a simple formula to follow [+Tips from Our Blog Team]

What Makes a Blog Post Bad? The most widespread problem we find is poor flow. The post jumps from one thought to the next or the post reads like a stream of consciousness – except it’s not a stylistic choice.

writing a blog post outline

One way to prevent this is to create an outline for your blog posts.

Below is my method for outlining posts and organizing my thoughts to form a coherent, logical piece.

table of contents

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1. Write as many different conclusions as you can from the article.

Start with a brain dump.

Write everything you want your readers to take away from the article. These won’t always be the main sections of your article – it’s just all the things you want your readers to know by the end of reading your post.

This is the only time in the whole process that you are not concerned with organization – just let your thoughts flow naturally. You need to get all your wild and crazy ideas out now so they don’t screw up your post later in the process.

For example, in my article on using images to generate leads on Twitter, I probably want readers to know:

  • What separates a good image from a bad one on Twitter
  • Where they can find images to use legally
  • how can they draw on their own
  • what size do they need to make the images
  • how often should they tweet images
  • how to actually upload an image to twitter
  • How can they generate leads on Twitter
  • How long should their tweet be with images in it
  • what results should they expect

Note how these are really unfiltered and all over the place. Okay. We will rein in all of these in the next phase.

2. Split those takeaways into larger sections.

Now, we’ll take that jumble of ideas and put them into broad categories.

Think of it like laundry – each idea belongs to a different pile. From your brainstorm, you should think of a few big themes.

Sometimes, one of your brainstorming bullets will be a topic on its own, but usually, several bullets fall under a broad topic. You may also feel that there is a topic for which you may not have any bullets, but the post definitely demands it.

Many recommend sticking to three or four large sections, but it really depends on what type of post you’re writing. If you’re writing a comprehensive guide, you may need more.

If this is a quick how-to post, shorter sections would be ideal.

Using the same example, here’s how I would bucket my thoughts into the following buckets:

  1. identity
  2. Creating a Twitter Image Lead General Strategy
    • How can they generate leads on Twitter
    • how often should they tweet images
  3. How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen Tweet
    • How long should their tweet be with images in it
    • how to actually upload an image to twitter
    • what size do they need to make the images
    • how can they draw on their own
    • Where they can find images to use legally
    • What separates a good image from a bad one on Twitter
  4. measuring the success of your strategy
    • what results should they expect

3. Fill in the remaining sections.

At this point, your outline may still look blank in some areas.

Some of your sections may be with multiple bullet points and some may be without any. Now is the time to fill those gaps.

What did you miss in your initial brainstorm? It’s always hard to think of what’s missing, but it will help improve your final post significantly.

During this stage, do some competitive research to see what other publications have covered the topic and what readers are responding to.

Shown below is how my outline evolved. I italicized everything I added, and the outline is getting closer and closer to being a post:

  1. identity
    • Images Work Really Well on Twitter (Find the Study)
  2. Creating a Twitter Image Lead General Strategy
    • How can they generate leads on Twitter
    • how often should they tweet images
  3. How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen Tweet
    • How long should their tweet be with images in it
    • how to actually upload an image to twitter
    • what size do they need to make the images
    • how can they draw on their own
    • Where they can find images to use legally
    • What separates a good image from a bad one on Twitter
    • Should you tag people in images
    • should you use photo collage
    • what colors should you use to stand out
  4. measuring the success of your strategy
    • what results should they expect
    • Which metrics to watch
    • how to find them in your analytics
    • How to adjust the above to get better results

Essentially, you’re doing step 2 again, but in a more focused way.

4. Modify, delete and rearrange details in each section.

Now comes the fun part: editing your outline.

You’ve already done the hard part of actually thinking about your thoughts. Now, you’re tightening your outline to include only the most relevant information, revising the sub-bullets to make sense, and reorganizing the sub-bullets to tell the most logical story.

First, let me show you what I will be cutting – shown in bold.

