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How to Write a Quality Article in One Hour
There are a lot of very good reasons to write online--exposure, practice, self-expression--but my favorite reason to write online is to make money. One of the most important things to do in any business is to manage your resources. The writing business is no different. You need to leverage assets and control expenses. What's your largest expense as an online writer? It's not your computer or the fee for internet access or that wicked awesome new phone you just had to buy. It's your time. This article provides a process for researching, writing, finding images for, and posting a 400-500 word article in one hour. It may not work for everyone, but you may find it's worth a try.
- Top 10 Types of Web Content
Before we get into the top types of web content, it's important to understand the two broad categories of web content: current and evergreen. Current content includes news (sometimes with commentary),...
The key, for me, is to separate the components of writing articles into discrete tasks.
Research: 5-10 Minutes
How can you possibly research an entire article in five minutes? Easy. There are really two parts to the research that are included in this time estimate. First is the initial research, or, what you are going to write about. You're going to do watch I call "batch research." Sit down for a half hour of focused effort and look for ideas, topics, whatever. You should be able to come up with five ideas in a half hour. If not, ask yourself if you're really focused on looking for ideas or simply surfing.
When you get stuck (yes, it happens to the best of us) trick yourself. Go to Google or Google Trends or Insights or wherever and enter a search term. Make yourself (be firm!) choose something on the first page to write about. Maybe it's a stretch or you're not super interested in the topic but who cares? If you had a boss other than YOU, you'd have to do things you didn't want to do all the time. My system helps keep YOU the boss of you.
Copy and paste the URLs of the full copy of your article topic somewhere you can easily access later. Do NOT try to get every bit of information ever created about the topic. Just capture the basics. You'll flesh it out later. Once you have your ideas, go do something else. Don't worry, your subconscious will be working while you're away.
Writing - 40 minutes
This is the easy part, right? It's why you're here, online, writing about things you know something about, things you have an opinion about. Most online content has some element of "news" or information, but also includes the writer's unique perspective on the topic. This adds value to the reader. Even if you are doing a piece that is strictly objective, you are probably writing about a topic area that you know something about. If not, maybe you should be. Writing online content should feel almost like sitting down to coffee with a friend.
Sometimes you'll want to break even your writing time into segments. Maybe you take five minutes to brainstorm and then walk away. You might write up a first draft in fifteen minutes and then come back to it later. Personally, I like to draft the whole thing (about a 30 minute task for a 400-500 word article) and then leave it for a day or two. I come back fresh for an edit of about five to ten minutes.
Research, Part 2... Remember I said there was another step to the research above? As you're writing you may come across additional things you'd like the reader to know, sources you'd like to quote, stats to reference, etc. As you think of it, Google it. Add the hyperlinks as you go. This is why I ALWAYS like to have internet access while I'm drafting.
Finding an Image - 5 minutes
You can waste a LOT of time looking for the perfect image to go with a story. Don't. Just don't. I think it's best to find an image site you like and stick with it. I always use Flickr Creative Commons and I always find something. Seriously. If you're getting nothing by searching for literal terms in your article, search for colors or emotions. Sometimes you stumble on a great image you want to use but it doesn't quite fit. Easy fix: add something in your lead that ties it in.
If you're struggling, again - play a game with yourself. I WILL choose something off the first page (or first 3 pages or whatever). I had to do this a lot in the beginning, but rest assured that once you get some practice with the search terms, train yourself to choose quickly, and give up the perfectionism, you'll be choosing *most* images in two minutes or less! Sure, sometimes you'll still get distracted, but isn't that part of the reason you love working here--online?
Posting - 5-10 minutes
Even with writing a teaser and tagging and formatting your headings, if posting an article takes you longer than five or ten minutes, something's wrong. Either your computer is too slow or the platform has too many bugs or you're making it harder than it has to be. Ask for help.
There you are - a quality 400-500 word post in an hour. It may take some practice, and remember, this is an average. This article is over 800 words and only took me 45 minutes total because I didn't have to research and I really know the topic. However, some take longer and that's okay. I hope this helps you get more efficient and make more money from your writing!
Please share your ideas in the comments!