As a freelance writer, your goal is to earn as much money possible to support your lifestyle by writing for clients.
At the same time, you want to produce the best possible content for your customers, so they keep coming back for more.
Assuming that you prefer juggling multiple writing clients, you need to answer this question:
How can I write faster without compromising the quality of my work?
Working for multiple clients to help you build your finances is great, but working for too many restricts your time from writing a content piece that you can be truly proud of.
Due to deadlines and other writing commitments, you may be forced to write a post that does not reflect the quality and scope you promised to clients.
By sending over underwhelming work because of limited time, you risk losing clients who became unimpressed with the articles you posted.
Therefore, to maintain the quality of work you are known for your customers, you need to improve your time management skills and writing speed.
The part about managing your time properly using tools is covered in this post, so I do not have to elaborate on this subject.
What I will discuss, however, is improving your writing speed with a simple trick.
It is so simple that it will not blow your mind. In fact, you are already doing it as part of your process but are not entirely aware of how it can indeed help speed up your writing.
It is drafting outlines for your articles.
See? Not a sexy trick, but I find it to be the most important step in learning how to write faster. Let me explain.
Imagine yourself taking up different writing projects, each of which covers various topics.
Before transitioning from one project to another, you need to research the subject of the next project first and brainstorm for article ideas.
However, you cannot afford to spend too much time brainstorming for article ideas. If you want to remain productive, you need to stick to a schedule that allows you to write and submit content on time.
Back then, I got stuck writing articles because I do not have a clear idea of what I want to say. I just communicate unfiltered ideas straight from my head until I lose my train of thought. I then have to rewrite certain parts of the article for it to make sense.
In the end, it slowed me down from writing quality articles tremendously.
I did not get to submit the best version of the articles because I get pressed for time to edit them to my liking. As a result, I was not able to impress the client enough to get him or her to order again, which has happened countless of times.
I realized that I needed to learn how to write faster, so I do not waste time getting lost by my ideas.
This is why learning how to develop outlines has been a blessing for me regarding my freelance writing career.
How can outlines help you write faster?
Before accepting writing projects, you need to outline the articles first even before you begin writing them. Below are the benefits of doing this:
- It helps refine your ideas – Writing without establishing a clear direction will only get you lost as you get deeper in your writing. By outlining your thoughts first, you can form a cohesive argument in your article.
- It lets you create a flow – For your content to be truly useful, you need each word in your article to serve a purpose. Whether it is telling a story or presenting cold, hard facts to your readers, how your words help build this flow will help you engage them even more.
- It lets you establish your talking points – Your outline should help you develop the points you want to discuss and elaborate on your content.
By having all the information you need in your outlines before writing the articles, you can guarantee to deliver the articles to your clients in time!
How do I use outlines to write faster?
It is one thing to explain how outlines help you how to write faster. It is another to show how it works.
In this case, I will be more than happy to share you how I use outlines to write articles faster.
First off, I use Trello to organize my writing projects and assignments so I can keep on top of things.
(Note: If you click on the Trello link above and created an account, I will get a 1-month free Gold subscription which added features. If you like the post so far and do not have a Trello account yet, then I would appreciate it if you sign up for an account. You won’t regret it!)
To give you an idea, below is how my Trello board looks like:
Recently, I wrote a post about how to develop an organizational structure for your startup at Business.com. But before writing the article, I developed an outline to help me lay the foundation of the article.
Below is the screenshot of the draft in Trello:
I make sure that the outline for the article features the following:
- Introduction – Raise a compelling argument by stating facts, statistics, or case studies to support how I want the content to flow.
- Body – Identify points to discuss to flesh out the premise of the introduction.
- Conclusion – Normally to wrap up the post.
- Additional notes – Mention resource links that need to be featured, editorial guidelines of the site I write for, and other information.
You can tweak the outline as you see fit as long as it will help you write an excellent article fast.
The most important thing is that outlining your article only takes 5-10 minutes of your time. Once done, all the information you need in writing your article is in the outline. Just focus on writing the article based on what you have drafted in your outline. Developing outlines take away the guesswork from writing all your assignments for your clients.
Tips for developing your outline
If you have yet to try developing outlines for your articles before writing them, below are basic guidelines to help get you started.
- When developing outlines, take note of the best practices of writing powerful web content such as developing compelling headlines and intro parts, among others.
- Refer to resource links that help you elaborate on certain points of the article. You can either link them within your article or rewrite them to put your spin to it.
- If you are not comfortable using Trello, use a much simpler tool like Workflowy to develop your outline.
- If you are an Evernote user, you may want to read this post by Michael Hyatt on how he uses the app to create blog posts. Goes to show that there is no one way of drafting article outlines. Use what feels is the most comfortable for you.
As a freelance writer, you want to make the most out of your time so you can write as many posts as possible to maximize your earnings. In my experience, drafting an outline before writing your content is the best and simplest way to improve your productivity and finish your articles on time.
Hopefully, my process above and additional tips should help you form your way of developing outlines for your writing projects so you can impress your clients and get more orders in the future!
For those who have been using outlines to draft their articles, how has your experience been? What other tips related to developing outlines that you can share to freelancers and help them write articles faster? Comment below with your ideas!