How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

One question new bloggers often ask is how long a blog post needs to be to be informative and credible. Unfortunately, giving a word count answer isn’t really possible, unless you’re just trying to play the SEO game (then, the answer is at least 350 or so). But even then, that’s not what you’re here to learn.

Basically, like any piece of writing, a blog post needs to be as long, or as short, as it needs to be to deliver the content intended. So, what exactly does this mean, and what does this look like, practically? Read on below to find out.

If You Can’t Be Great, It’s Better to be Long

While you might not be able to make content with the same production quality as a major online-publisher, bloggers shouldn’t shy away from long-form content. However, on the flip-side, unwieldy posts that go on and on and on with no purpose are never going to do you any favors.

Going in-depth and covering a topic properly doesn’t always require thousands of words, especially if you have chosen a rather narrow topic within your niche to explore. But if you find that you have completely covered your topic in just a few sentences, you may want to take a step back to see where you can go deeper, or discuss the topic more.

Take your time to consider different approaches to your topic, you can:

  • Think about how an image or two, or examples, might help the post,
  • Consider adding more to the introduction or conclusion,
  • Rework a couple sentences into headlines or topic sentences,
  • Re-outline the post so that what you’ve written is part of a larger discussion/post.

Basically, unless you have a really good reason for a blog post being just a couple sentences, you need to give readers something worthwhile — especially if readers are in anyway notified automatically when you put up a new post.

A good rule of thumb for any blog post requires reading it aloud and timing yourself. If it takes you less than two minutes to read at a reasonable pace, you might want to consider adding more to it. Also, reading your post aloud is a great way to proofread, and is highly recommended anyway.

What If There’s Nothing More to Say?

If you think there is truly nothing more to say beyond what you’ve written, try to put yourself in the shoes of different types of readers. First, consider the reader who runs a Google search for your exact headline. Will they be disappointed by the fact that your post feels light on content? Or, will they be happy to have found a direct answer? Next, consider the reader who is returning to your blog after not having visited for a month, or since your last newsletter or email update. What are they going to think?

While it may feel instinctual to want to focus on this first reader who organically found your blog via a search, you’re ignoring the more important audience member, the returning visitor or subscriber. Fortunately, there’s another way to impress and please those readers on the hunt for topical information: Make ever single post tl;dr friendly. If you’re curious about what that means, don’t worry, the next section explains it.

Tl;dr Every Post

While you may want to imagine your readers navigating directly to your blog from their bookmarks bar, then pouring over every single syllable of your glorious wordsmithing, in all reality, they’re probably voraciously consuming your content then moving on without feeling gluttonous at all. And if a new reader gets to your site via a search, you want to make sure they can access the information they are looking for quickly and easily.

Tl;dr, in case you are unaware, means “too long, didn’t read.” It is one of those web-acronyms that have sprung up thanks to Reddit. Basically, a tl;dr is a short summary of a post written for people who will not read a long post.

For this reason, blog posts should be tl;dr friendly. That means using headings that are descriptive, while having clear introductions and conclusions to please those readers who are just skimming the web). It also doesn’t hurt to use bold, italics, or underlining, when you want to make sure that readers don’t miss words or phrases you want emphasized.

Note: Your blog is not Reddit. You do not need to actually put in a tl;dr summary, but making sure that content designed to be informative (rather than entertaining) is easy to scan, will make your posts more useful to readers.

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3 Tips for Keeping Your Blog on Track

Blogging is a marathon sport. Though occasionally you may feel the need to sprint, especially in the beginning, it’s best to just make and stick to a schedule for posting.

But, because life, staying on track can often be difficult, especially when writing isn’t your primary job, or isn’t generating any income for you. However, if you’re committed, then you can make it happen. And to help you and your blog stay on track, below you’ll find three tips.

1. Develop Daily and Weekly Routines

For those who can’t devote the majority of their working day to blogging, it is imperative to develop solid routines, and not just for writing. Spending a hour, or less even, on a daily or weekly basis, reading your own content and your competitions’ content is time well spent. And, if finding time to write is difficult, then scheduling time to do it regularly is critical.

