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Tips for Generating Ideas and Writing a Blog Outline

by | Mar 12, 2024 | Content, SEO

Tips for Generating Ideas and Writing a Blog Outline

Creating SEO content starts and ends with a great idea. 

Without your idea, your blog is just words. Jumbles of meaningless words that have no purpose. 

Have you ever met anyone going online without a purpose?

Of course not! People search primarily to find answers, learn how to do things, and make transactions. 

Granted, sometimes we wander aimlessly through blogs or articles. Random web pages we hope to read about again eventually, but in general, we want to achieve something

Here’s what this article covers:

  • How to Find Ideas and Write a Blog Outline
  • Finding the Right Idea
  • Where to Find Inspiration
  • Where Keyword Research Fits
  • What Helpful Content Means
  • Outlining your page, article, or blog
  • Should you read to write better
  • Writing your full article

How to Find Ideas and Write a Blog Outline

The Princess Diaries, the groundbreaking movie with Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway (where our girl Anne was star-born), is also a book series about a young girl, Mia Thermopolis, who learns she is the princess of an entire kingdom, Genovia.

In true teenage fashion, Mia is completely thrown off by her sudden catapult into royal life. And unlike the movie, you experience her story through the pages of her diary. 

Yup – her diary. Hence, the princess “diaries.” 

Throughout the book series (which I devoured in the seventh grade), Mia writes about what’s happening to her—not just the fantastical changes her life is going through but also the more mundane experiences of her everyday life. 

The author, Meg Cabot, is the queen of turning mundane, everyday things into rich storytelling that captures you with every detail. So much so that the year I read those books was the year I, too, consistently wrote in my diary for the first time. 

You may think you have absolutely nothing interesting to write about when it comes to developing content for your blogs, emails, social media, or anywhere else. But if Meg Cabot taught me anything, it’s that your ideas don’t need to be life-changing (like becoming a princess) to be enriching, can’t-put-down, and need-the-sequel-on-preorder interesting. 

Well, then, how do you come up with ideas for your website content and blog articles? Let’s chat through some of the best ways to find ideas and create outlines that make it easier to get your content ready to publish. 

Find the Right Idea

First, you have to nail the idea

Ideas can be thought of as “the thing you are trying to say.” In this series, for example, I’m trying to tell you how to start writing practically. 

I know my customers and clients like to do SEO themselves. I’ve also worked with dozens of writers on website content and generated hundreds of ideas for blogs, articles, and pages. Therefore, I have just the right amount of knowledge to help them achieve their goals. 

You—my ideal client and reader—want to write blogs yourself. That’s where I come in with this idea. I want to help you achieve your goal. 

Of course, there are other ideas. Perhaps you want to persuade someone to do something. What exactly do you want them to do? What are you trying to say? 

That’s the idea. 

Here are some idea examples:

  • Three Tips to Style Your Favorite Jean Jacket This Fall
  • Guide to Improving Your Nighttime Routine in Your 30s
  • 12 Kid-Friendly Places to Visit in Ann Arbor, Michigan

You want to figure out who your ideal clients and customers are, what they’re hoping to achieve, and how you can bridge the gap between what they need and what you do. 

Where to Find Inspiration

Inspiration doesn’t have to be found in grand adventures or epic stories. 

Inspiration can be found in everyday tasks, like stirring your cup of coffee and thinking about how the milk and coffee swirl together until they become one. Maybe it reminds you of love, fate, romance, pairs, and other things that go together.

Inspiration can be found on a park bench, where the seat is still warm. Maybe it reminds you of the time your father bought a car with seat warmers and was so thrilled he drove straight to you to experience it. 

Inspiration can be in memory, in the moment, or by observing other people, art, or literature. 

In business, inspiration should be found in identifying your ideal customer’s wants, needs, values, and aspirations. 

Here’s where you can gather inspiration for your blogs and articles.

  • Problems your customers know are problems.
  • Problems your customers don’t know are problems.
  • Solutions your customers know are solutions.
  • Solutions your customers don’t know are solutions.
  • Challenges they face.
  • Situations they find themselves in. 
  • Actions they might take before they realize their solution (like DIYing their SEO or content)
  • Stories they might find helpful or inspiring. 
  • Lessons from your experience.
  • Tips and tricks of the trade.
  • Trends and news articles they want insights from.

