Beginner Guides / Content Marketing

Beat Writer’s Block & Create Content That Ranks with a Blog Outline Template

Struggling with your writing process? We feel your pain. Here's a blog outline template you can steal to fire up your creativity.

Sean Brison February 7, 2022
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Writing an article from scratch is tough. Perhaps one of the terrifying things on a fresh Google doc is the sheer amount of white space (just typing that phrase makes me shudder). So, the next time you’re tackling a blank page, using a simple blog outline template will help. We’ll show you one you can use to get more ideas, rank with search engines, and beat writer’s block.

But first…

Why You Should Be Using A Blog Outline Template

For starters, it helps organize your thoughts. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with every new post you write. Most articles follow similar formats; the trick is knowing the right one to use.

Inexperienced bloggers may think using templates isn’t “pure” or that starting from scratch is the only true creative act.

However, having an outline in place helps kickstart your creative engine. It also saves you time because you’re not wondering what to write.

Outlines help with scaling content. Once you’re ready to hire writers, outline templates ensure everyone’s on the same page. Even more true when writing branded content.

A good outline removes the guesswork.

You’ll have a leg up with writer’s block. Ideas tend to flow quicker as every subheading prompts you what to write next. All you have to do is fill in the blanks section by section.

Now that we’ve covered the “why” regarding using a blog post outline template let’s dive into the “how.”

We have created a method you can use to speed up your writing process, beat writer’s block, and make it easier for search engines to find every piece of content. Here are 9 Steps to creating content with a blog outline.

1. Capture Ideas & Brainstorm to Find Blog Topics

Typically, it starts with an idea – and it can come from anywhere, including:

  • What you’re reading (blogs, forums, & social media posts), watching (YouTube videos), or listening to (podcasts)
  • Things you’re learning
  • Your daily life

These are your inputs and serve as inspiration for what you’ll create. It’s good to have ideas from multiple disciplines because you never know what they’ll do once combined.

James Altucher refers to this as making millions with idea sex.

Here’s the thing…

Most people only consume content passively. But if you’re intentionally developing an idea capture system and actively taking notes, it’ll serve you when it comes time to brainstorm on topics.

You can start a daily content consumption habit between 15-30 minutes by scheduling it in your calendar. While you’re consuming, jot down things you find interesting or novel. Then add your unique perspective to them.

Sidenote: Consuming for pleasure is excellent for recharging your mind and is necessary. Just know that most of what we read, listen to, or view, we forget. So, form a habit of writing things down. Because if you found something interesting, it’ll grab your reader’s attention too.

Think of every question you or someone might ask.

Once you’ve brainstormed, you should have a few ideas about the main points you’d like to cover in your blog post. Next, research those terms using a tool to check for search volume and keyword difficulty.

2. Refine Your Ideas with Keyword Research

Since you’re running a website relying on organic traffic, you need to create content your target audience searches for – this is where keyword research comes into play.

Once you’ve settled on a few terms, plug them into a keyword research tool. This will determine whether people are actually interested in your topic. The higher the search volume, the more potential traffic your site can attract.

You don’t want to create things with no demand as over 90% of content gets no traffic from Google, according to this Ahrefs study.

This is why conducting keyword research is critical to your blog’s success.

You can use free or paid tools. If your budget’s tight, try free options, including:

  • Ubersuggest
  • Keyword.io

If you’ve got money to burn, try paid tools, such as:

  • Ahrefs
  • SEMrush

Paid tools will give you more data and are worth the extra cost, in our opinion. We’re fans of Ahrefs. Next, plug your keyword into your tool and view its search volume and keyword difficulty scores.

Note whether you can potentially rank for your term. Several factors dictate this, like your site’s age and authority. But the most significant ranking factor for your site is the number of referring domains linking to it.

Let’s say you have two ideas regarding the blog content you’d like to create, “blog outline template” and “affiliate marketing for beginners.”

See what happens when I plug them both into Ahrefs.

ahrefs keyword metrics for blog outline template

And here’s “affiliate marketing for beginners.”

ahrefs keyword metrics for affiliate marketing for beginners

According to Ahrefs estimate, we’d need backlinks from 134 websites to rank for “affiliate marketing for beginners” versus 23 for “blog outline template.”

