There are a bunch of estimates out there on the web when you do a search on something along the lines of “How long should it take me to write [something]?”
Some people are talented enough to whip out first drafts like there’s no tomorrow. Some of us need to get the main idea down, then go back in and shore it up with some structure.
That was the case for this blog entry:
- I knew a lot about the software programs I cited (several hundred hours of gameplay)
- I had an idea of the improvement I wanted to make, after ruminating on it for several hours
- Had about 20 minutes of free time to gabble into the phone dictation app
With that amount of research behind me, I was able to take the baseline idea and knowledge about the programs to build a solid article-style blog entry. Introduction, brief explanation of gameplay (breaking the game into capture and battling) and examples of previous software improvements over the life of the game. This structure provided two things: context for readers unfamiliar with the software, and some authority that I knew what I was talking about, gameplay and software wise.
The rough numbers on this article / blog entry
It finally took me about 5 hours to write and edit to complete and post 1,200 words. Factor in at least that amount for research and calculated gameplay, as well, a couple hours for the images, and you get 12-15 hours total, in an industry I’ve already got a couple dozen years experience in from a gameplay perspective. If I’d written this article a few months ago, it might have taken longer (I’ve had a lot of practice in the last few months creating content for various clients, which is in turn making my stuff better).
Learning to count hours
I “grew up” writing in a corporate environment, with senior writers and mentors helping me get it all done. We figured out what we could do in the X number of weeks we had to get the pieces of the project done, and got it done. As I’ve ventured into freelancing more heavily, I’ve started tracking my time. That helps when I’m billing a project, but kills me if I estimate wrong (who wants to quote 20 hours and end up taking 60?). So I started looking for experts who had measured this over the long term, covering multiple styles of projects.
I found this PDF online, and it’s been a pretty accurate guide so far for both my client and my personal work. While it doesn’t specifically call out “blog posts”, it can still be used as a guide. This article I’d rate higher than web content, more along the lines of a full on article or large newsletter section. Having this info does two things: provide me an authority to check myself against, and provide backup other than personal experience to accurately estimate projects.
Keeping count of your hours by prepping them well
Keep track of your hours, in 15- or 30-minute increments.
Save time at meetings by having an agenda ready to go.
- Writers: If it’s an intake meeting, throw a few of your main questions at the client before the first meeting. Encourage them to send you the answers before you meet (so you can fine tune the rest of your questions).
- Clients: Ask your writer what kind of questions and topics will be part of the meeting so you can send the information out ahead of the meeting.
Shave time off of editorial meetings by doing edit and edit review ahead of time.
- Writers: Give the client enough time to review and comment on edits. Encourage them to send the notes to you at least a few hours before the meeting.
- Clients: Your writer should send you content for review, along with a meeting request to review the notes you send back. Get the notes back to your writer in time for the meeting; ideally a day ahead of time, but send notes at least a couple hours before the meeting for your review.
As a freelance writer, I work with my clients mostly virtually and record most meetings. I use GoToMyMeeting (I’m an old Citrite, so I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for our long-lived acquisition), and my clients are given the option to have a copy of the meeting sent to them. Run recordings to split out audio the audio, send it to a transcription service, and have transcripts made as well (if you work better visually).
For a look at a side by side comparison of the first draft to the final draft, click here to download the full report in PDF form.
If you like my approach to writing and you’re looking for someone to take your story from good to great, contact me here.