Organizing Your Thoughts

Hello, again. This week in The Writer’s Life we’re talking about web writing. Certain web projects give you an easy foot in the door with your potential clients. That’s our focus this week — perfecting one of the top break-in projects. The online article.

Yesterday, I talked to you about how to listen to your target audience online so you can find great topics to write about.

Once you figure out what your audience wants to talk about, the next step is to organize your ideas on that subject.

It’s tempting to just start writing. But, spending 15 to 20 minutes organizing your ideas will give you three advantages:

  • You’ll prime you creative side — when you do start writing, the words will come easier.
  • You’ll spot weaknesses early — whether your organization is a little off or you have more research to do. These kinds of weaknesses are easier to see when you’re outlining than when you’re reviewing a full draft.
  • You’ll start coming up with ideas and analogies from your own experience. As you order your key points, you’ll begin thinking about your own stories that illustrate them. These are what will make your writing truly unique.

Okay, those are three good reasons why you should spend time organizing your thoughts and outlining your work.

What about the “how”?

Outlining an online article is easy. Just follow these four quick and easy steps:

How to Get Your Article Organized

  1. Put your goal at the top of your document.

    Your goal may be to inform a reader about how to write SEO copy. Or, it may be to inform a reader about life insurance options. Whatever it is, put it at the top of your page. It will help you keep your thoughts focused as you outline.

  2. Write a headline and hook.

    The headline is the first signal to your reader that you’re writing about something he wants to read. For now, make it direct. Answer the question, “What will your reader get from the article?”

    Your hook or lead should provide something that grabs the reader and keeps him moving into the article. Tell a story about your own experience … provide an analogy … tie in a breaking news story … or lead with a surprising fact. These are all compelling ways to start your article. For your outline, just make a few notes about how you want to begin.

  3. Use subheads to tell a mini-story.

    Write a subhead for each key point you want to make.

    Your subheads will give you a sense of structure, which will make writing easier.

    But they also provide another advantage. Many online readers are scanners. They’ll scroll down your page taking in the subheads to see if they want to read more in-depth. Use your subheads to tell a mini-version of the story in your article, and you’ll engage those readers.

  4. Ask “What’s next?”

    Whether your goal is to generate leads, bring in new traffic, make sales, or increase engagement, you always want to ask yourself, “What’s next?”

    At the end of your article, do you want your reader to click a link to learn more about a product, “like” a Facebook page, share the article, make a comment, fill out a survey, or read another article?

    By getting clear on the answer to this one powerful question before you even start writing, you’ll be able to better help your client reach their goals.

Now, it’s your turn. Look at the topic you came up with yesterday. Today, spend at least 15 minutes outlining your article. If you have any questions or want to share an idea, let me know in the comments.

Then make sure you join me tomorrow for one of the most powerful writing secrets you can learn … no matter what type of writer you decide to be.

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Published: October 7, 2014

3 Responses to “Organizing Your Thoughts”

  1. Excellent advice for any type of writing.

    rjarrell

  2. I made a 'cheat sheet' of the steps and keep it within reach for everything I write now!

    Thanks for laying it out for me.

    jet

  3. Dear Steve:

    I have been following your outline and wonderful ideas and strategies. Now comes the homework!! Listening to you stimulates my passion as to how much I love to write!
    I have mentioned that my profession and niche is Astrology and my business is Public Relations & Communications. My frustration and question is: Speaking to perspective clients who are ultra conservative and narrow minded in using their 'third eye and taking their journey of a life-time?' Please let me know if you do have suggestions. Thank you

    Guest (Rhoda Gelman)


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