How long should a blog post be?

How long should a blog post be?

This is a very frequently-asked question. It seems that a lot of new, self-conscious and tentative bloggers are asking: how long should a post blog be?

My answer is, there's no need to worry about it. It's not such as issue as you think.

What you should do is get used to blogging first, exploring the wonders of writing, getting used to entering and editing your blog with ease.

It's not the same

But before I start talking about blog post length, I want to explain more about writing for the web, blogs or whatever. You need to employ a different mindset and technique. This is because how people read from a screen is not the same as from the printed page.

For example, the attention span is shortened. People are able to skim or scan read beforehand, to make sure this post is what they really want to read.

The light coming from the screen provokes a faster-paced form of reading. People use the web for fact finding, not necessarily leisurely reading.

Therefore how to present your writing needs to change. It should become shorter, succinct, punchy. This includes sentences as well as paragraphs (as you can see from this post).

Avoid the wall

When I first wrote about how long should a blog post be on Fairy Blog Mother, I was doing an experiment. (There's also a great infographic to see as well.)

I had read somewhere that the optimum length for a blog post was 2,500 words. Now there's no need to faint, have an asthma attack or worse. This is for hardened bloggers, who want to attract the search engines rather than write for their readers.

So I had a go at writing a 2,500 word post.

And one thing that struck me while I was re-reading my post was the amount of word blocks that confronted me. The dense paragraphs that almost impeded my reading pleasure.

They were oppressive. Each contained a huge amount of information, packed in to the gills. But the fact that they were more than 4 lines long made them overpowering.

So if you want to attract readers to your posts, consider how they are presented. Are they easy to read? Are they easily scannable? Do they allow enough white space to encourage the eye to travel down the page?

What is the optimum amount of words?

That 2,500 word post was too long. It was almost like a thesis. (It felt like it was when I was writing it too!)

So I suggest your posts should be anything between 300 to 800 words. And if you're feeling adventurous or are bursting with good ideas, you could venture as far as 1,500.

The reason why 300 is the minimum is because many SEO plugins state this is the least limit. So it's a good rule to be aware of this. The search engines need to have a reasonable amount of content to work on, or there won't be anything worthwhile for them to index.

There are plenty of expert bloggers who defy the rules about how long should a blog post be. Seth Godin and Jim Connolly are two that spring to mind.

Now they have plenty of followers, so can get away with it. They revel in succinct posting. They post extremely frequently, so probably haven't got a lot of time to write very long posts. They keep that energy for other forms of writing.

But I suggest you keep to between 300 to 800 for the time being. It's not as daunting as you might think. As long as you have something good to say, with plenty of information to pad it out, you'll find you can easily write that amount.

Keep your readers in mind

The reason why I wrote all that extra content before answering the question: how long should a blog post be? is because you need to think carefully about your readers.

What do your readers expect to see? What sort of content are they interested in? Could they cope with a long post? Or would they prefer something shorter?

When you write a post, you shouldn't be thinking about yourself. Blogging should not become a chore. Really the amount of words you produce has nothing to do with it, it's about how much you have to say, and how you say it.

Blogging is a written conversation with your readers. For me it's a bit like transcribing my thoughts onto the screen. Sometimes the words come thick and fast (too much for my poor fingers to catch up), and sometimes the thought-patterns just die.

It all depends on how much passion, drive and determination you have to communicate with your readers. And this can be made easier if you've done some work beforehand.

Get yourself ready

Save time by preparing your post. Write down your ideas first as bullet points.

Then do a bit of internet research to back up your ideas, or fill in the gaps. Sometimes you'll learn new stuff, which can only be a benefit! Glean only what is relevant to the post's subject, and don't get sidetracked.

Focus on providing value for your readers. This is also true if you're writing a post to express an opinion, having a rant, arguing with another blogger, reviewing another brilliant post, or whatever. The content you provide needs to benefit your readers, or they will feel short changed.

As long as you have something worthwhile to write about, delivered in a way your readers appreciate and expect, then the question: how long should a blog post be? becomes less of an issue than it was before.

And the number of words in this post, just in case you wanted to know? 948.

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Alice Elliott
 

Every beginner blogger needs a Fairy Blog Mother when they’re just starting out, who can “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. Alice Elliott provides technical advice for Attract Readers, drawing on her expertise from over a decade of helping bloggers understand blogging better.

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