Content Writer Tip: The Short, Imaginary Deadline

Becoming a successful content writer is not easy. As tempting as it is as a career (flexible schedule, good pay, fun work), it also requires a level of personal motivation and effort that most people cannot handle without someone looking over their shoulder.

That’s why as soon as you start content writing, you should give yourself imaginary short term deadlines that you force yourself to follow, regardless of the timeline the client gives you. This change to the way you work will have a drastic effect on your success in the field.

What Are Imaginary Short Deadlines

Let’s say a client emails you on a Monday and asks you to complete ten articles by Friday. Rather than spread them out over time, you should make it your goal to complete the articles as soon as possible – ideally by Monday night or Tuesday.

Experienced content writers can probably write 10 articles in about 4 hours, give or take. It’s absolutely possible, and in some cases easy, to complete the work so quickly that the client can have it back to them that day.

There is a tendency, however, to wait and do them over time. But this is a mistake. The best thing you can do is force yourself to turn them in as quickly as possible. Benefits of this include:

  • Money – You’re paid by the word, not by the hour. You’re not salaried anymore. If your goal is to make money, then the more work you complete in a limited time the more money you make. It also opens up your schedule for more work and, if you don’t have more work, you get several days to either market your services or enjoy your free time.
  • Practice – Writing quickly is also an important part of the field. Giving yourself short deadlines helps you practice writing well at a fast pace. The faster you can write without sacrificing quality, the more successful you’ll be.
  • Client Happiness – A forgotten reason that these deadlines are valuable is that clients are often overjoyed to see that you’re done with their work already, and that they can put it to use as soon as possible. You’re more likely to get additional work from them – possibly even that week – and they’ll be far more likely to come back.
  • More Time for Edits – Let’s say you do make errors. Completing your writing quickly allows you to respond to those errors long before the project was due. That also improves client retention and gives you an opportunity to provide great customer service.

Back when I found all my work through Elance I had almost a 66% recurring client rate – unheard of in the industry – and the main reason was simple: as soon as I got a project, I would have it done. Rarely was I given a project of large enough size that I couldn’t complete it in less than a few days, and so I was an appealing choice as a writer because they never questioned whether I was going to get the work completed on time.

Finishing work as quickly as possible isn’t normal for those used to traditional business settings, but in the content writing world it may be one of the most valuable things that you can do.


  • Micah Abraham

    Micah Abraham is the owner and lead content writer at Great Leap Studios ( and High Volt Digital (
    Micah has over 15 years of content writing and digital marketing experience, and has owned and operated Great Leap Studios since 2013 and High Volt since 2022.
    He has a degree in Psychology from the University of Washington, and has researched and written content on a wide range of topics in the medical and health fields, home services, tech, and beyond.
    Micah lives with his family in California.

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