As if the writing was not already hard enough, now it’s not just about writing – but writing a lot (since search engines have started loving long-form content).
According to a study by Backlinko, the average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words.
And given that the average typing speed is ~40 words per minute, this would take you ~48 minutes.
While it may not sound like a lot, it rarely happens that we end up writing a perfect blog post in the ideal time.
In my experience, it can take anywhere from 3-4 hours to write a blog post this long (and I have not counted the time that would be needed for editing and formatting).
In reality, it could even take days.
Given that it takes a lot of writing to get traction in search engines, a few tips on speeding up the writing process can really help.
So let me share a few techniques that have helped me write blog posts faster, as well as the tools you can use to make the process more efficient.
Let’s get started!
Don’t Write Before You Research
Everyone says it and I will say it too.
To write high-quality articles, you need to have your research done beforehand.
When you research before you start writing, it helps you get many different ideas that you can use when writing the blog post.
If you start writing first and do the research while writing, you are likely to find yourself in situations where you may have to redo a part of it or revamp it based on something new you find during the research.
On the contrary, when you do your research first, you have a clear idea of what you want to write about and how you want to structure it. This clarity helps you write blog posts faster and there are fewer edits needed.
How to do research for blog posts?
There are many tools available that can help you research a topic well.
I always start by typing the keyword (or blog topic) in Google and see what are sites/articles are ranking. I then go through the top 10-15 top ranking blog posts to get an idea of what others have written and what is likely to rank on Google.
After all, if something is already ranking, you’re more likely to rank if you create a blog post similar to it.
For example, if videos are ranking well for your keyword, you can consider creating a video. Or if listicles are ranking well, you can write a listicle on that topic.
Here are some more tools that you can do for blog topic research:
- BuzzSumo – It gives you articles that have done well on social media
- AHREFs – You can use it to find articles that rank well and attract a lot of links and social signals
- Google Trends – It can be used to find how is the search trend about your blog topic
Also Read: 21 Ways to Find Blog Topic Ideas
Create an Outline of Your Blog Post
Doing proper research will help you identify the topics and the sub-topics that you want to cover in your blog posts.
Once you have done all the research, you have a mesh of ideas (topics, subtopics, quotes, statistics, etc.).
Creating an outline allows you to give a structure to your blog post and also makes you think about the flow of the article.
Personally, I find this to the most effective part that helps me write blog posts a lot faster. If you do this part right, the actual process of writing an article becomes easier.
And why is that?
Because when you create an outline of your blog post, you are forced to think hard about what you want to cover and where it would fit in your article.
While creating an outline, you may find a lot of gaps in your article that need further research. This iterative process ensures that you have all the pieces you need before you actually start writing.
Tools for creating a Blog Outline
I use a tool called Dynalist to create outlines for my blog posts. It’s a free web-based tool (and also has a desktop version as well as Android/iOS app) that is meant to create lists.
I start with all the broad topics that I want to cover. These are usually the H2 titles of my blog post.
For example, for this articles outline, I would first create a list of all the tips I am going to cover. Once I have a broad list of all the tips I want to write about, I can fill in more details for each tip.
These can be sub-headers or pointers that I want to cover. In case your article needs to cite research or quotes, you can also put it in the list.
Below is the outline that I created for this blog post in Dynalist.
Keep All Your Research/Ideas in One Place
You don’t want to be wasting time trying to find a link to a relevant article or a document you saved somewhere.
Before writing the blog post, make sure you have all the research in one place. These could be links to articles/videos, PDFs, documents, etc.
Having everything in one place would ensure most of your time is spent in writing instead of looking for stuff.
This not only saves you time, but it also minimizes the distraction you may fall into if you start looking for it.
I am sure you’re well aware of your tendency to open Facebook or Youtube in the background as you’re working through your article.
Another side benefit of organizing all the stuff in one place is that it further helps you get a clear understanding of what you want to write about.
Tools that can help you keep your research in one place
Google Drive: If you have a Google mail account, you have access to lots of space on Google Drive. You can create folders for each blog post you want to write and put all the stuff about it in that folder. Another great thing about Google Suite is that you also get access to Google Sheets which can be good for having an organized list of links/tasks.
Evernote: It’s also a great tool where you can save links, text, articles, images, and videos. You can create a Notebook for each blog post and can even write your blog post in Evernote.
Find Writing Time When there is Least Distraction
This may sound obvious, but it works.
