OK, I know that I sometimes write really long posts. My Heart of Blogness post was more than 4,000 words.
Long or short? Personal or “just the facts”? Links, reportage or commentary?
In short, whatever best fits your voice.
As a more practical matter, here are some of my observations.
Long vs. Short Posts
Short posts are usually “better” for most bloggers. It’s clear that fewer people will read your posts as the posts get longer. If you were able to learn about and graph readership vs. length of post, I think you’d see a precipitous decline after a post reaches about 400 words or so.
If you write a long post, you need to assume that fewer people will start to read the post (and even fewer will read it all the way through) and that the post might be saved, bookmarked or printed, but probably not read by as many people as you might have hoped.
HOWEVER, you may well develop your most loyal readership because of long posts, some might get turned into articles and some may turn out to be very long-lived and referred to by many others. They may also fall off the cliff into the deep dark sea.
I always get people telling me that I shouldn’t write as many long posts as I do. Remember, however, that I’ve written hundreds of articles and I’m quite comfortable in the 1,000 – 2,500 word range. Several of my long posts have been published as articles.
However, I expect and accept a greatly decreased readership for longer posts. That’s why I do a mix on the lengths of my posts.
In general, I’d recommend posts of a few hundred words (or less) for most new bloggers. Then adjust the length of your posts to fit your voice. There’s no magic formula, other than to note the general preference of readers for shorter posts.
If you write longer posts, think about using subheadings, bullet points and other web writing techniques that help your readers approach your article as “chunks.”
In particular, be very aggressive about paragraphing.
Forget what you were taught about not using single sentence paragraphs. Get the white space in there. You almost want to break paragraphs by sight.
If the paragraph is getting long, hit two returns and start a new paragraph. That helps today’s readers.
Personal vs. Objective Style.
You’re asking me? When in doubt, take a personal approach and use a personal style.
Links, Reportage or Commentary.
Who are you? What do you want? Figure out what your blog will be about and what you want to accomplish and you’ll get your answer.
Generally, if you are a little uncomfortable with your writing skills or are worried about how you will sound or what people might think, go with an approach that emphasizes linking and reporting news. Gradually try a few efforts at commentary (preferably something more than “that sucks”) or even more personally approaches. You’ll get feedback that either encourages you or discourages you.
Your approach will evolve over time. Heck, I have a much more personal and individual approach now than I had six months ago, let alone when I started this blog.
The “Perfect” Post.
As in article writing these days, you will generally get more response to a post that takes the form of “three reasons,” “five steps,” “seven tips” or some other numbered approach. People like this approach these days. I love posts and articles of this type. If you write a piece of this type that runs 800 to 1,200 words, you should be able to get it published as an article in print (assuming it’s reasonably good) and probably get requests from other publications to reprint it. It’s the sweet spot in the market.
A short post (less than 400 words) of this “numerical” style with a catchy title will consistently give you more audience and publicity than any other type of post that you do (except of course for post on celebrity gossip and other topics of enduring popularity).
In other words, you’d be making a huge mistake to model your blog posts after mine. But you’d also be making a mistake to decide that you need to tie yourself to some other blogger’s model.
One other point. If you do try to follow some other blogger’s model, you’ll quickly notice that (1) it’s much more difficult to write in that style than you ever expected and (2) your blogger model makes it look much easier than it really is.
One of my favorite examples of this is Tom Mighell at Inter Alia. It looks easy to write the kind of posts that Tom does, but it actually is extremely difficult to do so. I’ve tried and I can’t do it. On the other hand, I suspect that you might find it far more difficult than you expect to write in as “loose” a style as I seem to use.
It’s more about finding a voice than finding a technique.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]