6.2 Preparing Content and Creating an Outline

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In this video I discuss:

  • What you need to do to prepare to write high-quality content
  • How much time you can expect to spend preparing for writing high-quality content
  • Creating an outline to work as efficiently and productively as possible once you start writing

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6.2 Transcript Below


So the first step in creating high-quality content is creating an outline. It’s going to serve as the foundation for the rest of the post. And I found that it helps really accelerate things and break them down into smaller chunks, because sometimes it can be very intimidating and almost (for me personally) debilitating to think about a topic without breaking it down into smaller chunks.

And so that’s a function of creating an outline before you start writing. I think it’s just going to optimize the entire process for you. And for whatever reason, it’s something that I didn’t start doing until several years in and it has helped me tremendously – and not only when I write, but also when I train my writers for my business in my individual websites how to write.

So, Step 1. Before you start kind of… creating the outline is to research your topic pretty extensively. And once you’ve found your keywords and you know what you’re going to write about, you should start researching before you start writing, obviously.

And this is where existing expertise comes in very, very handy. The more experience you have in the niche you are in and the topic you are writing about, the less time you’re going to spend on research. And the opposite of that is true as well.

If you’ve picked a passion-based business (and we talked about this when we were picking a niche), you’re going to spend a lot more time researching because you know less about the industry and it’s harder to create a ton of value that you can build a very successful business on. It’s not impossible, but it’s likely going to take more time researching every single time you write an article.

So this is where if you picked an expertise-based niche – like in an industry you’ve worked in in the past or if you have a certification for something, it’s going to be a big advantage and a big time-saver for you. Don’t get discouraged if you’ve picked a passion-based niche because those can be more fun and more energizing to work on. They have their own advantages that are very unique, too. But just know that you’re going to spend more time researching your topics probably before you start writing content.

An important thing to do when you are researching and putting together your outline is to make sure you’re gathering from credible sources and high-quality sources. You don’t want to just kind of perpetuate false information or write outdated information because you didn’t do enough research.

So at the end of the day, if you’re unclear on what’s actually the correct advice for whatever you’re writing about, you need to do more research until that becomes clear. Don’t just start writing because you feel like, “Ah, I’ve been researching for five hours now and I still don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just going to write this.” It’s important if you want to become an authority within your industry that you make an extreme effort to always post really credible, high-quality, truthful, factual content; because if you don’t, over time, that’s going to catch up with you.

And after you’ve done all your research… actually, typically, they kind of happen simultaneously. As you’re doing your research, you’re starting to formulate the article and that’s creating your outline.

And as I mentioned at the beginning of this video, this is going to dramatically improve your productivity once you begin writing. Because every time you finish a section, you don’t have to go, “Oh, what am I writing about next?” and sit there and think about it. You can just start writing it because you’ve probably already researched it and that’s why it’s in your outline.

At the very least, you want to have in every article… it’s very similar to if you think back to when we learned how to write in I guess middle school and high school and even college… when you’re writing an essay, it’s composed of an introduction, a conclusion, and at least three points in between. And the same actually applies very well to blogging and so I would say aim for at least that in your business. An intro, three solid points, and then a conclusion.

Remember, above all else, you want to add value to that reader’s life. So you want to make sure you’re addressing their pain points or their questions head-on and adding value to their lives based on the perspective of someone that would be facing those pain points or questions – which, if you’re in that niche, are probably pain points and questions at least in many cases that you’ve faced yourself.

All-in-all… I’ve mentioned this in a previous video, I believe. High-quality articles are usually going to come out to at least 1,200 to 1,500 words – maybe somewhere between a 1,000 and 1,200. But most of the time, they’re going to come out to somewhere in this neighborhood: 1,200 to 1,500 words.

And you know, I see people post 500-word articles… 800-word articles… you can see they just kind of throw it out there and hit Publish. And if you read those articles, there’s just (the vast majority of the time) no way to add the kind of value you need to add on that topic to become an authority in that industry. It’s just not a very helpful piece of content. It just barely scratches the surface of the topic compared to other people in the industry that are really digging deep and kind of fleshing the entire topic out. And if you’re doing that the vast majority of the time, it’s going to be at least 1,200 to 1,500 words in my experience.

