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Nonprofit Blogs, Start With an Outline to Improve Understanding

by Dan Linn on Oct 31, 2018 2:51:58 PM

One of the most effective ways to tell the story of your nonprofit, its constituents, and staff members isnonpnrofit_blogs through a blog.

Digital storytelling about your nonprofit allows you to leverage human stories to connect people to your cause and inspire them to support your organization and connect to a wider audience online.

Be prepared to spend more than a couple of hours writing your post. From the initial concept until the time you hit publish you might spend several days or maybe even a week writing your post.

Before diving headfirst into writing your composition, create an outline.

More than bullet points, I’m talking about a fully expanded outline with enough details that make it impossible for your article to go off topic.

Here is a 7-step method for outlining articles that I use.

You may prefer to change the order of some of the steps.

Whatever combination you choose to use I’ve found an outline can save you time and prevent frustration.

  1. Start with a working title; you want to have a clear understanding of what you’re writing about before you start outlining. Try to choose a topic that interests you. Most writers agree that nothing will kill a blog post more effectively than a lack of enthusiasm from the writer. If you need help choosing a title try this list of 8 blog topic generators from our friends at WordStream.
  2. Brainstorm takeaways; write down all the things you want your readers to get from the article. Mind mapping is a highly effective way of getting information out of your brain onto paper. It’s a creative and logical means of note making that literally “maps out” your ideas. At this stage it doesn’t matter if your ideas are all over the place. The next step will address that.
  3. Organize your takeaways into larger sections; from your mind mapping exercise you should come up with a few big themes. Most writers recommend adhering to 3-4 larger sections, but I’ve found it depends on what type of post your writing. For example, if your topic is long and comprehensive, you might need more sections and in a short post fewer sections would be ideal.
  4. Edit your outline; in this step you’ll be revising, removing and reorganizing the sections you created. Now you’re refining your outline to include only the most relevant information, so you can tell a logical story.
  5. Include links to your examples; after you’ve given substance to you your outline and trimmed it, you should look for examples and data to support your claims. I always add links to key takeaway phrases to make it easy for my audience to get more information if they want to.
  6. Use Images; writing for the web is different than writing for print. Everyone likes a good laugh and a carefully selected image can lighten the tone of your article and inject some humor into a piece. Images like diagrams, charts or infographics can help your readers understand complex topics and grasp points your trying to make.
  7. Final edit; editing is about looking at your piece as a whole and being willing to sacrifice words for the sake of consistency. Read your post out loud to check the flow. If you find yourself struggling with the flow of a sentence, rework it until it rolls off your tongue. If possible have someone else read your article. This may seem like an admission of weakness but it’s actually a commitment to making your work as strong as it can possibly be.

There’s no such thing as a perfect post. Make each article as good as you can, learn from experience and move on.

Time is not your friend. Don’t be afraid to make cuts or adapt on the fly.

Blogging is one of those jobs that gets easier with time and practice.

Start with an outline and in no time, you’ll be blogging like a pro.

How does your organization maximize its blog to engage new and current audiences?

If you are thinking about developing a marketing strategy to attract and retain donors, download our eGuide entitled “How to Attract and Retain Donors.”

 

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Topics: Writing Practices, nonprofit blogs