Should You Outline Your Marketing Materials, or Fly by the Seat of Your Pants?
Tuesday January 31, 2017
For every writer, whether in the field of fiction or nonfiction, there's an important question that needs to be asked: "Should I outline my material before I write it, or fly by the seat of my pants?"
If you write blog posts, web pages, articles, video scripts, sales pages, training programs, courses, or ebooks for your business, this question will probably come up for you.
Both methods have their merits.
Flying by the seat of your pants - or "pantsing", to use a more concise and funnier-sounding term - allows for a greater degree of spontaneity. Some people find that it enables them to listen to their own inspiration and creativity more easily.
On the other hand, outlining helps you to organize your information more coherently and avoid leaving important details out. It also helps to keep writer's block at bay during the writing stage, because you know what you're going to write about before you need to write it.
For some people, it's easier to be spontaneous when you have an outline, because you don't need to bog down your creative side by trying to figure out WHAT to write about - you can just go ahead and write.
Personally, I prefer to use a hybrid of the two methods. Here's how it works:
First, I write out a list of all the information I want to include.
For example, if I'm writing a sales page, this list could include:
- Who the program is for
- The problems and pain points it addresses
- What benefits people get from using it
- A brief version of my story
- The teaching points in each module or chapter
- A breakdown of the bonuses and components of the course, how they help the client, and what each component is worth
- A call to action, including the price, a comparison of the price to the value of the course's combined components, and a purchase button.
- An FAQ section, covering concerns such as "I don't have the time", "I can't afford it", and "Can't I do this on my own?"
- An invitation for them to email me and ask any questions I didn't address.
- A final call to action, with a purchase button.
I arrange that list in the order in which the items need to appear.
By doing this, I help to ensure that no important information gets left out, and I prevent writer's block by knowing what I need to write about.
Next, I flesh out each section.
This is the part where you can be spontaneous and just let it flow.
You know what you need to write about - now go ahead and write. And you know the order in which the information needs to be presented, so there's less danger of being disorganized and confusing or losing your readers.
If your personal style leans more toward spontaneity, and you're confident in your ability to make sure that you convey everything that needs to be conveyed, you can start the "free writing" phase as soon as you've finished your list.
But if you prefer a bit more organization and order, another step that can make things easier is to list the components that go into each item on the list.
For example, instead of just writing "a breakdown of the bonuses" in your outline, you could list all the bonuses, their benefits, and their monetary value before you start to write.
In the end, it largely depends on your personal style.
If a method works well for you, it doesn't matter who recommended something to the contrary - do what helps you to do your best work.
But if you've repeatedly encountered problems with writer's block or missing information, I encourage you to try this method out, and see if you feel like it's a good fit for you.
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