When I first started writing professionally, I would rework my content so much that I sometimes made around $4 an hour. That barely covers my cream soda addiction! Most writers are interested in things like paying bills and feeding their children, so a low rate like that doesn’t fly. Well, at least it doesn’t have to.
If you’re looking for tips on how to write faster, then one of the best places to learn is from freelance writers who have been there before. Listen to them (me!), and there is no doubt that you’ll be able to write faster and see an increase in your output (and your paycheck), all without letting work quality slip.
How To Write Faster and Better
In the freelance writing realm, the faster you write, the more money you make. Most content writing gigs are paid out per article, and the payout is usually determined on a per-word basis. The more words you can complete in a quicker time frame, the higher your pay per hour becomes.
The key is to be able to increase your writing speed without seeing major drops in quality. Sure, you can mash the keyboard and get lots of letters on a page, but if your content provides little to no value, then you’ll likely lose clients, jobs, and opportunities for higher-paying work.
So, without further ado, here are eight great tips on how to write faster and better and how to make more money at the same time.
1. Understand the Learning Curve
The most important tip is to realize that there WILL be a learning curve when you first start writing content professionally. I’ve talked to so many writers who’ve spent multiple hours on their first paid article only to find that they were averaging less than $5 bucks an hour. I get it; that rate sucks. But you have to remember that learning how to write a blog post fast doesn’t happen overnight. Just like anything else, it takes practice.
For one, when writing articles for clients that you haven’t written for before, you have to learn about their industry, what they do and what their writing requirements are. Sometimes, understanding the writing guidelines and industry nuances takes way more time than actually writing the article. However, once you get it, the content creation process can speed up exponentially.
The trick is to start slow. Take one article at a time, ask the client (or editor) you’re working with for feedback, and try not to get overwhelmed. For most new freelance writers I’ve worked with (and I’ve worked with thousands), writing starts to get much quicker, better, more familiar and easier after about 2-4 weeks. If that’s too much time for you to wait, then this gig might not be for you. But just remember that few people pay for skills that anyone can do right off the bat.
2. Sometimes Less Is More
I know this heading is vague, but it has multiple meanings when it comes to how to write fast and neat for clients. Ultimately, the point is that if you become a specialist in certain industries, clients or content types, you can reduce the amount of research, back and forth, client headaches and general mayhem in your professional writing. This ultimately leads to quicker writing and higher pay. Here are some specific examples:
Do More Article Writing for Fewer Clients
In the beginning, you may be tempted to take on work from every client you can. This is a mistake. With every client having different style guides, writing requirements and communication/feedback styles, you could spend hours learning the ins and outs of each client. This increases your writing time; it doesn’t make your writing quicker. So you may have more work, but you’re being much less efficient, which isn’t ideal.
Instead, start with just a few clients you can write lots of content for. That way, you can invest time early on in their style guides, industry nuances and terminology, which will allow you to perfect the writing style for each client. Once you’ve done five or six pieces, you’ll start creating your own shortcuts for getting great content that the client can use. While there may be less variety in what you’re writing about, you’ll maximize your efficiency, and your writing will get quicker.
Do More Writing of Fewer Content Types
In the same vein as the previous tip for writing faster, try reducing the different types of content you write. In the freelance writing world, there are ALL kinds of content you could be writing. Some examples include:
- Press releases
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Web pages
- Social media posts
- Product descriptions
- Location pages
- White papers
And that’s just to name a few! Remember that all of these different content types have different requirements that make them unique from each other, and learning the ins and outs of each again increases your research and time investment.
Like writing for fewer clients, to learn how to write faster, you should first work on perfecting fewer types of content writing where the formatting and purpose are similar. For instance, if you love writing sales copy, try creating product and category descriptions. You’ll still get the experience and efficiency of writing lots of sales copy while getting the variety of writing for different e-commerce products. This can help you to plug and play formatting guidelines and speed up the writing process.
Incremental Increases Lead to Efficient, Well-Rounded Writing
Lastly, I don’t want to discourage any writers from branching out in their writing for different industries or content types. This is the spice of the writing life! The main point is that if you’re frustrated or overwhelmed with how slow your writing is, this is one way you learn how to write faster. Start with less, then move up to more once you’ve mastered the others. Add to your writing repertoire incrementally instead of all at once.
3. Turn Off Distractions
You don’t need to find out what your friends had for lunch or look at pictures of their babies when you should be writing. Some of the biggest distractions for writers include:
- Social Media
- Candy Crush
- Online Boggle/Scrabble
- Phones in General
- The Internet
- Video Games/Fortnite
- Basically, Anything and Everything
The truth is, there are so many distractions when you’re a freelance writer working remotely. The key is to identify the biggest personal distractions for you and learn what works for you to turn them off and set them aside while you write a blog post, article, e-book or anything else. Reward yourself with a voyeuristic jaunt online after your article is complete.
For now, silence your phone, sign out of all 15 of your social media accounts, and get prepared to start focusing. I have had to put my phone on the other side of the room so that I didn’t mindlessly check it just because it was there. That’s a real obsession, but one of the steps to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, so I think that I’m doing alright.
