For example, editing while you write. Step #2: Gather your data The point of research is to bring your outline together and to ensure that you’re creating an article of substance. Step #5: Edit your article “Write first, edit later.” This age-old rule sounds simple, but it works. Craft a mission statement for your article Before you begin writing, it helps to know what the ultimate goal of your article is. From that, I know that every sentence I write should help you save time while still writing quality words. How much time does it usually take you to write you an article? Let’s say that you have a 5,000-word article to write. You’ll find that it takes you way less time to complete an article. If your writing is focused on one industry, there will be many words that frequently show up in your writing. What does your writing process look like?
I hate to say it, but I’m going to anyway.
Speed and quality rarely have anything to do with each other.
Great content, both in scope and quality, takes time to come together.
As marketers, a lot depends on us being able to write remarkable content in record time.
As the CEO of Salesforce put it, “Speed is the new currency of business.”
The quicker you can create content, the quicker you can drive leads through your marketing funnels, generate buzz for your brand, and enhance every pillar of your business.
We’ve seen that search engines prefer long-form and comprehensive content.
In fact, the average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words.
Efficiency in your writing process is something you should work towards.
And it’s not impossible to achieve.
I’ve used some unique techniques to improve my speed and content quality over the years.
In this article, I will show you how to do the same.
Here’s what you can expect.
- Publish better content more frequently.
- Write faster without compromising quality.
- Take on bigger writing tasks and finish with time to spare.
If you put these techniques to work, you should be able to shave at least an hour of writing time for every article that you write.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Compartmentalize the writing process to avoid context switching
Want to know your number one productivity killer?
Multitaskers experience a 40% drop in productivity, take 50% longer to accomplish a task, and commit up to 50% more errors.
The same holds true for the writing process.
You can fall into this rabbit hole one of three ways.
- Doing two things at once. For example, watching TV while you write.
- Transitioning into an activity immediately after you’ve just completed a task with different demands
- Switching from one task to another without completing the first. For example, editing while you write.
Every time you make that switch, your brain has to burn tons of calories to readjust.
The result of this context switching?
It stresses you out, wears you down, and prolongs a task that would otherwise take less time to complete.
I challenge you to designate some time to zone in on each task in the writing process.
Here are some of the tasks that you may choose to focus on:
Let’s break this down.
Step #1: Create an editorial plan
An editorial plan is important to the content creation process.
It ensures that all your content is tied to a bigger goal, so you can keep meeting your business objectives.
Here’s an example from HubSpot:
Ideally, you should have a prioritized list of topics ready to go.A solid headline will take
A solid headline will take time to compose. I recommend crafting a compelling headline for each topic during this process rather than when you sit down to write.
You can also speed up your brainstorming process by using a tool like HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator.
Simply plug in some general topics and click “Give Me Blog Topics.”
The tool will spit out a few good ideas. Some will have weird phrasing, so you may have to reword them a bit.
Step #2: Gather your data
The point of research is to bring your outline together and to ensure that you’re creating an article of substance.
The more thorough your research, the better.
The more data-driven, the better.
But here’s the thing.
Quality data can take a lot of time to come up with.
Not only do you have to find the primary source, but you have to ensure that these sources are authentic and trustworthy.
The easy solution?
Build a swipe file of statistics.
I’m a big fan of swipe files. They allow you to compile everything you need in one place so you don’t waste time searching for information.
Here’s how you can curate data for your swipe file.
Keep tabs on authoritative websites in your niche
Chances are, someone else has already gathered the data that you need.
That’s where trusted industry blogs come in.
For one, trusted articles are usually data-driven. This means that you can always find relevant statistics by searching for content similar to yours.
You can also find curated statistics that are relevant to your industry.
Here’s a simple search formula: [niche] + statistics + [year].
Just look at all the results I got from searching for “content marketing statistics 2017.”
Click on one of the results, and you’ll get a ton of data points.
Set up Google Alerts
Why not make Google Alerts your research assistant?
Go to your account and create an alert for relevant data.
If you’re not specific about your search queries, your inbox will be filled with irrelevant data.
Here’s how to ensure that doesn’t happen.
- Use quotation marks around your search queries. If you were to set an alert for content marketing rather than “content marketing,” you would get an alert every time the words “content” and “marketing” appear. You don’t want that.
- Refine your search around specific sources that you know to be trustworthy. For example, “Content marketing” + “HubSpot statistics” OR “Content marketing” + “Harvard new research.”
- Opt to get your data once a week rather than daily.
Sift through online publications
Here’s the thing about industry blogs.
They’re a great source of data, but everyone uses them.
You’re more likely to find unique information in online publications such as magazines and catalogs (not just blogs).
They’re also easy to find.
Go to Issuu.com and plug in your keyword.
You’ll find lots of free publications, mostly magazines, related to your search term.
Make use of research databases
There’s no better source of research than databases dedicated to curating information.
Whatever type of supporting material you’re looking for, be it infographics, scientific studies, or presentations, you will find a database to serve your needs.
Here are some examples:
Step #3: Outline your article
When you know what you’re going to write about, the words fall into place easier than if you were coming up with ideas on the fly.
A good outline gives you a holistic view of how your article will come together.
Aim to be as thorough as possible. The research process is key to ensuring that you have as much detail as possible.
This way, you can knock out each point without having to divert your attention away from writing.
The days of switching between ten different tabs for reference will be over. In turn, you’ll be minimizing distractions, which will save you so much time.
See how detailed this is? That’s what you want to strive for.
Step #4: Draft your article.
Have you ever heard the saying, “all good writing is rewriting?”
It suggests that the purpose of a draft is to get the words out. Perfection comes with the editing process.
I agree with this, but I also think you should strive for a usable first draft.
This way, your draft isn’t so far off from what your article should be that editing requires a complete overhaul.
That would be counterproductive.
With that said, here are some tips for writing a quality draft quickly.
- Use short sentences.
- Use bullet points and numbered lists.
- Connect the dots for the reader logically.
- Use topic sentences. (This type…