Bloggers: How long are your posts?

scrollIn these days of text speak and 140 character tweets it seems that bloggers  are being pressured to truncate their posts in order to secure and maintain readers. I  have previously shared my opinion  in an earlier post called Better Blogging: Post Length. In a nutshell I believe that anyone who actually does enjoy reading will read any length of post, provided that it’s well written and it holds their interest.

There is no rule of thumb for post length aside from adequate coverage of the topic at hand. SEO experts say that both extremely short and extremely long web pages are not ranked as highly as pages that are of a reasonable length. No one really knows how many words are “reasonable” but at least 250 words – 1000 words are recommended.

Pillar posts AKA flagship content that provide timeless value to readers are longer posts and I have discussed this in an earlier post called Blogging: Characteristics of pillar posts.

My over arching objective for my blog is to have a mix of high quality posts of varying lengths that contain relevant information presented in a reader and search engine friendly manner.

When crafting blog posts I consider:

(1) what is the main message or theme?
(2) who are the readers?
(3) what information is essential?
(4) how can it be organized and most clearly expressed?

I think a blog post should be as long as it takes to cover the subject you are writing about adequately.  Therefore I focus on what my readers want and need to know and I try not to say more about the subject than I have to.

Here are a few ways I choose from to organize my posts:

(1) from general to specific
(2) from specific to general
(3) from positive to negative
(4) step by step
(5) from most important to least important

I have four goals for every post:

(1) Adequacy – I write enough to comprehensively cover the subject. I use as few words as possible, and I use adjectives and adverbs sparingly so those I do use have more impact.

(2) Brevity and balance – The type of post and subject matter that I’m writing about will usually determine it’s length. Robert Stevenson has a posy that I  recommend called An Exercise in Brevity.

The Yale Medical School site offers lots of advice to people creating Web pages in the section devoted to Editorial Style in Web Style Guide: 3rd Edition Lynch and Horton, the authors, urge concision but warn against shortening text too much because “There’s enough dumb stuff on the Web already.”

(3) SEO – I make sure that the basic SEO techniques are incorporated into each post I create, as it makes no difference how wonderful my post may be if it’s not readily found in Search engine results by interested readers.

(4) Engagement – I try write in an engaging manner in order to maintain reader interest from the beginning to the end of the post.

Discussion question:

Readers,  how do you determine post length?

Related post: How to Become a Better Blogger 4: Essentials

23 thoughts on “Bloggers: How long are your posts?

  1. at first, i used to post short blog posts of 500-1000 characters in them. but now, i usually publish posts which contain 2500-3500 words. before starting to write a blog post i write down the main points or the name of the paragraphs first and then i write about those.

  2. After 14 months, I’ve developed a pattern of posting about every 5-6 days. Now and then I’ll go seven days between posts, but never longer.

    My posts began at around 500-600 words. Now, each is between 1,000-2,000 words, with 2,000 being the high end. Because my readers themselves have begun to describe what I do as “stories” or “essays”, I suspect I’ve moved into regular “pillar posts”, as you call them.

    Two things suggest things are going well – a slow increase in the number of substantive comments, and a good spike in readership when I post new material, suggesting I’m bookmarked, in readers, etc.

    My sense of things is that engaging the reader and producing quality material is the key. I’ve stopped reading in the middle of 300 words posts because I was bored and re-read 3,000 word posts over and over because they were so rich. It’s a wonderful way to learn about writing, I’ll tell you that!

    1. @shoreacres
      I apologize for the delay in replying to your comment. Aside from having a broken computer and a come and go modem I have also been hard at work in our business. I really appreciate your sharing how your blog and posts have developed. I do consider your posts to be essays and like you I will read to the end of any post that intrigues me. When it comes to learning about writing I can surely learn a lot from you as tour are very accomplished. Best wishes and thanks for making the time to share her on my blog.

  3. I agree with your insightful input. Well said, timetheif :)

    In fact, micro-blogging -for me at least- isn’t capable of expressing opinions and insights as a macro blogging do. I keep on reading posts regardless the lenght as much as I’m interested in what is being presented.

    On the other hand, I noticed that ‘advertising networks’ -such as EntreCard, 125 Exchange, ..etc- didn’t help in blogging world in terms of ‘readership’. I’ve elaborated on this couple of months ago over the post entiteld “Click and Run” so feel free to check it when you have time.

    1. @hicham
      Thanks do much for being patient waiting for me to reply to you. What can I say? Everyday life and a broken computer and modem has kept me away form answering comments and I apologize for that. I have been to your blog and read your post. It’s a good one.

  4. I find that the longer the post I lose interest somewhere in the last half. Unless the writer is excellent. I enjoy blogs of a personl nature as political blogs and techie blogs, BS blogs just are not my cup of tea.

    1. @mary
      I guess we agree. If the writing is good and the topic is interesting then regardless of the length I will read the post to the end. Thanks for commenting.

  5. I like your idea however according to me every post should be very specific about what we want our users to understand. One should not feel monotonous while reading it.

    1. @CSSjockey
      I assume that means you agree with this quote above then:

      When crafting blog posts I consider:
      (1) what is the main message or theme?
      (2) who are the readers?
      (3) what information is essential?
      (4) how can it be organized and most clearly expressed?
      I think a blog post should be as long as it takes to cover the subject you are writing about adequately. Therefore I focus on what my readers want and need to know and I try not to say more about the subject than I have to.

      Thanks so much for contributing.

  6. i like your lay-out..how’d you do it. i like to make mine similar to yours..what site or tools do I have to visit or use to have this kind of setup..feel free to visit my site..I’m a little newbie..I want my lay-out to have recent post, recent comment, and others to be properly aligned in the right side col. just like yours? pls help me..tnx in adv
    ^-^

    1. @meneleo lordrich
      This is a wordpress.com free hosted blog. The theme is Vigilance by Jestro and the links to the web designer and theme downloads is on the bottom of this blog on the left corner. Your’s is a blogspot (Blogger) blog and if you go to Google Search and type in “free themes for Blogger” you will find many of them that you can choose from.

  7. The length of the post can’t determine its quality but a short post generally not enough to elaborate a topic to the readers. The best thing is to determine the structure and the main points of your post. Then elaborate them one by one with good elaboration, facts and examples. Make sure you get 4-5 main points for a topic.

    After that, you’ll realize that you’d create a 200+ words article! It’s from my experience. Write based on the points that you want to elaborate, not from the length of the post that you want to create =)

  8. I write mostly fiction so I am usually trying to tell a story in as few words as possible. I’ll also, sometimes, use a photograph to enhance what I am writing. . . The people who have been kind enough to read what I’ve written and comment have come to know the people I write about regularly. I checked my last few posts and they were between 10 words and about 100. Even the 10 word posting tells a story, albeit a short, short one. I’ve posted stories as long as 2,000 words which have been so well commented on that I know they worked. . . It pleases me to no end that someone will read what I’ve written.

    Your advice in this posting and the others I have read is always right on the mark. Thanks for the great advice.

    1. @ koe whitton-williams
      Thanks so much for the kind words. Without feedback I wouldn’t know if I have published a useful post or not so it also pleases me to know you read my post.

  9. Informative & enlightening as usual! I’ve never really thought about my post length. I just say what i have to say with the number of words that say it best. I will start giving it a lot of thought now.

  10. The length for every post should be reasonable – after taking into consideration of the subject matter, content and its nature.

  11. Being my journal, my posts are as long as I feel like writing them.
    Thanks for the Web Style Guide link. I might learn a thing or two from it.

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