4. Plan Time To Write
One of the easiest ways to write faster is to set aside dedicated time just for writing. Literally, make an appointment with just you and your keyboard. Sometimes, you’re not actually a slow writer, but because of the way you’ve organized your day, it feels like you’re slow as molasses.
For example, let’s imagine it’s just past lunchtime. The baby has gone down for a nap, and you have a few extra minutes to yourself that you figure you’ll put to good use. As you sit down to start writing, the phone rings, a package comes to the door (which wakes up your baby from the nap) and all of a sudden, you are busy with more day-to-day things to take care of. As a result, the writing goes on the back shelf.
From the time you first started writing to the time you ended, perhaps 3-4 hours have gone by! But in reality, you were sitting at your computer writing for only an hour of that. The rest was you multi-tasking like a champ. If you can plan dedicated time just for writing, you may be surprised with how much you get done and how quickly you are actually writing.
5. Find Your Focus
Finding your focus has less to do with centering your chi and more to do with coming up with a topic to write about. Sure, you could do an open online search of your keywords and see if something interesting pops up, but I guarantee that if you take that approach, you will still be researching after 30 minutes (unless you have more control than I do). Researching can be very interesting, but without a focus, you can easily find yourself reading an enthralling article about celebrities and the people they used to date.
As soon as you sit down to work, think about your topic or the keyword you’ve been given. Then, follow our tips for getting rid of predictable content and ask yourself one of the following question starters:
Come up with one or two questions to help drive your focus before you research. For example, if your topic is about swimming pools, then you might ask yourself, “How can I make a pool safe for children?” Once you have that question in mind, look for content that helps answer it.
Another great thing about the internet is that there are lots of free tools available to help you when you aren’t feeling particularly creative. One such tool is called answerthepublic.com. If you are looking for how to write a blog post fast, simply type in a keyword or topic, and it will give you an ideation wheel using data that is currently being searched for. This method of finding a focus can give you TONS of directions to take the article. Give it a go!
6. Cut Back on Research
It seems counterintuitive, but it is possible to research too much depending on the type of content you’re writing.
Instead, your research should match the topic/purpose of the content at hand. If you’re drafting a 300-word blog on a common topic, it doesn’t pay (literally) to spend 30-45 minutes looking up facts and tips. Plus, sorting through loads of information after you’ve gathered it can be time-consuming.
But if you’re writing a novel, research may take you months of preparation before you start character or world-building.
How To Research and Write Articles Faster
Limit yourself to a relatively short but reasonable period of time to find your source material. Time yourself if you need to. In many cases (like when rewriting existing product descriptions, for example), it’s possible to find solid information in under five minutes.
On the other hand, if you are a specialist in an industry and have been asked to write expert-level content, you should increase your research time to make sure you’re speaking knowledgeably about the subject. Typically, you’ll be paid more to do more intense research for a project like that.
7. Prepare an Outline
Whether you are writing a blog post, an SEO article, or the next great American novel, do yourself a favor and create an outline. This should be done while you are researching. Having a basic structure to work from keeps you from mindlessly staring at a blank screen. Every writer attacks the outline in an individual way, but a common trick is to write the headings and then fill them in.
When it comes to how to write a blog post faster, I use a template. First, I come up with a title, leave room for an introduction and include three to five main points I can turn into headers. Lastly, I end with a conclusion. I don’t always write the main points in succession. I frequently move the sections around after I’m done, depending on the flow of the article when I’m proofreading it at the end.
The trick is to give yourself five or six starting points. You’ll gain momentum as you start filling in the blanks and watch your screen fill up with words.
8. Silence Your Inner Critics
If you want to write quickly, then you need to learn to shut off the voices in your head telling you to write an award-winning sentence before you move on to the next. This is my biggest weakness. Start with a first draft, but realize that it won’t be perfect. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping or editing. Get out all of your thoughts, letting your stream of consciousness flow.
Lastly, abide by this list of don’ts:
- Don’t stop writing until the timer dings.
- Don’t backspace.
- Don’t read and reread what you’ve already written.
- Don’t stop to look up a smarter sounding word or check the article requirements.
- Don’t toggle between researching new information and writing content.
- Don’t worry that you’ll be shamed for life if someone reads the draft before you have time to polish it.
You may think that this technique will leave you with a mess that will take even longer to fix, but try it out and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the gems that come to mind when you get outside of your head and let the content flow. Once you’re done with the rough draft (aka information dump), you will definitely have to rearrange a few paragraphs, run spell check, and incorporate the article guidelines.
But, I expect you’ll be giddy with excitement to see how much time you saved because of how much faster you were writing.
Share the Wealth on How To Write Articles Faster and Better
I challenge all writers to diligently try this process for a full week (at least). Share it with your writer friends, and let us know if you’ve noticed a difference in how much you can get done every day. Lastly, please share any other fast writing tips you have on how to write faster in the comments below.
Happy and fast writing!