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Freelancers and anyone else who can do it, how do you write a good article, fast?

1
953 posts
Member since Aug 13, 2011

I have been marveling at the output of the freelancers on the freelance thread but thought I'd start a new thread to ask about this. 

I am wondering if anyone can tell me (and I am sure I am not alone) what you do in that time when you site down to write to produce a quality article quickly. 

And what you have changed over time compared to when you were slower?

I imagine part of it is pure talent, part technique, part mindset.  Anything else?

I would LOVE suggestions how speed up, how many months at what rate and the amount of time it takes to speed up?

Is there a certain anatomy of an article you always do and make each one a variation of that?

Are there any tips and tricks for product reviews, how tos and general informational articles? 

How do you quickly research?  Or do you only accept work in an area you are familiar with?

Do you blurt out the one draft, then revise, or have you got it down to close to perfect first time?  Do you visualise the whole article before you start?

I would love to hear from you and try to improve my speed without compromising quality.  The times I use Dragon Naturally speaking, it is not that much faster (due to 1 Gig RAM) but the end product has way less typos than my on meagre typing skills.

If anyone wanted to write an IB article on this, I bet it would be well-read!   I am sure I have more questions but can't think of any right now.  Looking forward to any tips or insight!

326 posts
Member since Jan 24, 2012

Hi Skeffling - right that's a lot of questions so i'll answer all of them in turn lol.

Ok one 500 word article shouldn't take more than 30 minutes ever. This breaks down to 10 minutes research and 20 minutes writing. I use a free sticky note program to crib so that i don't have to switch between word and the internet.

If you can learn to touch type this will increase your output hugely (though i can't)

Anatomy of the article is always the same for me.

1st 100 words - Introduction so only a few quick facts and a lead to read on (this is maybe 3 minutes work tops.)

Para 1 - Key features (whatever the niche - mainly travel in my work atm but applicable everywhere)

Para 2 - In depth (best stuff, hiddent treats etc, or actual method )

Para 3 - Related info - could be prices, travel info, what you'd need etc.

Conclusion - 50-100 words (summation - again no more than 3 mins unless you have to come up with a serious plug to a product or service)

Quick research = just google - read the wiki and then skim read  a few related articles - if you get good at skimming you'll pick out the important points in seconds (make a note on sticky notes in my case). Also make sure your search terms are very precise to ensure maximum number of relevant results. (saves a lot of time)

I tend to blurt out one draft and the only real suffering is to grammar which i ignore for speed (It tends not to bother anyone lol)

I think it also comes down to a knack for BS :) but hope that helps a little. Maybe i'll write an article on it ;)

326 posts
Member since Jan 24, 2012

This might help also http://www.typeonline.co.uk/

1,094 posts
Member since Apr 27, 2011

I do things in batches:

First I research and take notes, usually for several related articles at the same time. Sometimes I structurethe research, sometimes I just skimread. I read scaringly fast, though.

Then I start typing. I do an outline, then I fill in the outline. Research is kept handy just in case, and I usually have some links already ready. I write all the articles.

Then I edit the articles, add the links, usually the following day so they have rested and I can catch things that don't sound right. If I am writing on a hurry I just try and rest for half an hour, then go editing.

If I am not working at an office, I do things at different moments of the day, depending on when I am more alert, creative or hypercritical. I also set myself time limits on research.

I wrote an article about that somewhere, but cannot find where :)

 

921 posts
Member since May 8, 2009

Okay...I am going to skip the whole question thing and just put my two cents out there. 

1) Practice makes a huge difference. So, having a deadline there that is creeping up on you (usually pretty fast cause I often took more work than humanly possible) forces you to work a lot faster and in turn makes you write everything faster (at least whne you are really working it). 

2) I am against laptops for major productivity. I assume that if I owned one I would find a way to use it better, but I love my split keyboard with great wrist support, and my great chair, and most importantly I have two monitors. This lets me do research on one side and type on the other. Which I definitely take advantage of. I think that investing in good and most importantly comfortable office equipment can go a very long way in helping you to produce more content. 

3). When working for others I follow the five paragraph article that Sam mentions above. I remember learning about the 5 paragraph essay in nineth grade and it really stuck with me. For a lot of things, it has everything that you need for a 500 word article. 

4). I type that baby up, skim it over for errors, make corrections, and then move on. 

5). Make sure you take breaks. This is very important for the health of your wrists and other body parts, as well as keeping your brain from turning into mush. After having a huge marathon and producing 40 articles...your brain will definitely feel mushy. 

All that said, I do spend more time on content that I produce for myself. Most people who are paying for freelance work aren't paying very much and only want 400 or 500 words. This requires that I move very quickly. When writing for myself I usually produce 600 words (though rarely) on up to 2000 words. In most cases I don't pay attention to word count, but write an article I feel is complete about the subject (or stop when it feels like it is getting too long). 

All that...and no matter what, practice is the most important thing. If you want to write faster, give yourself a goal you feel you can't meet and then work really hard to meet it. If you have only ever produced one article in a day then give yourself a goal of getting two of those babies up. If you have only ever produced 4 then aim for 5 or 6. By doing this you should be able to slowly increase how much you can get done on your most productive days. Here are a couple of articles I wrote that might help with a couple of concerns. :-D 

This is an article I wrote a few years ago and while it was in direct respond to frustrated parents, a lot of the tips can be used by all of the freelancers out there to get more work done. Writing For InfoBarrel With Little Kids At Home 

And finally because writing a lot and producing a lot of content can indeed be a bit dangerous and or painful I have the article Preventing and Releaving Pain Associated with Writing for InfoBarrel 

Okay...Now I need to go get to some writing. Have a great day! 

