How to Write An Article Quickly
Having started my journey as a freelance writer only a few short months ago, I realize that the learning curve is steep. There are hundreds of ways to earn money as an online writer, each place with a slightly different protocol and set up. What I have noticed across the board however, is that the pay is low. Unfortunately, new writers must start somewhere, so many of us take these jobs despite the fact that the hourly pay is usually less than minimum wage! The only way to make decent money is to train your brain to write well- and fast.
The standard 500 word article
For the purposes of this article, we will talk about the most common type of writing requested by copywriters; the standard 500 word article or blog post. In order to crank these out quickly with good quality writing, you need to break down the page into manageable pieces. Let's start with the big picture and work our way inward.
Just how long is 500 words?
If you have been writing for awhile, you know the "feel" of 500 words. Typically, it is approximately a 5 to 6 paragraph article that takes up one page (in 12 font, single spaced, with spacing between the paragraph headers). So when you begin, you want to think with the whole page in mind.
Get a title
If you are working on Textbroker or other similar sites, the subject matter will be laid out for you. If however you are bidding on a longterm oDesk contract, you may have to come up with ideas on your own. 500 word articles are typically narrowly generic. What do I mean by that? Let's say you are asked to write 10 articles on gardening. You want to pick narrow topics like, "Different Types of Lawn Grass" or "Great Crawling Perennials", but you want to keep the subject matter fairly general. You aren't going to go into the taxonomy of each type of plant species because that would take too much time and research. Rather you are going to outline different categories and give a few examples of each.
Here's the point- make your title specific and then you can keep the content general. This way, you aren't stuck doing hours of research for an article that is going to reap you a whopping $5.00. However, the specific title will force you to write an article that is not fluff, but can actually answer relevant questions your reader has about the topic.
Prepare the paragraphs
You need an introduction, conclusion, and then three or four paragraphs that contain the meat of the article. When I have a lot of articles to write, I make up all the titles, then write the introductions and conclusions. They may have to be tweaked a bit if your article goes in a different direction than you originally planned.
Prepare the keywords
How many times have you written an article, only to realize you forgot the keyword? Here's what you do: Write the sentences that contain the keyword first. It doesn't matter where they go just yet- you'll be able to figure that out as your article comes together. Once you have those sentences written, you can strategically place them where it makes the most sense.
Have you written a specific title?
Do you meet the word minimum?
Do you have an introduction and conclusion?
Have you run your article through copyscape?
Have you run your article through an advanced grammar checker?
Did you use the keywords?
So, using the example above, let's say you are working on those 10 gardening articles. Let's choose the Different Types of Lawn Grass. The client wants you to insert the keywords "hardy green grass" at least twice.
Title: Different Types of Lawn Grass
Introduction: If you are about to give your backyard a makeover, it is important to do some research about the type of grass that would flourish in your yard. You need to assess your climate, the sun path on your property, and then make an informed choice. Here are few points to consider.
Conclusion: With some time and patience, your lawn will be ready for your next outdoor party. Keep in mind, it takes many species of grass at least two or three seasons to mature, so be sure to keep everything off the grass after a busy day. Water it during a dry spell, and mow regularly. You'll be the envy of the neighborhood in no time!
To write the introduction and conclusion took 116 words. I did it in five minutes! Now onto the keyword sentences.
- No one wants to spend gobs of money on a landscaping job unless you can be sure that you will have hardy green grass in a month or two.
- Hardy green grass should start to appear in several weeks with diligent watering.
Go through all ten articles and do this exercise. Once you are done, you can go back and add the meaty content.
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Figuring out the meat of the article
So the above exercises took me about 10 minutes. Now it is time to do research (if you need to). The idea is that if you are writing generally about a specific topic, you shouldn't need to do too much in the way of research. If this article is going to give you $5.00 when you are done, you'll want to be able to crank out at least 3 an hour to make it worth your while.
For this green grass article, I need to do a bit of research to determine how to fill in this article. After about three minutes of looking on Google, I realized that it is not in my best interest to go through a lengthy dialogue of each type of grass. Rather, I am going to use a paragraph to discuss the different types of grass, a paragraph to discuss how to assess your lawn, and a paragraph about the different between sod and seed. I have just figured out my subheadings in those three minutes. Here is an example of a "meat" paragraph.
Assess your lawn
Before you decide on a species of grass, take a closer look at your lawn. How much of it receives sunlight all day? Do you have slopes and hills that cause rainwater to run down to a certain area? Do you have kids that will be on the lawn all the time, or is this mostly for looks? Get a piece of paper and write down the answers to all of these questions. Some grasses handle drought better than others, and there are specific shade versus sun varieties as well. Finally, pick a grass that is known to do well in your climate. You may love the look of Kentucky Blue Grass, but it isn't going to look pretty if it's dead. No one wants to spend gobs of money on a landscaping job unless you can be sure that you will have hardy green grass in a month or two. (154 words)
So as you can see, you have over 200 words between your intro, conclusion, and first subheading. If you add two more paragraphs approximately the same size as the first one, you have hit your 500 word mark.
How long does it take you to write a 500 word article?
Some other tips
- For paid online web content, stick to 2nd or 3rd person. When you write in 2nd person, you are talking to your reader. Be sure to use a qualified landscaper to seed your lawn is 2nd person. A person should use a qualified landscaper to seed his or her lawn is 3rd person. Don't use 1st person unless it is a personal blog post that the client has specifically asked for.
- DO NOT copy and paste text from another article EVEN to use as a reference. I find that if I am staring at an already written paragraph from someone else, it is too easy to just "spin" it as my own. Rather, do your research like a typical browser. Peruse a couple of sites and read. Do not take notes- but rather try to absorb the information in your head. Once you sit down to write, do the best you can to write it from your head. You will lower the likelihood of any sort of copying or plagiarism. If its a difficult topic, you can go back and check on the facts and details after.
- Watch your comma use. There are two types of writers in the world- those that use them too little and those that use them too much. Study up so you can keep your comma usage appropriate.
- Watch contractions. When writing professionally, it is better to stick to words like "cannot" rather than "can't". Of course, there are plenty of clients that will not care, but you do not want to be the one who happened to find the jerk.
- Unique content - Textbroker.com
- Check Spelling, Style, and Grammar with After the Deadline
A grammar, spelling, and style checker.
- Copyscape Plagiarism Checker - Duplicate Content Detection Software
Copyscape is a free plagiarism checker. The software lets you detect duplicate content and check if your articles are original.
The beauty of this method is that it can adapt to any length you need! If you are writing 1000 word article, you will need to boost the meat of your introduction and conclusion, as well as add several more "meat" paragraphs in the middle.
With absolutely no prior experience with copywriting, I have spent the last three months working diligently to provide services that are competitive, but also worth my while. At this point, I can write between three and four 500 word articles in one hour (provided they are all in a similar niche). This is a drastic improvement from the day when I could barely squeeze out one of these articles in an hour!
I hope you are able to learn from this article today and your speed and quality improves to the point where you are making a decent hourly rate with copywriting. Happy writing!
About the author
Julie DeNeen is a full-time freelance writer and mom of three. She has a background in music, psychology, and technology, and loves to write about how to do things quickly! She also has a Speedy Mom column where she gives tips to help fellow mom's learn tricks to do things faster.
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