When you first start blogging you’ll be looking for some guidelines to follow or aspire to. Ever since I started blogging back in 2007 there’s been a debate about how long a blog post should be. My first blog post was 50 words. And it worked for that audience. Now I regularly write about 1,000 words and sometimes when I’m feeling ranty/clever/invincible / inspired / motivated I’ll write a blog post with around 3,000 words in it.
Then there are the blogging gurus that say things like each post must be at least 400 words and their mates (also blogging gurus, they’re like buses you’ll never find a blogging guru on their own) who will tell you that the post should be at least 1000 words or its not quality content. Yeah, it’s confusing, and then some smarty-pants will say “whatever length it needs to be.” These conflicting statements kick new bloggers into paralysis as they want get things correct right from the start.
Your blog post should be long enough to feel valuable and well thought out, show your expertise and not full of fluff and superfluous words (side note, I’ve always wanted to use superfluous in a blog post, this is a dream come true for me, and no, no the irony isn’t lost on me).
But what you write shouldn’t be so long that people don’t have time to read it.
The answer “whatever length it needs to be” really isn’t helpful when you’re looking for a framework to work within. So I recommend when you create your blog posts you aim for a
- Captivating Headline
- Main points and evidence
- Call to action
If you think of a sentence having 8-10 words, a paragraph having 4 sentences and a blog post as outlined in the bullet points having 6 paragraphs a basic blog post length would be just 24o words, not including the headline and call to action. Now that might not be enough to give the reader what they’re looking for, and we know that the blog post should add value or entertain the reader in some way. (See also the secrets of a great list post)
We also have to remember to add a dash of on-page SEO into the mix, as well as writing the content so it speaks specifically to your ideal reader. A sprinkle of keywords is essential for both the human reader and the search engines, but not so many that the content of the post becomes impossible to read. And remember a post that’s too clever for its own good won’t get as many readers as one that speaks the language of the reader.
Be careful with those headlines… a blog post titled “Finding inner peace” isn’t nowhere near as effective as “7 tips to calm a chattering mind.”
After using a keyword phrase in your blog title, yet still making it interesting and intriguing, you must write for the reader, and you must know your topic. It helps to research your topic and know roughly the message you’re looking to get across. When you do this, the keywords flow naturally and organically (and you don’t have to worry too much about semantic search).
The blog post needs to cover your topic completely or touch on one facet of it. That means you can write content that’s deep such as the 365 business blogging tips or something lighter. For example, in a “7 tips to calm a chattering mind” blog post, you might list using meditation as one tip and give a paragraph or two about what it is and how it works to empty the mind.
Or you could just bullet point the ways to make your mind quiet and add in a beginning and a conclusion. You could try writing them both ways to see which method resonates the most with your ideal reader.
If you find that the topic is so deep that you could write about it forever, it could be that you have an ebook in the making or a series of blog posts. You don’t have to write 10,000 word “ultimate guides to” style posts every time you create a blog post. If you do, you’ll soon come to hate blogging as it’s become so time consuming.
Which brings us to proper formatting for your blog post.
No one wants to land on a blog and drown in a sea of text. Those paragraphs that are 30 lines deep are really off-putting and overwhelming to the eye. You will lose readers instantly. Newspapers learnt this centuries ago, and they have columns and short paragraphs for a reason.
Readers need to be able to read and absorb the information without your message getting lost.
- Try keeping your paragraphs short,
- Use neat and tidy sentences wherever possible
- Use subheadings to make the post scannable
All of the discussion about length is basically common sense, which we all know isn’t so common any more. Think about what you as a reader would expect and hope to see if you were looking for information on a topic. Would you want one paragraph that simply said “If you’re looking for peace and quiet, you can try the stress relief supplements sold on Amazon that cost 2.99. Everyone says they’re good for stress a quiet mind.”
29 words… that’s better as a call to action than a blog post in it’s entirety. But some bloggers write just like that. What you as a reader really want is someone to talk a little about their experience and a lot about your needs, to show they understand your problems and then walk you through the solutions. And that dear reader takes a little more than 29 words.
If you think your blog post is too short, ask yourself what problem does it solve and if it doesn’t solve a problem ask what message does it send. If it’s not sending the right message then you might find your blog post is the wrong length.