Freelance Writers: How long do you take to write a post/article?

21 replies
Hey guys,

As someone who's written for content mills and low paying crappy clients at the whole "$5 per article rate" one of the frequent comments I've heard from them is:

"You should be able to bang two or three of these out per hour"

Invariably, I would take nearly an hour to research, write, and edit even *one*, even if I was trying to move quickly.

My best articles - the ones that I've done for popular sites like Make a Living Writing and Writers in Charge, have taken me up to three hours to write, but this includes killer introductions, great and informative content backed by serious research, and a great call to action.

Even when writing for my blog, I usually take 1.5 -2 hours to write a decent post.

So my question to you is:

1. How long does it take you write a "decent" article - nothing flashy, basic grammar with a couple of proper sources.

2. How long does it take you to write a GREAT article/post - one that leaves your readers begging for more?
#freelance #long #post or article #write #writers
  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    one that leaves your readers begging for more
    I never think about buzz terms like that.

    When I'm writing - I try for accurate information presented in a way that's interesting to read.

    If I'm writing "one" article of 1000 words - it may take an hour to do it. When I'm working on a project of many articles I write about 1500-2000 words an hour (that is to a finished product, not draft).

    That said - I can type as fast as I can make up words/phrases...I have no difficulty with language/spelling/grammar when writing...I've been writing as far back as I can remember.

    All you can do is write as well as you can at your own speed. The more you write, the faster you will become as your confidence grows.
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    • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
      Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

      I never think about buzz terms like that.

      When I'm writing - I try for accurate information presented in a way that's interesting to read.

      If I'm writing "one" article of 1000 words - it may take an hour to do it. When I'm working on a project of many articles I write about 1500-2000 words an hour (that is to a finished product, not draft).

      That said - I can type as fast as I can make up words/phrases...I have no difficulty with language/spelling/grammar when writing...I've been writing as far back as I can remember.

      All you can do is write as well as you can at your own speed. The more you write, the faster you will become as your confidence grows.
      Isn't the best indicator of good writing that people want to read more?

      I know several writers who, after I've finished reading a particular post or article, I go looking for more of what they have to write.

      Interesting is good, but compelling is better.

      When I'm working on a project of many articles I write about 1500-2000 words an hour (that is to a finished product, not draft)
      If you don't mind me asking, what type of clients are these and how much do they pay?
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      • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
        Banned
        Originally Posted by DTGeorge View Post

        Isn't the best indicator of good writing that people want to read more?
        I think so; yes.

        But I think that isn't at all in conflict with what Kay said about trying to present accurate information in a way that's interesting to read? Because "trying to present accurate information in a way that's interesting to read" is one of the things that produces writing of which people want to read more? So you're both saying the same thing, there, in a way - and both right, of course.

        I'm not a freelance writer, but I used to be, and in writing for my own business (for all my marketing purposes) I'm producing the same kind of thing - I'm just "my own only customer" in that I never outsource writing. But the purpose of all my writing is "to make people want to read more of it", really ...

        I use articles to generate traffic. The way I get people to my website is to circulate my articles to places they're already visiting/things they're already reading, and what makes them click on my link is really "their desire to read more of the same kind of thing" on a subject which we already know interests them (otherwise they wouldn't have been reading/looking there in the first place - wherever "there" was). When they get to my website, my primary objective is to get their email address, and I do that - again - by offering them "more of the same" to read in a way which they can only get it by giving me their email addresses. Then, when I give them the "free report" I do the same thing again. Then, when I send them emails, the primary purpose of each email is simply "to make sure they open and read and pay attention to the next email", because long experience has taught me that if I get the "continuity" right, the sales will take care of themselves. So all my writing is really "to make people want more of the same".

        But I think Kay and yourself are probably more or less agreed about that, even if you're using slightly different words to describe it?

        (Anyway, to answer your original question, it takes me a day - on and off - to write an article. If I did them "in one go", without pausing and doing loads of other things, each article would probably represent three to three-and-a-half hours' solid work, on average. I write only about 20-25 articles per month.)


        .
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        • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
          Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

          I think so; yes.

          But I think that isn't at all in conflict with what Kay said about trying to present accurate information in a way that's interesting to read? Because "trying to present accurate information in a way that's interesting to read" is one of the things that produces writing of which people want to read more? So you're both saying the same thing, there, in a way - and both right, of course.