This is where you’d consider other factors like your site’s authority and the number of domains currently linking to it.

Sidenote: Traffic is a misleading metric. Determine your keyword’s business value and whether it will attract the right kind of visitor. The actual performance indicator is whether people are converting. Content quality > quantity.

3. Review the Top-Ranking Posts

Now that you’ve decided on your target keyword see what’s popular with the ranking posts. Here’s where you can examine the top articles’ structure and look for commonalities. Again, specific things will stand out, probably because the people searching for them think they’re essential.

Dive into each post and review its subheadings.

You can use an SEO browser extension to get a bird’s eye view of its outline. Here’s an example using Ahrefs Chrome extension.

ahrefs chrome extension showing outline of blog post by header and h3 subheadings

I’ve found this an excellent way to generate outline ideas.

Sidenote: Many popular SEO tools have a browser extension for quick on-page metrics. Perform the Google search “SEO browser extensions” and see what you get.

Identify Content Gaps & Add Your Unique Insight

Once you’ve examined the ranking posts’ similarities, consider their differences. What gaps or unique perspectives can you contribute.

The idea is not to copy the ranking posts but add something to the conversation.

Think of your blog post like a comment thread. Most of them don’t say the same thing – they’re filled with people’s opinions. So, what’s yours?

Here’s where you determine the angle you want to cover. This could include matching search intent and your target audience.

For example, are you writing for students, beginners, or experts? Perhaps you notice that your idea has no content written for beginners, so you’d focus on that.

4. Find More Keywords & Add Them to Your Blog Outline’s Subheadings

Let’s look at a few ways you can beef up your content based on its keyword and content angle. The more subtopics you cover, the greater your chances of ranking for abundant keywords.

Google’s People Also Ask (PAA)

We’ve mentioned this before but it’s a great way to find outline ideas based on the search term you type into Google. Once you’ve entered your keyword, scroll down the SERP until you see the PAA box.

Choose the phrases Google suggests that are most relevant. These are additional questions people need answers to on your keyword.

For this post, when I enter “blog outline template” into the search field, I see this so you may want to include some or all of these in yours.

google's people also ask box

Related Searches

This is located at the bottom of the SERP and gives more popular queries people search for in Google.

google's related searches box

For example, you may want to use terms like:

  • Blog outline generator
  • Blog outline tool

Also Asked

Tools like this aggregate all PAA and Related Searches data into one and prevent you from going down rabbit holes.

Simply enter your seed keyword into the search field, and AlsoAsked populates a “tree” with your primary topic displaying to the left and all sub-topics displaying to the right.

also asked tool that mine's google people also ask data

You can also get a PNG image export or CSV data export of your search with the free plan.

Clearscope

We use this tool with every post we write to capture more related keywords. You can also see how your content measures up against the ranking posts regarding your post’s specific terms versus competitors.

(All of the related keywords display to the left in the below screenshot)

clearscope box scores showing the keywords your post uses compared to ranking posts

A white square indicates a keyword isn’t being used, and a green square means you are.

Ahrefs

You can also use Ahrefs for finding more terms. Type your phrase into Keyword Explorer, then head to Related terms > Also rank for > Top 100.

ahrefs related terms report

This will give you even more keyword possibilities. The above example found 343 keywords with a total search volume of 52k.

Tip: Add related terms with search volume to your subheadings. This lets your post answer more questions people search for and potentially capture featured snippets.

Use the advanced search operator “filetype”

The above examples are ways to beef up your post. However, you can find more obscure but still relevant content with a “filetype” search.

Here’s how it works.

The next time you type your keyword into Google, use any one of these formulas instead:

  • Keyword + filetype:doc
  • Keyword + filetype:pdf
  • Keyword + filetype:word

This searches for PDFs and documents written about your subject – not the typical blog posts or videos.

It can be a great way to uncover lesser-known gems to add to your piece and give it a rankings boost, resulting in your article offering unique insights not published by everyone else.

5. Organize Your Content into Bite-Sized Chunks

Once you’ve fleshed out your content’s main points, it’s time to organize it. Piece together a rough outline based on all of the above work you’ve already done. It doesn’t have to be perfect because this is the outlining process, but you should now have a rough idea of what to write.