  1. identity
    • Images Work Really Well on Twitter (Find the Study)
  2. Creating a Twitter Image Lead General Strategy
      • how to generate leads on twitter
      • how often should they tweet images
  1. How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen Tweet
    • How long should their tweet be with images in it
    • How to actually upload an image to Twitter (This is a very basic step that anyone will already know if they are reading this post.)
    • what size do they need to make the images
    • how can they draw on their own
    • Where they can find images to use legally
    • What separates a good image from a bad one on Twitter
    • Should you tag people in images
    • should you use photo collage
    • What colors should you use to stand out (don’t believe there’s hard data on this, just speculation. Cut it out.)
  2. measuring the success of your strategy
    • What results should they expect to get (Study in the first part should cover this bullet point.)
    • Which metrics to watch
    • how to find them in your analytics
    • How to adjust the above to get better results

Next, we’ll reorganize and rework the remaining sub-bullets to make them sound like real takeaways. We’ll also turn some of the sub-bullets into sub-bullets. Here’s what the outline looks like now:

  1. identity
      • Images Work Really Well on Twitter (Find the Study)
  2. Creating a Twitter Image Lead General Strategy
    • how to generate leads on twitter
    • How lead generation fits in with the rest of your Twitter strategy
  3. How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen Tweet
    • making it on my own
    • Finding Images to Use Legally
    • resize images for twitter
    • tagging people in images
    • use photo collage
    • How long should tweets with images be
    • how to choose the right image
    • image optimization for twitter
    • Optimizing the rest of your Tweet
  4. measuring the success of your strategy
    • Which metrics to watch
    • how to find them in your analytics
    • How to adjust your strategy to get better results

Ta-da! A more detailed outline that makes it easier to write your post.

5. Include links to your examples and/or data.

This is purely a time saving trick.

After you’ve fleshed out and then narrowed down your outline, you should look for examples and data to support these claims.

Once you find a source to support your arguments, add them as a note at the bottom of the section. That way, when you go to write it, you don’t have to go digging.

6. Nail your working title.

Now that your outline is clear, you can create a title that summarizes the purpose of your article in something actionable and attention-grabbing.

Some components of a great title include:

  • Number
  • action verb
  • descriptive adjective

The goal here is to have a title that gives you a fairly clear idea of ​​what the entire section is about. you can make it sound catchy later,

Review my final outline in the next section.

blog post outline example

  1. identity
      • Images work really well on Twitter
  2. Creating a Twitter Image Lead General Strategy
    • References Anchorman line: “Come and see how good I look.”
    • how to generate leads on twitter
    • How lead generation fits in with the rest of your Twitter strategy
  3. How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen Tweet
    • making it on my own
    • Finding Images to Use Legally
    • resize images for twitter
    • tagging people in images
    • use photo collage
    • How long should tweets with images be
    • how to choose the right image
    • image optimization for twitter
    • Optimizing the rest of your Tweet
  4. measuring the success of your strategy
    • Which metrics to watch
    • how to find them in your analytics
    • How to adjust your strategy to get better results

Outlining Tips from HubSpot Bloggers

In addition to the steps outlined above, our HubSpot writers are sharing additional tips they’ve collected over the years.

If you’re struggling to think of sections for your blog post, Senior Marketing Manager basha coleman Suggest checking the “People Also Ask” section on the Google SERPS.

This section will have questions related to your initial search query. Take our example article. When you Google “using images to generate leads on Twitter,” these are the questions that come up in the People Ask search feature.

People also ask: Do tweets with images get more engagement How do I find lead generation ads on Twitter Can you use images in Twitter

After a quick search, you learn more about common questions from readers and can incorporate them into your article.

Carla Cook HesterbergSenior Marketing Manager, HubSpot Blog Network, recommends putting yourself in the reader’s place.

“Organize your structure based on what you think the person is going to be scrolling through to find and put the most important/relevant information up front,” she said.

By taking advantage of these solid tips, writing your actual posts should be easy.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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