Accelerate Your Productivity with Writing Templates

Writer working on project using a template

Have you ever found yourself with a tough deadline to meet? Maybe it was an exam in school or a recent client project …

You put your head down and got it done well in record time.

It feels good when things come together, doesn't it?!

Then there are the times when you think something will only take a couple of hours and … it takes longer …

 … sometimes a LOT longer.

And when the time you've allocated eats into your other work time … well, it costs you money.

Not to mention throwing off the rest of your schedule.

The most productive writers can write quickly, meaning they make more money, can take on other projects, or spend more time with family or friends.

Part of it is experience, yet another reason is they've found a way to make their work "templatized." They're not reinventing the wheel every day. When they put their fingers on the keyboard, they have a plan and can focus.

Plan + Focus is a magical combination.

Have you ever heard of Parkinson's Law? It's the idea that "work expands to fill the time allotted."

Naval Historian C. Northcote Parkinson shared this observation back in the 1950s in The Economist. While he was talking about the British Civil Service at the time and the tendency of bureaucracy to find plenty of "tasks" for people, it holds true for us as writers.

I don't know about you, but when I have a ton of deadlines and interviews, I'm a whole lot better at staying on task. But during slow times? It can take me DAYS to write a short article that normally takes three or four hours.

And I know I'm not the only one.

Every writer I know has a ton of "tricks" to get and stay focused. From a morning coffee ritual to specific playlists to outlines and templates, research shows repeated structures can help our brains get into the groove.

The Benefits of Outlines and Templates

Professional writers create repeatable ways of working so they can focus on doing their best work instead of drowning in possibilities.

For example, take a typical blog post of around 1,000 words.

I start with:

  • Working title
  • An idea of the ideal reader
  • What the reader already knows about the topic
  • Relevant Keyword terms
  • Relevant call-to-action (aka, what we'd like the reader to do next)
  • Relevant resources

With all this in the blog brief, it's already taking shape, as you can see. I have some direction. But I don't have a template or outline yet, which will help even more.

I've written thousands of blog posts, so I know the basic format:

  • Intro
  • Subhead
  • Subhead
  • Maybe another Subhead
  • Conclusion/Call-to-Action

Listicles are even easier:

  • Intro
  • Subhead
  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3
  • Additional points
  • Conclusion/Call-to-Action

I can type out those words if I'm having trouble getting started. As silly as it sounds, typing "Intro" as a placeholder is better than a blank page.

Then, it's just a matter of filling in the blank spots.

I'll google the topic, review the top posts, and notice how they're structured. What are their subheadings? What's their call-to-action? What questions do I have after reading these that I can answer in my article?

Then, I might go to ChatGPT and ask it to create an outline for me based on specific criteria I'll give it.

I can have ChatGPT crank out three to five different outlines by tweaking my parameters. Then, I can drop them all into a Word or Google doc and adapt them as necessary.

It's all about getting something 'on paper.'

Productive Freelance Writers Make More Money with Less Stress

In 2012 when I started my freelance writing business, I mostly wrote web copy for small business owners.

It was nerve-wracking every time.

How did I write a homepage? What about Service pages? How should I present it? Would the client like it? It was a challenge.

Back then, there were fewer templated resources for approaching the different types of web projects, and I created my own without realizing it.

When I asked myself how I could work more efficiently, I had a major "a-ha" moment when I realized each specific writing project type had the same basic structure.

Blog content had one structure, while Service pages had another.

Essentially, I'd discovered the benefits of templates and created rudimentary ones for myself.

I found myself stressing way less and writing better content faster.

(If I'd discovered this months sooner, I would have felt more confident and made WAY more money back then.)

Now I have templates for every type of web-writing project, which makes a huge difference.

During a recent busy spell, I cranked out approximately eight posts a week without breaking a sweat. (Plus a few emails and other pieces of copy.)

I can only work at such a pace because I have my "go-to" templates. Need to write a landing page? I whip open my Landing Page template, refresh my memory, and start typing ideas.

Same with emails or case studies, or anything else I may write.

I'm not the only one. Every copywriter I know has a Swipe File of templates they turn to for inspiration and to boost the 'ol brain juice.

It's working smart.

How You Can Build Your Own Library of Project Templates

When you know you can turn to your library of project templates, you feel confident saying "yes" to an array of projects.

If you've never written an email autoresponder and a client asks you to write a few, you can confidently say, "of course," because you know you have a proven template to start from.

To start building your template library, I recommend choosing one type of web project at a time. For example, if you want to write more case studies, you can google "Best Case Study Examples."

Read through them. How are they structured? Make notes on the commonalities. Are there recurring sections? How long are they?

Include your notes in your template, and when you're next assigned a case study, you can open your template and have a starting point.

Common Web Writing Projects

It's worth having templates for the top web writing projects (this is an excellent shortcut to create your library). That way, you're prepared and can get to work making money instead of googling "How to" and "Good examples of" when the time comes. Here's a list of today's in-demand writing projects to start with:

  • Homepage copy
  • Email autoresponders
  • Search Engine Optimized (SEO) Content
  • Email Promotions
  • Pay-Per-Click Ads
  • Blog Posts
  • White Papers
  • Case Studies
  • Email Newsletters
  • Landing Pages
  • Social Media
  • Video Scripts

Project templates make it so much easier to say "yes" to new writing opportunities with confidence.

When you have the right tools to start, write, and dazzle your client, you'll make more money easier by being more productive.

AWAI’s Writing Templates

AWAI’s Writing Templates

We took 12 of the most-requested writing projects (the ones you’ll most likely get asked to write) and turned each one into a handy template — so you can deliver professional writing on your first try with confidence. Learn More »

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Published: April 12, 2024

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