I can write 1,000 words in 45 to 90 minutes if it’s a topic I know well or it’s a topic that doesn’t require all that much research (usually because I know the topic well). If it’s research-intensive, whether online research or my own research such as testing a product, it can take 8 hours or more. For content I write for my sites, I tend to cherry-pick easier topics I can bang out in 60 to 75 minutes. But back in the day when I wrote everything, some blog posts took me 4 to 8 hours per 1,000 words.
Formatting and images can add another 2 to 30 minutes depending on how many images are needed and how difficult they are to find. If it’s a straightforward post like this post requiring one image, it takes no more than two minutes.
The type of article you write makes a huge difference on how long it takes you to punch out 1,000 words
I publish many different article types across my portfolio of websites. I find that the number one determinative factor with respect to how long it takes to write 1,000 words depends on the article concept itself. Below I will list out all the different types of articles I publish and set out roughly how long it takes me to generate 1,000 words.
Question & Answer posts: Q&A posts are my current fave. I write them. I order them. I publish them in droves. I like them because they’re relatively inexpensive to produce and are very pointed articles that IMO are great for users. This post is an example of a Q&A. I can write a 1,000 word Q&A post in 45 to 90 minutes. Usually it takes about 1 hour. I have the luxury of cherry-picking topics so I can bang them out fast. My guess is they take writers I hire 60 to 120 minutes.
Product/Service Review: I’ve spent 6 hours or longer writing reviews. I’ve spent 60 minutes writing reviews. It depends on how long it takes to use/test the product, software or service. In many cases, I’ve used whatever I’m reviewing extensively by the time I start writing in which case the review writes itself very, very fast… sometimes as fast as 45 minutes per 1,000 words.
Listicle: Listicles can be very time consuming. They’re simple conceptually but I find they are tedious probably because listicles often come to 2,000, 3,000 words or longer. They also usually require a decent amount of research and organization in order to be thorough. With research and planning, listicles typically take me 90 minutes per 1,000 words.
Product roundup (i.e. best of): I don’t publish many of these but they’re essentially listicles and so they can require extensive research time. A good product roundup can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours per 1,000 words.
Comparison: I also publish many comparison articles. An example would be AdThrive vs. Mediavine. That article took me about 2 hours to publish. However, I know both ad networks extremely well. On the flip side, it became time-consuming getting all the screenshots of revenue that I included in the post. That post is 1,750 words. That comes to a bit over 1 hour per 1,000 words. Not bad at all.
Case study: Case studies typically take longer per 1,000 words because it’s data-based. It can take time compiling and/or collecting data. I’ve written my fair share of case studies on this site and often for those I need to spend time in Google Analytics and other software platforms collecting data. Once I have the data, the writing goes pretty fast.
Photo gallery: I always accompany image-centric posts with write-ups about each image. I’ve found that merely publishing a pile of images won’t rank in Google. It’s too bad because most of the text I add is kind of fluffy. I simply describe the images. Sometimes I’ll elevate it with some commentary or editorial about the images. While tedious, once you have your images (which can take hours), the writing goes fast. The bulk of the time spent creating photo gallery posts is finding/optimizing the images. I’ve spent 8 hours or more putting together excellent visual posts with the bulk of that time spent finding images. For example, sometimes I need to ask copyright holders permission to use images. This can add long wait times to the production of the post.
Timeline / History / Evolution: I love writing these types of articles because I enjoy history but these are research-intense that take a long time to produce 1,000 words
Recipe: Recipes take a long time to produce because these days you need to do the recipe, take the photos, then write it up. The word count isn’t long but getting 1,000 words can take many hours on account of having to make the dish, taking the photos then putting it all together.
How to: How-to articles are like recipes but these can be longer in word count. Check out Instructables.com. There are 3,000 word tutorials for more complex projects plus dozens of images. These types of posts can take days to produce. On the flip side, I can bang out a 1,000 software tutorial in 60 to 90 minutes. For example, if I were to do a simple post on a Google Sheets feature, that wouldn’t take long at all. Once again, how long it takes to publish a 1,000+ word how-to article depends on the nature of the project.
IMPORTANT: If you’re curious about how long it takes to write 1,000 words because you’re an aspiring freelance writer, you should add 30 minutes or more to the above estimates because you’ll be spending time reviewing instructions from your clients. You’ll also be facing topics with which you’re not that familiar and so you’ll need to do more research.
Is it possible to become a faster writer?
