Writing Tips: Create an Outline

Writing Tips: Create an Outline

Can you imagine a house being created without a blueprint? The final product would be a sight to behold. The walls probably would be mismatched, the rooms would be randomly placed, and the final outcome would be a hodgepodge. Any project, whether it is a building, a work of art, or a writing project, needs to have a basic plan. A sort of skeleton onto which the flesh of the project will be placed.

That’s what your outline is for your writing project. When you have a good outline, you have a plan which will go a long way toward guaranteeing your successful outcome. In fact that is one of the keys to creating a great piece of writing. And yet many writers completely overlook this step, particularly when they’re writing short pieces like articles and reports. So where do you start?

Step #1: Pick Your Topic

Spend some time thinking about what you want to say. What is the main point you want to get across? As you do this exercise, remember that you need to focus on your audience you are reaching. You’re already working in a specific niche, so now you just need to pick a topic for your article, report, e-book or other content piece. Obviously, you want to choose a popular topic.

You can do this by:

  • Looking at paid products (on sites like Clickbank.com and Amazon.com) to see which topics are being sought by people. When you see a lot of interest in a certain area, you know that people are seeking answers in that area, and you know that you can help them.
  • Checking out niche forums and blogs to see which topics generate a lot of interest and discussion. (A concentrated Google search will locate some of these tools).

Step #2: Choose Your Primary Goal for This Piece

Once you’ve picked your topic, then you need to decide what your goal is for this piece. You can also decide the approximate length.

Examples:

  • Is it an article for your blog? If so, what is the goal of this article? For example,  is it to provide spiritual answers for your audience? Is it to encourage your following to pray for revival? Or is it to get people to join your email list?
  • Is it a free report, introducing yourself? If so, then the goal is to “warm up” prospects and get them to click your links. You want to show people who you are, and how you can help them.
  • Is it a paid e-book? If so, then the goal is to give your readers in-depth instructions and encourage them to take action.

Knowing your primary goal will help you keep your writing focused on the goal.

Step #3: Do Your Preliminary Research

If you’re not an expert in the niche, then you’ll need to do some initial research in order to determine what steps, tips, or topics you need to cover in your piece. (More about this Here).

Note: A simple keyword search (such as “how to pray successfully”) will uncover hundreds of similar content pieces, so you can look at these pieces to determine which topics you need to include in your article, report or e-book, too. Remember, don’t expect to be the only voice out there solving problems or bringing encouragement.

Tip: If you’re writing a book, go to Amazon.com and search for similar books. That’s because Amazon let’s you take a peek inside the book to see the table of contents. These tables of contents will give you plenty of ideas about what topics to include in your book.

Step #4: Create Your Outline

Once you have a good idea about what topics to include in your content piece, now it’s time to create your outline.

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.
  • Faster 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.

Next, you should assign an approximate word count to each section, which will help you stay focused on the most important parts of your content piece.

Finally, don’t forget to look at your outline to ensure that it helps you meet the goal of your content piece (such as preselling a product or teaching your readers a process). If your outline looks good, then it’s time to start your writing!

Are You Ready to Reach the World?

Are You Ready to Reach the World?

We have entered a new era, and it’s here whether we’re ready or not. A few years ago, I wrote my first book, and at the suggestion of some savvy people, started a blog to promote it.  Little did I know where this would take me.

As I roamed around the internet, looking for like-minded people, I found something very interesting.There are some really great Christian blogs, podcasts, etc. out there, but over all, we don’t have the representation we need – or that our Father wants. Sure, there are some Christian ministries, but we are greatly outnumbered. New Age, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and atheist thought way out-number us.

Our presence is sadly lacking.

I have continued to pursue my own presence online, and have learned a few things in the process.

First, I have learned (as you may have also) that the digital world has totally taken over our culture. Just as TV changed the lines of communication several decades ago, the internet and wireless devices now hold the keys to communication in our world. People in their 20’s and 30’s are not watching Christian TV; they are surfing the web – and usually on their phones or tablets.

Second, I have learned that mastering  the tools of the digital world is not as hard as you might think. There are so many software programs now which simplify the process. It’s often a matter of discovering which ones to try.

Third, in the process of learning, I have found some great instructors, who are eager to share what they know. Some people who have been online since the inception of the internet are more than generous in sharing how to get the job done. And the numbers of experts who are willing to share their information is growing by the day..

Fourth, I have learned that the internet is inexpensive compared to other means of communication. To my surprise, many applications are totally free.

I am convinced that God had the invention of the internet put into our hands at this moment in time for us Christians. I am convinced that the internet is here for us to reach the multitudes, worldwide. Let’s not miss this opportunity to saturate the web with God’s Word and His presence.

So you might be saying, “But where do I start?” I’m glad you asked… That’s what this project is focused on. Our new mission is to help you as a minister or lay person fulfill your purpose. We know that you have a message, and we want to help you get it out to the masses.

When you speak to your audiences in person, you can reach hundreds – or even thousands. When you go on TV or radio, you can increase your audience to millions. When you take your messages to the world wide web, you can reach hundreds of millions – and even billions. (Yes, I said, “billions!”) Digital technology can go into places which don’t have TV or radio.

It’s mind boggling what can be done when we put our focus on this new technology. God has provided this golden door of opportunity for us to reach the world, so let’s do this. In the coming days, some friends and I will be sharing some ideas with you. We hope you will join us in taking up this torch.

We have a world to reach.

We can do this!