Learn how to create a daily writing routine to supercharge your productivity as a freelance writer!
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Let me ask you something.
When it’s time to write, do you:
- Have a go-to routine you follow to help you knock out your to-do list
- Feel so scattered you don’t know where to start and end up getting nothing done
If you chose ‘B’, then I want to help you fix that.
Because here’s the thing–wasting time is not something you can afford to do if you want to make more money freelance writing.
As a freelance writer who makes six figures doing this while also homeschooling two kids as a single mom, I know that time is money. So my goal is to always make the most of it where my freelance writing business is concerned.
And that’s where having a daily writing routine becomes crucial.
Related post: 15 Best Freelance Writing Sites That Pay Well
Why Freelance Writers Need a Daily Writing Routine
Here’s one really simple truth about being successful as a freelance writer: practice makes perfect (or almost, anyway).
The more you write, the better you get at it.
And the more you write about a specific topic or group of topics, the faster you become an expert. And becoming an expert in your niche is where the real money lies in freelance writing.
So having a daily writing routine is pretty important for improving your writing skills and increasing your expertise.
I write every single day, either for my freelance clients or for one of my blogs. And I can tell you that writing daily can make such a huge difference when it comes to:
- How quickly you’re able to turn out a piece of content (without sacrificing quality)
- How much you’re able to learn about your niche topics
- How much money you can earn as a freelance writer
The more productive you are with your time as a freelance writer, the better. Especially if you’re also a parent trying to take care of kids or you’re freelancing on top of a 9 to 5 job.
And having a writing routine and process can help you streamline how you approach your workday so you can knock out writing projects faster and more efficiently.
How to Create a Daily Writing Routine as a Freelance Writer
Coming up with a writing routine that works for you means taking a closer look at how you spend your days. What works for you might not work for me and vice versa.
So these tips are designed to help you create a freelance writing routine that’s realistic and workable for you.
Figure out when you’re most productive
The first step in making a writing routine is deciding when to write.
After freelancing for so long I’ve figured out that I need to focus on writing first thing in the morning.
This is when my brain is most awake and alert and it’s when I’m able to turn out my best work for my clients. If I have to work later at night, say after 10 pm, it’s more of a struggle to get the words out.
So think about what your day looks like and ask yourself:
- When do I feel most energized and able to write?
- What time of day do I feel most inspired?
- When do I have time in my day for writing?
If you’ve got a day job or kids at home that you’re trying to squeeze freelance writing around, then this can be a little trickier. And you might have to make some sacrifices to make sure you’re getting in front of your computer at your most productive times.
This is where it can be helpful to experiment. For example, you could try:
- Getting up an hour earlier each day to write
- Writing on your lunch break
- Splitting your writing time up into morning and afternoon
And keep in mind that your writing routine can evolve over time. When I first started freelancing, I only wrote at night after my kids went to bed.
Then I shifted to writing in the afternoons and homeschooling in the mornings.
Now I write in the mornings and only write in the afternoons or evenings when it’s absolutely necessary.
So figure out what works for you and when you’re most productive. Then commit to showing up to write at that time each day.
Create a writing process
Having a daily writing routine starts with knowing when you’re going to write. The next step is figuring out a process for getting the work done.
This process can look different for everyone. But here’s a good framework of what to include as you create a writing process.
1. Brainstorm writing ideas
So as a freelance writer, one thing you have to get good at is pitching ideas to clients.
Sometimes they’ll have a list of things they want you to write about. But more often than not, you’ll be pitching ideas for stories.
So you need a good process for brainstorming ideas. This is especially true if you’re an expert in your niche.
Because what happens once you get to expert level status is that you end up writing about the same things over and over again. So you constantly have to come up with new ways to spin a topic.
Luckily, there are different ways to come up with ideas for blog posts or articles, including:
- Google search
- Reading blogs written by your client’s competitors
- Reading your client’s blog or website to make sure you’re not duplicating ideas
- Checking your email
That last one might have you scratching your head so here’s what I mean by that.