2,569 posts
Member since Jan 13, 2010

This has been a very helpful thread.  I want to do more freelance work, and did some for a time at Textbroker, but found that I lacked the speed.   This is certainly going to help!  Thank you!

326 posts
Member since Jan 24, 2012

OH and just one more mini-tip. The first month or so of 50 article weeks can be a real pain. Make sure you take breaks and if your fingers stop working rest for an hour. I DEFINITELY recommend deep heat (muscle rub) to keep your fingers supple lol!

953 posts
Member since Aug 13, 2011

This amazing!   Thank you all so much, I really appreciate it.   I knew I was missing something other than just will power...  I am a speed reader and gallop through books, the reading is not the problem, it's the location and getting to the heart of the info fast.  Then boiling it down to the important bits while setting the scene and placing it all in context.   

I'll be stickying this one to remind me til I get in practice.  I'll probably print up and pin up an outline and points somehere I can see it too.   I hope this thread helps other that these skills have eluded.  Thanks again.

341 posts
Member since Aug 27, 2009

I like to write how tos and do 50 or so in a week. I only pick what I know well -- home improvement. I introduce the idea or product, tell the reader why they want it or why they want to to do it, very detailed how to steps. I imagine the project as if I am doing it and write each detail. I don't assume the reader knows anything. I add tips, warnings and alternatives. To me it's like growing a plant -- start the seeds, feed, water, nuture and watch it grow into an article.

820 posts
Member since Mar 8, 2011

I love this thread, it is so helpful. Thank you for asking in the first place Claire, and to everyone who helped. 

440 posts
Member since Apr 15, 2009

Yeah, it makes a huge difference when you know your subject. I don't cite sources on all of my articles, they obviously take far less time to write. When I do want to find an authoritative reference, it takes a little longer. Same thing with hunting for interesting images if there aren't any cut-and-dry images.

If you tend to write on the same topics, keep a running word doc file of the resources you tend to use the most. That cuts down on research time.

341 posts
Member since Aug 27, 2009

If I do need to cite sources to back up my info I google edu. name of what I need or I use Google books.

953 posts
Member since Aug 13, 2011

Great tips, I am not kidding, this has helped already.  I think it is the focusing that is part of it, and the 5 part outline (on an index card in front of me) and having a time pressure.    I just wrote two articles from start to finish, and I did each in an hour which is fast for me (usually 2-4 hours), especially with faffing about with Amazon affiliate links too, the actual text was done in closer to 20 minutes.  I actually timed myself as a result of Aiden's post!   Maybe I should put a stop-clock on the table or something. 

Deb, most of what I write that is not Amazon, is off the top of my head, but I find going through the thousands of unlabeled images on my computer to get the right ones very time consuming and can take longer than the text.  Especially the how tos if I have a series of images, it sucks time up like a black hole!  

JackLuca, I start the how-tos but once I start adding those images. they seem to take hours to do.  I have to not be as long-winded either!  It's interesting to see the similarities and differences in technique, and great to hear from a few people so we can pick and choose the bits that apply best to our own way of doing things.  Thanks again everyone.  This is invaluable stuff.

 

 

1,968 posts
Member since Apr 13, 2011

I'd definitely say two monitors is great at improving the productivity of anything that you're doing that requires either the use of multiple browser tabs or two applications. My second graphics card broke a few weeks back and the performance difference was noticeable until I replaced it. I've also set up my laptop and desktop next to each other in the past.

326 posts
Member since Sep 30, 2011
SamJones said:

Hi Skeffling - right that's a lot of questions so i'll answer all of them in turn lol.

Ok one 500 word article shouldn't take more than 30 minutes ever. This breaks down to 10 minutes research and 20 minutes writing. I use a free sticky note program to crib so that i don't have to switch between word and the internet.

If you can learn to touch type this will increase your output hugely (though i can't)

Anatomy of the article is always the same for me.

1st 100 words - Introduction so only a few quick facts and a lead to read on (this is maybe 3 minutes work tops.)

Para 1 - Key features (whatever the niche - mainly travel in my work atm but applicable everywhere)

Para 2 - In depth (best stuff, hiddent treats etc, or actual method )

Para 3 - Related info - could be prices, travel info, what you'd need etc.

Conclusion - 50-100 words (summation - again no more than 3 mins unless you have to come up with a serious plug to a product or service)

Quick research = just google - read the wiki and then skim read  a few related articles - if you get good at skimming you'll pick out the important points in seconds (make a note on sticky notes in my case). Also make sure your search terms are very precise to ensure maximum number of relevant results. (saves a lot of time)

I tend to blurt out one draft and the only real suffering is to grammar which i ignore for speed (It tends not to bother anyone lol)

I think it also comes down to a knack for BS :) but hope that helps a little. Maybe i'll write an article on it ;)

30 minutes? Wow! I normally say it takes an hour to write a high quality article, research included. 

397 posts
Member since Apr 13, 2011

I like the outline method.  You can see where you are going with it after you do a bit of research.  Creating your first and ending paragraphs are a bit easier if you know what the "meat and pototoes" paragraphs of your article contain.

Just as an FYI, I think Circuit City currently has copies of Dragon Naturally speaking 11.5 at 29.99 right now, so take a look if you have an interest.

One more tip to add: If you get a larger monitor - at least 20", you could keep both your word program and the current research on the same monitor and not need two of them.

Thanks for all the tips from everyone.

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