In this age of smartphones and an always-connected world, you can’t avoid distractions coming in from all places.
As soon as you start to write and are in the zone, a short distraction of checking your emails or Facebook notifications can throw you off it.
You may think it only took a few seconds, but in reality, our brain doesn’t switch from doing one thing to another so easily.
You’re the most productive when you focus on one thing (and one thing alone).
If possible, find that time of the day, when distractions are at an all-time low.
For me, it’s early in the morning when everybody else is sleeping and there are extremely low chances of anyone calling me or sending a message. The regular day hasn’t started by the time I get my writing work done.
You also need to make sure you don’t end up creating distractions for yourself.
For example, it’s best to disconnect from the internet. If you need to use the internet while you’re writing, make sure you don’t open social media sites or check your emails.
For me, it’s the early morning time. For you, it could be evening or late at night.
The time of the day doesn’t matter. What matters is to get uninterrupted time so you can focus on writing.
Write In Batches of 25-30 minutes
Heard of Pomodoro?
That’s what this trick is about.
Pomodoro is a technique where you work in batches of 25 minutes which is followed by a short break of 5-7 minutes.
I have been using Pomodoro for more than three years now and I can’t praise it enough.
And it’s no secret technique that only a few have known and used. It’s quite popular and you can find a lot of supporting articles about its efficacy.
The reason it works so well is that it forces you to write blog posts (or do whatever activity you want to do) for 25 minutes without any distraction.
These 25 minutes of undistracted work can be a lot more productive than many hours of work with continuous distraction. It allows you to get into a deep work zone (a concept popularized by Cal Newport in his book Deep Work).
And it also makes sure you don’t get mentally fatigued, hence the 5-7 minute breaks.
I have gotten so used to Pomodoro that I assess my work day by the number of Pomodoro’s I was able to do.
To make sure you’re writing blog posts faster, try this technique where you only focus on writing for a couple of Pomodoro sessions.
Tools to Use Pomodoro
There are hundreds of smartphone apps and Chrome extensions out there for Pomodoro.
The one that I use is called FocusMe, which is a Chrome extension.
FocusMe adds two functionalities to your browser:
- It adds a Pomodoro timer that you can start within the browser itself.
- It allows you to block some sites when the Pomodoro timer is ON. I use it to block social media sites so that I don’t end up opening it while the Pomodoro session is in progress.
Also Read: Best Chrome Extensions for Bloggers
Write First, Edit Later
I run many WordPress blogs and I use its default editor to write my blog posts.
I have seen many bloggers using Google docs or other similar distraction-free tools, but I prefer using the default WordPress editor.
The problem with this is that I often end up using a lot of my writing time on formatting or in uploading images. While these are all important, it breaks my writing flow.
I noticed that I am more productive when I write first and do all the edits, formatting, and image uploads later.
And it also makes sense.
When you’re writing, you’re in the flow where all the thoughts are coming together and you’re converting them into words.
Anything other than writing will end up distracting you or breaking that train of thoughts.
To make sure I get the most out of my Pomodoro sessions, in one session, I only focus on writing and I use another session to edit/format the article.
This may not work for everyone, but I have found this to be amazing.
A few months ago, I started using Evernote and I discovered its speech-to-text feature.
I have been hooked to it ever since and I often use it to write short paragraphs of my blog posts.
This makes it super fast for me to get an initial draft of a blog post or part of the blog post. It often needs a lot of editing, but the time saved in getting the first draft ready is huge.
This works especially well if you have already created an outline and have an idea about the headers and sub-headers you’re going to have in your article. With speech-to-text, you can quickly fill a few of these sections in the outline.
Note: Another area where I rely heavily on Speech-to-text is writing emails. If I am in a silent place, I often use this to reply to emails or create a draft of the emails that I send to my blog readers.
Rinse and Repeat
I saved the most important tip for the last.
All the above tips are useful only when you want to write consistently. The real efficiencies kick in when you start doing it repeatedly.
The more you write, the better you get at it.
I started this year with a resolution to write 1000+ words every day. While I have not been able to do it every day, I still have 45K+ words under my belt in 56 days.
More than the numbers, what matters to me is that I have become efficient in the process of writing 1000 words every day. It takes me less time and effort to write content as I have gotten used to the process.
It has worked great for me, and I am sure it will work great for you too.
If you could just follow one tip from this entire article, it would be to write every day (or whatever schedule you make for yourself).
When you start doing it frequently, you end up optimizing the process to a great extent.