How to Outline a Podcast, Book or Course in an Afternoon
Have you been blogging for a while? Maybe a year, maybe 5 years, maybe more?
Then you’ve got a whole lotta content hanging out waiting to help you grow your business. (Depending on the kinds of records you keep, and whether or not you have transcripts or extensive shownotes, the same can be said of podcasting, video making or livestreaming!)
The work that you’ve put into your blog over the years can save you TONS of time and money now, when you want to expand what you’re doing with your content.
Unless your blog is an incoherent mishmash on 35 totally different topics that don’t relate to each other or what your company sells, then you probably have a good, strong list of themes and subject areas you’ve addressed multiple times and in multiple ways over the years.
If you’re a company with a mind focused on growth, adding revenue streams and improving the relationship you have with your audience, you also probably have a list of ideas and projects kicking around that you just never seem to have time for. Two very popular (and authority-building!) options are the book you want to write and the course you want to create and offer to your clients or community.
You’ve probably already made them – or at least done the BULK of the work.
You just need to tease them out.
(Pro-Tip if you’re at the beginning of your content generating career, then you might not HAVE blog archive to mine for books and courses – in that case, spend day one brainstorming every idea you can think of, and use THAT list to outline your book or your course. You’ll have more work on the writing end – but thinking of the ideas is often the worst part!)
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Step 1: Categorize Your Archive
Pull out your list of titles – whether from your content calendar document, an exported list from your blog, or by hiring someone (VA or nibling) to do the dirty work of copy-pasting everything into a usable format – preferably a spreadsheet. If you’re exporting from WordPress and can get the categories as well – so much the better!
Now, go through every single title and categorize it if it doesn’t already have one. What you’re aiming for is 4-6 (but it might be more, if you have a really big archive!) high-level topic areas that you’ve addressed repeatedly, and have a lot of insight to offer on.
You can color code them, or create a new column with the category name.
For example, if you have a health services blog in support of your clinic consultancy that you’ve been running for years, you might have high-level categories talking about insurance, communicating with patients, new research, managing staff, and preventative care.
When you have all of your posts categorized, count how many different posts you have for each of them, and separate each group into its own page.
Now you’ve got big piles of themed content ripe for repurposing. This is usually a good time to step away from the computer, take a break, and let the high-level themes and the seedlings of ideas that planted themselves in your brain take root and grow a little.
Step 2: Choose the Best Categories
When you’re ready to start again, before digging back into your lists of content, it’s time to think about what you’re going for as an end result. Do you want a book that will help you generate new leads? Do you want a course to sell to the members of your audience who can’t afford your 1 to 1 service? It’s okay, and in fact, it’s great, to want multiples of each – but you’re going to pick one to start with.
Now that you have your repurposing project in mind – which of your themes is the most appropriate for it? If you want to write an authority building and lead generating book to attract new clients, then you’ll want the category or theme that does the most to demonstrate your expertise and address the issues you know your clients have. If you want to capture that secondary market of people who could take a course rather than work with you individually, you want the one that is going to teach the most, and addresses the more remedial information that they’ll be able to use and apply on their own.
Using our health services blog example, a book might come from the theme of communicating effectively with patients so that potential clients can get a good understanding of your theories.
If you’re looking to create a course, it could be on the theme of preventative care – something a lot of the clinics you work with are interested in but isn’t addressed by your core services.
There is no right or wrong answer here – it’s really about picking the category that fits most naturally with the goal, and that will be the most appealing to your audience FOR that piece of content.
Step 3: Categorize Your Categories
Once you’ve done this – you’re going to simply repeat the process of sorting and categorizing for your smaller, already broken out list of posts. So now that all of your patient communications posts are in one place, you categorize them FURTHER into onboarding new clients, delivering difficult news, dealing with misinformation, explaining technical terms clearly, soliciting feedback etc.
These new, smaller categories are going to make up the sections in your book or course.
Step 4: Put Your Categories in Order
Create a new list of each smaller category – and any sub-categories you’ve identified, and start moving them around until they’re in an order that will make sense for the end user – keep in mind what happens in linear order, or what knowledge is based on understanding an EARLIER bit of information. You’ll want to play with this a little bit, and you’re certainly not married to what you write now – you just want to get things in roughly the place they’ll eventually belong.
When you have your ordered list – or as we like to call it – your table of contents, take another break, then revisit to see if there are any major gaps in it. A gap would be anything that will prevent your reader or student from understanding something, or an important piece of information that just hasn’t been addressed. That will be your list of new topics to blog about or to otherwise create for your product.
Then you copy-paste the content from each heading and subheading into a manuscript, and edit! The editing can be a big job – especially when you’re creating a course rather than a book – but it’s way easier to start with a huge draft than blank page!
There you have it! One afternoon’s worth of work to a solid draft of your next major content undertaking.