          I'm not a freelance writer, but I used to be, and in writing for my own business (for all my marketing purposes) I'm producing the same kind of thing - I'm just "my own only customer" in that I never outsource writing. But the purpose of all my writing is "to make people want to read more of it", really ...

          I use articles to generate traffic. The way I get people to my website is to circulate my articles to places they're already visiting/things they're already reading, and what makes them click on my link is really "their desire to read more of the same kind of thing" on a subject which we already know interests them (otherwise they wouldn't have been reading/looking there in the first place - wherever "there" was). When they get to my website, my primary objective is to get their email address, and I do that - again - by offering them "more of the same" to read in a way which they can only get it by giving me their email addresses. Then, when I give them the "free report" I do the same thing again. Then, when I send them emails, the primary purpose of each email is simply "to make sure they open and read and pay attention to the next email", because long experience has taught me that if I get the "continuity" right, the sales will take care of themselves. So all my writing is really "to make people want more of the same".

          But I think Kay and yourself are probably more or less agreed about that, even if you're using slightly different words to describe it?

          (Anyway, to answer your original question, it takes me a day - on and off - to write an article. If I did them "in one go", without pausing and doing loads of other things, each article would probably represent three to three-and-a-half hours' solid work, on average. I write only about 20-25 articles per month.)


          .
          Thanks for the reply Alexa. Just to reply to your post now...

          But I think that isn't at all in conflict with what Kay said about trying to present accurate information in a way that's interesting to read?
          You're quite correct. Please note that I never disagreed with Kay - she was the one who expressed her her dislike for the particular language used. A disagreement based purely on semantics in my opinion, as I believe we are both right.

          it takes me a day - on and off - to write an article. If I did them "in one go", without pausing and doing loads of other things, each article would probably represent three to three-and-a-half hours' solid work, on average. I write only about 20-25 articles per month.
          Thanks for the feedback!
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  • Profile picture of the author Adrianhenry
    I did the $5 an article sort of thing for a while but I made it clear to the clients before they purchased that they will get the highest quality content I can produce in a timeframe that reflects the cost. So if they came to me wanted a really high quality 1000 word article I would charge them more and put in more research time and write a better article.

    For the standard $5 I would be doing about 1000 words per hour and charging $5 per 400 words so works out at just under the "3 article per hour" idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author KayeMariz
    I learned to produce articles faster through constant practice. The faster the turn around, the pricier the article. But of course for long articles like 1K words, I'd devote my time to researching and writing that would take a couple of hours.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      what type of clients are these and how much do they pay
      Authority site owners, product manufacturers, etc - from 4-12 cents per word. I'm not writing for others at the moment - only for myself so those fees are from 1-3 years ago.

      Interesting is good, but compelling is better.
      Call it what you will - when I'm freelancing my name isn't anywhere on the article. My goal is to add a layer of authenticity, interest and expertise that reflects on my client and his site.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        Alexa mentioned a good point. I was writing rather quickly because I had regular, long term clients. I was educated on their niches and I knew the subject matter through and through.

        I knew what they wanted as clients and I knew how the articles fit into the overall plan they had. That made it relatively easy for me to quickly produce good work.

        If it's a new client or a niche I don't know as well, of course there more time for research (though I've often been paid for that time) and it will take longer to write one article.

        Like Lexy - I'm writing only my own "stuff" now. It's another thing I like about freelancing - you quit for a while when you want to and start up again if you please.
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  • Profile picture of the author Christopher Fox
    Originally Posted by DTGeorge View Post

    1. How long does it take you write a "decent" article - nothing flashy, basic grammar with a couple of proper sources.
    My question back to you is: What the hell is an article?...? For it seems to have lost distinction. Now, the term article encompasses everything from long form articles in reputable and prestigious offline publications to crap that is nothing but respun PLR, which was respun PLR ... which started out life as a $5.00 article.

    And what is up with 500 words? That ain't much of an article about anything, IMO. An article starts at about 1,000, for me. Maybe 800, but no less and frequently well over 2,000 words.

    One of these days, that market will crash, for Google has too many smart people that will continue to develop The Alg so that only the best written, most pertinent content will be served up. It is very smart to find other traffic sources, other than the SEs, but they ain't goin' nowhere. Google IS the access point to what the Net has to offer. Consequently, as Google serves up the well written goods and quality content, THAT is the stuff that will go viral, in the end.

