3 Things to Consider When Deciding How Long Your Blog Posts Should Be

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There’s been a debate ever since blogging became mainstream about how long blog posts should be. Many bloggers may read one or two discussions on it, and try to conform to that – never revisiting the issue again for as long as they blog. This can be a mistake.

For a definitive answer, the following are three things to consider when you’re trying to decide how long your blog posts should be.

1. TONE:

Bloggers usually blog for a while before they think about an intangibles like setting a tone for their blog. However, if you’re serious about making money from blogging, then you are going to have to eventually turn your attention to this.

Tone is important to how long your blog posts will be because they determine how you talk to your audience, not just what you talk about.

When Long Blog Posts are Apropos

For example, Christine over at Self Made Chick tends to have long posts. They sometimes run to a few thousand words. They are rarely the somewhat industry accepted standard of 250-600 words. But, the tone of her blog is help, hope and inspiration for those who want to “ditch cubicle life” as she puts it, and start a home business of their own.

My blog posts tend to be on the long side as well – 750-1,000. I draw a lot upon my own experience, so when I talk to my readers I’m usually giving a blow-by-blow account of what happened with this client or that client. Rarely can this be accomplished in 400 words or less.

When Short Blog Posts are Apropos

In contrast, if you wrote a blog about stock picking, your posts might just discuss what happened with a particular stock of the day. These can be short, informative posts with links out to more ind-depth sources. Your readers will come to see what the stock of the day is, grab your insight, then move on.

2. POSTING FREQUENCY:

The loose, industry-accepted rule seems to be that the more frequently you post, the shorter your posts should be – and vice versa.

Many people don’t have time to read mini books everyday, so shorter posts if you post every day would seem to make sense. And, you tend to garner more search engine juice as well, because you are constantly adding new content.

However, don’t be afraid to turn this industry-accepted wisdom on its head. Ultimately, readers come to appreciate and frequent a blog because it provides value to them. The value that it provides to Reader A can be completely different from the value it provides to Reader B. And, you will probably never know what that value is. This is part of the reason building a popular blog is tricky.

You will never know what need you’re fulfilling for every one of your readers. But, by keeping some things consistent (like posting frequency and tone), you can – over time – start to make some educated guesses.

3. POSTING SCHEDULE:

This piggybacks on the last point. Readers like consistency. If you’re going to post only three times a week, let your readers know that.

What does a posting schedule have to do with post length? Simply put, you can better self edit. In a post listed here entitled 10 Questions Every Blogger Should Ask Themselves Before Posting, the author writes, “One of my high school English teachers once told me that writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, suggesting that a good writer starts with a quick burst of creativity and spends the rest of their time refining and editing those initial ideas.”

Once you have a posting schedule, you can settle into writing “routine posts” — of a certain length. Referencing the first point listed here, the flow of your “tone/cadence” won’t be interrupted when you consistently write posts of a certain length.

I found this out quite by accident. I tend to be a wordy writer, mostly because I write from first-hand experience. Even before all of these rules around posting length came on the scene, my posts were consistently longer than the 250-600 words most recommend today.

I write until I get my story across. And, that’s usually accomplished in 700-1,200 words. Regular readers of my blog know to settle in and grab a good cup of Joe because at least three times a week, they’re going to be told a story. And, most have come to appreciate that.

Many bloggers are afraid of breaking the “rules” because they want to succeed so bad. Conformism is a social more many are afraid to break across many spectrums; not just in business. But, sometimes success comes when you break all the rules.

So, the next time you’re wondering how long your blog post should be, take these three factors into consideration – and do what works best for you.

About the Author: Yuwanda Black is a freelance SEO writer, the editor of Inkwell Editorial, and the author of How to Make $250+/Day Writing Simple 500 Word Articles.

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Comments

  1. I would always say that a blog, or any post for that matter, should only be as long as it needs to be. No longer, no shorter. ;)

  2. I try to keep mine on the shorter side, but definitely not as short as some of the blogs I read regularly.

    If I have an extra long post, I’ll generally break it into a two or three part post over a few days’ time.

  3. I like to read a post that says something…even if it only speaks once a week. Natter gets filtered out.

  4. Big huge thanks for giving us all permission to take the huge piles of conventional wisdom out there with more than a little salt — that’s always so appreciated. Yay!

    Personally I also like the long, but am trying to mix it up at least a little so people can get a quick fix here and there too.

    The one thing I almost never do though on someone else’s blog is click on the “more” link if there’s only an excerpt. There would have to be the best hook/tease/whatever in the world to get me to do that.

