How Fast Do You Have to Write to be a Content Writer?

Walter Rhein

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Content writing is a position that requires you to create articles on demand for a huge variety of subjects. Assignments can be any length, but most commonly range from around 800 to 2,000 words. The occupation is attractive because it allows writers to work from home and choose their own schedule.

Recently I wrote an article on how to make $1,000 a month content writing. I’ve worked as a content writer for over a year, and I stated that you have to develop to a point where you can do a 2,000 word article in around an hour. At that pace, you can earn $1,000 a month in a little over 6 hours of work a week. The article was met with some skepticism.

Is it possible to write 2,000 words an hour?

Soon after my article was published, I received a comment from an individual who claimed it wasn’t plausible to suggest a person could write 2,000 words in an hour. He went on to claim that revisions and other considerations would add a significant amount of time to each assignment. He brought up reasonable questions and I would like to take the opportunity to address them here.

As far as the composition rate, I think many people have a basic misconception about writing. People think writers must go through a lengthy process that involves: composition, letting the work sit, revision, more sitting, balling up the paper in frustration, and eventually throwing out their work and starting over.

This concept represents a mythology of craftsmanship that the academic community likes to promote and which, really, isn’t entirely accurate.

Cartoonists

Everyone has probably seen a video of professional animators working on the slides for a Disney movie. Now, I’m a decent artist, but I’m not a professional animator. I can sit down and draw Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, but I have to consider each line and proceed with diligence and caution. As a result, it takes me a very long time to replicate the look of a common cartoon.

However, when you watch a professional animator, it almost seems like they’re swatting flies rather than drawing. They make quick, precise motions with their hands, and in only a few strokes they produce a perfect image. They don’t go back and erase and try again. They do it once perfectly and it’s better than anything I can create as an artist.

To become a content writer, you must aspire to write as quickly as a professional animator can draw.

Becoming a professional writer

The simple matter is, if you want to do something professionally, you have to learn how to do it very fast. The practical reality is that the more you can write, the more material you have to sell. I have also worked as a transcriptionist. In that job, your earnings came down to how fast you can type. If you can’t type fast, you shouldn’t be considering applying for the position.

I’ve worked as a writer for 20 years. I can produce a lot of content in a very short amount of time. Because I can write fast, freelance content writing is a reasonable way I can make a good hourly wage. If you are a person who needs a week to produce a 2,000 word composition, content writing isn’t a practical way for you to make money.

Your content writing compositions are timed

One of the things that is difficult about content writing, is that your jobs are timed. Once an article is claimed, the clock begins. The time requirement is around 6 hours for a shorter job, or up to 12 hours for assignments of 1,800 words or more. Because good jobs are available to anyone prior to being claimed, sometimes you have to grab four or five good article assignments at once. You might do this because they are on a related topic and a large pool of assignments means you can minimize your research time.

If you grab 4 articles, you must be confident in your ability to produce all of them before the assignment period ends or you risk the good standing of your account. I don’t recommend that new writers claim multiple jobs on their first day of content writing.

Revisions

When you are doing a good job, you almost never have to write revisions. Again, it’s a matter of getting as much done in the least possible amount of time. You’re better off making sure your assignment is right the first time than taking the time to open an email and assess a revision request.

I would say that I was asked to do revisions on less than 5% of my articles. The majority of those revisions were minor and took less time to implement than it took to read the revision request.

Client approval

When you’re working as a content writer, the article first goes to an internal editor, and then is sent to the client. Ultimately, the client decides whether or not to accept the article. I was a successful content writer because clients were nearly always happy with my articles. I can only think of two occasions where a client asked for a revision, and both cases were minor.

Research

Research can slow you down which is why it’s beneficial to grab assignments that are on a topic where you already have considerable knowledge. The good thing about content writing is that you’re often asked to write articles about things like digital marketing, SEO optimization, or a variety of other internet based topics that are always popular.

After you’ve worked as a content writer for a few months, you’ll start to have a larger and larger pool of assignments that deal with subjects where you consider yourself an expert. Content writing gives you the opportunity to read up on interesting topics that you probably wanted to learn more about anyway.

Basic sentence structure

When you are writing for a low payment rate, you shouldn’t waste time trying to produce something elegant. Focus on short, grammatically correct sentences. When I am composing a short story, I might reassess a line 20 times. When I am content writing, I put down a line, make sure it doesn’t have any mistakes, and I move on.

The process for content writing is to write an article as quickly as possible, give it a quick glance to correct typos, and perhaps one reread to catch poor wordings. I have, however, submitted articles without giving them a final proofread. I’m aware my articles will always be better after a proofread, but if I can get paid and maintain an account in high standing without doing it, then that’s more profitable for me.

Be fast, accurate, and reliable

It’s true that most people who begin to work as content writers are not going to be able to write 2,000 words in an hour or make $1,000 a month on 6 hours of work per week. There is a learning curve for any new job, and you have to improve your skill set and become familiar with what is expected of you. Learning a new job can make you want to quit in the first day, but if you stick it out for a month or two, content writing can evolve into a reasonable source of income.

Content writing teaches you how to be fast, accurate, and reliable. These qualities will enhance your professionalism and increase your earning potential. If you are not a fast writer, that does not disqualify you from becoming a content writer, it just means you are not going to make a decent hourly wage. I encourage all writers to spend some time content writing because it’s a paying opportunity that teaches you how to become a faster writer. But it’s true that for most writers, the compensation won’t be worth the time commitment.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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