Time is money, so someone once said. They were probably not a freelance writer. Five years ago when I left the corporate world and decided I would become a writer, there was this hint of the mountains of money one could make just writing blogs. I think I made $0.04 the first week. I can look back now and laugh at all of the ambition I had then. Live and learn someone else said, and I have.
The Freedom to Live
In the first several years of freelance writing, all I did was write. Friends would invite me places and I would decline. I am so sorry, but I have six articles that are due today. Maybe next time. That became my life for the longest time. Friends disappeared. Invitations stopped arriving. Then, in the blink of an eye, two years had passed. I had written a mountain of content. I had made enough money to survive. I had also lost two years of my life to that struggle. The sum was not worth more than its pieces. I realized that day that this was not going to work long-term. This was no longer about writing. It was about creating content and having the freedom to live life.
That was when I learned to write quality content quickly. It did not happen overnight. It is still, three years later, a work in progress. Isn’t that what they teach you in marketing? Employ, measure, improve? That is something that every writer should tattoo on the back of their hands. In order to live you will have to be quick. Unless you are charging $500 for 200 words, and you have a long list of clients willing to pay that price, you will need to be incredibly quick.
How to Build Speed
Know your craft. Write, then edit is one tool I use. I also use formulas when I write. This always confuses people. A formula is like a template, but without all the formatting that a template would have. I know if I am going to write a 500-word article that it needs the following:
- A title.
- An introduction.
- A body that is probably two paragraphs long.
- A conclusion or a call to action.
Knowing that is half of my battle. My formula is 100/150/200/50. Nothing is carved in stone. Those are just guidelines that I use to manage my work flow. I know when I get to 75 words that my introduction is nearly done. It helps me a great deal to not have to really worry about what I am going to do. That frees me up to just write. I don’t research. If a client is paying me $12.25 to write a 500 blog, he is not paying me to do research. They are paying me for 20 minutes of my time. If I spend an hour on a 20 minute project then I have given away 40 minutes of my life. Thank you, no. I donate to charity organizations for the tax deduction.
To recap: Learn to write. Write, then edit. Use a formula to help you keep organized. Don’t give away your time for free. Write the things you know. These are all tools the help you produce quality content quickly.
David S is a content writer, a cecidologist in training, and a great lover of the outdoors. When not ferreting out facts for clients he can be found midway up oak trees looking at wasps, plant galls, and entomological relationships.