Content creation is one of the most important aspects of any digital marketing strategy. In fact, eMarketer finds three-quarters of surveyed marketers create at least one piece of content material every 24 hours.

After all, without content, there would be no way to attract and engage an audience.

One of the best ways to ensure that your content is effective is to create a content outline. This will help you to organize your thoughts and ideas, and to ensure that your content is focused and well-targeted.

 

What is a Content Outline?

A content outline is a document that helps you plan and organize your content. It’s like a roadmap for your content, and it can be helpful to have one before you start content writing.

A content outline should include:

  1. The topics you will cover
  2. The format of your content (e.g., blog post, infographic, video)
  3. The target audience for your content
  4. The main points you want to make in each piece of content
  5. Any supporting information or data you need to include
  6. Any keywords or phrases you want to target
  7. The call to action for each piece of content

Why Make a Content Outline?

There are several reasons why you should make a content outline before you start writing:

1. It will help you focus your ideas.

Creating a content outline ahead of time will help you to focus your ideas and ensure that your content is on point. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re writing, but if you have a content outline, you can always refer back to it to make sure you’re staying on track.

2. It will save you time in the long run.

A content outline may take some time to create, but it will save you time in the long run. Once you have a content outline, you won’t have to waste time brainstorming topics or trying to figure out what to write next.

3. It will help you create better content.

When you make a content outline, you have to think carefully about your target audience and what you want to achieve with your content. This will help you create better, more targeted content that is more likely to be successful.

4. It will make it easier to repurpose your content.

If you ever want to repurpose your content (e.g., turn a blog post into a video), having a content outline will make it much easier. You’ll already have all of the information you need, so you can simply adapt it to the new format.

5. It will help you stay organized.

Content outlines help to keep your thoughts and ideas organized, so you can easily find what you’re looking for when you need it. This is especially helpful if you’re working on multiple pieces of content at the same time.

How to Write a Content Outline (5 Easy Steps)

Now that you know why you should make a content outline, let’s take a look at how to do it in 5 easy steps.

Step 1: Brainstorm content ideas.

The first step is to brainstorm content ideas. Think about the topics you want to cover and the format you want to use (e.g., blog post, video, infographic).

If you’re having trouble coming up with blog post ideas, try using a tool like Google Trends or BuzzSumo to find popular topics in your industry.

The best ideas are usually what people are already searching for. You can also check social media channels like Reddit,  Twitter, and Facebook to see what people are talking about.

 

Step 2: Create and organize a list of main ideas.

Once you have a list of content ideas, it’s time to start narrowing them down and flesh out your ideas. Create a list of main ideas for each piece of content, and then choose the most important ones.

 

Step 3: Finalize the structure.

Once you have your main ideas, it’s time to start organizing them. Group related ideas together, and then order them in a way that makes sense. If you’re creating a blog post, for example, you might want to start with an introduction and then move on to the body of the article.

 

Step 4: Fill in the details.

Now that you have your main ideas finalized, it’s time to start filling in the details. For each main idea, make a note of any supporting information or data you need to include. This could be statistics, research, case studies, etc. that help to support your points.

 

Step 5: Revise and adjust.

Once you have all of your ideas down on paper, it’s time to take a step back and revise your outline. Make sure everything flows smoothly and that your content is on point. If you need to, add or remove ideas as necessary. 

Now that you know how to write a content outline, it’s time to get started! Just remember to keep your target audience and goals in mind as you brainstorm ideas and outline the main points of your content.

Content Outline Free Templates

If you need a little help getting started, we’ve created 5 free content outline templates that you can use. Feel free to use the templates below that’s most relevant to your project and fill it out with your own information.

1. Blog Post Outline Template

If you’re writing a blog post, this outline template will help you to organize your thoughts and structure your post in a way that is easy to read and understand.

Blog Post Title: Start with the main header. Then, add a subheader for each main point.

Introduction: Introduce the topic of your blog post and give an overview of what will be covered.

Main Point 1: State your first main point and supporting information.

Main Point 2: State your second main point and supporting information.

Main Point 3: State your third main point and supporting information.

Conclusion: Summarize the main points of your blog post and include a call to action.

 

2. Video Outline Template

If you’re creating a video, this outline template will help you to organize your thoughts and structure your video in a way that is easy to follow.

Short introduction: Start with a short introduction that will grab the viewer’s attention.

Main points: Outline the main points that you want to cover in your video.

Call to action: End your video with a call to action, such as subscribing to your channel or following you on social media.

 

3. eBook Outline Template

If you’re writing an eBook, this outline template will help you to organize your thoughts and structure your book in a way that is easy to follow.

Table of Contents: Include a table of contents at the beginning of your eBook so readers know what topics will be covered.

Introduction: Introduce the topic of your eBook and give an overview of what will be covered.

Main Points: State your main points and supporting information.

Conclusion: Summarize the main points of your eBook and include a call to action.