    People only have so much time per day to look at a computer screen/phone/tablet. As the Net matures, quality is what will rise to the top and occupy the limited time slots people have, regardless of how, by what traffic source(s), people ended up with the GREAT content on their screen.

    Crap content was/is part of an exploit in The System. The System, of which a large part is just the average Joe and Jane who demand quality content, whether arrived to from Google, an email, a Tweet, etc., will self-correct.

    Point being, the $5 article writing is a sinking ship. How long will she take to plummet to the depths?

    ┬┐Quien sabe? Could take a few years. Could take 1, or less. $5 articles I see as the spawn of SEO, spinning software, etc., all done in an effort to rank that particular page the article is on highly in the SERPs. Look at SEO today. Still appears to be going, but I think the smart ones are trending towards a marketing approach, for they see the writing on the wall.

    And you do not need to be a rocket scientist, expert freelancer, expert SEOer, expert IMer, etc., to see any of that.

    2. How long does it take you to write a GREAT article/post - one that leaves your readers begging for more?
    There is no set time. Some get put on the shelf for weeks or months, then gone back to and rewritten/finished. But, for 1,000 words, if I was doing my best, I would be hard pressed to finish it in less than a couple hours on a subject in which I was proficient. That includes stepping away for several minutes, rereading it many times and rewriting elements, etc.

    B2B White Paper writers can get several thousand dollars for an 8-10 page report that is not packed with words, maybe 3,000+, and taking 3-4 weeks to deliver after much consultation, research, etc.

    And not everyone can write a GREAT article. In any time frame. No implications towards you, just a general statement. A GREAT article is as much talent/art as it is learned and practiced skill. Not everyone can create a GREAT painting, fiction novel, script, etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
      Originally Posted by Christopher Fox View Post

      My question back to you is: What the hell is an article?...? For it seems to have lost distinction. Now, the term article encompasses everything from long form articles in reputable and prestigious offline publications to crap that is nothing but respun PLR, which was respun PLR ... which started out life as a $5.00 article.

      And what is up with 500 words? That ain't much of an article about anything, IMO. An article starts at about 1,000, for me. Maybe 800, but no less and frequently well over 2,000 words.

      One of these days, that market will crash, for Google has too many smart people that will continue to develop The Alg so that only the best written, most pertinent content will be served up. It is very smart to find other traffic sources, other than the SEs, but they ain't goin' nowhere. Google IS the access point to what the Net has to offer. Consequently, as Google serves up the well written goods and quality content, THAT is the stuff that will go viral, in the end.

      People only have so much time per day to look at a computer screen/phone/tablet. As the Net matures, quality is what will rise to the top and occupy the limited time slots people have, regardless of how, by what traffic source(s), people ended up with the GREAT content on their screen.

      Crap content was/is part of an exploit in The System. The System, of which a large part is just the average Joe and Jane who demand quality content, whether arrived to from Google, an email, a Tweet, etc., will self-correct.

      Point being, the $5 article writing is a sinking ship. How long will she take to plummet to the depths?

      ┬┐Quien sabe? Could take a few years. Could take 1, or less. $5 articles I see as the spawn of SEO, spinning software, etc., all done in an effort to rank that particular page the article is on highly in the SERPs. Look at SEO today. Still appears to be going, but I think the smart ones are trending towards a marketing approach, for they see the writing on the wall.

      And you do not need to be a rocket scientist, expert freelancer, expert SEOer, expert IMer, etc., to see any of that.

      There is no set time. Some get put on the shelf for weeks or months, then gone back to and rewritten/finished. But, for 1,000 words, if I was doing my best, I would be hard pressed to finish it in less than a couple hours on a subject in which I was proficient. That includes stepping away for several minutes, rereading it many times and rewriting elements, etc.

      B2B White Paper writers can get several thousand dollars for an 8-10 page report that is not packed with words, maybe 3,000+, and taking 3-4 weeks to deliver after much consultation, research, etc.

      And not everyone can write a GREAT article. In any time frame. No implications towards you, just a general statement. A GREAT article is as much talent/art as it is learned and practiced skill. Not everyone can create a GREAT painting, fiction novel, script, etc.