    Yeah, give me the post that says what it needs to say, and I’ll curl up with that cup of tea if necessary …

  5. I have come to conclusions myself too.

    I post only once a week, so I tend to make it long and detailed, with some beautiful Flickr images thrown it, along with lists, subtitles, screenshots and so on. I don’t know if it looks as good in the feed (which is my no.1 source of readers), but it sure looks beautiful on the blog. :)

  6. Good post with some good tips i try and keep mine as short as possible.

  7. Daily posts = short posts. That’s my reasoning.

  8. Yes, Robert I was just thinking that. The post should be as long as necessary to provide whatever amount of information is required to get the point across.

    It is also true that most internet users don’t like to read really long articles. Still if it is very interesting then they will.

    While I am not a expert on this subject I can say from a reader point of view that if I was interested in the subject I would have no problem reading the whole article.

    For example, when I first started blogging I came across Court’s article, 5263 Words On Starting A Profitable Blog, I read the whole thing right there and I loved every bit of it.

  9. When I was in high school, people always used to ask the teacher how long their papers needed to be.

    Naturally, my favorite response came from some of the more chauvinistic teachers:

    How long should it be? Like a girl’s skirt—long enough to cover the topic, but short enough to keep it interesting.

  10. @Robert: You must be an advertising consultant, because that’s what they all say and I totally agree. It took me years though to know how to quantify that, ie, determining the psychographics and demographics of my niche, my end goal, my overall mission, etc. All of these things factor into it — and I just didn’t know it at the time.

    @Geek’s Dream Girl: I do that sometimes too when I actually take the time to write posts beforehand. Usually though, I write my posts the day they’re published, so if it’s long, it goes up. And if it happens to be shorter, it still goes up.

    @JudyA: I’m so glad you said that. I think the web is maturing to the point where readers want concrete specifics, not rehashed generalities. And, really, if someone is serious about purchasing your product/service, the more they will read. Fair weather readers tend not to contribute to the bottom line — which is what it’s all about for a lot of bloggers. Thanks for being saying this.

    @Sumesh: I need to get more into images. I tend to focus only on the text, but have read on some really popular blogs that images helps to pull in readers. As I’m not big on photos myself, I tend to disregard this. But, it’s to my own detriment I realize. Thanks for the reminder to “get on this!”

  11. I’ll throw in one more perspective on this. Watch your stats. If you find that a certain length of article consistently draws more subscribers and traffic, then you might want to stick to that length.

    Ultimately though, I don’t think it matters nearly as much as people think. If your visitors find your content valuable, then it doesn’t matter how long it is. People will always come back for more.

    Compare Seth Godin to Steve Pavlina. Two drastically different styles, but both of them have huge, loyal readerships that devour everything they say. It’s not because it’s long or short, but because it’s kickbutt content.

  12. Why should anyone consider how long their posts should be? How long should a joke be? Or a film?

    Just say something good, profound or witty and then stop.

  13. I’m with Robert. Say what’s needed, and that’s all. Your audience will tell you if you’re meeting their needs in many ways, if you pay attention.

  14. Mine’s more towards the longer side. Given the time that I have with my comp every 2 other days, the effort placed in writing is the one where I take advantage of and made it sure that the quality and tone is there.

    Great points you have there too Yuwanda!

    Daniel
    http://winningeveryone.com

  15. For me I find that rules like this can’t really apply to each and every situation. Some posts can cover all the necessary points in a few short and concise paragraphs, or even sentences. But conversely it may take a few thousand words to cover other topics, i.e., “Bigfoot and Nessie – The Wedding”.

  16. At P.I. I try to have 4 posts a week. Two from my brother, and two from me. But even worst than not having a certain consistency is having lots of posts that are forced, I’d say.

  17. @Havi: I’ve always been an unconventional kind of gal, so going against the grain is natural for me. Thanks for the kudos on this!

    As for your comment, “The one thing I almost never do though on someone else’s blog is click on the “more” link if there’s only an excerpt.” I’m afraid I’d never win you as a reader, as I do this a lot. Perhaps my brilliant lead-ins would draw you in though. A girl can always hope, no? :-)

    @Ben: Regarding your comment, “It is also true that most internet users don’t like to read really long articles. Still if it is very interesting then they will.”

    If a prospect is serious about your product/service, it’s been my experience that they want more information, not less. I write for these type of readers. I see your point though.

    @Chris: Hilarious … My mother would’ve agreed!