 

4. Whitepaper Outline Template

If you’re writing a whitepaper, this outline template will help you to organize your thoughts and structure your paper in a way that is easy to follow.

Table of Contents: Include a table of contents at the beginning of your whitepaper so readers know what topics will be covered.

Introduction: Introduce the topic of your whitepaper and give an overview of what will be covered.

Main Points: State your main points and supporting information.

Conclusion: Summarize the main points of your whitepaper and include a call to action.

 

5. Website Copy Outline Template

If you’re writing copy for a website, this outline template will help you to organize your thoughts and structure your copy in a way that is easy to read and understand.

Homepage: Write the headline, subheadline, and body copy for the homepage of your website.

About Us Page: Write the headline, subheadline, and body copy for the About Us page of your website.

Product/Service Page: Write the headline, subheadline, and body copy for the Product/Service page of your website. 

Contact Us Page: Write the headline, subheadline, and body copy for the Contact Us page of your website.

Now that you have a better understanding of how to create a content outline, it’s time to start brainstorming ideas and organizing your thoughts. Use the templates above to get started, and don’t be afraid to get creative with it. The most important thing is that you take the time to plan out your content before you start writing.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the main rules of outlining?

Rule #1: Start with the Main Heading

The first rule of outlining is to start with the main heading. This will be the title of your blog post, video, eBook, etc. Once you have the main heading, you can start adding subheadings for each main point.

Rule #2: Add Subheadings for Each Main Point

The second rule of outlining is to add subheadings for each main point. This will help to organize your thoughts and make it easy for readers to follow along.

Rule #3: Include Supporting Information

The third rule of outlining is to include supporting information for each point. This could be statistics, quotes, data, etc. that support your main points.

Rule #4: Include a Call to Action

The fourth and final rule of outlining is to include a call to action in your conclusion. This could be a link to your website, a free download, etc.

Here are a few tips for writing an effective outline:

  1. Start with the Main Heading
  2. Add Subheadings for Each Main Point
  3. Include Supporting Information
  4. Include a Call to Action
  5. Be Concise and to the Point
  6. Use Simple Language
  7. Stick to One Topic per Outline
  8. Make Sure Your Outline is Logical
  9. Edit and Revise

 

How many main ideas should an outline have?

An outline should have as many main points as necessary to cover the topic at hand. However, it’s important to keep in mind that each main point should be supported by evidence and data.

Here are some brainstorming techniques that you can use to generate ideas for your content.

1. Brainstorming with a partner or group

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas on your own, try brainstorming with a partner or group. This will help to stimulate new ideas and get the creative juices flowing.

2. Use a mind map

Another great way to brainstorm content ideas is to create a mind map. This is a visual representation of your thoughts and ideas. You can start with a central topic and branch out from there.

3. Keep a content ideas journal

One of the best ways to generate content ideas is to keep a content ideas journal. This is a place where you can write down any and all ideas that come to mind, no matter how crazy they may seem. The more ideas you have, the better!

4. Use online resources

There are tons of great online resources that can help you brainstorm content ideas. Try using Google Images or Pinterest to get started.

5. Take inspiration from other content creators

If you’re having trouble coming up with original ideas, try taking inspiration from other content creators. Look for content that is similar to what you want to create and use it as a starting point.

 

What are the different outlining styles?

There are three main outlining styles:

  • Alphanumeric Outline
  • Full-sentence Outline
  • Decimal Outline

Each style has its own set of rules and guidelines. Be sure to choose the style that works best for you and your project.

What is an alphanumeric outline?

An alphanumeric outline is a type of outline that uses letters and numbers to organize ideas. The first level of an alphanumeric outline is denoted by Roman numerals, while the second level is denoted by Arabic numerals. Each subsequent level is denoted by a lowercase letter.

What is a full-sentence outline?

A full-sentence outline is a type of outline that uses complete sentences to describe each main point. This type of outline is helpful when you need to present your ideas in a more detailed way.

What is a decimal outline?

A decimal outline is a type of outline that uses numbers to organize ideas. The first level of a decimal outline is denoted by Arabic numerals, while the second level is denoted by decimals. Each subsequent level is denoted by a lowercase letter.

The best way to choose an outlining style is to experiment with each one and see which works best for you and your project. There is no right or wrong answer, so go with whatever feels most natural to you.

Once you have chosen a style, be sure to stick with it throughout your entire project. This will help to keep things organized and prevent confusion.

What are the three purposes of outlining?

The three main purposes of outlining are to:

1. Help you organize your thoughts

Outlining can help you to organize your thoughts and ideas in a logical way. This will make it easier to write your content and stay on track.

2. Help you find gaps in your knowledge

Outlining can also help you to identify gaps in your knowledge. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for a certain section, it may be because you don’t know enough about the topic. Doing some additional research can help to fill in these gaps.

3. Help you save time

Another purpose of outlining is to save you time. Once you have a good outline, the writing process will be much quicker and easier. This is because you’ll already have a plan to follow, so there won’t be any need to stop and figure things out as you go.