The article I wrote for this section as an example (which we’ll see for the first time here in a few minutes or in a couple of minutes) is just over 2,000 words. And like I said, that may sound really intimidating, but when you put together a high-quality outline and then you just sit there and you start typing, you will be amazed at how quickly it all comes together.

And I’ve written articles that are 3,000, 4,000+ words…. I’ve had writers for me, but just a couple of weeks ago, one of my really great writers turned in an article that I believe was like 12,800 words. So that was really extreme but it was a very, very comprehensive topic. And in order to create one of the most authoritative pieces of content in the industry, we had to dig that deep to add the level of value we wanted to add. So that is a very rare exception.

And especially when you’re looking to establish your website, I wouldn’t focus on writing these gigantic pieces of content just yet. I would be focused on getting out a fair amount of content but also making sure that I’m kind of… you know… of course, not sacrificing quality. So I would be probably sticking towards the 1,200 to 1,500-word kind of low-end. Maybe creeping up to 2,000 words for my articles rather than spending days potentially writing these 10,000-word articles.

It can be very helpful. You may have one or two of those in the early stages of your website because it really demonstrates the quality of the content you’re putting out when website visitors come to your website and it could be an instant way to establish credibility and authority with a website visitor.

But for SEO purposes and to try to get you out of there kind of vying for as many keywords as possible, I’d say you want to aim for more content without sacrificing quality. Again, I’ve emphasized this in a previous lesson: do not ever sacrifice quality for content. So get out as much content as you can in the early stages while you’re getting your website established for the first few months without sacrificing quality, alright?

So, example time!

Let’s take a look at one of my outlines which I created for my first Rue Tattoo article. And it’s all pretty self-explanatory. If you want to kind of pause the video and take a look at it, you’re more than welcome to. There might be typos in here because outlines are internal documents so don’t feel like they need to be proofread and completely perfect because all this is for is for you.

It’s a tool to improve the productivity and the efficiency in your own writing. Because now that I have this together, I can kind of type out the headline for this first point – because this isn’t a headline, this is just what I want this section to be about. And then I can write a paragraph for this, I can write a paragraph or two about this, I can write a paragraph or two about this, and then as soon as I’m done there, I know what my next point is. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to sit there and kind of ponder. I don’t have to go back out and continue doing a bunch of research. I know as soon as I’m done here, I’m going right here.

And that alone will eliminate so much wasted time in your writing process – in my experience, because I used to spend so much time when I finished one point kind of thinking about, “Okay, what’s the next point I want to write about? How am I going to approach it? What are going to be my sub points?” So it’s just a matter of efficiency. If you do all of these at once and decide what you’re going to write about, you can just focus on writing and nothing else whenever you get to that point.

And so… what was I going to say? I was going to say… Oh, the other thing I mentioned was whenever you’re doing this… when I was thinking about this article, it was overwhelming. And it’s in my nature – it’s not something that’s in everyone’s nature – if I’m overwhelmed by a project, and it’s huge and it’s abstract, and I don’t know how to approach it yet, it makes me not work on it. I will procrastinate for a day or two days or three days because I’m just stalled. Because I think about it, I don’t want to think about it, it’s intimidating, I don’t even know how to go about it, and it makes me not work and not be remotely as productive as I should. And so when I do this, it clears that right up.

So in this particular article, I chose the title when I wrote the outline. Some people prefer to choose a title after they’ve written the entire post and I totally get that. But I know what keyword I want to target and that’s “How Much Does Tattoo Removal Hurt? An Honest Patient’s Experience”. I did that using the exact strategies I taught in the keyword research section. But the keyword I’m targeting right here is “how much does tattoo removal hurt”. I found it using Jaaxy and I think it’s going to be a great target. I think the competition versus search volume really makes it a great opportunity for me to target in this particular business.

And even though I’m not planning to build this website out extensively (right now, it’s just serving as a tool for me to teach), it is a niche I’ve considered pursuing in the past and so I wanted to make sure to get off on the right foot in case I do hire a writer down the road or I continue writing about it for myself. I wanted to make sure that I have a valid article and I wanted to make sure that I showed you, I led by example, and taught you how to do these things firsthand.

