How Long Should a Blog Post Really Be?
Nothing riles my rancor more than reading disinformation spread by so-called “experts” who don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s a widely held view out there that the length of a blog post should be limited to only about 300 words maximum. Others might stretch that to 500 words or less but the general concensus is readers suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (notice the tongue in my cheek) and can’t focus long enough to read anything longer.
Makes sense .. right?
Hmm .. I have to admit that I’ve always had a problem with this point of view. First of all rigid opinions about how long a post should be insults the majority of us who don’t have an attention issue. Secondly, I believe in a conversational style of blog post writing which doesn’t lend well to short, pithy posts.
Don’t get me wrong because I’m a firm believer in brevity. In fact, when I practiced law I had it down to an art form.
But we still had to make our case so why should blogging be any different? Then of course there are the different types of posts to consider, such as tutorials for example which by their very nature can require a lot more than just a few words.
So how is it possible (I ask myself) can we adequately illustrate and support our opines with such a narrow-minded point of view?
Blogging is supposed to be an electronic medium for publishing our hopes, thoughts, dreams and aspirations .. isn’t it?
So who has the right to put a lid on it? Why so harsh?
Please forgive me if I sound cynical but I see a lot of holes in their argument that require a little more investigation.
How It All Started..
I recall it was certain marketers who first started the myth for short posts. After all they have the most to gain from pithy posts crafted with just the right amount of carefully chosen keywords.
The so-called blog gurus of today are actually just marketers who have created an artificial (and self-serving) celebrity niche for themselves, and they would prefer us all to believe that blogging is only about making money.
It’s been my unpleasant experience that bloggers who hold to this point of view (i.e. short posts) generally fall into this category and are only interested in clogging the airwaves with junk content to get a good position with the SERPS.
That is their excuse for writing garbage posts full of ads and affiliate links, and apparently they don’t want to have to work all that hard for their money. But I don’t buy into it (no pun intended).
(On a personal note I admit to being a little peed-off when I’m link-baited by a killer title only to find an incomplete or plagiarized thought at the other end. Some marketers more than others are guilty of this and you know who they are.)
Disclaimer: Not that I have anything against marketers or making money from blogging so long as it’s done ethically and follows good blogging practices. Believe it or not I like to make money too.
Having said that the way I see it is..
There is no absolute rule for how long a blog post can be. But if you feel that your readers can’t hold their attention then maybe it’s because you need to brush up on your writing skills.
With tricks like making your paragraphs shorter, highlighting your main points with bold, different-sized fonts, italics, adding images, headings or a sense of humor can go a long way to break up the monotony and hold your audience’s attention.
Music is Entertainment and Writing Should Be No Different..
I’m reminded of the Beatles and Beethoven’s music (yes I compare the two) who (besides writing great tunes) hold my attention because they never bore me.
If you listen closely you will notice there is very little repetitiveness in their music.
Beethoven can have several musical themes going on at the same time that he weaves throughout a symphony.
The Beatles used similar tricks (although not as sophisticated as Beethoven). Like playing with the left and right channels (in those days it was only stereo) separating their voices or instruments for maximum contrast and effect.
If they repeated a lyric or chorus they would change-up the music, harmonies, rhythm or ad-lib a little to keep it interesting.
So don’t be boring. Yeah, yeah, yeah..
Counting Words is like Counting Calories .. because .. it doesn’t .. work ..
Most of us aren’t word-smiths like the great poets of yesteryear. Keep it interesting with a few simple techniques.
You will be able to communicate more effectively and get your point across without being restricted to only a specific number of words .. so stop counting.
Blog purists like to knock Twitter for it’s 140 character limitation. They argue that it’s not possible to express an opinion or hold a conversation without dumbing-it-down with incomprehensible abbreviations or incomplete thoughts.
I think there’s some truth to that.
What’s the Bottom Line? How Long Should a Blog Post Really Be?
As for me, I would rather uphold standards and try to better myself as a communicator than give in to strict limitations or dumbing-down the conversation. I reject any opinions that try to tell me how long a post should be.
So go ahead and write to your hearts content. You have my blessing, but be reasonable and don’t go to the other extreme either. Stay on topic and edit ruthlessly. Your readers will thank you for it.
They don’t call writing an art form for nothing. Don’t be lazy and put a little effort into your posts and leave the short blurbs for Twitter and Facebook.
How well did I do? Was this post too long?
P.s.: This post is exactly 971 words and 5461 characters (yes, I actually counted).