’ve already taken note of the articles in the previous step when making your outline.
Now, your goal now is to use the information in those top articles and see which are the most useful and relevant for each section of your outline.
Read and understand what they’re saying so that you can explain that section in your own words.
When needed, re-organize the sub topics so that they make sense.
Write your Blog Post Draft
This part will take up most of your time when writing blog post. And, it will make up the meat of your article.
When you’ve understood each of the sections in your outline, you’ll be able to write your draft.
Create an Introduction and Conclusion
I like to write the introduction and conclusion of my blog posts after finishing the entire article. This lets me have a good idea on what it’s about.
That said, you can write things in the order that your readers will see them. That is, introduction first, then content and finally, conclusion.
This may give you more of a flow of things as opposed to leaving the introduction for the end.
In any case, here are some tips on writing your introduction and conclusion.
Most experts will tell you that an good introduction contains 3 sections.
- Hook- an opening statement that draws the reader’s attention
- Transition- something that allows you to smoothly flow from the hook to the thesis
- Thesis- the purpose or main theme of the blog post
You can use this framework to create your own introductions.
I’ve also found it useful to write something personal or a story in the beginning to help make a connection with readers. Here, 1-2 sentences is more than enough.
Close your article with a conclusion. A simple way to do this is to create a summary of the things you’ve discussed.
You may also want to include something that will make people want to read the article. This seems ironic, but it works.
That’s because people read blog posts differently than they do books and research papers.
- They start with the introduction
- Then skim the body of the article to gauge its length and see the subtopics
- And read the conclusion
- If they find it interesting enough, they’ll go back and read the entire article or the sections they like.
In this order, you’ll want the skimmers to see something in the conclusion that will draw them back up to the main body of your content.
And, don’t forget to add a call to action (CTA) in the end. This explicitly tells your readers what to do after they’ve read your article.
Edit and Proofread
When you’re done with your first draft, it’s time to edit and proofread.
This ensures that your article doesn’t have any careless mistakes or typos. That’s not something you want your readers to see.
For this, I like Grammarly.
This is a free app that checks spelling and grammar. It simplified your proofreading process so you don’t miss any small details.
Format Your Blog Post
Another important step is to format your blog post for the web.
Keep in mind that majority of people now use their phones to surf the web. As such, you want your article to be easy to read even on small screens.
To do so, here are a few blog post formatting tips to make your content easy to read.
- Break up your paragraphs to 3-4 sentences each
- Add subheadings to make it easy for readers to know what section they’re reading (use H2 and H3)
- Add bullet points and numbering
- Include images to break the monotony of seeing all text
- Include links to other pages
- Add links to authority websites
Sharing & Promote Your New Post
Finally, it’s time to share and promote your blog posts. This is the fastest way to get traction for new content.
You can post it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. In each of the cases, you’ll want to figure out the best format to present your article.
For example, in Pinterest, it’s better to create multiple well-designed pins to share as opposed to a small featured image as you would in Facebook or Twitter.
Also, make sure to use the keywords you’ve researched in descriptions and hashtags to help people find it as well.
Outlining your posts is a good way to set all your ideas down before writing your first draft.
This lets you know exactly what you need to write.
More importantly, it also ensures that you stay on topic. And, cover all the necessary things to make a high quality article.
By following the steps above, you can create a blog outline fast. This saves you time so you can focus on writing a comprehensive, relevant and actionable article.
How do you outline your blog posts? Let me know in the comments below.