Blogging impressions: a short post about long posts

A nice tip from a fellow blogger and it’s all in the title: “I try to leave out the parts that people skip“. Boy if there ever were a tip written just for me this would be it. Then again, if I change too much I’ll end up having to change my blog name too.

Do you really need to keep only the content you think your readers will like?

Skip or keep? Goat in spring

Skip or keep? (spring picture by ewewlo on Flickr)

Should you skip all the bits you assume people don’t pay attention to? Or will adding structure and headings keep casual readers on board, scanning your blog post for the stuff they’re interested in?

Long posts and short posts in blogging

I’ve pretty much managed to weed out two-topic posts. The question now is how long or short a post should be.

  • For posts on a corporate blog I’m sure I read somewhere that 400 words is enough. The idea is that business people don’t have time for long reads.
  • Another number I found was 500-600 words per post. I don’t recall where I read that, and that’s probably because the blog containing the information wasn’t worth remembering. Which says it all I guess.
  • Blogs containing chapters of a fictional work tend to have, well, chapter-length posts. I don’t think anybody minds the long read 😉
  • For my own blog I stay well away from the 1000-word mark. Under 900 is fine. If I manage to say what I wanted to say without sounding too dry-factual (is that a word? I just made it one) using less than 800 words it’s worth a cheer and a “Well done you” stamp in my content rambling archive.

Deliver the message – the essence of any piece of writing

So far I’ve adhered to just one rule while blogging: the right number of words for a blog post is the number of words I need to deliver a complete thought or set of thoughts about a topic, preferably with a bit of fun added into the cake mixture.

When it comes to really compact writing I wonder if anyone ever managed to beat Tacitus. Come to think of it, I remember we actually asked our teacher for a text by that specific author, because we were getting bored with translating Vergilius (Virgil) in preparation for our exam and we needed the change – and a challenge. After just a week or two, getting back to Virgil was the ultimate relaxing holiday-on-the-beach!

What’s a good post-length for you as a blogger – or as a reader? How short is a short post, and what is too long in a long post? Does any kind of ‘rule’ work in blogging?

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12 thoughts on “Blogging impressions: a short post about long posts

  1. I see what you mean. People these days have the attention span of an advert break. I think the rule is: make it interesting for you – something you would like to read – and the chances are that someone else will come along who wants to read it too.

    • That’s one top tip Brian. A guest blogger on Problogger once wrote a post “How to blog as if you’re in a closet” (or a similar title). The moment he started wondering what other people liked he couldn’t write anything decent anymore. So he pretended to himself that no one would ever read his blog apart from him. It worked like a charm.

  2. I think you can tell a lot by how much and how often someone blogs……by contrary, maybe the individual keeps blogs short due to lack of time. Either way, I personally prefer long blogs, just because I love to write. Then again, I find myself weeding out the details in fear a viewer may not reach the bottom……

    • I know what you mean. Weeding out any details that distract your reader from the point you’re making but keeping details that add interest or necessary facts… Finding the right balance is an art 🙂

  3. I think you’ve nailed it. The key isn’t the number of words but the audience you are writing for and making sure the content is a complete set of thoughts on a topic.

    What you do well is to break up each paragraph with a bold heading. This feature allows people to skim and determine if this is the content that they are looking for. I’ll be honest when I see a thousand word post with no titles I go back to searching for a blog post that does.

    • I know what you mean. The only time I might read a longer blog post without headings is if the topic is completely what I’m looking for, and if the post is easy to read even without headings. Even so, it’s probably shorter than 1000 words 😉

  4. Hmm, must say I don’t favour long posts. This one was just fine.

    I don’t know if I have a short attention span or what, but when I have to keep scrolling & scrolling – well, if it doesn’t grab me, I click out of it. Terrible!!

    • It just a lot easier to ‘ramble on’ when you’re writing than to make your point and stop I guess.
      On the other hand, if it doesn’t grab you it’s going to be too long even if it’s short 😉
      (I remember all the books I used to put away in the school library after reading the first few sentences.)

  5. I use plus, minus 500 words as a guide. It encourages me to be succinct and descriptive. When reading there’s been very, very few blogs approaching 1000 words I read in detail. About half way through I start reading the first sentence to determine if it’s a repeat, which it often is, or new material that supports or continues the story. I don’t think business people are the only ones who need to get on to other things.

    • I’ve been trying the same thing for the last few posts (not all of them published) 😉
      You’re right about blog readers – I suppose when it comes to other people’s blogs, we’re all ‘business people’ meaning we want value for our time.

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