How to Write Powerful Outlines and Why you should give a Fluff

Shakespeare Typing

Ever had that moment when you thought you had all you need to write your masterpiece – just to be stopped point-blank by what people would often attribute as a ‘writer’s block’? Oh it happens. Brilliant ideas do fly away. Outlines are how to pull them own from the sky – to be written out in a grand, orderly manner.

Bullet… Points?

Shakespeare didn’t have a computer before. He didn’t have a typewriter either. He had a pen (probably a quill pen), a piece of paper, a brilliant idea, and brain to organize it all and write it out.

He had an outline.

You should too.

Free Fingers

Typing paragraphs on a blank page is not easy. Unless you’re inspired… or high. The point is, those times rarely come. And even when they do, it’s not too easy to make a harmonious write-up.

Freely typing your ideas just won’t work. You will keep going back – editing your stuff.

Probably even re-write the whole thing.

Structuring your Thoughts

Writing an outline is crucial – it dictates the flow of your story, it creates order in your words, it emanates logic sense in your article. It gives your readers that smack-down approach to what you want to bring to their table.

So how do you do it?

Know your Readers

Readers

Your outline resonates to your writing voice throughout the whole article. Knowing your readers is an excellent way of knowing how to write your article. If you didn’t know yet, the world is full of picky people. And the fact of the matter is, these people have tons and tons of choices – and those choices are just a click away.

Knowing who your readers are enables you to cater your outline to them – catering your entire story to tailor-fit their wants.

Then their choices would be limited to you.

Structure your outline to who your readers are.

Ask yourself what you Want

There is a ‘want’ that exists with your readers. The reason why you are writing is to cater to that ‘want’. So the best thing to do is to wear your reader’s hat and ask yourself questions like: “What would I want to read about?” , “Does this interest me?”, “What am I looking for?”

The reason why I came up with this content marketing series is because there is a huge ‘want’ in this area right now with a lot of up-coming SEO specialists.

You should do the same with your audience.

People are looking for free info for the simple reason that it exists. I’m sorry to bring this up to you but you’re not the only brilliant writer out there who can write about what you’re good at. There are tons of other people who can do the same.

The difference between you and them is how well you can cater to your audience. How well you can ask yourself what you want – and write an outline that caters to it.

Call to ActionKid Audience

There is that magical “Step 1″ that so often eludes us. That “Step 1″ is critical – especially when writing your outline. How well you roll-out “Step 1″ directs the rest of your audience’s learning. Oftentimes Content Marketers make the mistake of starting in the middle of a process or a tutorial. They can’t be more wrong.

When you write your outline, write it like you’re telling your content to a kid. Start with Step 1. If you can’t finish it to the last step, that’s okay, you can write it on the next entry. Please, for Don’t start in the middle.

Give them a Takeaway

A great outline should end with a powerful way to leverage call its intended audience to action. Content that does not have a key takeaway is content that is passive. You don’t want passive content. You want content that can move people.

Great content doesn’t start when you’re already typing in your keyboard. It starts with an outline.

Want more tips on writing content? Check out our Content Strategy Tutorial over at SEO School!

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  • http://www.fourtopper.com Michael

    Hey Sean,

    Great article – I love outlines. They help me write a post in just thirty minutes, rather than two hours! I save a ton of time.

    • http://h3sean.com Sean

      Hi Michael,
      That’s awesome. Not all so-called ‘content marketers’ have the same mindset as you though. Hence, this post. It’s such a simple and basic thing to have an outline – and yet it is so often neglected. Free-writing rarely brings on direction to where you want to bring your readers to.

  • http://digitalphilippines.net/ Venchito Tampon

    Outline should be based on your readers’ needs. “How To”s guide is a very popular type of content you can make outline out of it.

    Great Post Sean!

  • http://ymidoingthis.com Adam

    Great article. I am one of those writer’s block people. I was able to write good once I got going, but could get really frustrated because it’s so hard to stare at the blank sheet of paper or screen. Although I don’t always write a formal outline, I definitely jot down ideas. Now I need to take some you your advice here and give it more of a purpose to cause the reader to take action. Thanks.

  • http://chicagofurniture.interiorexpressoutlet.com/ chuck

    Seems an outline for most of my work would be in order. Make sure that each day I’m on track to get finished what I started out to do. Would probably make my blog posts nicer and more organized instead of trailing off into nowhere.

  • techperday

    Outline should be based on what your readers wants. “stuff you do” guide is a very popular type of content you can make outline through it.Nice post keep posting Sean

  • http://Ismsmessages.net Micky

    Hey Sean, what an elaborate piece of work you put together. You have written the equivalent of 3 or 4 articles to illustrate one extremely important point. I believe it shows just how perceptive you are, and I congratulate you.

  • http://www.coolshirtblog.com Ken

    Sean,

    I am the definition of writers block and I know an outline would save me tons of time. But it’s something I haven’t done since college. Maybe I will give it a shot of my next project. Pen and paper. Thank you writing about this.

  • Sarbjit Singh

    Thanks for sharing this useful information. Outline concept you told is just awesome. It will help me in content writing a lot.

  • Johnny

    Not all so-called ‘content marketers’ have the same mindset as you though.

  • http://www.mikeshreeve.com Mike

    Man…

    I always forget about outlining.

    And I pay my bills by writing copy.

    It really does make life easier so much though when you sit down and do it!

    Thanks for this post – I think I am going to go write an outline.