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Do you do a prewrite for your posts? Discover three ways outlining a blog post saves you time, and what a solid outline should include.
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 you can save time by creating an outline for your blog posts.
Then I’ll show you the specific method I use.
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1. You Can Outline on the Go
As a busy mom, you may not always have time to sit down at your computer and knock out a post from start to finish.
But, you can almost always find a few minutes to scratch out an outline on piece of paper or your iPhone.
(I use the basic Notes app that came preinstalled…)
It’s a portable way to tackle your to-do list. It also help you work ahead a bit. That’s because you can outline a couple of days or even weeks before you plan on actually writing the whole post.
As a bonus, you’re less likely to forget what it was you were planning on writing about in the first place.
When you just have a title you’re working with, it’s a lot harder to remember the great ideas you had about that topic. But, an outline helps you see clearly the path you wanted to take your readers on.
2. You Can Find Your Sources
Do you ever find yourself getting distracted on the computer? I do! There’s just so much out there online, and it’s easy to get sucked in.
But when you don’t have a ton of time, you must make every moment count.
If you stay focused on your post, you’re more likely to sit and finish it.
But if you have to start searching for a reference or a source to link to, all bets are off.
You may find something interesting in your search results and click on it. Then a link in that post will catch your eye.
Before you know it, the kids are gathered around ready to move onto our next activity. And you’ve barely started what you were planning on doing.
Outlining helps you combat this distraction.
By breaking your blog writing work into two distinct sessions, you help keep yourself focused. While you outline, make notes of the sources you plan on using. Just jot down a blog post you’ve written, or the name of a site you want to reference.
If you are on your phone, take a moment to find the exact URL while the title is still on your mind. Then copy and paste it into your outline.
Now when you’re ready to write, you can just add those links without having to break your train of thought to go find them.
3. You Can Premake Decisions
When you outline a post, you are telling your brain how you are going to get readers from point A to point B. You don’t have to stop and think about their journey when you are writing, you just need to flesh out the details.
You’ve premade the decisions and saved brain power.
This speeds up the actual writing process considerably. You don’t have to stop and think about what you want to say next.
The outline is the skeleton of what your post will be about. All you have left to do is add the meat.
It’s a lot faster to write the meat of the post when you don’t have to stop and think about the skeleton. You’ve already done a lot of thinking about the topic, while outlining. You’ve prepped your brain for the topic.
Outlining Blog Posts Saves Time!
How Do I Outline?
Ready to save time by outlining a blog post?
Here are the steps I take to outline my blog posts:
1. Decide on a Topic and Working Title
Start your outlining session by picking. Topic and a working title. Put this information at the top of the page.
Now every decision you make about the post should be on point. Don’t wander off topic.
But, if a new idea comes to mind, add it quickly to your idea bank. Then you won’t forget about it.
2. Decide What Kind of Post You Want to Write
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 other types of posts.
The type of post you plan dictates the rest of your outline. If you’re writing a list, decide on a number to shoot for and start brainstorming ideas.
If you’re writing a How-to post, write down the key steps in the process that you don’t want to miss.
If you are writing a different style of post, write down your main points.
Then when you go to write, your path is already chosen and you can write instead of having to stop and plan.
3. Find Your Sources
Make a list of any posts you want to link to, and any external links you want to include. Take a moment to find them and write down the exact URLs.
Then you won’t waste any time when writing.
4. Plan Your Images
Take time to write a couple of words about the images you want. This will help you with keywords as you go to source your photos.
Make sure to think of wording to go on your Pinterest pins. Pinterest is a great way to grow your blog traffic!
5. Write Your Introduction
You can take a few moments to think about how you want your post to open. The introduction is important!
You only have a moment to draw your readers in, so use your opening space wisely.
6. Write Your Conclusion & Call to Action
As you’re outlining, take time to think about a conclusion or call to action at the end.
What do you want your readers to take away from my post, and what do you want them to do with that information?
7. Plan Your Monetization Strategies
How are you going to monetize this post? Are there affiliate products you want to refer to? Will you be pitching your product or services?
With every post, decide how to monetize it. Do this in the planning stage so you can weave it in naturally.
Outlining Doesn’t Have to Take Long
Though this post covered several steps in the outlining process, it doesn’t usually take long.
Most of my posts take about twenty minutes to outline. If I don’t have that much time in one setting, I break it up.
That time is well spent, so it’s worth the investment.
If I try to write a post from scratch, without any prewriting, it takes at least twice as long. I don’t have a plan to follow so I’m trying to make it up as I go. I’m learning it’s better to put the time into outlining blog posts so I don’t waste time writing.
Make the Outline!
Creating an outline really does save time, even though you’re adding an extra step to the blog creation process. A little bit of planning pays of greatly!
And if you’d like to grab your copy of my free blog post planner, fill out the form below this post. Thank you!
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.