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Back in high school, I totally didn’t understand the concept of a prewrite. If my teachers had the nerve to require an outline, I just made mine after the fact. That way my outline always matched my paper.
But now that I’m a busy mom and a freelance writer?
Now I save time by outlining blog posts!
I’ve finally realized the power of the prewrite. Which means I have to admit my high school English teachers knew more than I thought they did.
Let’s look at three specific ways that outlining blog posts helps save time. Then I’ll show you the specific method I use.
1. I Can Outline on the Go
I don’t always have time to sit down at my computer and type up a post. But, I almost always can find a few minutes to scratch out an outline on piece of paper or my iPhone.
It’s a portable way to tackle my to-do list. It also helps me work ahead a bit. I can outline a couple of days or even weeks before I plan on actually writing it.
That means I’m less likely to forget what it was I was planning on writing about in the first place. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything…
2. I Can Find My Sources
I tend to be distracted easily while on the computer. There’s just so much out there online, and it’s easy to get sucked in.
I don’t have a ton of time, so I have to make every moment count.
If I stay focused on my post, I’m more likely to sit and finish it.
But if I have to start searching for a reference or a source to link to, all best are off. I’ll find something interesting in my search results and click on it. Then a link in that post will catch my eye.
Before I know it, the kids are gathered around ready to move onto our next activity. And I’ve barely started what I was planning on doing.
Outlining helps me combat this. By breaking my work into two distinct sessions, I help keep myself focused. While I outline, I make notes of the sources I plan on using. I’ll jot down a blog post I’ve written, or the name of a site I want to reference.
I use my phone to find the exact URLs I want. Then, I email them to myself.
3. The Actual Writing Goes Faster
When I outline a post, I speed up the actual writing process considerably. I don’t have to stop and think about what I want to say next.
The outline is the skeleton of what my post will be about. All I have left to do is add the flesh.
It’s a lot faster to write the meat of the post when I don’t have to stop and think about the skeleton. I’ve already done a lot of thinking about the topic, while outlining. I’ve prepped my brain for the topic.
Outlining Blog Posts Saves Time!
How Do I Outline?
Here are the steps I take to outline my blog posts:
1. Topic and Working Title
I start my outlining session by deciding on a topic and a working title. I jot (or type) these down at the top of the page.
2. What Kind of Post?
Before you can write a post, you have to know what kind of post you’re planning on. My posts usually fall into the “how-to” or “list” categories, but there are so many types I want to try someday!
The type of post I’m planning dictates the rest of my outline. If I’m writing a list, I decide on a number to shoot for and start brainstorming ideas.
If I’m writing a different style of post, I write down my key points.
3. What Are My Sources?
I make a list of any posts I want to link to, and then make sure I email myself the exact URLs.
4. What Will My Image(s) Be?
I take time to write a couple of words about the image I want. If I have time, I go ahead and source a picture, or send my photographer husband an email dictating the shot I need.
I’ve like using Unsplash for pictures under Creative Commons.
I take a few moments to think about how I want my post to open. The introduction is important!
6. Conclusion/Call to Action
As I’m outlining, I take time to think about a conclusion or call to action at the end. What do I want my readers to take away from my post, and what do I want them to do with that information?
Though I cover several steps in my outlining process, it doesn’t usually take long. Most of my posts take about twenty minutes to outline-broken into two quick sessions as I find time.
That time is well spent.
If I try to write a post from scratch, without any prewriting, it takes at least twice as long. I’m learning it’s better to put the time into outlining blog posts so I don’t waste time writing.
Do you outline?
What’s your method for prewriting? I’d love for your to share in the comments. I’m always looking for ways to save time when freelancing!
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