Sure There's An Ideal Blog Post Length... Well, Sort Of
Writing a blog can be frustrating if you don't know where to stop. Some would tell you to stop when you run out of either energy or something to say. However, you have heard you are supposed to write long blog posts, so you panic because you do not think what you have written is long enough. So, where do you stop?It really is all about the message and not the particular length!
Many people have asked me how long their blog posts should be, so here are a few guidelines that may make it easier to process length of post problems and explain why there is not a definite answer to the question, "How long should my blog post be?"A Short Post
First of all, it doesn't always have to be long. Some will say that a post should be at least 500 words long because you want the reader to think that he or she is getting something for their time. While this is good advice, remember the most important issue - valuable content.
What if you just have a short update that you want to post and there is no way that you can get more than 300 words out of it? Should you wait until you have something more and then write a 500 word post? I'd say no. Look at one of the biggest marketing gurus out there, Seth Godin. Some of his blog posts are between 60-200 words. And his blog is huge!
If you do write a short blog post, just make sure that you are not wasting the reader's time. They have offered you a sacrifice by believing that what you have to say is important enough that he or she should spend a few moments with it.
If you have an update to a previous piece, it may only be 300 words and that is okay. Never allow length to undermine the message. If a reader believes that you are more interested in posting a certain length than giving them valuable content, they will walk away. They will go somewhere else.
All that to say, try to keep your posts above 300 words, but this is not a hard and fast rule. Short posts should not be a normal length, but every once in a while, if you have an update or an important piece of advice that only warrants 300 words or less, it is okay to use this length (like Seth Godin does).A Decent Length
Most blog posts use the 500 word rule. It seems that articles and blog posts have somehow gotten the idea that somewhere between 500 and 700 words is the ideal length. There is no evidence that this is somehow magical, but it has become a standard.
A post of 500-700 words gives you about two standard pages of text and allows you to inform and be relatively concise. One word of caution, though. It is best to vary the length depending on the message you wish to convey with that particular post.
Never shorten something and leave the reader wanting, or lengthen a post and leave them bored. A guideline is just that. It should be followed much of the time, but when needed, you should let the quality content be the guide.Longer Posts
A post of a 1,000-1,200 words is around three pages of text and probably sufficient for most topics (this is the rule I try to follow). This can be a very good length, but you want to remember the mantra... always look to the value of the content. A long post can sometimes turn readers because it seems forced, but many times this will be where you need to be.
One bit of information regarding what people will read. From a post by Chuck Sambuchino on Writers Digest
, the ideal length for a novel is from 80,000 to 120,000 words (depending on genre). This guideline is good for novel writers, but what does it say to people who write blog posts?
First of all, it is okay to write a post that is lengthy if you have something to say. People will read a long post (or book) if they don't get bogged down by it.
Secondly, this says that people want to maximize their time. In the case of novels, if you are going to pay for a book, you want to feel that you got your money's worth. The same can be said of a blog post. If an individual sits down to read a post, they want to feel that it added value to them personally.
Time is an investment as much as money. So, length is secondary to content for these reasons. Also, this means that a longer post is fine, if you have something worthwhile to say.Longer?
Yes, Virginia you can write blog posts even longer than 1,200 words. But maybe you shouldn't. If you have a single idea that can only be expressed in a very lengthy post... fine. But, usually that is not the case.
Plus, you have to think of your readers. You won't be taking a chance of boring them if the content seems too long for them (or even scare them away if they notice the length of the post before they begin reading).
Most lengthy posts can be broken down into two or three shorter ones. Why not write a series of posts? It may make the writing easier and it should draw more traffic because they are wanting to read the next post.Research
One important item was gleaned from the research that needs to be added here. Medium.com conducted a study
in which they looked at their own posts and determined how long an individual was engaged in reading a particular post. However, they didn't use word count as a guide; they used actual time spent reading.
Using statistical analysis, Medium found that people will read a specific post for about seven minutes. After that, the individual will move on to something else. Basically, this means if you can engage the reader at the beginning of the post, you have them for seven minutes.
They also say this means the reader will consume as many as 1,600 words during that timeframe (based on average reading rates). If you Google "what is the ideal length of a blog Post?" most answers are now based on this 1,600 words theory.Conclusion
So what does all of this mean (for one thing it means that this article is running kind of long)? It's fine to use a short post (300 words or less) for an update. The average length is 500-700 words for a post, but this is not a firm guideline. A long post, one that will keep your readers engaged, should conclude around 1,200 words (think about making it a series if you go beyond 1,200 words). However, people will read about 1,600 words before they totally give up on you.
Most importantly, let valuable content be the guide... write based on what you believe your audience is looking for, be it a short article or a long article. As long as you provide your readers (and the search engines) with quality content, there is no definite answer to the ideal length of a blog post.
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