How to Create a Great Outline in 5 Easy Steps

written byBrad

If you want to speed up your content creation, you’ll want to know how to create a great outline first.

Too many people skip the outline step. This is either because they believe it will slow down the process, that it doesn’t help, or because they simply don’t know how to do it right.

Some believe an outline is only for written content, but it’s just as useful when producing audio and video content.

This post will show you how to create an outline that will make the writing process faster and easier.

By doing this preliminary work, it will also help you produce higher quality work. This is because you are doing more planning and organizing in advance.

Read on to learn more…

Step-1: Identify Your Topic and Goal

You’re already working in a particular niche, so now you need to identify a topic to write or talk about. Think about what message or take-away you want the reader to get.

Once you know that, you should determine the goal of your content. Is the content just for education and value purposes? Are you ultimately trying to get the reader to click on a link? Are you trying to build a list, or maybe build authority?

Knowing this before you begin will help keep you focused on the goal as you are creating the content.

Between the topic and the goal, think of a good title for your piece. You can always come back at the end and revise it.

Step-2: Decide What Points or Steps You Want to Cover

This is a good time to really brainstorm your topic. You may already have some ideas in mind, but a little more brainstorming could get you another one or two ideas. List all the main points or steps you can think of.

During the research stage you may come across ideas you didn’t think of before. Add them to the list. Ideally you want between 3 – 10 major points (as just a guide), but this can vary greatly depending on the content type and the specific topic.

Each of these points/steps can become a sub-header in your content.

Step-3: Do Any Necessary Research

If you’re an expert in your niche, or if it’s an opinion type piece, you may need to do little to no research. Otherwise, you may want to use google, books, or other sources get some supporting information for each of the main points/steps.

Just take a few light notes. The more sources you use the better. In the end, you want to use your own words to expand upon those notes.

Step-4: What Order Should the Content be Arranged?

Now you should have a list of all your main points/steps along with any supporting notes.  It’s time to consider what order you want put them in.

If you need guidance as to how to order your topics, just go back to your research to see how other popular content pieces ordered their topics. Otherwise, here are a few general guidelines:


·       Logical order. If you’re describing a step-by-step process, then obviously your outline will list the steps in order.


·       Beginner to advanced material. Self-explanatory – put the easier material at the beginning of your piece.


·       Fastest results to slower results. If you’re listing different tips or strategies, you might order them from those that get quick results to those that take longer to implement.


·       Mix of tips. Here you might put one or two of your BEST tips in the beginning and then put another one or two of your best tips at the end.

Step-5: Create the Actual Outline

At this point you should have your topic and goal, all the main points, research notes, and an idea how you want to organize it. This makes the final outline very simple.

Essentially you are creating a “sketch” (whether hand-written or typed on your computer) of the structure (outline) of your soon-to-be content. It is from this that you will do the final content. And creating that content should be much, much easier now than had you not first created an outline.

Forming the structure of your content will be the same or similar regardless if it’s text, video, or audio.

Start with an introduction. Tell your audience what they are about to learn and why it’s important

Then on to the main body. Each of your main points will become a section. Under each main point list at least three or more supporting points. The supporting points will come from your research and/or own knowledge.

Finally, close your content with a summary, conclusion, or some call to action (i.e. what should be their next step, or a link to click, etc…).

So your outline (or “sketch”) could look something like this:


Main Point #1

         Supporting info #1

         Supporting info #2

         Supporting info #3  (and so on… for as much as you have)

Main Point #2

         Supporting info #1

         Supporting info #2

         Supporting info #3  (and so on… for as much as you have)

Repeat these Main Point Sections for as many as you have.

Closing (summary, conclusion, Call-to-action)

All that’s Left is the Writing

If you’ve done the outline as directed above, the actual writing (or video/audio) process should go very smoothly. You are basically taking all your notes and putting them into your own words to form a unique and quality piece of content.

Writing/Creation Tip:

Pretend like you are sitting across from a typical person from your desired audience. Go through your outline (as a guide). How would you explain to that person what your message is? Instead of “pretend” explaining, you can be creating your actual content as you go.

Then, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. What questions might they have as they read? By addressing those questions, you can expand your content even more, and thus create an even richer piece.