    @Michael Martine: You’re so right. Many online marketers focus too hard on what they want, and never pause to consider their target market’s needs. I try to stay so aware of this, but am sure I fail on some days.

    @WebSite Design Orange County: You’re absolutely right. There are no hard and fast rules, which his what this post sought to explain. You can gather some specific insights though that may lead you to some “rules” for “YOUR” blog.

    thanks for chiming in.

    @Thanks everyone for your response to this piece. I enjoy the insight put forth by respondent. Makes me know that “hey, none of us have this blogging thing down pat and all figured out.” I take comfort in that.

  18. I use a combination of short “utility” type posts and then longer feature posts (about once a week).

    I have to admit, I don’t give it too much consideration. I do try to say what I have to say and then stop. My wife says I talk too much, so I try not to write too much.

  19. The length of a post, post frequency – I wrote an entire e-book on this topic – “The New Rules of Business Blogs”. You are welcome to check it out in my blog at http://www.positioningstrategy.com.

    Yuwanda, your post added excellent insights on this topic and Robert’s comment summarizes best: “any post should only be as long as it needs to be. No longer, no shorter”.

    Bravo Yuwanda, bravo Robert!

  20. At the moment I post once a week, and the posts are lengthier. I wrote a blog post yesterday which has turned out to be my longest to date, coming in at 1100 words (quality words, of course!). I would only want to push a blog post to that length with good reason, of course. I prefer to sit around the 400-500 word mark if I can, but in truth I let the subject matter guide me.

  21. Nice post, Yuwanda. I was fretting over post length this afternoon as I hit the publish button on a 944-word piece. It’s good to know that you would personally consider that a short post. I do find that substance and quality writing are what drive my ability and willingness to read (and enjoy) longer posts.

    My post today is part two of a four-part series. Originally I thought I would do the whole thing in a single post. I tried breaking it into two posts and it turned into four! Just goes to show, I guess.

    I also have a question for you. I couldn’t find an RSS feed on your Inkwell Editorial blog. Did I miss it? I use the feeds to remind me to visit the blogs I want to read.

  22. As long as you give readers a reason to keep reading, longer posts are fine – or at least I hope they are since mine run in about the same word range as yours.

    My most popular article which went viral was probably one of my longest articles but received the most attention.

  23. I am with Geek’s Dream Girl — mine tend to be on the shorter side. When I write a long one, I break it up. I find that when faced with a long post… I just can’t devote the time to read it and not all are scannable (for good reason).

    But I do know that many people take the time to read long posts as comments prove them.

    This is a tricky one — but I believe no one can go wrong with shorter posts. Longer posts may be riskier depending on the topic, blog, followers, etc.

  24. Yuwanda,

    I’m new to this blog and I REALLY need to read this blog, because my writing s**ks :)

    Anyway, your point about writing schedule consistency does proves right – I was having a really difficulty in getting an Internet connection (don’t ask… :P) for 4 days and my blog readership plummeted faster than the Greenspan’s interest rate rise effect on the stock market :D

    To catch up to where the traffic was is difficult – ouch!

    So, I agree – stick to your schedule like a bad chewing gum sticking to your shoes’ sole!

    Cheers :)

  25. Length is very important for me when I read blogs. I work and go to school full time. I’m pretty busy, and don’t like to read thousands of words. When I see a very long blog, sometimes I bookmark it for later, which sometimes means that I just forget to read it all together.

    A few elements in a blog that help me get key information is :
    1) Numbered lists
    2) Bolded items
    3) If longer, have a shorter paragraphs which help readers digest it and not feel overwhelmed by an 800 word paragraph
    4) pictures

  26. Before you write the post, write the headline. After you write the headline, think of a “tagline” for the entire article. Now finish the article. If you have to think about how long it is, you are off track. Quality is never about length.

  27. I actually hardly focus on the length of my posts, I write until I’ve said everything I feel needs to be said… No point attracting readers with short and sweet posts just to not give them enough information and leave them disappointed.
    I do, however, try and ensure that the information is given in short bursts of a few lines at a time

  28. @ Shane: Exactly, technique is a whole other discussion. But simply put, it’s not what you do but how you do it.

    If one is too regimented with their approach they can often be stuck adding in filler fluff or leaving out vital info. Just say what you have to… in the best way possible.

  29. The obvious/invisible: Edit, edit, edit. Write one day. Edit the next. Always be one step ahead.

  30. As I am new to blogging, I am trying to post every day and they are on the short side. I try a longer post at least once a week.

