Every writer knows the pain of staring at a blank page for hours without producing anything.
But you don’t have to start the draft on a blank Google Doc. It is much easier if you start with a pattern.
Creating a blog post scheme will help you:
- Get over the dreaded “writer’s block”.
- Organize your thoughts before putting pen to paper.
- Make sure you don’t miss any important points.
- Sort your blog post in a logical, easy-to-read structure.
- Get you and your editor, client, or manager (if you’re working with one) on the same page.
In this post, you will learn how to write a blog post outline. Let’s begin.
It’s impossible to create a blog post template without knowing what you want to write about.
So, if you haven’t decided on a topic yet, you need to pick one now.
Think about a couple of topics you would like to cover. If you’re familiar with the niche, there should be some burning issues you want to address. Write about them.
Otherwise, a good way to find topics is to use Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer. Enter a relevant term in the tool and go to Corresponding terms report.
Switch to the tab Requests, and you will see many potential topics to cover.
Will your article be a list or how-to? Or maybe it’s an opinion piece, a review, or you’re just covering the latest news.
Whatever it is, you will have to decide on a format.
Sometimes, the format is screaming at you in plain sight. For example, if you are dealing with the topic “how make kefir at home ”, then it will probably be a practical guide. Or if you are dealing with the topic “blogging tips”, it will probably be a list of suggestions.
But sometimes, it’s not that simple. The “best productivity app” topic a list productivity apps, a revision of a particular app or a opinion article about the “best app”?
The truth is, it can be any of the above. You are free to choose and there is no right answer. But if you really can’t decide, a good way to “settle” the debate is to simply look at what Google ranks for that topic.
So “best productivity apps” researchers are actually looking for “best productivity apps”. Google knows this and only ranks lists for that topic. If you’re stuck, building a list might be a good way to get going.
Recommended reading: 10 types of blog posts and how to use them effectively
Mr. Bean falls to the ground. A spotlight is on him. The rest of the road has vanished into the shadows and your attention is focused on Rowan Atkinson’s character.
The topic you are dealing with is the whole street and the angle you choose is the spotlight. It focuses on one aspect, excluding the others. If you are writing about “how to make ramen at home”, you are teaching your readers how to:
- Make the ramen rapid?
- To do restaurant quality ramen?
- To do tonkotsu ramen?
- To do vegan ramen?
- To do To Sapporo ramen?
- To do Korean style ramen (also known as ramyeon)?
You absolutely cannot cover everything. So you have to choose. In fact, it’s the angle that makes your article unique and interesting to readers, making it stand out.
Use these questions to spark ideas for your new point of view:
- Do you have experience or personal expertise? For example, if you have successfully infused Singaporean flavors into ramen, you can share your unique recipe with others.
- Can you interview experts? For example, you can interview a famous ramen chef about how newbies can potentially make restaurant-quality ramen at home.
- Can you collect opinions and ideas? For example, you can poll members in r / ramen for their best ramen recipes at home.
- Can you provide data or support your article with science? For example, you can potentially show readers how to make the “perfect” ramen by looking at the sensory relationship between different acids and flavors.
- Can you be contrarian? Don’t be contrarian for the fun of it. But if you have an opinion that is the opposite of everyone else’s, for example, how ramen is actually ultra-healthy, and you can back it up with evidence, it can be an attention-grabbing point of view.
- Specific Locations (“London”)
Have you ever noticed that most blog posts are structured quite similarly?
In fact, most of the blog posts you read are variations of the same models. So you don’t have to reinvent the wheel on this front. Choose a template that fits your format and get started.
For example, we use this template for almost all of our walkthrough guides:
Looking for other models? Check out the blog post below.
Recommended reading: 4 simple blog post templates (and when to use them)
Your model provided you with the skeleton. Now you need to understand what you need to fill in, especially the subtitles (H2, H3, H4, etc.).
Here are some ideas on how to find them:
A. Use your expertise and experience
The first step is always to look within. If you know there is a correct way to do something, then use it as the basis for your pattern.
B. Perform a content gap analysis
We can also use the pages currently at the top of the leaderboard for your topic as inspiration. After all, if most of these pages cover certain subtopics, they are likely to be important to your readers.
Make sure you only look at the pages at an angle similar to yours.
Here’s how to find these subtopics:
- Paste some high-level URLs for your main topic into Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool
- Leave the bottom section blank
- Blow Show keywords
- Set the Intersection filter on 3 And 4 goals
We can see that these pages are classified by such subtopics:
- What is the keto diet
- What does keto mean
- Rules of the ketogenic diet
- The keto diet is healthy
- What to eat on the keto diet
If we cover the same topic – “keto diet” from a similar angle (“beginner’s guide”) – then they will probably produce good H2s.
C. Watch also people ask for boxes
Google anything these days and you’ll see this:
These are known as People Also Ask (PAA) boxes and answer questions related to the search query. Since these are likely popular questions, you may want to answer them in your content as well.
To collect all of these questions, you can click on them over and over again or use a tool like AlsoAsked.
Alternatively, if you’re just looking for questions related to your main topic (and they’re not necessarily PAAs), try this method:
- Go to Ahrefs’ keyword explorer
- Enter your topic
- Go to Corresponding terms report
- Switch to the tab Requests
- Click on the hamburger menu next to the keywords XX, XXX
- Switch to the tab Main topics
- Click on your main topic (eg “keto diet”)
Here you will see all the questions grouped under the same main topic, in this case, “keto diet”.
Review the report and see if there are any questions worth answering in your article.
We recommend that you enrich each section so that you (and your editor, client, etc.) can understand what you are trying to say and where you come from.
But don’t make the mistake of writing the full draft here. This is an outline, not the actual post. So leave only ideas that will support and support what you will cover.
Here are some examples of bullet points you could add:
- Brief explanation of your argument
- Examples of how your particular item / phase / tactic / etc works
- Potential expert quotes (if you are using them)
- Data you will cite
For example, here’s a recent outline of mine for a content pillar post:
I create bullet points and simply point out the ideas that I will share under each subhead. But not all side dishes are the same. You can choose not to make them even so detailed.
The world is your oyster. Do what works for you and whoever you are working for.
The goal of your introduction is to “hook” the reader to the end of the entire article. So it’s a good idea to plan (at least an idea) what you want to say here.
Again, don’t fall into the trap of fleshing out the whole thing. Only a couple of bullets will do.
To plan your introduction, a simple formula you can follow is the Problem-stir-solve (PAS) formula.
Here’s how it works:
- State on Problem
- Shake the problem digging deeper into pain (felt by the reader)
- Offer potential Solution
And here’s what it looks like in real life:
For your conclusion, I recommend that you plan a takeaway line of the entire article, providing links to additional resources or sharing one final consideration for your readers to ponder.
Before you start drawing, it’s a good idea to send the draft to someone else – a colleague, editor, or friend. They will be able to give you feedback and point out any flaws, inaccuracies or points you missed.
We always do. Each in-house writer should send their own drafts to Joshour content manager, for review.
Once your reviewer has provided their feedback, you can review it and incorporate their ideas into your structure. So, it’s finally time to draft.
If you need help writing a blog post, check out this step by step guide on how to write one.
Questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter.