By Laura Christianson
A friend approached me at a writers’ conference and lamented:
“I’ve attended three workshops on blogging, and each instructor told us something different about how long our blog posts should be. I wish all the blogging coaches would get together and give us a straight answer about the perfect length for a blog post.”
So How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
Okay. I’m going out on a limb. Anyone who insists that a blog post “must” be a certain length is misinformed, misguided, and mistaken.
(Waiting for angry glares and NERF gun bullets to come flying through my computer screen.)
During my early days of blogging (circa 2004), “experts” advised us to write no more than 250 words. As blogging grew up, that figure morphed into 500 words. Then 1,000 words, Then 2,000 words.
Currently, posts of 1,500 words or longer are trending.
- Long-form content sets you apart as a go-to expert in your niche. You can write “the definitive guide to…” or “the beginner’s guide to…” and cover a lot of ground in one article. You can even divide your post into “chapters.” (Think of it as a mini ebook.)
- Long-form content includes more topical keywords, which makes it easy for search engines to index your post (and thus, for people to discover it).
- Long form content attracts more inbound links to your blog. According to Moz research, posts of 1,800-3,000 words attract 15 times more links than posts of less than 600 words.
- Long-form content has a longer shelf-life than short posts. People love to share them, re-read them, and link to them.
What this trend means for your blog
Does the current trend mean you should craft only long-form posts?
Definitely not. Blog readers have different perfect length preferences.
I follow a blog that publishes 1500-word articles five times per week. The articles are well-researched and the writing is stellar. However, I read less than 5 percent of the posts because I’m unwilling to set aside time to digest lengthy posts five days a week.
But that’s just me. Every post on this blog gets shared over 1,000 times, which tells me that loads of people in this blogger’s audience DO take the time to read, think about, and share the posts.
The 1500-word-per-post blogger knows his readers and fulfills their expectations.
Posts on my blog at BloggingBistro.com typically range from 350-1200 words. My readers tell me that my practical tutorials help them quickly master one task that had previously seemed overwhelming.
I know my readers and I fulfill their expectations.
Mix it up
It’s good practice to vary the length of your posts. As you’re planning your blogging calendar, include a long-form post every few weeks. Also, experiment with “Seth Godin-length” posts (Seth is known for writing 100-200-word posts; he is the master of packing a punch with few words).
Add 500-word, 750-word, and 1,000-word posts into the mix, and you’ll soon discover the length your readers prefer.
Three tips for crafting long-form content
Your 1500+-word posts must meet these criteria:
1. Superior quality.
No one wants to slog through 1500 words of swill. You’ll lose readers if you expect them to do that! Your long posts should showcase your best stuff.
2. Easy for readers to digest.
Whatever the length, readers will first scan your article, looking for sub-heads and words that beg to be read.
Assume that readers will view your post on their phone and imagine how your article will display with the words and visuals squished into one narrow column.
Format your post so mobile readers can quickly find your main points:
- Short paragraphs.
- Bold headings.
- Numbered lists.
- Bullet points.
3. Include multiple visuals.
Images, graphics, video clips, and SlideShares break up long blocks of text and enhance your written content. Two benefits for the price of one!
When someone tells you that “studies show” blog posts “must” be a certain length, ignore them. They aren’t you, and they aren’t in tune with your ideal reader.
There is no such thing as one “perfect” or “ideal” blog post length. The ideal length for YOU depends on your readers.
Know your readers and fulfill their expectations.
If you’ve never written a long-form post (1,500+ words), challenge yourself to try it during the next 30 days. Please leave a comment and let me know what topic you’d like to tackle in your long-form post.
And before you hit “Publish”…
Whether you write short, medium, or long blog posts, I have a handy Pre-Publication Checklist for you that includes everything you need to do before publishing a blog post. Click here to request yours, or text PREPUB to 44222.
Laura Christianson helps entrepreneurs establish a vibrant online presence. She owns Blogging Bistro, a business that builds custom websites and provides website education. Laura has authored several books and thousands of articles. She serves as Marketing Director for West Coast Christian Writers.
Learn more about Laura and Blogging Bistro at bloggingbistro.com.