Once you start getting established as a freelance writer, people will start emailing you with story ideas. Usually, these are PR people who are trying to get a feature for one of their clients.
A lot of times, these emails are just plain annoying. But they can also be a useful resource for generating post ideas if you take time to read them every now and then.
Once you figure out how and where you want to generate ideas from, make sure you’re keeping track of them.
You can use a Google doc or spreadsheet for this or an organization tool like Trello.
If you end up writing a story about a particular idea, make sure to note that in your tracking system so you don’t pitch the same idea to the same client again down the line. (And yes, I’ve done that.)
2. Do some keyword research
Having some basic SEO knowledge is huge as a freelance writer. SEO is what helps blogs and websites rank in Google search results.
Your clients might provide a list of keywords they want you to incorporate into a story or blog post when writing. But if they don’t, you can do a little keyword research on your own.
I use Keysearch for that. I love this keyword research tool because it can tell you how competitive a particular keyword is and it’s super-useful for finding related keywords as well.
Again, it can be helpful to keep track of your keywords. I use a simple Google sheet to do that but you can also keep a running list in Trello or a Google doc.
3. Write an outline
Writing an outline can help speed up your daily writing routine and get your work done faster.
An outline gives you a blueprint to follow and it’s almost like filling in the blanks once you’ve got the most important parts down.
When writing an outline, I like to follow this format:
- Come up with 1-3 titles or headlines (this is the H1 tag in WordPress)
- Create 3-5 subheads (H2 tag)
- Fill in subtopics for each subhead if necessary (H3 tag)
- Create a closing subhead or call to action (CTA)
So for example, say you’re assigned to write a post on how to get a small business loan. Here’s what your outline might look like:
- 5 Things to Know About Getting a Small Business Loan (H1)
- What Is a Small Business Loan? (H2)
- Benefits of Getting a Small Business Loan (H2)
- How to Get a Small Business Loan (H2)
- Check your credit scores (H3)
- Deciding how much you need to borrow (H3)
- Compare lenders (H3)
- Get your documentation ready (H3)
- Apply for a loan (H3)
- What to Do Next After Applying for a Small Business Loan (H2)
Having an outline isn’t a required step for a daily writing routine. But it can be immensely helpful in cranking out writing faster.
4. Create a rough draft
Once you have an outline, it’s time to start writing.
This is where you’re going to create a rough draft. At this point, you just want to get the words down.
You can go back and worry about fixing it all later.
I can write a rough draft of a post in about 30 minutes, depending on length, if it’s a topic I know well. But creating first drafts can take a little longer if you’re still new to writing.
Once you’ve got your first draft written, stop.
Take a break for five or 10 minutes. Then come back to your writing routine for the next step.
5. Edit your rough draft
Now it’s time to start fine-tuning what you write in the first draft.
This is where you’re going to work on:
- Making sure your ideas are organized properly
- Adjusting subheads or moving things around so the content flows better
- Adding things you forgot in the first draft or deleting things that don’t make sense
- Making sure the tone fits the client’s tone and desired writing style
- Checking that you’re conveying the main idea of the post
You also want to check for some of the most common freelance writing mistakes that can keep your piece from being as good as it should be.
So what do I mean by that?
Specifically, you want to avoid:
- Using cliched examples
- Adding in a lot of jargon (unless you’re doing technical writing that calls for it)
- Mentioning a concept or idea without explaining what it means
- Using the same words or phrases repetitively
- Writing in passive voice instead of active voices
- Creating big blocks of text instead of using shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs and/or bulleted lists
Those are all things you learn to stop doing the more that you write, which is another reason for having a daily writing routine.
Remember, you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. But you do want your final piece of writing that you turn into your client to be the best it can be.
Bonus tip: Let your edited draft cool off for a day if you can.
If you can plan ahead enough to give yourself a day or so to let a piece sit before submitting it, give it a try. Letting a piece rest before going back to it means you can give it a final once-over with fresh eyes to look for anything else that needs to be edited.
