Not to poke fun at Ron Stefanski at One Hour Professor, but headlines like this are just bogus:
It’s actually a decent article on how to transcribe your dictation for faster blog post writing. But for the rest of us, how does the 4,000-words-in-under-an-hour claim hold up to that most impartial of judges, math?
The average typing speed is about 40 words per minute. If you typed for an hour straight and never stopped, not to think, format, or even to pee, you’d only type 2,400 words.
So I call BS on the Professor’s math. A monkey endlessly banging on a typewriter could barely compose 4,000 words an hour.
But I get it. He’s trying to reel us in (worked on me, didn’t it?). As bloggers, we all want to write faster blog posts.
Not to be crass, but it’s kind of the penis pill of blogging, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just magically crank out more words? Wouldn’t that be more satisfying? If you could just go, go, go and never stop?
Oh, sorry, we’re talking about writing here. Anyways, yes, um, where were we? … oh yes:
Here’s how to write blog posts faster.
Or more accurately:
Here are 10 ways you’re wasting time writing!
You won’t write 4,000 words an hour with these tips. I can promise you that. But you don’t have to learn a new skill set or buy a software subscription to execute them.
I find that I can write up to 1,000 edited words in an hour using these techniques. Your mileage may vary.
1. You Don’t Time Yourself
As Peter Drucker said, “What can be measured can be managed.”
Time how long it takes you to write a blog post. Then identify how fast you want to be – 500 words an hour? 1,000 words an hour? Keep it reasonable, preferably not more than 2x as fast as your current pace. And then work towards that goal.
It’s the same advice a personal trainer gives a client: Record your progress every time you walk into the gym. For a blogger, record your speed writing and publishing a full article. Next time, aim for a 5-10% improvement. Baby steps.
It almost goes without saying that you shouldn’t be checking your Instagram, listening to a podcast, or otherwise distracting yourself during this time.
It’s also worth pointing out that the human brain can’t sustain maximum focus for more than about 90 minutes. So if you’re tackling a monumental pillar post, take a 5-10 break every 60-90 minutes.
2. You Don’t Use Blog Post Formats
Most blog posts follow some sort of regular organizational format. Think of them as an empty recipe, which you fill in with your content of choice:
- How-to’s / tutorial
- Informational (why/what/where/when/who/how)
- Review / comparison
- Case study
- Pillar post
- FAQ roundup
- Interview / Q&A
- Do’s and don’ts
- Pros and cons
- 10x and Co.
These styles remove the question of “What comes next?” Just plug n’ chug.
3. You Waste Time on Introductions and Conclusions
Nine out of 10 blog post introductions and conclusions are skipped over.
How to Write a Blog Post Introduction
Keep introductions short n’ sweet. Often a single paragraph will do. And always delete your first introduction; if it was your first idea, it was everyone else’s, too.
An introduction is your first handshake with the reader. You don’t want to offer a limp fish, do you? Lead with a:
- Joke or satire
- Shocking statistic
- Head-scratching question
- Personal anecdote
Avoid the funnel introduction, where you gradually move from the topic to the thesis. Everyone uses this. Everyone. It’s become cliche.
If you don’t have any good ideas, just rephrase the headline as a question, add your main keywords somewhere, and then dive into the main body ASAP.
P.S. Introductions are often best written last.
How to Write a Blog Post Conclusion
Here’s my secret to writing blog post conclusions: Don’t!
You can often ignore the conclusion entirely. Most people don’t read blog posts all the way through anyway.
At most, a conclusion should be 2-3 sentences, and it should be either a clever callback or a call-to-action.
The worst kind of conclusion is the classic recap. I know that’s what your high school English teacher taught you, but be better than high school English! Never, ever conclude a blog post by summarizing the main points unless A) you’re ending with a Big Takeaways list or B) leading the Reader to a CTA.
4. You Just Don’t Know Enough
Can I be a jerk?
If you don’t know about your topic, why are you writing about it?
If you picked a blog niche for the commercial potential rather than your expertise, you can write ‘til the cows come home. You still always be one step behind someone who actually understands the niche.
5. You Don’t Start With a Skeleton Outline
You should begin with an outline. It doesn’t have to be 100% complete; you’ll go back and add headings later. But you should at least know the topic 3-5 headings.
Full confession: I don’t religiously use outlines myself. Some people like to begin with an H2 skeleton, flesh it out with H3 subheadings, write the topic sentence of each body paragraph, and drill down from there. I hate that. But I generally write down at least my top 3-5 topics, and then I add more as I write and research.
