Do you get jealous when other freelance writers talk about how they knock out a simple blog post in under an hour — because it takes you half a day? If so, it’s time to attack this problem and get it solved. To earn a good hourly rate from freelance writing (and end up with a decent income), you’ve got to be able to write assignments in a time-efficient way.
This is especially true if you’re looking to get into content marketing, where you might develop a dozen blog posts or other pieces of content a month for each of multiple different clients. I speak as someone who at one point was writing 72 posts a month, between client blogs and my own blog.
Your success in blogging for clients is highly dependent on your speed. If you’re slow, you won’t be able to juggle multiple content marketing clients and book enough revenue — and you may even be in trouble in terms of meeting your deadlines.
Fortunately, learning to get the writing done faster has been a longtime hobby of mine. My drive to speed up was forged during 12 years as a staff writer, the last five of which required filing a story for our online edition, five days a week by 10 am (in addition to the 3-4 articles a week we had to write).
How did I learn to cut my writing time down? Here are my seven top tips:
There are five stages to pitching a story idea to an editor:
- You get an article idea
- You write the idea up, in a query letter or letter of introduction.
- You send the pitch letter in, usually via email.
- You wait, frequently in vain, for a response.
- You begin the second-guessing game, and start wondering why your article pitch didn’t get you an assignment.
That fifth stage often sends writers into an emotional tailspin, and sucks up way too much time. But it shouldn’t. Really, it shouldn’t exist at all.
There are only two basic reasons why article ideas get rejected — and once you know them, it can help you move on to writing that next query more quickly.
Writing short can be refreshing — like ice in your underwear.
It’s also a practical way to build a writing career.
Many magazines today, from Smithsonian to Seventeen, have lots of small articles and light pieces in their brightly designed front pages. It speaks to the reading tastes of the Internet age: colorful and chunky.
For writers — especially ones trying to break in to a magazine — these areas (called “front of book” or FOB) can be a quick source of good money and wider opportunities. Here’s how:
The strongest magazine articles usually include data from a reliable source to back up the points you’re making. Without solid information, your article doesn’t come off as credible.
But with all the information bouncing around on the Internet, it can be difficult for freelance article writers to know where to find facts from reliable sources. The key to avoiding timewasting browsing is to know what you’re looking for, and what sorts of sources you can trust.
Here are four major resources that provide the solid facts and figures you need to create great articles:
One of the most satisfying freelance writing gigs to snag is a regular column. The chance to write what you want on a regular basis, and have ongoing work you can rely on…it’s a dream.
There are a lot fewer opportunities out there to become a columnist than there were a decade or two back, so these can be hard to land.
But I got one in the most unusual way.
I totally screwed up an assignment for a new editor. But I handled it with grace, and turned the situation into a monthly column that’s easy to write — and nets me $150–$200 per hour in ongoing income.
Here’s how I did it…