      And what is up with 500 words? That ain't much of an article about anything, IMO. An article starts at about 1,000, for me. Maybe 800, but no less and frequently well over 2,000 words.
      While I totally get your point about longer posts having more value, there are still reputable publications that request shorter posts. I remember Carol Tice mentioning that some of her articles for Entrepreneur ran between 400-600 words and suggested those paid around $100.

      One of these days, that market will crash,
      People will always game (or try) the system. I agree - Google's algorithms are getting better, and they will be able to take out most of the trash, but there will always be a way for that trash to occasionally rise to the top.

      My opinion anyway.

      But, for 1,000 words, if I was doing my best, I would be hard pressed to finish it in less than a couple hours on a subject in which I was proficient.
      Thanks

      And not everyone can write a GREAT article.
      Agreed, but "great" is relative and quite subjective, so I wanted to hear people's opinion on what they believed to be in their minds "exceptional" content.
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    Originally Posted by DTGeorge View Post


    Even when writing for my blog, I usually take 1.5 -2 hours to write a decent post.
    For someone new, it may take this long but after a while, you can get that time down to 30 minutes per article.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      Some get put on the shelf for weeks or months
      I have two folders on my desktop filled with single line ideas and with outlines for future articles. I'm always adding to it and weekly I look through it to see if something catches my eye.

      There are also subfolders where I'm gathering info on certain niches as I find it - so I'll have the facts I need to write articles in that niche at a later time.

      Every writer has his own method and works at his own speed and that's how it should be.
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      • Profile picture of the author AnniePot
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        I have two folders on my desktop filled with single line ideas and with outlines for future articles. I'm always adding to it and weekly I look through it to see if something catches my eye.

        There are also subfolders where I'm gathering info on certain niches as I find it - so I'll have the facts I need to write articles in that niche at a later time.

        Every writer has his own method and works at his own speed and that's how it should be.
        Straying slightly from the subject, that's exactly what I do for my current and future Kindle books. Then, when I'm working on a book and need inspiration, scanning through these folders often provides me with exactly what I need to move forward again.
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        • Profile picture of the author myob
          Back in the day when I was writing my own articles I would initially spend a week or two doing research on the niche topic. The information generally was more than adequate to produce one or two articles per week for several months, and then as reference points for additional in-depth content. But even with prepping in advance, some production articles did take me a few days to massage the wording for targeting specific reading audiences.
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    • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
      Originally Posted by talfighel View Post

      For someone new, it may take this long but after a while, you can get that time down to 30 minutes per article.
      I generally drop a few links in my blogs, as well as concrete information, and quite often I will write an introduction and scrap the whole thing because it doesn't go with the flow. If I'm rushed, I might be able to complete it in an hour, but don't think I've managed to dip below that.
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  • Profile picture of the author RogozRazvan
    I've never wrote content for other people but I do write content for myself. To answer your question - about 30 minutes for a 500 word article, but this is in a niche that I am extremely familiar with.
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  • Profile picture of the author tauhidbd1993
    Actually your questions (How long do you take to write a post/article?) answer depends on various things. Such as how many word will be the article? how expert the freelancer is? Which niche the article? One freelancer is no expert in all niche. If the freelancer know how to write the article, but if he is not expert in your niche, it may take long time. Generally a 500 words article may need 1 hours, No duplicate content/ plagiarism.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adam Gardner
    I'm not english native, I'm very weak in english writing, However that.
    I have a secret method to write unique article in less than 10 minutes
    No spinning , no copy pate, no plr
    I'm searching for a software developer to make my software idea.
    http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ware-idea.html
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    An article takes as long as it takes. Length, topic, your own experience and other elements all pay a part in determining time.
    The more you work, the better you get at writing but you will still vary in terms of how long it will take so don't stress over time. Just learn to read and write faster, without mistakes, and learn how to do research faster as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author drmani
    Originally Posted by DTGeorge View Post

    So my question to you is:

    1. How long does it take you write a "decent" article - nothing flashy, basic grammar with a couple of proper sources.

    2. How long does it take you to write a GREAT article/post - one that leaves your readers begging for more?
    As my written content (both for myself and for paying clients) must *always* be GREAT, I'll skip the first question

    It takes me between 30 and 45 minutes of actual writing/editing time for a 500 to 750 word piece of content - but that doesn't take into account the 'background thinking' time (that's typically during down time like while driving or taking a shower). If you add that in, it'll be typically an hour to 3 hours per article/post.
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