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How to Improve Content Quality with Content Patterns and Outlines

by Christina Hooper.
Last Updated on July 24, 2020

When writing content for your clients, any spelling, grammar and readability issues that you miss will end up published on their website and can make you and the client look bad.

You try to do everything right. You read it through it multiple times and use tools like Grammarly. However, you're busy trying to run your agency and keep all your clients happy while still trying to get everything done on time. 

You've got a lot on your plate, and you need to get it right, do it fast, and keep your clients looking good.

We are Content Ninjas, and we know a thing or two about cranking out high-quality content. We're going to share some of our best tips and tricks to produce high-quality content, fast and at scale, for your clients.

What is an Outline?

In our case, an outline is what we provide to the writers to help guide them. It’s basically the skeleton of the article that we want them to produce. This helps avoid any confusion and clearly communicates our expectations for that piece.

For blog articles, we follow this kind of outline:

Introduction 

  • Hook: One or two sentences that draw the reader into the article. The hook lets them know that if they are ___ type of person, with ___ type of problem, then this article is something they should read.
  • Story: The story draws them in further. It lets the reader know that we understand their situation and can relate.
  • Pitch: This is the last part of the introduction before the content, and if we want them to keep reading, we need to tell them what they’re going to get out of it if they do.

Body

For the body of the article, we always follow a list-style format. It’s not always numbered 1, 2, 3…, but we do always break the content into clear sections, so it’s easy to follow or skim.

You can see this in this very article. The overall structure of the body is clearly visible on the Table of Contents on this page.

For the body, we follow one of three styles depending on what will work best for that piece of content.

Style 1:

  • H2 Introduction to the List
  • H3 Section Title
    • Content Pattern
  • H3 Section Title
    • Content Pattern

Style 2: 

  • H2 Section Title
    • Content Pattern
  • H2 Section Title
    • Content Pattern

Style 3:

  • H2 Section Title
    • H3 Subsection Title
      • Content Pattern
    • H3 Subsection Title
      • Content Pattern
  • H2 Section Title
    • H3 Subsection Title
      • Content Pattern
    • H3 Subsection Title
      • Content Pattern

Quick Take-Away

For some articles, we include a quick take-away section. This is especially useful for in-depth pieces of content where you drilled down and provided a lot of detailed information.

It is beneficial to summarize the key points for the reader into a short section near the end of the article.

You can also provide a link at the top of the article that will jump them down to this section if they don’t want to dive into the details and just want the highlights.

The Call-to-Action/Conclusion

Finally, the last section of the article needs to speak to the logical next step you want them to take. This could include:

  • Downloading a Content Upgrade (ebook, whitepaper, checklist, etc.)
  • Signing Up for Your Newsletter
  • Enrolling in a Course
  • Reading Another Article
  • Going to Your Contact Page
  • Viewing a Service Page

Of course, some calls-to-action will perform better than others, but they always work best when they are aligned with the content in the article and make sense as the next thing the reader should do.

That’s why we always include this section in the content. It gives us a chance to convince the reader of the benefits of taking the next step instead of just slapping a call-to-action button at the bottom.

What Are Content Patterns?

Content Patterns are a repeatable structure that makes your “content clearer, easier to follow, and more engaging” and allows you to write your content faster.

I wish I could say that I invented Content Patterns, but alas, I can’t. They are an excellent tool that I picked up from Shane Melaugh at Thrive Themes. Instead of trying to explain it to you myself, I’ll let him show you.

Shane covered a few patterns in his article, including:

  • What > Why > How
  • Person > Problem > Solution
  • Pros > Cons > Action
  • Facts > Opinion

I’ve expanded on that to include multiple other variations that we use frequently.

  • What > How (this is the pattern I used for this article)
  • Problem > Solution
  • Info Block (handy for “round-up” style articles)
  • What > Problem > Solution
  • Facts > Action

You can easily invent your own patterns. Just make sure that you use them repeatedly in each section of your article's body, and you’ll find that it’s much easier and faster to turn out quality content.

We Can Help

Knowing how to format an article can prevent spelling and grammar issues and make the overall article a more pleasant read.

There’s a lot of different ways to write content, and finding the best way to do it smoothly can be a challenge, which is where we can help. Our team knows how to write high-quality content, fast and at scale, for your clients.


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