A good outline will help you write your articles faster, stay focused and on-topic, keep SEO in mind, and give you some clues when asking AI to write for you -- it's an important start to your article.
The tool we'll use to help craft great outlines is Frase. It is an AI tool that will take your topic and bring back research you can then study to learn more about before you begin writing. It's incredible because it saves a ton of time and likely brings you more research than you probably would have done without it so you'll know more and craft a better article.
Come up with a search term for your topic
At this point you should already know what you want to write about. Take a moment to think about how someone out there on the internet somewhere might search for that topic. You'll use this search term in Frase to help you create the outline and also be prepared for SEO optimization in a later step.
Down the road we'll build ways to capture the exact words your reader's type into Google, but for now choose what you believe they would type in.
Start a new document in Frase
When you start a new document in Frase you'll use that search term you came up with above. Then Frase will start its magic by retrieving the top results in Google and performing some AI voodoo to summarize it for you.
Pro tip: In Frase, you can use search operators as you might in Google. Things such as adding -keyword for words you don't want to be included in your search term. But also OR and AND operators.
While it is very good at obtaining the research, sometimes it pulls in sources that aren't very relevant to the article you're planning to write.
Now we'll need to review the sources Frase brought us because sometimes it makes mistakes (just like a human would). There could be sources very close to what you could use but aren't the right fit. You can remove them from the list by unchecking the box next to it while editing the sources.
Go through the entire list of sources that Frase brought you and uncheck those that don't fit your article topic. After that, it's time to study.
Study and expand your knowledge
This is the part I find most people want to speed through, or skip. But it is so important for the quality of your article and SEO later on in the workflow.
In Frase, open the "top results" tab to see the research Frase has ready for you. It consists of websites already ranking at the top of Google and shows you a summary of the content relevant to your topic.
Take the time to go through the sources and read what they have already created on the topic. This will both expand your thoughts on the subject and also give you some competitive analysis.
After studying the material, take a step back for a moment. Think about the topic and what you want to talk about in your article. Then use your knowledge combined with the data you see in Frase to create an outline.
Create the outline of your article
The goal is to use the research and topics Frase brings you, combined with your knowledge of the subject, to come up with an outline that will guide your writing and pull the reader through your article.
I find creating 5-7 actionable headings work best for creating a 1,200-1,500 word article.
Actionable headings are micro-sentences that give your reader the context and set up what they will take from each section. For example, if your article was teaching how to do something step-by-step, make each heading in the outline the start of a step.
I also want to stress this outline is not generated by AI. This is a human-generated outline that will be used as the base for our article. It's important you do this and get the right structure to make sure your article flows the way you want it to flow for your reader.
The AI tools are simply helping you get there faster, not writing the whole thing independently.
Don't forget to include a good summary with key takeaways at the end (from the perfect article checklist). If your article has something the reader can do from your teachings, include this as a concise wrap-up of things that can take with them when they finish your article -- a sort of going away gift. 🙂
Once you're accustomed to using Frase in this manner, it should take between 10-15 minutes to produce a quality, actionable outline. Faster if you choose to reuse some of the content found by Frase (though I recommend building the outline from scratch using your own words).
That's it. Once your outline is done this step is complete and it's now time to get work on actually writing the content between each part of your outline.