Generally, the less personal experience you have with the subject, the more comprehensive of an outline you will require. You can flesh out the outline with FAQs and seed keywords generated from keyword research tools like People Also Ask, Long Tail Pro, or UberSuggest.
6. You’re Overthinking the Graphics
Finish your article first. Then include graphics, videos, tables, or other multimedia.
When I’m writing, and I know I want to include a graphic in a certain location, I’ll just add a placeholder. Like this:
[full-size image – dog with tongue lolling]
When I paste my written content into my page builder, that placeholder jogs my memory to include an image of a happy, drooling dog.
7. You Don’t Use Speech-to-Text Software
Every blogger should use transcription software.
Now, don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying you should write your blog posts by talking out loud. If you can do that, more power to you! – but most writers, including myself, think better on the page. I ramble too much when I talk.
When I have a bangin’ new idea (and I’m away from my computer), I use Easy Voice Recorder on my phone to record my thoughts. It’s kind of a stream-of-consciousness rant, but I can refer to my thoughts later when I sit down at a computer.
Keep the recordings to 3 minutes or less. Otherwise you’ll never find the Golden Nugget you’re looking for.
8. You Don’t Have a Content Calendar
A content calendar, aka publishing schedule, is the perfect antidote to writer’s block.
Now, a content calendar could be as complicated as a 7-column Excel spreadsheet with columns for
- Primary keywords (volume, competition)
- Secondary keywords (volume, competition)
- Word count
- Content style
- Ranked competitors
- Interlinks or topic cluster
Or it can be as simple as a Word doc with a list of headline ideas. This is sometimes called a content bank.
That’s what I typically do. Whenever I have an idea, I add it to the list. I’ll pull my next idea from this list, and then I’ll use this idea as inspiration for my next 2-3 articles.
The less familiar you are with your topic, the more search analysis you’ll have to do to identify competitive keywords.
That’s super important, so read it again.
Gut feeling can take you 70% of the way if you’re writing in a niche where you live and breathe. But if you’re managing a website in a niche in which you have little experience, you’ll need to do a lot more keyword research to understand the Reader’s pain points.
9. You Stop Writing
Not to sound like a Christian Scientist, but writer’s block really is all in your mind.
If I held a gun to your head (not that I would ever do that) and said, “Start talking about the best yoga mats for beginners!” I’m 100% sure you could talk for at least the next 2-3 hours.
The easiest way to defeat writer’s block is to read your top-ranking 3-5 competitors. Don’t copy their stuff, but read, learn, and riff.
Just get it down on paper. Grammar doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to write complete sentences. Nothing wrong with a fragment, or bad punctuation marks, or ugly misspellings. Who cares if Grammarly marks up everything in red?
If a blank screen scares you, grab a piece of paper and start scribbling. Start mind-mapping. Draw emojis. Just get something down on paper, a napkin, anything!
10. You Don’t Edit Enough
This reason sounds a little backwards. Wouldn’t less editing mean less time, you say?
No. In my experience, that’s not how it works.
If you’re not cutting at least 10-20% off every blog post, you’re not editing enough. You’re almost certainly leaving in too much fluff and obviousness. And it’s not uncommon to cut 40-50% off a first draft!
What I find is the leftover 20% of content, if not cut, just causes problems. It doesn’t fit in well, so you spend too much time trying to squeeze it into a section that doesn’t want it. It takes up time proofreading and line editing. It takes up time posting and publishing, maybe even sourcing a graphic for.
Write freely; edit ruthlessly. Murder your darlings, as the saying goes. The only thing you lose with editing is your vanity.
Bonus: Why Is an AI Tool Not Included In This List?
You would think a list of tips for improving your blog writing speed would include Artificial Intelligence tools, wouldn’t you?
Fun fact: I’m literally using an AI tool right now. Well, not now. I mean that I subscribed for one month to the best AI blog writing tool I could find, just to try it out.
I’m still working on my review, but here’s why an AI tool doesn’t make it on my list:
Yes, an AI tool will help you write faster. Unquestionably. You could even compose an entire blog post in maybe 10-20 minutes.
The question is, would that blog post be worth anything?
So far, my opinion is that if you want to write like a high school freshman who forgot about his essay due tomorrow morning, then yes, use an AI tool. Some people just want to watch the world burn.
Otherwise, trust your brain, and use your own fingers.