At Really Helpful Towers, we’ve recently been debating how long our blog articles should be. Over the years we’ve written pieces ranging from 400 to 2,500 words (maybe more, I lost count) and as yet we’ve haven’t seen much in the way of discernible difference in impact – certainly nothing you could hang your hat on.
According to those ‘who know’ there are varying opinions about the ideal blog length. Some say 1,000 too 1,500 words. Others say 2,100 to 2,500, particularly if you want your piece to rank on search engines. 2,100 words, by the way, would equate to a reading time of about 7 minutes.
It is also largely accepted that really short blogs of say, less than 300 words don’t do you any good – highly unlikely to deliver any shares via social media or achieve any SEO impact. Even at 500-600 words, most experts would say “don’t bother”.
But try telling that to Seth Godin.
Seth’s Blog receives around 600,000 visitors per month and continually ranks near the top of Ad Age’s Power 150 (a daily ranking of marketing blogs).
And very few of his blog pieces are longer than 300 words.
So where does that leave us?
How long should a blog be?
Obviously, the answer is… “it depends”.
I don’t want to go into it here. God knows there’s plenty of other content out there that will provide you with hugely scientific answers to the question.
A misplaced obsession with length.
Anchoring your content strategy to a word count is like determining the beauty of a painting by the number of brushstrokes.
Remember, you’re courting industry professionals who’ve probably seen it all.
Does a tech CEO want to spend 10 minutes reading your 3,000 words? Not unless those 3,000 words offer transformative value. Even 2 minutes is too long for zero value.
The content’s length is secondary to the value of the insight.
You job is to bring something fresh to the table. If it’s truly strategic and thoughtful, you’ve got a chance of getting their attention.
What are the qualities of a good blog?
Whatever the length, highly readable blogs usually display similar qualities:
Expert opinion: If you know your audience’s pain points, challenges and aspirations, you’re well placed to provide an expert opinion. Remember, people read to learn – and you’re the teacher.
Genuine authenticity: Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Write like you speak. Express your opinion clearly, don’t sit on the fence.
Purity of thought: Strip away the fluff. Every sentence should drive your message home. Stay on message and don’t be distracted.
Storytelling: We’re wired for stories. Framing your insights within a narrative can really amplify your point. Try to be entertaining.
Making them come back for more
Get your blogging right, and your audience will want to read more, which of course means you’ll need more content – no-one got anywhere with a one-hit wonder.
Publish regularly, sure, but not for the sake of it. It’s better to release one insightful piece a week than to spew out generic content daily.
Want to be a thought leader? Don’t regurgitate.
Anyone can write a blog. But if you want to make an impact, if you want people to come back for more, then your approach to blogging can’t be mundane. It requires a deep understanding of your subject matter, and above all, a commitment to offering genuine value.
The value comes from your expert opinion. Your opinion matters, so get it out there.
But the goal isn’t length; it’s clarity and value.
Write until you’ve made your point, and not a word more.