Published by Yuwanda Black, Site Editor
The following is a guest post by Laura Pennington.
As any freelance writer knows, time is money. Although over time you will raise your rates and bring on clients who are more in line with better pay, you always need to be mindful of the time you spend writing.
The process of writing itself always takes time, but there are things you can do to accomplish things much more quickly and seamlessly as a freelance writer. Having managed multiple projects at a time while being a full-time graduate student and even balancing that load with a day job for 12 solid months, I know a thing or two about time management.
Thankfully, I have refined and edited my writing process to be as streamlined as possible. Following are several tips I use to make the most of my time as a freelance writer. These tips, combined with the concept of “booking yourself out,” can help you stay productive and on message.
If you are consistently writing in a particular industry or for one client, create a database of ideas where you can go when you need inspiration. Sometimes one of the biggest aspects of finishing a freelance writing project is actually selecting the topics themselves. Having a database of ideas helps things move much more smoothly and it also helps when you feel like your brain isn’t giving you the creative inspiration you want.
As an example, having written for a large majority of personal injury attorneys, I maintain a google spreadsheet of various tabs including news, research studies, and general questions that could be asked by someone interested in all kinds of personal injury accidents like slip and fall, vehicle accidents, or medical malpractice.
Whenever I need a new idea, I can visit this spreadsheet and something will usually jump start my creative process. You can also add resources and other information like high quality outbound links to consider in the blog post when you need ideas.
This goes along with the first tip. By selecting all of your topics in advance can make things go much more smoothly. For example, if you are requested to write eight blogs per week for a particular client, I strongly recommend selecting all of those topics the week prior. This is an excellent example of “batching”, where you focus on one particular task in bulk.
Having the topics listed and playing around with the headlines and resource links gives you the opportunity to call the most valuable information and to arrive on a final product in terms of headline and concept well before you write. This also makes it much easier to go through the process of writing itself since you’ve already selected the topics.
As any freelance blog writer knows, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole trying to figure out what topics you are going to write about if the client has not already given them to you. When you have a keyword list or requested ideas in news alerts to draw from, you can create your topic list in advance and this ensures that it is most likely to be in line with exactly what the client needs.
Select your topics ahead of time and record them in a document or in a spreadsheet so you can return to them when you are ready to write. You might also have ideas in between the time that you select the initial topics and plan to write, so you can go back and refine your list.
Regardless of the industry you are writing for, creating blogs requires being knowledgeable about news and happenings in that world. For example, Google Alerts can help you keep track of:
Google Alerts can be used to tag specific words and phrases which will then send you an email whenever a news story appears with that information.
You can use a separate email account to keep track of your Google Alerts and browse through whenever you are in need of ideas or when you want to see whether something new has happened. This is especially important when you are writing for any individual or company who likes timely news reports.
In my above example for personal injury lawyers, I keep track of research studies from various institutions around the world regarding distracted driving and receive news alerts whenever a story has been published about distracted driving.
It’s a win-win, since I get timely topics delivered to my inbox and my clients get blogs posted with quality outbound links shortly after a story breaks. They look like a thought leader for being so quick to cover it and I look like a smart investment for them due to catching and reporting on these issues right away.
The truth is that you can use Google Alerts for just about any industry, however, depending on the keywords that you select. Try Google Alerts for a month and see if it doesn’t help you come up with some ideas and add to that spreadsheet from the first tip so that you have a wealth of freelance writing blog concepts when you need them.
Although this might not be natural or desirable for every single writer, I found it to be extremely valuable for my business. In fact, incorporating this element into my freelance blog writing towards the end of 2015 allowed me to triple my writing and editing speed when I write blog posts.
While I don’t record myself speaking every blog post, I do use it a fair amount of the time and allow a transcriptionist to type it up. This has a dual purpose of allowing me speak more quickly (think 2 to 5 minutes of speaking time per 500-word blog) and it also saves my arms from the carpal tunnel process.
Even though I’m a fast writer, this process is much faster for me. I use it on projects only where I’ve done my research ahead of time and made an outline so I know what to say once I hit “record”.
What I get back from the transcriptionist are the exact words that I spoke on the audio file. I then edit it, add sub-headers, and add links or other relevant information. Having a regular process where I upload all of next week’s blog posts the week prior saves me a lot of time because I batch my work as recommended above.
Many of these excellent tips reinforce what I’ve said here.
While timing and process management might look different for every freelance writer, I have refined my process to look something like this:
This streamlined process means that I am always handling one particular batch or group of activities at any given time. Having the space between creating the blogs and editing it also gives me a better chance of catching any proofreading errors, because I am approaching the document with fresh eyes.
Getting on a regular schedule like this means that I know what I am doing every day of the week and this allows me to maximize my time.
What are the freelance writing blog tips you have for getting work done more quickly while not sacrificing quality? Please share in the comment section below.
Next Up: In my next post, I’ll be covering the client screening process to make sure that you’re working with clients who are ideal for your business. Weeding out poor fits can make or break your freelance career.
About the Author: Laura Pennington is a former inner city teacher and corporate employee who fled the grind in 2012 to work at home. Since then, she’s focused on SEO content for law firms and insurance agencies, writing everything from ebooks to blogs to video scripts. She now blogs at www.sixfigurewritingsecrets.com.
P.S.: Get in front of thousands of other freelance writers. Submit a guest post.
I hope all is well! I just wanted to let you know that this month marked the first month that my writing income surpassed that of my day job.
Thanks to your help and inspiration, I have more work than I know what to do with and have successfully landed a number of clients that give me recurring work. Thanks again for your advice!
SEO writing changed the trajectory of my freelance writing career. It can do the same for you!
Posted on May 17, 2016
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