When you’re paid per word, you can earn more money by writing blog posts quickly. That’s great in theory, but what happens if you’re a slow typist and struggle to get your ideas down quickly in the first place?
Improving your typing speed is a straightforward solution for bumping up your hourly income. If you set aside time to practice, you can train with free tools and go from an average 38-40 Words Per Minute (WPM) to upwards of 75 or more. I can personally type at a (ridiculous) 115 WPM with 98% accuracy, and this singular skill significantly improves my experience as a freelance writer.
In this article, I will introduce you to four techniques and resources you can use to improve your typing speed. By the end, I hope you’ll feel confident about taking your typing skills to the next level. Let’s get cracking!
1. Fix Your Bad Posture
It’s a funny image, but if you’re hanging upside down off the couch while attempting to write your articles, you’re cannot type at maximum speed. While I doubt you’re literally working upside down (hey, no judgement!), even basic poor posture will hinder your ability to type your fastest.
In general, it’s a good idea to develop healthy habits to avoid potential health problems in your wrist and back. No matter your motivation, getting in the habit of semi-decent posture while typing benefits your typing skills and long-term health.
Here are a few tips for speed-of-light typing posture:
- Sit up straight. Hunching your back means your arms will be dead weight over your keyboard.
- Adjust your chair so your elbows are at approximately a 90° angle while typing.
- If you’re working from a laptop your options are limited, but try to position your monitor so you’re not chin-to-chest while typing. Try to aim for eyes almost straight ahead, head tilted slightly forward.
- Measure the length of your forearm, from the length of your elbow to the tip of your longest finger. Your eyes should be at least 1.5x this distance from your monitor.
- Do not rest on your wrists! Your wrists should rest lightly in front of the keyboard.
If you’re like me, posture is one of the biggest hurdles! Now that your posture is fixed, let’s get into actual typing techniques.
2. Touch Type Using Correct Finger Placement
For those of us who weren’t born with a smartphone in their hands, typing may not have been part of the curriculum growing up. If you are still hunt-and-peck typing, you’re wasting a lot of precious time trying to get your ideas from your head into the computer. Time is money!
Hunt-and-peck typing is when you have to look at the keyboard while typing to find the correct keys. It also means you don’t have a set method for which finger types which key. On the other hand, there is touch typing. Touch typing is when each key on the board gets assigned a specific finger, and learning to type this way allows you to type by ‘touch’ rather than by looking at the keyboard. This frees you up to not think about the typing, and focus on your writing instead.
If you haven’t learned touch typing yet, getting in the habit may mean unlearning a lot of bad typing habits. Here is a brief introduction to the rules of touch typing:
- Your fingers always return to the ‘home keys’ by default. This means your left fingers are A, S, D, and F while your right fingers hover over J, K, L, and the semi-colon.
- Each key gets its own dedicated finger (more or less), each based on the proximity it has to the home key positions and their respective finger assignments. For example, your left index finger will always type ‘G’.
- Your thumbs are used for the space bar.
- The Shift button should be used to type capital letters, not the Caps Lock key.
By following a set of rules like this, you train your muscles to automatically reach for the letter you need next. Over time, you’ll be able to type without glancing at the keyboard!
It’s easiest to learn which keys go with which fingers with proper classes. Thankfully, there are a lot of free online typing courses available to help you learn these techniques.
3. Vary Your Exercises and Practice Touch Typing Often
If you don’t mix up your typing exercises, you’ll quickly become bored and stop practicing. Without practicing and building your muscle memory, your typing speed won’t improve by much. Thus, it’s important to practice your touch typing skills frequently!
Additionally, when training with online tools, be sure to choose varied exercises so you aren’t learning how to type just one specific piece of text. Here are a few ways you can practice your touch typing without getting bored:
- Try online typing games.
- Journal regularly.
- Write your stream of consciousness.
Of course, always be sure to schedule enough time to reinforce proper touch typing technique while freelance writing. As you continue to improve, you can keep track of your ever-improving typing speed with free online typing tests.
4. Learn Essential Keyboard Shortcuts for Writers
One last way to speed up your typing is to make sure your fingers can always stay hovered over the keyboard, instead of needing to hop over to your trackpad or mouse to take care of basic repetitive tasks. This is disruptive to your typing flow!
Keyboard shortcuts allow you to use your keyboard in lieu of a mouse in many situations. Here are nine basic shortcuts you should know how to do from your keyboard:
- Copy: CTRL + C
- Cut: CTRL + X
- Paste: CTRL + V
- Undo: CTRL + Z
- Save: CTRL + Save
- Search document: CTRL + F
- Select all: CTRL + A
- Highlight last/next letter: SHIFT + Left or Right Arrow
- Highlight last/next word: CTRL + SHIFT + Left or Right Arrow
- Navigate to last/next word: CTRL + Left or Right Arrow
These keyboard shortcuts won’t make a difference in your WPM scores, but will enable you to type more efficiently by reducing the amount of time your fingers leave the keys while working. Go ahead, give them a try! I like to challenge myself to see how little I use a trackpad while writing a piece.
Learning to type faster is just one skill of many that will help you in your freelance writing journey. If you’re serious about making more money blogging, it is well worth learning the ins-and-outs of the blogging industry before diving in head first.
One simple way to earn more money per hour as a freelance writer is to learn how to type faster. This will enable you to work at your maximum speed without being inhibited by your typing skills.
To review, there are a few techniques you can employ to improve your typing speed:
- Sit with proper posture when typing.
- Learn correct finger placement for touch typing.
- Vary up your typing exercises and practice often.
- Learn essential keyboard shortcuts to aid your writing.
What questions do you have about learning to type faster? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below!
Image Credit: Corinne Kutz.