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Creating content outlines is an essential first step in the copywriting process, but it can be tedious and time-consuming. AI writing assistants can automate parts of the outlining workflow to boost productivity for modern content teams.
“AI-assisted outlining has been a game changer for our production speed,” says Michelle Jones, Head of Content at ACME Marketing. “What used to take up half my writers’ time is now a breeze with AI collaboration.”
At ACME, content creation time has decreased by 32% while traffic has grown 21% since implementing their AI outlining tool 6 months ago.
AI can review your existing website content and uncover gaps to address in new outlines. This allows determining optimal topics and angles to cover from the start.
Tools like INK and Clearscope use advanced natural language processing (NLP) to deeply analyze your site content. They can identify commonly covered topics and suggest related ones that outlines could target.
AI writing assistants like Jasper.ai can also run sentiment analysis on your current library. This reveals areas where your content lacks authority or positive sentiment around certain themes.
Addressing these issues with new outlines improves perception and trust with readers. The AI can even benchmark your sentiment scores against competitors.
Complementary SEO tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Frase can identify high-potential keywords that new outlines could optimize and rank for.
For instance, if “content strategy tips” has high search volume but low competition, that’s a prime target area for an outline. AI integrates with these tools to pull keyword data.
Once provided with a topic, keywords, and tone, AI writing assistants can synthesize your research and inputs to draft complete content outlines.
“The AI is scarily good at structuring a solid outline from just a short prompt,” remarks Luis Sanchez, Content Manager at ACME. “It perfectly arranges all the critical points I need to hit.”
Here is a step-by-step guide to automated outline drafting:
Enter your outline topic and any keywords you want to target.
Provide past content samples to establish the desired brand tone.
Hit "generate outline" and the AI will get to work in seconds.
The AI will output an organized outline hitting all key points.
Optionally provide feedback to refine the outline further.
Tools like Rytr, ContentBot, and Shortly AI go beyond keywords to create an entire structured outline. They determine logical headings, recommended content formats (e.g. tips, examples, stats), and sources to include.
Some even break sections down into bullet points to map out the information that should be covered in each part. Humans then simply need to flesh it out.
When generating the outline, the AI will reflect your brand’s tone and style if you provide some text samples for context. This keeps outlines on-brand even when drafted automatically.
For instance, entering “content strategy tips” along with a few excerpts of your writing style could produce an on-brand outline personalized to your voice.
The AI-generated draft serves as a starting point. Through collaboration, human team members can refine outlines to perfection.
“The AI might need my help formatting complex ideas, but it gives me a headstart that saves me hours,” says Jill Thomas, Senior Writer at ACME.
Have writers review the automated outline drafts to improve the structure and flow as needed. They can re-order or add/remove sections so the information is presented logically.
Pro tip: Use online collaborative whiteboarding tools to visually arrange the outline with your team.
Writers can also flesh out the outline by adding specific examples, expert quotes, statistics, and other details to each section.
This transforms the outline into a rich resource for quickly writing the full article.
Lastly, use human review to ensure outlines strongly align with your brand voice before copywriting begins. Tweak wording and tone as needed so the eventual article reflects your style.
While AI can do the heavy lifting, human oversight ensures outlines meet quality standards before content creation.
“We've established a simple review and approval process to get the most out of our AI assistant,” says Michael Chen, Content Director at ACME.
Managers should thoroughly assess AI-assisted outlines against project goals and guidelines before approval. Verify it meets requirements around topics, keywords, structure, length, etc.
If the outline needs modification, request revisions from the AI assistant or a human writer. Continue iterating and refine the outline until it is optimized.
Only approve outlines that are completely ready for the writing stage with no major gaps or issues. This sets the entire downstream process up for maximum efficiency.
With the right human-AI collaboration, creating content outlines is faster and more effective than ever. AI alleviates the grunt work so writers can focus on optimizing structure and voice. More informed outlines lead to higher quality content that performs.
Ngan Nguyen, a member of Nilead team, focuses on content marketing, SEO standard content, content analysis, planning, and metrics. Drawing on practical experience and a continual pursuit of industry trends, her contributions aim to offer readers insights that reflect current best practices and a commitment to informative content.