When you are a copywriter, especially if you’re a freelancer, time is money. I coach writers on this all of the time. Becoming faster AND better is the way to continue just writing (not going into other skills or roles) and making a great living.
You can learn to manage your time. Here is an evaluation of how long different types of writing tips, along with some time management tips for writers.
Check this out in video form:
How Long Does Writing Take?
Knowing how long it takes to write something helps you with all kinds of copywriting skills. When you know how long something takes, you’ll be able to project your income, scope with accuracy, and manage your time.
All of this comes down to you as a person. The more experienced you get, the more you’ll be able to write well and efficiently.
Here are some averages based on my considerable experience as someone who is a copywriter and has worked with hundreds of copywriters.
How Long Does it Take to Write a Blog?
On average, I’ve found that professional writers can typically produce 500 words an hour of well-researched, search-friendly content.
There are some who may be in the lower range, but I’d be shocked if a professional writer could write less than 250 words/hour for an average copywriting gig.
There are many who occupy the higher range. I’d say Ross from my team could easily write closer to 750+ words/hour. I personally can write about 1,000 words/hour for a typical blog. This blog will probably take me about 20 minutes max because I know the subject matter and don’t have to do any research.
Point being - it varies how fast a writer can write. There are absolutely ways you can learn to write faster and not compromise quality.
Factors that impact timing include the nature of the content itself (i.e., quick SEO blogs versus whitepapers) and the writer’s individual work habits and cognitive abilities.
If you can think faster, you can learn to write faster. But this doesn’t make you more or less smart. I have some very skilled writers who are simply slower processors. They tend to gravitate toward projects that give them more time and can write with a fantastic level of precision.
How Long Does it Take to Write an Email?
Emails are interesting when it comes to timing. Really bad, irresponsible copywriters can write emails in like 30 seconds. But the better you get, the more you realize just how much thought needs to be put into great sales or marketing emails. IOW, the more you know, the slower you go. Simply because you know how much is at stake and how meticulously you need to craft messaging.
I’d say an expert copywriter could whip up a great marketing email in 30 minutes to an hour. Depends on the length, obviously, and if they’re also doing layout.
I don’t think it would ever really take longer than an hour, unless a ton of research is going into it. The word count simply isn’t that high.
How Long Does it Take to Write Social Media Posts?
Social media posts can be short-form or long-form. A two line social media post shouldn’t take a writer more than 15 minutes or so. Longer form social media posts can veer toward the email range, depending on word count.
I’d say that social media is definitely an arena where knowing the audience and knowing the brand are mission critical. I always budget in onboarding and discovery for social media clients, for the sheer reason that we need to get the voice/vibe in such a way that we can distill it down into these bite-sized posts with ease. That takes more time than the writing itself.
Time Management Tips for Writers
I have three big picture recommendations if you’re a writer who wants to manage time better:
1. Create Processes for Everything
The more you can have go-to templates, frameworks, and step-by-step order for yourself, the faster you'll be able to make structure and process decisions. Those out of the way, you're free to simply create within an established framework. Huge time saver.
Example — this social media scheduler is literally rinse and repeat across clients. Amazing.
2. Know Your Highest and Best Use of Time
Every day, you'll encounter endless opportunities. The better you get at writing, the more this is true. You need to know not just what you're good at but what you're best at, first of all. Then, you really need to know the revenue-related metrics of time spent. Don't spin your wheels with lower cost clients. Don't get sucked into low return projects. Focus. Be ruthless about what you say yes and no to. That discipline will make all of the difference.
3. Get Obsessed With Observation
I observe the world around me to maybe an unhealthy degree. I am always watching, reading, and listening. I read every ad. I listen to every commercial. I read clothes tags and soap bottles. I take content in obsessively. I also eavesdrop like a creep. Every conversation people have around me.
While I'm doing this, I'm banking it. I've built these immense catalogues of ideas, phrases, word choices, and more. It becomes this internal library I can draw from anytime I write.
The outcome? I always have ideas. Literally always. Do this. You will always be ready.
Quick Tips for Writer Time Management:
Keep your calendar updated immediately and at all costs.
Use a digital to do list to list out the tasks of each day, updating it as needed throughout the week.
Use a whiteboard to chart the flow of your daily tasks — I recommend a whiteboard because the flow will change as you get interrupted.
Set the next day’s plan (including logging reminders) before you log off your computer each evening.
Schedule buffers — Switching tasks is a big part of professional copywriting. You know yourself and know how much time you need to achieve this cognitively. Make it happen in your calendar and in your daily workflow.
Quick Tips for the Client ManagEment Side:
Clients are the element of time management that can feel hard to control. Projects take way longer than they should. The schedule or plan changes (a lot). You have new players and suddenly an editing workflow is elongated. All of these are critical to track and you MUST be flexible, humble, and kind. It’s an inevitable aspect of doing creative work for pay. Get used to it. And do what you can to keep it from being catastrophic.
Here are some tips:
Know all the parties and steps involved in production — as much as you can, get familiar with who needs to be in the loop and how much say each person has.
Set precedents and manage expectations — make it clear how long it will take for you to produce something and then how much time you iwll need to implement requested revisions. You have every right to set this expectation and enforce it.
Schedule a margin — “According to plan” is hilarious in agency or freelance life. Plan a margin so that you know, if this is due Thur., it will be done Tue. That way, when something else comes up, I have a margin.
Managing Your Time as a Writer
When you control your time — and it doesn’t control you — it’s freeing. You can pace things according to your own style and abilities. You can communicate and enforce boundaries. You can achieve what you want and have a clear line to what’s possible in your copywriting career.
Taking any of these and putting them into practice? DM me about it - I’d love to hear. @Joywriteryouell on Insta or @Joyyouell1 on TikTok. Good luck!