6. Proofread your writing
Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit I always need a proofreader for my writing.
I type close to 120 words a minute so sometimes my fingers can’t always keep up with my brain.
And even if you don’t type that fast, you can still benefit from a good proofread of your piece to look for:
- Spelling errors
- Capitalization errors
- Grammatical errors
- Punctuation errors
You can do this yourself but I like to use a tool for this. My preferred proofreading tool is Grammarly.
Grammarly checks my writing for me and it’s helped me to spot errors I might have overlooked more than once.
You could also ask someone else to read over your work before submitting it. I don’t do this but having a second set of eyes can be helpful.
7. Submit your finished piece
The last step in your daily writing routine and process is turning in your work.
Depending on the client, you might do this via email. Others may use a content management system like WordPress or something different to submit assignments.
If I’m submitting a piece through a CMS I always send my editor an email letting them know the piece is there. This way, they know I’ve met my deadline even if they aren’t able to look at the piece right away.
More Daily Writing Routine Tips
Following the tips outlined here can help you write faster and more efficiently so you can take on more writing projects and earn more income.
And to help you out even more, I’ve got a few bonus tips for making the most of your daily writing routine.
Use a calendar to keep track of assignments
Planning is key to staying on top of deadlines as a freelance writer.
All it can take to lose a client is one missed deadline so you definitely want to stay on top of when writing assignments are due.
I do this using a paper planner. I write down all of my assignments for the month on my calendar as they come in.
This way, I can see at a glance what I have due for the entire month, week by week and daily.
I also use a notebook to keep a running to-do list of what’s on tap for each week. I order the list based on what’s due Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on.
I also make notes next to the list for things like:
- Editors I need to email
- HARO requests I need to send out
- Invoices I need to send or follow up on
- Sources I need to follow up with
This is a really simple system but it helps me stay on track of everything so I don’t forget an assignment or an email that needs to go out.
Create a dedicated writing space
For the longest time, I did my freelance writing from my couch.
It was comfortable but I always felt so distracted by my kids, my dogs, the TV–it was hard to stay focused.
When we bought our current home, it came with a small room that I decided to turn into a work at home office.
And it was a great decision, productivity-wise.
Having a dedicated area where you can work on your writing makes it so much easier to stay focused. And it can help create some boundaries too, which is important if you have kids at home with you while you’re writing.
So look around your house and figure out where you can carve out some space for yourself.
But even if it’s just a corner of the living room or your bedroom, make that YOUR space for writing.
Follow a writing schedule
One of the best ways to get into a daily writing routine that you can stick with is starting it and stopping it at the same time each day.
For example, I try to start writing no later than 9 a.m. and I write until 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. each day and that’s it.
If I can get started earlier, that’s a bonus. But having a set start and end time helps train my brain to be in work mode.
If you’re not doing this yet, pick a time that you can realistically start writing each day. And try it for at least a week, though a month is better.
See how long it takes you to get your work done each day. And use that as a guide for coming up with an end time to stop working.
Then let other people know when your “office hours” are. That can cut down on phone calls or texts from friends and family who want to chat while you’re trying to be productive.
Last but not least, remember to build breaks into your daily writing routine.
Sitting at your computer for hours at a time is bad for your health and it won’t help you be any more productive. In fact, it can have the opposite result.
So add in breaks to your writing day. Using a timer can help you keep track of when it’s time for a break.
For example, you can write for 30 to 45 minutes, then take a 10 to 15-minute break.
Get up, walk around, stretch, have a snack, listen to some music.
This way, once you’re ready to go back to your writing routine you’ll feel energized and refreshed.
What does your daily writing routine look like?
I hope the tips I’ve given you here will help you create a realistic freelance writing routine that helps you earn more money! Do you have a set routine you follow as a freelance writer to get things done and be productive?
If so, head to the comments and tell me about it. Then don’t forget to pin and share this post!
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