Please note: Brief Builder is currently a beta feature.

What is an outline?

An outline is the skeleton of your article — composed of subheadings and/or topics. It's a great way to help your writer understand exactly what you're looking for.


Think about it this way. Your content brief is the best way to communicate what you want to your writer — and the outline is the most important part of your brief.


Typically, an outline can look something like the following:

  • Introduction

  • Section 1

  • Section 2

  • Section 3

  • Conclusion

Of course, you can have more than 3 sections need be.

Why write an outline?

Write a thorough outline to help you and your writer align on your vision.


It's worth investing a little more time upfront and adding extra details to increase the chance you’ll love your article, decrease the risk of your writer veering off-topic, and potentially decrease the number of revisions as well.

How long will this take me?

It takes only 15 minutes or less to write a great brief using our Brief Builder's Outline Assistant.

Save time researching competitor articles, opening a million tabs, and peeking into their subheadings. Instead, conveniently see everything all in one place in the Outline Assistant.

How can I create an outline using the Outline Assistant?

  1. Access the Brief Builder

  2. Start your brief

  3. Input your keyword

  4. Check out competitors’ outlines

  5. Add competitor subheadings to your outline

  6. Add popular search questions to your outline

  7. Refine your outline

  8. Best practices to create your outline

1. Access the Brief Builder

Open your Contentfly dashboard, expand the 💡 Plan menu and click on the Briefs option.

2. Start your brief

Click Start a brief.

Select Article.

You'll now see your Brief Builder on the left and your Outline Assistant on the right.

3. Input your keyword

Type in your primary Keyword and Location. Click the search button.

In the Competitors tab, view the outlines of the top 10+ competitor articles.

4. Check out competitors’ outlines

Click the View outline button to expand one competitor article.

Now, you can see all of their subheadings — without having to leave the page!

Pro Tip: Didn't find anything relevant? Try changing your search keyword or make it more specific until you find competitor articles (and subheadings) you like for inspiration.

5. Add competitor subheadings to your outline

Click Add to outline if you want to add that subheading to your outline.

Now, you can see that subheading has been moved to your Outline on the left side of the screen.

6. Add popular search questions to your outline

Click the Questions tab. This will show you popular search questions related to your keyword. This is a great way to supercharge your SEO content and ensure your content answers these questions and is relevant to your readers.

Try adding these questions as your sections and then focus on answering the question in each section.

Now, you can see that question has been moved to your Outline on the left side of the screen as a subheading.

7. Refine your outline

Edit your newly added subheadings, create new ones, and change the subheading tags (i.e. H2, H3). Once you're done, you have your outline!

What are subheading tags (H2, H3, etc)?

The lower the tag number, the higher the tag rank and the bigger the title font size. For example, an H2 subheading will be "higher ranking" and will have a bigger font size than an H3 subheading. Think of an H3 subheading being a subcategory of an H2 subheading.

We recommend starting off with just H2s first — most of our users stick with H2s. This said, if you want your article to be super structured, feel free to add in H3s as well.

How many sections do I need?

There’s no magic formula, but typically, a lot of people recommend 3-5 sections. This said, you can have more sections if your article has more than 2,000 words or even fewer sections if your article has fewer than 800 words.

8. Best practices to create your outline

  1. Find your topic

  2. Begin with the end in mind

  3. Create your sections

  4. Add more to your sections


1. Find your topic

The most important thing is to make sure you know what you want to write. Remember, you can use our Article idea Generator if you need help coming up with ideas. Once you’ve established your topic and it’s crystal clear, creating your outline will be a breeze!

Reflect on your reader’s problems

One way to determine your topic is to think about one problem your reader may have at a particular stage in the buyer’s journey — the awareness stage, the consideration stage, or the decision stage. Your topic should be about this problem and your blog post should solve that problem.

Create educational content

Helping solve your reader’s problem is a surefire way you’re providing value to your reader. The more your reader finds your content valuable, the better it is for your SEO. What is your reader getting out of your content?

An exercise that could help

One exercise to identify your topic is to create a specific working title, for example, “The Best Way to Make Pour Over Coffee for Beginners.” The right wording doesn’t matter — you can refine this later on. The goal of this exercise is to help you pinpoint your topic.

Notice how this title answers a problem a reader may have — not knowing how to make pour over coffee.

2. Begin with the end in mind

Envision your audience has finished reading your article. What are the key takeaways you want them to extract from your article? This doesn’t have to be the sections of your article. Just everything you want your audience to know.

Feel free to use the Competitors tab and the Questions tab to get insight into what your readers are most curious about.

With our “The Best Way to Make Pour Over Coffee for Beginners” example earlier, here are some things we may want our audience to know:

  • What’s so special about pour over coffee?

  • Is pour over coffee bad for you?

  • How do you make pour over coffee?

  • You learn on the way

  • The most important thing is starting

  • The challenges of making pour over coffee

Yes, this may look messy... but that’s the point! We’ll organize this brain dump soon.

3. Create your sections

Now, take your topics and place them into what will make the sections of your article. Again, we recommend 3-5 sections. Your article outline may look something like this:

  1. Intro

    • What is pour over coffee?

    • What’s so special about pour over coffee?

    • Is pour over coffee bad for you?

  2. How to Make Pour Over Coffee

    • How do you make pour over coffee?

  3. Challenges of Making Pour Over Coffee

    • The challenges of making pour over coffee

    • You learn on the way

  4. Best Tips

    • The most important thing is starting

  5. Conclusion

4. Add more to your sections

Now that you have your sections, feel free to add more to them. For example:

  1. Intro

    • What is pour over coffee?

    • What’s so special about pour over coffee?

    • Is pour over coffee bad for you?

  2. How to Make Pour Over Coffee

    • How do you make pour over coffee?

    • What equipment do you need?

    • Which coffee should you use?

    • Which technique is best?

  3. Challenges of Making Pour Over Coffee

    • The challenges of making pour over coffee

    • How can I avoid bitter pour over coffee?

    • You learn on the way

  4. Best Tips

    • The most important thing is starting

    • Perfect your pour over coffee

  5. Conclusion

Pro Tip: Remember, feel free to use the Competitors tab and/or the Questions tab to help you with this!

Final thoughts

You can manage your briefs by accessing the Briefs overview page through the navigation bar (on the left side of your screen). There, you can see a repository of all of your briefs and revisit any unfinished briefs.

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And that's it! Thanks for reading and hope this helps you create the best outline possible.

Feel free to check out this article to learn how to write a great brief generally.

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