    I also try to stop by my top 10 favorite blogs everyday as well. I have discovered, for myself, that a long post can be somewhat overwhelming, especially if they post everyday.

  31. @Billy, aka BillyProBlogger: Re your comment “I do find that substance and quality writing are what drive my ability and willingness to read (and enjoy) longer posts.”

    As I spend so much time on the web, I’m usually lookign for specific information when I surf. Hence, I enjoy longer posts b/c they tend to go into more detail. That’s what I try to impart to my readers — specifics. I think that’s probably why I write the way I do.

    As for my RSS Feed, my new site is being designed. THEN I will join the 21st century and have an RSS Feed on my site. Check back in a few weeks. And, thanks for asking! :-)

    @Meryl: Even my shorter posts tend to run 500-700 words. One thing I have learned from the discussion here though is that people are pressed for time, so I will definitely have that bug of a fact in the back of my mind as I move forward blogging.

    @Tage: Pictures! Another bug of a fact I’m going to have to keep in mind. I’ve always been an avid reader, so never gave much thought to photos. I usually just want information. But, in light of what some have shared here, I’m definitely keeping this in mind moving forward.

    @BloggerNewbie: Your comment, “I also try to stop by my top 10 favorite blogs everyday as well. I have discovered, for myself, that a long post can be somewhat overwhelming, especially if they post everyday” is invaluable.

    Again, it’s not that people may not want to read a longer post, they just might not have time.

    Hmmm…. could shorter posts be in my future :-)

    Thanks everybody for some valuable feedback.

  32. I dont care much about post length as long as its to the point and not sounding boring

    but one thing every one should keep in your mind is you are writing it for you reader and not only for your self

    so its best to guess how much your reader can digest in one go

  33. I am a portuguese blogger. Usually, I write 5 posts per day, each one with 200 words. I post every day. Each week I write 35 posts. The most important is the content quality not the number of posts.

  34. I don’t like to write long post..
    Because my English is poor so a short sentences is suitable for me..

  35. WordPress bloggers could also use In-Series plugin for lengthy, essay-like posts:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/in-series/

    Hope it helps.

  36. As I recently updated my blog template to a magazine style with a single post on the main page, which I update daily, if not several times a week, I’m curious by something Havi Brooks wrote earlier about teaser summaries and the “click more” link.

    What sort of teasers stimulate everyone to click into the expanded content? Take this post, for instance.

    Also, to Sumesh and Yuwanda: Remember that pictures speak 1,000 words.

  37. I am lured into clicking on ‘read more’ links if the teaser summary has piqued my interest… For that to happen the subject matter really has to be relevant to my life (business or private).

  38. I like the comment about writing being “10% inspiration and 90% perspiration”. That could not be more true when it comes to blogging. I set aside a few hours each week to come up with my following week’s posts along with images, etc. I stick to a posting schedule that my readers seem to like. As far as post length it depends on the topic but I’d say longer posts in general turn readers off. It’s a fast paced world and people tend to like quick hits. There is no rule of thumb on post length but the best advice I can give is to stop writing when your thought is complete.

    Rick

  39. It depends on the blog, someting require a more lengthy explanation and other just a shorter one. It need to be as long ans it need to be :-).

  40. Very good article and this is quite true when it comes to strategy of blogging. If you are a professional blogger – yes, you have to have in mind such things. But if you blog in a corporate environment or just for fun – it all depends on your momentum inspiration. The length of a blog post is not only part of the blog strategy and overall design, but is should be more concrete and subject filling.

    Good Luck :)

  41. I tend to keep them short…what most people lack while surfing the net is an attention span.

  42. Cheap Skateboard: I take it you don’t frequent newspaper websites, where online content matches print content? I don’t know of any New York Times or Wall Street Journal stories, for instance, that are “short” yet if there wasn’t a market for the content, the stories wouldn’t be published, online or off.

  43. I think that you need a good mix of both short and long articles. There are some good ieads in there though!

  44. I like to read a post that says something…even if it only speaks once a week. Natter gets filtered out.

  45. YuWanda you are giving me some great advice as I struggle with the issue of blog length often. Posting a blogging schedule is also a great idea. Thanks for the inspiration.

  46. Thanks so much for the advice, YuWanda. My posts tend to be in the 700-1,200 range as well. I like to add in short posts about pictures or articles, though, just to keep things spicy.

  47. Abshir Amberre :

    I am still deciding this one. It seems to be that 450 words posted daily would be my best option.May be I will change as the days go. Thanks for helpful post though.