When an Hour Is Not an Hour…or, Why Your Writer Needs 24 of Them

How Long Does It Take to Write an ArticleFreelance content writing is pretty easy, isn’t it? It’s just turning thoughts into written words, after all. In fact, it only took me about 30 seconds to type out these first few sentences. Let’s do the math. At 30 words in just 30 seconds, I should be able to write a 500 word blog post in less than ten minutes. Wow! At five cents a word, I’d make more than $150 an hour! Geez, I should be living on Easy Street.

Unfortunately, those first few sentences bear little resemblance to my earliest attempts to write this post, and took a lot longer than the 30-second typing time to produce. Simple as it seems, that little introductory paragraph went through many incarnations before morphing into the sentences you just read. I wrote the rough idea days ago, then changed my narrative angle. Even as I typed it, I tweaked the idea a bit to make it more clear. There was even a typo or two that needed correcting.

So, what kind of effort goes into a seemingly simple 500 word blog post? And what other reasons might delay its unveiling? Here are a few behind-the-scenes moments in the life of a blog post—and its writer:

  • Thought – Every article you’ve ever read started as someone’s idea. And, those ideas did not spring fully formed from the writer’s mind. Most ideas—in fact, the best ones—need time to mature. Once your writer starts on your project, she may need to spend some time thinking about how best to approach it and what kind of voice and tone to use.
  • Research – Not every writing assignment needs research, of course, but many do. Oftentimes, your writer will have a basic understanding of the topic but will need to refine that understanding or find credible resources. Even an opinion piece may need to be backed up by facts or quotes.
  • Other business obligations – To keep a steady income flow, most professional writers must balance many projects at different stages of development. Often, they are researching one project while another waits to be proof-read and are also contemplating the wording of a query letter. While your project is certainly important to your writer, she probably has other important projects requiring her attention as well.
  • Family life – Many freelance writers work from home. In fact, according to a 2012 article posted on the CNN website, the number of people working out of their homes has jumped 41 percent in the past ten years. While the reasons for telecommuting vary, many writers are trying to work while caring for children or elderly relatives, and sometimes those family needs can unexpectedly derail the best-planned writing schedules.

Now you know a bit about what goes into the 500 words you’ve asked your writer to create. I hope the insight makes it a little easier to be patient the next time your order takes a day—or two!—to show up in your inbox.

Kate C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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