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Creative Spotlight: 6 Steps to Increase Your Pace Without Sacrificing Quality

Deadlines are the catalyst that turns writers into authors. While the clock is not always your best friend, it’s a necessary component of freelance work. For those who have families or full-time jobs, fitting in the time to write and making it a profitable endeavor proves difficult. Or does it? With these six steps, you are on your way to raking in the dough in under a week. So what do you say, do you accept the challenge?

1. Assess Your Baseline

On average, how much time do you expend drafting and polishing a 500-word article? Divide the payment by how many hours it takes you to complete. Do you make less than minimum wage? More? Enough to justify your time? Regardless of your answer, time equals money, so the fewer minutes you spend producing reputable work, the better.

2. Set Goals

How much do you want to earn hourly in order to meet the needs of your household? Write that desire on a sticky note, and adhere it to the top of your monitor. If the number differs greatly from your current earnings, try breaking it into smaller, short-term goals. For instance, if your rate is $8 now, while $30 is a reasonable goal, the increase won’t happen overnight.

By planning out micro goals and setting a date to achieve them, you see success in tiny increments that climax into the fulfillment of a larger ambition. Perhaps you want to hone your writing process and weekly boost your hourly wage by $2. In 11 weeks, you’ll be pulling in $30 hourly. Write the goals and timeline on a sheet of paper or calendar as a constant reminder of your destination.

3. Segment the Writing Process

Now the fun begins. After finalizing the goal, compose an article. This time use a stopwatch to document how long it takes to complete each of the following objectives:

  1. Research
  2. Write
  3. Edit
  4. Add links and pictures
  5. Import into the content management system, reread, and post

4. Target the Most Problematic Area

After notating the data, identify the portion that absorbs the most time. Outlining the piece before you start will save serious time on research and writing. Look closely at the instructions for the article, and copy and paste the details under each headline. For instance, if directions request you highlight three to six hybrid vehicles and what makes them so efficient, including miles per gallon, engine specs, and electrical charging time, your outline will be as follows, following the same pattern for each car:

Car 1

  • Miles per gallon
  • Engine specs
  • Electrical charging time

While you research, focus on the information presented in your bullet points before adding any other data.

For better writing times, avoid backspacing. If you mess up, keep typing. The editing session provides ample time to fine-tune your work. Also, if you write for a certain campaign for a stint, study that field in your free time. If your focus is hotels, read travel magazines at your leisure. If you record automobile specs, learn the components of a car. While this may seem tedious, increasing background knowledge on the topic you write about decreases composition and research time substantially.

If editing causes frustration, consider the root. Are you unsure of AP formatting, so you constantly refer to online guidelines? Create a cheat sheet and save it as a document. Keep it as a reference while you formulate ideas. If repetitive word usage bogs you down, post a list of alternatives. This is especially useful if you author similar articles on an ongoing basis. For instance, during a dealership campaign, you potentially pen hundreds of articles about autos, so why not have car synonyms posted on the wall of your workstation?

Importing the text into the system should not prove difficult if you already have the article written. If after pasting it, you invest 20 additional minutes to proofread, next time try walking away from the article for 10 minutes before completing it in your word processor. That distance will probably eliminate valuable editing time. Always read your work aloud and use the editors’ and writers’ checklist before you hit submit, because revisions take time away from writing articles and making money.

5. Slice off Small Chunks Of Time


Image via Flickr by wwarby

If tweaking problem areas satisfies your overall goal, congratulations on a magnificent job! Otherwise, subtract time from the longest section first, and subsequently divide the leftover minutes by the remaining four categories. Set a timer at the beginning of each process, and stop when it sounds. If you do not finish the task before the bell rings, jot down ways to work faster. Reset the timer for the following section, and try to quicken your pace to make up for lost time. Your objective is to finish all previous and current parts of the assignment before the buzzer goes off.

Pretend you face a firm deadline. What if this was a death row appeal? Or a college application? Then you wouldn’t consider wasting valuable seconds to get a drink of water or research Black Friday deals . Instead, you would execute it accurately and swiftly because the alternative would disappoint. Treat every article time limit like that.

6. Repeat Process Until Goals Are Met

Keep slicing off bits of time in each category until you reach the amount you want to make per hour. At any time, if you receive multiple revision requests, halt the procedure, and study the editor’s comments. Do you recognize a pattern in the errors? If so, rectify it as quickly as possible and continue the course, making sure to pay close attention to that issue. If you can’t find a commonality, take a brief recess from reducing your time in order to improve your craft.

Don’t get frustrated if you hit a road bump. Use your researching skills to collect tips on how your colleagues write, and network using social forums to figure out tricks of the trade. As you reach each micro goal, celebrate. Remember that a $2 raise is quite impressive in other professions, and give yourself credit for the hard work that it entailed. Regardless of the journey, if you follow these six easy steps, you’ll succeed.

About the author

Darla Vazquez