Why Article Writing is Not Easy

girl writing on a black keyboard

There’s a myth out there that article writing is easy. Yes, when you start writing articles online, you can write about whatever you want. But, don’t think that online writing doesn’t need lots of thought or effort put into it. You can’t just type whatever comes to you, hit ‘publish,’ and expect it to be good web writing. As an experienced former article writer for hire, I can tell you writing online content is not as easy as it might look.

Technically, you can write whatever you want online. But, as with anything, the more thought and effort you put into writing your article, the better results you’ll get out of it. So, while you can write article on any topic, you need to be sure that you write it in a way that people can find it through search engines, or even make it valuable enough that other people link to it.

Sure, there are some easy topics for article writing out there. Subjects which you have a lot of knowledge or expertise about are going to be much easier to write than something which requires you to do a lot of research beforehand. But, even if you think you know something very well, it’s still good to research that topic. The trick to writing successful articles is choosing an authoritative topic on that particular subject.

You don’t have to write the perfect post every time, though. Yes, there are those of us that can whip out a blog post in 15-20 minutes, slap a Creative Commons or public domain photo on it, give it a snazzy title, and publish it with an immediate audience.

But, is that true of most article writers? Certainly not. Also, it’s better not to rush article writing like that. Most of my own articles and essays take between 30 to 45 minutes, while ones that require more research can take me up to two hours to write. Still, there’s a time to write fast and fix things later.

Write Fast, Fix Later

There are article writers who can write 1000 words in 20 minutes. But, don’t feel bad if you can’t write that fast. It takes LOTS of practice to be able to write so quickly. For me, what helped me the most over the years was retyping my journals into the computer. This practice, which I started in junior high school around 2000, helped me practice typing and getting to a point where I could easily type 80 to 100 words per minute. Also, as I typed up this material from my notebooks, I also would find myself editing them along the way. So, this practice helped me become better at self-editing, too.

Obviously, when you’re writing on scrap paper or in your own journal or notebooks, you’re not going to worry as much about how you word things or even follow proper grammar. You’re just writing whatever comes to you. It seems many people think that writing perfect prose just comes naturally to experienced article writers. That’s not true at all. For every post I whip out in half an hour or so, there are five to ten potential articles and essays which end up on the back burner. Of these five, eighty percent of those will end up scrapped and mulched for future writing ideas.

There are also plenty of articles and essays I whip out, then months or years later return to and heavily revise. Thanks to being a mutable impermanent medium, blogs and websites also online article writers an endless chance for tweaking and polishing. After all, what you write online is live to the world. If you’re not happy with it, you’re going to change it sooner than later. You want to always put forth your strongest effort. Even if it’s not your best work, you want what’s live to be something you’re fine with having your name associated with it.

Another mistake people make is just write for what the search engines want right away without thinking twice if actual people will find it helpful. So, it’s much better to just write first for people, perhaps keeping a keyword phrase or two in mind, then further optimize for search later. It’s easy to have an idea that you’re not sure how to optimize for search, and most ideas you have will be just that.

Most ideas I have for articles and essays don’t immediately tie to anything people will search on a regular basis; so I’ll just draft it first, then figure out keywords after I’ve gotten the ideas down. It’s much easier to SEO a post after getting it completely written, and sometimes, I don’t do full on SEO for a post until it’s been live for awhile and I get data on how it’s performed. While many people write to keywords, I usually write first, then keyword them later. It sounds backwards, but it helps me to just get words out, and not sound like an article spinning script or an AI content generator.

While knowing target keywords is important, you may find yourself shutting yourself off to topics, just because you don’t have a high-volume search phrase. Not all topics will get a lot of search traffic to begin with. Not everything you write has to be Page One of Google SERP’s material. Just write what comes to you and optimize as needed later.

Write Ahead, Always Be on Schedule

To make up for those times where the writing isn’t flowing, many article writers write ahead. This is why you see so many writers hammer out a lot of posts at once. That way, you can go back and decide if something is ready to publish or not.

Still, everyone’s writing process is different. Some of us take lots of time to craft the best article or blog post that we can. When I have a post which I really want to come out the right way, it can be a long process. That post can take days or even weeks to get published online.

There’s a 2019 article from Zenpost about how many 1000 to 1500 word blog posts take two to four hours to craft. Today’s best performing articles online are much more thoroughly researched and comprehensive than in the past. While that’s a good thing, that content quality is improving dramatically over the years, it also means you have to put a lot more into your articles than ever to make them work out well.

But, if you just get your ideas down and worry about making them full blown articles later, you’ll be in better shape. You can spend an entire day on a post, but when you come up to needing something new to post for the week, you may find yourself starting with next to nothing. It’s best to get the ideas down first, find the piece that’s most relevant to your target audience and/or interesting to you, then go with fleshing that article out before moving on to the next one.

What Makes a Good Article or Blog Post?

Plenty of thought has to go into articles and blog posts. Much of the time spent on an article is research, and even more of it goes into editing. Not only should you do fact-checking or look for additional info, but you have to understand how and why that particular article should get actual interest from actual people. Will this topic resonate with your intended audience? Is it a subject people will even care about? There’s so much going on behind the writing that most people never think about.

Sure, you can just sit there and use a blog as your personal journal or as a way to curate content. Not only is that a fine way to use a blog, but my first blogs were more about curation and reaction than article or essay writing. Back in the early 2010’s, I just wanted to connect with others through online writing without really thinking about it as a career. Article writers and bloggers should just do whatever works for them with their writing. But, if you want to take your article writing and/or blogging to another level, that’s when you have to start treating it with far more care and invest lots more effort.

Yes, it’s absolutely a myth that article writing doesn’t require a lot of time and effort. It most certainly do, especially when you’re trying to grow your writing efforts into a well-paying career. Just starting a blog and writing anything takes time and effort. Even if you’re just writing for fun, it’s never going to be as easy as it looked before you got started! After all, you’re publishing your article to the general worldwide public, and that’s nothing to sneeze at! But, writing for profit gets more complicated than just doing it as a hobby, and requires a lot of time, effort, and patience that, sadly, most of today’s bloggers and content creators don’t really have in abundance.

So, the old saying “if you blog, they will come” isn’t exactly true. You have to put in a lot of time and effort for a blog or website to live on. For those that can do it consistently, though, be proud of them for doing something they love as an occupation! If you have the passion to put extra thought and effort into everything you publish online, there will be a pay-off in the end, even if it’s not obvious right now.

~ Amelia <3

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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