How to write a blog series: Creating an outline

Okay, so by now you’ve discovered that you really do want to write a blog series. You’ve got a great idea that you want to explore and expand on, providing some extra value to your readers – and yourself! But now the question is, “How do I definitively take that first step to get started?” Here’s how to set yourself up for success with your new series.

Getting started doesn’t begin with the first post of the series

You actually need to make it a point to get started a long time before you even begin writing your first post. If your series is something you’re wanting to spit out quick and easy, you’re not going to have a very successful one. A good blog series is like a slow-grilled steak, not a microwaved Hot Pocket. It takes time and preparation to get it done right. Plan to spend anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (or longer) planning it out. Do all of this work before you even announce the series. It’ll save face if something goes awry.

Create an outline

Remember high school English Lit where they taught you write an outline of your paper before actually starting it? That stuff works. Getting started with an outline is crucial to writing a good series, for a couple reasons:

  • It will help you decide if you really can write a series about this topic or if you need to wait on it. When you start to plan your series out with an outline, you might find that your knowledge in one particular area is lacking and you need to beef up on your research there. It’s much better to find this out now, rather than in the middle of the series!
  • It will help you plan ahead and be strategic about your posting. One thing I found as I started writing out the outline for this series is that as I began to list the post ideas in my head, more of them came to me! This allowed me to plan my series longer and provide even more value to you, the reader.
  • It will help you decide if  this is something you really want to write about. Sometimes you have make yourself write something in order to keep the content fresh and relevant, but most authors agree that writing what you want to write about is where the passion and heart really shines through. If you begin creating an outline only to find your heart isn’t really in this thing, it’s best to find out and call it off beforehand, rather than get three or four posts in and realize you never wanted to write this series in the first place.

Refer to the outline often

Using a proper outline to structure your blog series is used best when you repeatedly refer to it to set boundaries for your series. Having a clear understanding of each of your posts and the sub-topics keeps you from going off on some irrelevant tangent, which will throw off readers, and possible cause them to not come back!

You’ll also want to make sure you leave it open-ended so you can warp it and change it as needed. I like to think of it as a drawing in the sand (which can shift with the winds), not set in stone (which cannot). As you begin outlining your series and getting those creative juices flowing, more ideas and expansions will start to come, and you might end up with a whole new series! In fact, the idea for this very series came about while creating the outline for my last one. Sometimes creativity will strike while in the middle of writing one post, and you’ll realize that you need to add or expand on another one later. I’ve done that as well.

What should you use to make the outline?

The trick here is to use whatever you’re most comfortable with. If you just want to open up Microsoft Word and start hammering out a bulleted list, go for it. If you’d like collaborated with someone else on a series, I’d probably recommend you both use Google Drive and share the document among yourselves. My own personal favorite though, is the very awesome Workflowy (that’s an affiliate link), which has really become my go-to for anytime I need a list (which is pretty often, actually). I also use Evernote for gathering content to provide the foundation and structure for each post. But again, you use whatever will get the job done for you. Don’t allow some new tool to distract you from completing the job.

Once you have the outline in place, it’s time to start cranking out those posts! There’s still plenty more to learn though, such as “how long should the series be?” We’ll cover that in the next installment.


  1. R Gregory Rowley on August 16, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Thank you for the detailed post on Blogs. To be honest, I’ve not yet began, but I’m looking into a new career away from my Laboratory engineering work from Medical Devices. While that career was very rewarding, it was isolated to specific geographical locations.
    Perhaps I may learn Blogging as I travel Japan, Europe, Russia, and Australia. My main point is writing something interesting for people to read on a weekly basis.

    Will I need a daily post in blogs? If so, then I fully support using an Outline. Using an Outline makes sense for economy of time. I observe and I write, so is that it?

    • Micah Choquette on August 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

      @rgregoryrowley:disqus You wouldn’t need a post every day (unless you really want to share something everyday), but the best thing you can do is keep it consistent. To build traffic on your own blog, consistency is more important than writing the perfect post. Writing something weekly is a great way to get started – just stay disciplined! I use an outline primarily for organizational purposes. It helps to go into the game with a plan. An outline is a great tool for creating and remembering that plan, even if I can’t get started on it until later.