I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “time is money.”
Well, this adage is especially true when you’re a freelance writer. After all, the more you write, the more you will increase your overall hourly rate. And one way you can raise your hourly rate without asking your clients for more money, is to become more productive.
One thing I have discovered from my decade of freelance writing experience is that the better you are with managing your time, the more money you will make.
Once I learned how to manage my time and become more productive, I was amazed at how much more time I had. I was able to get more done and earn more money as a result.
In this post, I want to give you some of the productivity time-management strategies I used to raise my hourly rate. Use one or use them all and test which ones help you become more efficient.
1. Freestyle Writing
Freestyle writing entails writing from your knowledge and flowing with it, without editing, until you get to the end of the piece.
This practice requires that you have knowledge on a topic because referring to research while you are writing will disrupt the flow. That’s one of the reasons why I instruct writers to become specialists in their field.
With freestyle writing, the important thing to remember is to hold off on editing until the end. This can save a lot of time and increase your productivity.
Once you are finished writing, go back and check for grammar and spelling errors. Fix any problems, and then move on to another project.
Don’t submit this piece to your client yet. Work on something else, and a couple of hours later, give it one more read-through. You’ll be surprised at the errors you missed the first time around. Do this with all of your work and you will find you can work much faster without sacrificing on quality.
2. Work on One Type of Writing at a Time
I know it can be difficult to focus on only one type of writing at a time, but this practice increases your productivity considerably.
Did you ever start working on a project, and about an hour into it, you really start to feel the juices flowing?
Once this happens, you write quicker and your productivity increases. As a result, you get more done in less time. But, once you shift to a different project, this flow can start to wane considerably.
If you have to write 4 articles, 3 blogs and 2 press releases, if it makes sense with your schedule, do the articles all together before you move on to something else. Don’t do one article and then skip to a press release and then go back to an article again. This can break up your flow and your speed.
3. Do Your Research Before You Write
Here’s a scenario: You just picked up a nice gig, but it’s on a topic with which you’re not familiar. Don’t start typing until you understand fully what you’re writing.
Once you feel well-versed in the topic, write without stopping. It’s all in your head, so just go for it. If you need facts at your fingertips, keep a couple of windows open next to your writing page. You will be surprised at how fast you can write once you feel confident in the topic.
4. Write an Outline
Outlines are helpful, especially when writing longer blogs, video scripts or eBooks. The outlines serve as a roadmap to keep in front of you, which allows the ideas and writing to flow much easier.
To help yourself even more, write keywords to include in every section of the outline. Those will remind you of points to include and may even birth new ideas. It’s amazing how outlines help. I couldn’t work without them.
5. Set a Timer
I know. It seems like a wild idea, but if you have writer’s block or you feel you have too much to accomplish, start the timer!
Set it for 20 or 30 minutes. Suddenly you will find your fingers moving. It’s now competitive. You must beat the clock! I’ve written some of my best work with a timer ticking in the background.
6. Turn Off Spellcheck
Wait, what? Turn off spellcheck?
I know this can sound foolish, but if you’re a writer who has issues seeing those red lines everywhere as you write (like I do), turn it off. I promise you will save time and it will help you write more in less time.
I find that spellcheck makes me stop in the middle of a thought because I want to correct the error. I fix the issue, the red line is gone and now I can’t remember my thought. It drives me crazy. If this is you, try turning off spellcheck and putting it back on after you’re finished writing.
7. Find the Right Work Environment
Listen to music.
Work with the TV on.
Work in your quiet office.
It’s your choice.
Discover what type of atmosphere makes you a speed writer. It doesn’t matter if you work best in the middle of Grand Central Station. There isn’t any judgment when writing and making the big bucks. It’s all about getting the work done and discovering what the best environment is for you personally.
I know writers who can only work while their kids are playing and screaming. I could never do that. I need quiet and calmness. It’s all about the environment that causes YOU to be more productive.
The best way to discover how you work best is through trial and error. Soon you will know the best atmosphere to allow you to write quickly.
8. Chunk Everything
Chunking entails breaking down a large amount of information into smaller pieces.
Ever hear the saying, “You can eat an entire elephant bite by bite?” That’s chunking.
When you land a gig…especially if it has many aspects to it, chunk it! Grab a piece of paper and break it down into smaller more, bite-sized pieces so that it doesn’t seem so intimidating.
Here’s an example: You’re hired to write a 100-page eBook. You’re paid a nice sum of money, so you want to be sure you can do a great job and complete it by the deadline. It’s your first time writing an eBook, so you’re jamming up a bit. Chunk it! Turn that gig into smaller parts.
- Research the topic
- Outline the project
- Figure out your chapters
- Identify key words and points to cover in each chapter
- Make a draft of each chapter
- Final Edit
You will have that eBook written quickly because of chunking.
9. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method that was developed in the 1980s. This technique is based on using timed intervals for working. For example, you work for 25 minutes, and then take a short 3-5 minute break. It’s been shown that short intervals between times of work can improve mental agility.
According to the developer, Francesco Cirillo, it’s important to use the “old school” timing method with the Pomodoro Technique… meaning use a kitchen timer and paper and pencil, not an online timer. The physical act of using a timer and pencil confirms to the brain that you are on a schedule.
10. Learn to Type Fast
If you are a “plucker,” meaning you peck at each letter, you could be wasting valuable time with each key you hit. Learn to use the 10-digits touch-type method.
When I type, I don’t look at the keyboard, which allows me to fly through an article in a short amount of time. I used to need to look at the keyboard, but with some training I was able to improve my speed.
There are courses online, as well as exercises that you can practice, to speed up your typing. Learning a new method might take a little time, but it will save you hours of work in the long run.
I like to play the free games on Typing.com. They also have tests and lessons to help you improve your typing speed.
Want to Make More Money?
If you want to make more money, then it’s time to get productive.
If you write one 1,000-word article in two hours, you are making $50 an hour. But if you write that same article in one hour, you’re making $100 an hour. Quite a difference!
Using my time-tested techniques will make you more productive and help you increase your per-hour rate quickly. Try implementing them today, and let me know how you do!