It does two things:

  • Easier to manage as now your content is in sections
  • Reduces mental overwhelm because you’re no longer facing a scattered messy page

Feel free to use as many subheadings, bulleted lists, images, or data at this step. You’re assembling how you want your post to flow.

I’ll do this with every idea or question I want to cover.

Try to merge your key points with related keywords as your subheadings to keep them more SEO-friendly.

Here’s a sample from my Google doc after I’ve organized it into a workable structure:

my google doc outline for this blog outline template post

Once you’ve done this, complete it section by section. This helps speed up your content creation process. We’ve found a blog post outline like this saves you time and kickstarts your idea generation juices quicker.

Tip: Try adding a word count for every section. Applying constraints to your writing process can also help speed up the process.

6. Write A Sh*tty First Draft

Here’s where your brain dumps all of your thoughts onto the page – don’t edit yourself.

Turn off any enabled spellcheckers. When many corrections appear across your draft in red, your brain wants to stop and correct them, which can slow your flow.

Make a note in your doc and revisit later when you get another idea. For example, I’ll make a note of any internal links or screenshots I’ll want to add.

Further Reading:

7. Craft Your Headline

This doesn’t have to be etched in stone but having a working title grounds you to your main point. Then, if you ever lose focus, return to your headline and remember what you want to say. So write several variations – try writing 20 headlines and see which ones stick.

Think of headline drafts as the mud you need to sift through until you strike gold.

You can also color your headlines with modifiers, including:

  • Comprehensiveness (e.g., an ultimate guide)
  • Speed (e.g., how to accomplish X in 5 minutes)
  • Freshness (e.g,. Mentioning the current year in the title)

The more info you can add to your title, the more qualified readers you’ll attract. In addition, having a powerful headline helps boost click-through rates (CTR) and improves search engine positioning.

This study found the top three posts get the most clicks (nearly 32%!). 

bar graph with percentages of clicked articles by position in serps

Further Reading:

8. Connect Your Headline to Your Intro

The next thing your readers see is your intro (the lede). So, try to make it seamless as one natural transition.

Once they read your headline, your intro (ideally) compels them to keep reading. You can use many different variations here. In addition, there are several copywriting formulas you can use.

A well-known one is PAS.

Short for Problem Agitate Solve, PAS says to hit their most significant pain point, agitate it, and then offer a solution.

problem agitate solve intro formula with each section a different color

You can also explore fantastic intros (or ‘hooks’) on Twitter. Twitter is a masterclass in writing if you know where to look. Hooks are short juicy intros designed to get your attention and keep you reading.​​

9. Conclude Your Final Subheading with A Call to Action

Instead of titling your last header “Conclusion” or “Final Thoughts,” give your readers a place to go next. This might be in the form of:

  • A question
  • A statistic that backs your argument
  • Something you want them to think or feel

Or perhaps you want to offer hope or a warning. For example, a recent post we published on starting an affiliate marketing business for under $3 concluded, not with “Final Thoughts” as the last subhead, but “Your Affiliate Marketing Business Is Bright.”

Alternatively, recap what you just taught them and how they can apply it. This thread on conclusion alternatives is excellent.

Further Reading:

Bonus: Use An AI Blog Outline Generator

If you’re still stuck, many AI copywriting tools like Jarvis.ai generate blog post outlines for you based on your title.

In the below example, I entered “SEO trends to watch this year” as my title, producing a six-item outline.

blog outline generator results based on title of your article

These are paid options, so it depends on your budget.

Dial Up Your Content Marketing with A User-Friendly Blog Post Outline Template

And that’s it! You can easily create content quicker with a blog outline template. It acts as a writing prompt so you can curb writer’s block, create SEO-friendly content, and steer you on what to write next.

Everyone’s writing process is different, but a few fundamental principles worth following make for a great blog post. Of course, having a system in place also ensures you don’t forget anything.

Lasso, our WordPress plugin, helps bloggers and affiliate marketers grow their income and build a meaningful online business. Want to see how else we can help you? Have a look here.

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