So right here, I have an intro, a conclusion, and in between, I have four different points. I could have done three, but again, I wanted to make sure I was adding as much value as possible and I felt like a fourth point was important and totally called for for this particular subject matter.

So this was my outline; and from this outline, I came up with this article. And you can see, again, the title is up here and I kind of go through and I go through my intro. And you can also see… I want to point out I mentioned…. well I’ll mention it in a later video… that you can see how small these chunks are. It’s almost like I’m writing in sentences. A lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s kind of spread across the entire screen right now. This is a more accurate representation of how long these paragraphs are because this is closer to the width for content on my website. But you’ll notice that I wrote in fairly small chunks and I just… we’ll talk about this later… but I want to call your attention to it now so that you can think back to it later.

But I just went through and this is a very rough draft. Another thing that I found over the years is if you edit extensively while you’re writing, you hurt your efficiency dramatically. So the first time, just write what comes to mind and write, write, write, write, write. Don’t think about it too much, don’t judge yourself too much, and then go back and edit it later.

So you can see that I typed this all up. And if you’re not typing directly into WordPress, I would recommend typing up in a plain text document. Because if you try and copy paste from Microsoft Word, some kind of funky things happen with the code (as I mentioned previously) and I just don’t recommend that. So this is a plain text document. It looks pretty ugly. But what I do is I’ll take this entire thing… because I’ve kind of got my headlines written throughout the content… I’ve got a headline there, I’ve got a headline there, I’ve got a headline there… and we’ll see these in the last video in this section in WordPress and how I work with this. But what I do is I type it all up in a text document and then I’ll paste it into WordPress and I’ll go through and I’ll edit it and format it and add images all at once. And that really helps boost your productivity and your efficiency and helps you get out more work in the same amount of time between outlining and between just writing.

I’ve seen people talk about using… they’re called like Hemingway something or another… they’re a type of word processor that you can use specifically for writing and some of them even disable your delete key. They go that extreme because it’s known in the writing community that if you just write and you worry about editing later, you’re going to write so much more, you’re going to be so much productive.

And between outlining the content and going through and making a password, you just write and then coming back and editing, adding images, and formatting later; your productivity will be twice that of another person that’s just getting started on this journey and hasn’t followed this training and isn’t going through these processes and these best practices because they’re just going to do it all at once. They’re going to think about something, they’re going to do research, write a little, do research, write a little, then they’re going to figure out “What is my next section about?” and then they’re going to delete and edit as they go through it. And I’ve seen this as I’ve trained my own writers.

This is the best strategy for efficiency and it’s the best way to get the maximum amount of high-quality work out of whatever hours you’re putting in. So if you’re putting in 10 hours a week or if you’re putting in 20 hours per week, if you follow these strategies when writing your content, you’re going to be twice as productive, you’re going to get twice as much out as you would have if you were just starting off without any direction on how to go about this.

So that’s been my experience in my own business when I’m writing and also my experience with the writers that I train.

So if you went through this article, you may see a bunch of typos, et cetera. Again, I’m editing this later. But the important thing was to get the content out there to just write it and I can perfect it later.

So you would see that this outline ties perfectly to the article that I created because, again, what I did was I deleted this right here, I wrote the headline, and then I wrote a paragraph or two about this, wrote a paragraph or two about this, wrote a paragraph or two about this… okay, that section’s done. On to the next one. Wrote my headline, paragraph or two, paragraph or two, paragraph or two… sometimes three paragraphs… and then before you know it, you’ve spent two hours and you’ve got this super high-quality piece of content – which in this particular case is just over 2,000 words – and that will help you tremendously in your business and I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me as I’ve come up with these strategies over the years.

So that is a kind of a quick overview about how to create high-quality content. Again, we’ve got more to go through here. So this is just about creating an outline. In the next video, we’re going to talk a little bit about which we’ve touched on here, about how to format content for the web, and then we’ll go through a few more lessons, and we’ll talk about where to get high-quality images, how to add them – all that stuff. And by the time you’re done with this section in the next few videos, you will have no questions about how you create a high-quality content that you can build a very, very profitable internet business off of.

So if you have questions, as always, feel free to ask them in the members-only Facebook group. And I will see you over there and I’ll see you in the next video.