Why does it take over 3 hours to write a blog?

In a recent Content Marketing Trends piece, Ben found that the average length of time it now takes hours to write a blog. In fact, blog writing time shot up by a whopping 26% in the last year to 3 hours and 16 minutes.

As blog writing is one of the main services we offer here at Write My Site, I thought I’d snoop around a bit and find out why it is taking content marketers so many hours to write a blog post.

So, how long does it really take to write a blog article?

Every year, Orbit Media surveys 1000 bloggers about their content writing practices. It’s a great way to gauge the changes in the industry and plan for the future. Here’s what the current report had to say:

  • 9% of bloggers take more than 6 hours on one post. That’s double 2015’s total.
  • 33% of bloggers who spend 6+ hours per post report “strong results”
  • 23% of bloggers who spend less than 6 hours per post report “strong results”

7 reasons blog writing takes so long

Within two years, bloggers have gone from creating most of their blogs within two hours, to taking nearly twice this amount of time. Let’s explore the reasons for this change.

1)      Blogs are getting longer

The most obvious reason for why copywriters now take hours to write a blog is that the pieces themselves are getting longer.

The average length of a blog post in 2016 was 1054 words: a 19% increase from the previous year.

Some argue it should be even longer: according to blogging platform Medium, the ideal blog should take seven minutes to read – about 1,600 words.

The reason for the growing trend in long-form blogs is simple: every day more blog pieces appear on the internet, and the competition for readers grows more intense. To cut through the noise, you have to offer something more detailed, more in-depth, and more insightful than the pieces you wrote last year. At Write My Site, we call this the add a zero approach.

2)      A good blog goes through many stages

Writing a good quality blog is a complex process with many stages. It’s not a ‘stream of consciousness’ exercise, even if it might read like one when it’s finished: a good blog article has a clear structure, a defined angle, and a well-researched argument. And that’s before you start thinking about optimising it for the search engines.

This pie chart from a writer at Buffer is a good example of the blog writing process. Kevan Lee analysed his blog-writing habits for a week and broke his process down into 8 stages. On average, he took 2 hours 58 minutes to create each blog article.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how he spent his time:

As you can see, only a third of Lee’s time is spent on the actual writing: the rest is the necessary background work that gives each piece a chance to succeed.

3)      Topic choice requires careful thought

Concept creation takes time. Finding a topic that will hook your reader and answer their questions is pretty tough. You also need a strong angle and a clear argument.

Some writers are also afraid of writing about competitive topics – they shouldn’t be. These are the topics your audience want to read about so get stuck in.

There are lots of tools and sources you can use to find potential topics. Keep a list of your ideas close by and you’ll never be caught short.

4)      Research is essential to your blog’s foundation

Research is one of the lengthiest parts of the blog writing process. It takes time and there are no shortcuts. To write a strong and effective piece, you need to understand each nuance of your chosen topic – if you don’t, it won’t be successful.

Supporting statistics are a useful weapon that, if used correctly, can bring your piece to a whole other level. It’s easy to take it too far, however, and stuff your piece full of numbers that clog up your message. The litmus test for whether to include a statistic is this: does it move the argument forward? If yes, great – go ahead and include it. If not, set it aside and just keep writing.

5)      You need to allow time for editing and rewriting

More copywriters are employing editors to look at their work, which is excellent news because a critical second pair of eyes can transform an average piece into a masterpiece.

However, the self-editing process is also important. Never just write and submit a first draft. Critique what you’ve written and ask yourself if you can make it tighter. Writing long-form blogs is not an excuse to waffle, so make sure you cut out redundant words and phrases.

Editing for SEO also takes up time. Though by using handy tools like Yoast, you can cut this down considerably.

6)      Confidence is hard to come by

This point boils down to one thing: if you’re confident, you’re quicker. There are many factors that contribute to a marketer’s lack of confidence, including:

  • Inexperience
  • Lack of feedback
  • No content strategy

By addressing these issues, you can improve your performance and dramatically reduce your blog writing time.

“I used to spend 8 to 12 hours per post. It’s amazing to see how that time has shrunk as I’ve gained experience and confidence in writing for the Buffer blog.”
Kevan Lee, Buffer

Writing effective long-form blog articles will always take time, but the rewards are worth it.

Take a look at your blog-writing process and see if you can speed things up by learning from these 7 reasons for longer writing times.

Happy writing!