Blog Posts are Like a Piece of String
Previously we discussed podcast episodes and asked: How long should they be? This sparked some interesting discussions and lead to the same question being asked about blogging. How long should your blog posts be? Some of what we talked about in that article applies here too. And, whilst it’s easy to avoid the question by saying, ‘how long is a piece of string?’, here’s several guidelines to consider.
When Twitter was first launched it was considered as ‘microblogging’. Literally, these ‘blog posts’ were only 140 characters long. That’s really, really short.
I think a truer benchmark for short is Seth Godin’s blog. About 80-90% of his daily posts are about 100 words. That’s one of the reasons his blog posts are so widely read.
Tip: If you’re going to post every day it could be good to write short to have more people read them.
Tip 2: Warning! It’s much tougher and will take longer to write 100 tight, insightful words than a loose and longer post.
One of the plug-ins I use for my WordPress site is Joost de Valk’s WordPress SEO. It’s a great plug-in. My web traffic has increased by 20% in the past three months since I’ve been using it. One of it’s measures for a good blog post with regard to SEO is length. It suggests your blog posts need to be at least 300 words to get a tick. I have no idea if this is true or not and I use it as a general guide. Most of my posts are between 300-600 words. Probably once a week, the words flow to maybe 800. This is what I’d call a medium length blog post.
Tip: Usually, I can write something reasonable in about 300-600 words in around 30 minutes. How long does it take you to write this? And, the follow-up question: How much time are you willing to allocate to create content each week?
Tip2: This article is focussed on the word count of blog posts. Remember, a blog post is simply a publishing platform. If you include a slideshow, infographic or video then the word count may be less important.
Norman Chorn publishes one well-researched, big article each month. It’s usually 4-5 pages in length or 1000-1800 words. This sits at the longer end of blog posts. There are several things that makes this viable for him:
- He’s an expert in his field of organisational strategy and his subject matter is not about quick tips.
- He has a PhD and enjoys the research and writing process.
- He packages his articles as a pdf which in my view gives the content a greater presence and makes each one feel a little special.
- You don’t read his ‘article’ to solve a problem. Instead, it’s background reading that you read to fuel your knowledge bank and think about over time.
Tip: If you do like to write long posts, make it work for you by putting them into pdf article format. Or, consider breaking them up into a series of linked articles.
Tip2: The design of your blog makes a huge difference to the perceived length and interest level of your blog posts.
What’s Right for You?
[Tweet “How long should your blog posts be? Short, Medium or Long?”]
So far we’ve been talking about general principles. Now, let’s flip that. What’s your personal response. Start with this blog post… Is it too long? Is it about right? And, why do you say that? Read a few other blog posts and notice your response.
Tip: Do some research. Find out what a good length is for you. Do you prefer prefer shorter, longer or somewhere in between? And, ask your audience… what do they prefer?
Opinion: In my view the length of your blog posts is not a critical factor for most people. The bigger issue is that you simply stop, think and publish something, almost anything on a consistent basis.
PS: You can always mix up your posts by writing some short ones, some long ones…