Don’t think too hard about what you want to write about. It can be as simple as teaching your readers something they might need to know before, during, or after they work with you. 

The more you write, the easier it will be to find inspiration and start writing.

Where Keyword Research Fits

Keyword research is a great way to understand how people are searching for a particular topic. For example, what words are they using and how can you naturally weave them into your article? 

However, you shouldn’t focus solely on keywords to write great content. Keywords are just words, they don’t have any meaning until you make something of them. So, use keywords to understand people, then create the helpful content they’re looking for when they search online. 

What Does Creating Helpful Content Mean?

“Creating helpful content,” is a subjective term, one that many digital marketers make cases for and discuss at length regularly. 

For online content, helpful content means you are providing value to your readers. When they search for something online, what goals are they hoping to achieve? What are they trying to learn by clicking on your website or article? 

The better you help them with their goals, the more helpful your content is considered, and theoretically, the better your content will do in search results. 

As you begin to write your content, consider if you’re writing to “rank on Google,” or if you’re writing to provide genuine help to people

Often, you’ll find the two aligned when you focus primarily on people.

Outline your page, article, or blog

Homebuilders use blueprints, website designers use wireframes, and writers use outlines. 

Outlines help ensure you stay on track from beginning to end, covering a topic fully, creating a natural buildup of information, and organizing your topics so that people actually get value where they need it. 

A great outline is made better through research and trial and error. First, a reader must know this, then they should know this other thing, and lastly, they should know this

Here’s a template you can use for article topics and outlines:

Main Idea or Blog Title

Topic One: The first thing your reader should know. 

  • Subtopic One: Something about topic one. 
  • Subtopic Two: Something else about topic one.

Topic Two: The second thing your reader should know. 

  • Subtopic Three: Something about topic two. 
  • Subtopic Four: Something else about topic two.

Conclusion: The final takeaway your reader should know.

You can add or remove as many topics, subtopics, sections, or details as you like. 

However, the primary requirement is only to add what your reader needs to know about that particular topic or idea. Too many ideas, sections, and headers can lead to confusion or high bounce rates. 

Should You Read to Write Better?

You might have heard this before, but reading can actually help you write better. If you find yourself getting into a rut with writing, you might just need to reboot your brain with a good book. 

You can also read blogs or articles in the style you want to emulate. For example, blogs that rank on Google tend to be a bit drier, and less personalized with storytelling copy (for now). 

(However, that will change soon as Google rolls out updates in favor of firsthand experience and EEAT signals.) 

You can also do a bit of research on what you’re writing about to see how others approach the subject. Read editorial articles to develop an editorial voice, and read personal blogs to develop your own personalized voice. 

Finally, see where others are covering a subject to which you could add your own ideas or spin. Google favors unique perspectives that actually help people learn, find, or do something. But it doesn’t reward websites that reiterate the same things as everyone else.

After your brain reboots, go back to your article and start writing your thoughts. As you get the words flowing, you’ll get into a rhythm and finally be able to get your article or blog together. 

Remember, an outline helps keep you on track so that as you get to the writing portion, you stay on track and don’t get lost in the ideas. Keep this in mind before you skip the outline. 

Writing Your Full Article

Coming up with the idea, conducting basic keyword research, and creating an outline that fulfills the needs of your reader will get you about 30% of the way done. Now, it’s time to write your blog. 

Check out the next article for more about the stages of writing for content marketing and blogging for SEO. 

Read The 8 Stages of Writing and Publishing Blog Content.

Great Ideas and SEO Outlines with Socialhart

If you want to DIY your website SEO strategy, come up with great content ideas, and develop SEO strategies that build your website traffic naturally, check out some of the SEO services I offer. 

With VIP weeks, 90-Minute Power Hours, and longer-term SEO consulting, there’s a wide range of options to help you write content yourself or consult with Socialhart. 

Get content developed and published on your website quickly with Spree, or create an extended, strategic SEO plan with Brilliance and Etched. 

Go back to Writing Blogs: Schedule, Tools, Habits, and Goals.

Read The 8 Stages of Writing and Publishing Blog Content.

Written by Crystal Ortiz

Crystal Ortiz is the Founder of Socialhart. She's a Marketing and SEO expert with 8 years of experience in digital marketing. She's worked with local businesses, founders, marketing executives, and global brands across many industries, both in-house and agency-side. She's taught digital marketing programs at several universities, including NC State and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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