You bet it is. I can crank out 1,000 words far faster than I could 10 years ago. There are many reasons for that.
First, I know exactly how I like my blog posts with respect to formatting, headings, level of detail… everything. It’s second nature to my at this point because I’ve written millions of words for my blogs over the years (across many niches).
Second, I like writing so I have no problem sitting down and focusing on writing for hours at a time. It’s easy for me. It’s like what playing the piano is to a concert pianist or what running is to a marathoner. I’ve built up a mental tolerance for writing a lot of words in a day.
Third, I have the advantage of owning many sites, all of which get traffic (some get lots of traffic) so I know what I need to do in order for a blog post to be good. I don’t strive for perfection but I do strive for good.
Bottom line: The more you write, the better and faster you’ll get.
My blog post writing process for high-volume output
Step 1: Create an outline off the top of my head
I start every article using my brain. I don’t search in Google. I think about it for a few minutes and start listing out subheadings which form all the various aspects I want to cover. As I write I usually add more.
Step 2: Plug the title or keyword into Google and get a lay of the land
I then plug the keyword and entire title in Google to see how the topic is already covered and what I should do to clobber the competition. I pay particular attention to the “People Also Ask” questions as well as the “Related Searches” section at the bottom of the Google search results page. I almost always discover one, two or more additional subheadings to add to the article.
Step 3: If there’s a seed keyword, I’ll plug that into Ahrefs Questions feature for more subheadings
I don’t do this all the time because many topics I write about are very long tail (such as this blog post’s topic). However, if there’s a seed keyword in the keyword phrase, I plug it into Ahrefs and check the questions tab for more Q&A opportunities to include. Sometimes when I do this I come across more blog post ideas.
Step 4: Write the meat of the blog
Once I have a fairly complete outline, I start writing. It’s basically filling in the blanks.
Step 5: Format and images
The last thing I do before publishing a post is find the images I need and/or get screenshots, optimize them and insert them. I also format the text (heading tags, bullet points, etc.).
That’s it. That’s my process. Somewhere along the way I write the intro. Sometimes the intro comes first. Other times it’s last. And sometimes I get intro inspiration during.
Step 6: Give it another read (proofread)
I do this after I publish it. Why? Because I tend to have a keener eye knowing it’s live. I’m not sure why that is but I tend to do a better job proofreading when it’s live than when it’s in draft. I don’t recommend this; you’re better off proofing when a draft but if you find you do a better job if it’s live, go for it.
Is 1,000 words long enough for a blog post?
It can be. I publish a good amount of 900 to 1,300 word blog posts across my portfolio. Most Q&A posts fall in that range. Some comparison articles do. Photo galleries often do as well. Recipes can come in even shorter. The rest tend to be 1,800 to 3,000 words. Listicles are typically very long (I publish a lot of listicles as well just because they rank well and earn well from ads).
My suggestion for growing your newer blog faster
If you’ve chosen a good niche and you like the high volume content blogging model (as I do), my recommendation is to focus on content that is easier/faster/cheaper to produce in the beginning (assuming it’s also easy to rank because it targets low competition keywords). The fact of the matter is if you have 1,000s of keywords to go after, you might as well go after the easier ones first. By easy, I mean that it’s easy/cheap to produce the content. I do this to this day, even for my more authoritative websites. When it comes to this online publishing gig, I like easy.
Before I started writing this blog post, I plugged the title in Google to see what other folks had to say on the matter. It seems I’m in the minority with my time estimates for writing 1,000 words. I read posts suggesting it takes 4 to 6 hours per 1,000 words. While some content can take that long, most shouldn’t; not even close. That’s not really financially feasible unless you publish a blog in a highly technical niche.
Think about this from a freelancer’s perspective. If a freelancer is charging you $.05 per word, do you think they’re going to spend 5 hours on 1,000 words? That amounts to $10 per hour. That’s below minimum wage in many parts of North America. Sure, if you pay $.10 per word, you can expect something exceptional but I still doubt any freelancer would take 5 hours per 1,000 words at $.10 per word. That would be $20 per hour, which is respectable but my hunch is most would be in the 2 to 2.5 hours per 1,000 range.
How long did this article take me to write?
This took me 1.5 hours coming in at 1,900 words. That works out to 1,266 words per hour. Not bad but keep in mind this is a topic I know well. I didn’t have to do much research at all. I just banged it out off the top of my head. It also required only one image.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.