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How to Write a Quality Article in One Hour

Updated on September 10, 2010

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.

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!

Image Credit: joguldi, Flickr


Submit a Comment

  • nochance profile image

    Chloe Davis Smith 5 years ago from Minnesota

    This is a great article. I will definitely be keeping track of this information. I really need to learn to manage my writing time better and this is a great way to do that.

  • Casey Strouse profile image

    Casey Strouse 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    I use a similar process but use a piece of software called Mindnode to create a visual map of my idea and it's components. I find that this helps me bang out articles in no time while still keeping to a cohesive idea.

  • Millionaire Tips profile image

    Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

    These are great ideas - I need to batch research my articles. I haven't written many in under an hour, but that's because there is so much I want to say! Now I have a goal, I will make it work.

  • profile image

    Stephanie 6 years ago

    How's this for procrastination: I copied this article to my desktop MONTHS ago and just now read it. True.

    Great article, btw. I like the "first page" rules about search pages and the commons.

  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 6 years ago from Long Island, NY

    This is really great advice. I take so much longer per article (researching, writing, editing, adding, even removing) and I was always looking for ways to shorten the time. I'll have to try some of your ideas. I voted up.

  • eatingright profile image

    eatingright 7 years ago

    Useful writing tips! I bookmark sites on topics I am interested in and refer to them quickly when doing research.

  • gamelover profile image

    Meskens Geert 7 years ago from Belgium

    Very good work,thanks

  • profile image

    Philip Cooper 7 years ago

    Nice article...good advice...

  • Lora Palmer profile image

    Lora Palmer 7 years ago from Warrington, Pennsylvania

    Great advice, especially setting boundaries on the time you spend on each phase of the article creation. This is a really useful hub!

  • pakpub profile image

    pakpub 7 years ago from Ohio

    Thanks for the tips. I wish I could write all my hubs in one hour.

  • drej2522 profile image

    drej2522 7 years ago from Augusta, GA

    Great article about articles, Lela! It tells you, the reader, how to stay focused and efficient.

    I like it! Thumbs up!

  • 2besure profile image

    Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    Thanks for the tips. I think, I take too much time to write my hubs.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

    Just the article I need! Wonderful suggestions and very good of you to share this. Bookmarking this hub for reference. I know realize I spend way too much time writing my articles. Well, I will soon fix that - thanks to you.

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Great tips. Sometimes I end up spending more time than I should on my research. Thanks for sharing.

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    This is such a helpful tip. I guess one of my problems is translating things into the English language which takes up a bit of time. LOL But I loved your tips and I will use it! Thank you!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Thanks for that hub. This is my biggest problem. I start out thinking it will be fast, then do all this research as different idea come to mind, then I end up writing 800 words with pictures, videos and then I post it at various sites around the internet trying to boost my numbers. so then it is 2 or 3 hours for one hub. I am going to try it your way!

  • rebekahELLE profile image

    rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay

    thanks for the great tips. I like working in time frames, but have never composed a hub in one hour from choosing the topic to publish. it sounds like a worthy goal especially with freelancing. I like how you suggest making little games and making boundaries within which to accomplish your goals! very useful.

  • CYBERSUPE profile image


    Thank You Lela for sharing this useful information with we new Hubbers.