Additionally, you should set up an administrative review time, at least monthly, to make sure your blog’s website is running smoothly, and everything is up to date.

When setting your routines, think about what works best for you. Are you an early-bird or night-owl? Is writing your afternoon-delight? Would you prefer to review your brainstorming notes every Friday or Monday? Set up times that make sense for you and are realistic (in terms of you being able to stick to it).

2. Never Stop Brainstorming Topic Ideas

One of the big road-blocks bloggers face is running out of topics. This can seemingly happen rather quickly for certain niche topics, however, as the internet has proven, time and time again, that there’s always something more to say about everything.

One way bloggers can avoid staring at blank page without a clue what to write involves maintaining a topics brainstorming list. In addition to making the list, it is a great idea to set aside some time every week for brainstorming topic ideas. However, you can and should always add topics to the list anytime you think of one, and it’s an excellent idea to maintain a topics brainstorming list on your smartphone so you can jot down topic ideas anytime and anywhere inspiration may strike.

3. Take it One Post at a Time

It can seem like an insurmountable task to post blog post after blog post when your audience may not be engaged, or even exist. But you need to remember that blogs don’t just get popular overnight. Well, sometimes they do. But most blogs take time to develop an audience and following, and even longer to become monetized. So long as you keep at it, keep up with blogging best practices, and keep creating content that readers would find valuable, you still have a chance to reach your goals.

Good content may not be easy, but so long as you just take it one post at a time, and focus on creating the content that your readers want in that one post, the bigger picture your blog is trying to paint will get there.

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What Does Providing Value Mean for Bloggers?

As a blogger or content creator, the concept of providing value may feel abstract or disconnected from creating, but it really shouldn’t. Providing value is just another way to say providing a benefit.

For your readers or viewers, not only should there be some benefit for engaging or subscribing to content, there should be some benefit imparted by every piece of content. If you’re still baffled as to what is meant by benefit and value, or want to learn more about how your writing can provide readers with value, then the following should help.

Value is THE Why

In short, for readers, value usually takes the form of either entertainment or information. A reader visits a blog to either learn something new, or to be entertained (or sometimes both). Sure, there may be other reasons, but those pretty much cover the bulk of it.

This is also the reason why readers will revisit your site: entertainment and information create that value. If you did a good job at either, then there is a good chance they’ll come back, follow or subscribe. To that end, notifying your readers when new content is available is an example of providing additional value for those signing up for a newsletter or mailing list.

Being for the Benefit of Your Audience

Regardless of your topic, you should always write with your audience in mind. Think about what a reader wants to get out of your content, then give it to them. If they’re there for a laugh or a dramatic story, you better deliver. If they want to know the details about some collectible action figures you’ve taken to meticulously cataloging, you better have those details and original photos to back it up.

A word of caution about pleasing your audience: While it is important to consider your what your audience wants, integrity and authenticity are critical, and lacking either can be terminal.

Yes, that’s really it. For bloggers, providing value simply means providing readers with content that informs, entertains, or accomplishes whatever it is the reader wants it to accomplish. If you’re interested in learning more about blogging, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the link to subscribe to my newsletter for additional, newsletter-exclusive tips.

So You Want to Start a Blog …

Starting a blog may be easy, but keeping it going is where most bloggers tend to struggle.

Who among us hasn’t started like six or seven blogs in their lifetime only to let each and every one atrophy into a depleted echo chamber of loneliness after the first few posts didn’t go viral?

So how do you start a blog that will keep you, and your readers, interested and engaged? Read on below to find out.

Pick a Niche You Actually Care About

Blogging is all about niches and authenticity. Readers visit blogs in order to get specific, detailed information about whatever they are geeking out over. The catch is that these readers generally only want to consume content created by like-minded people. While the technology isn’t there, somehow readers can smell insincerity through the web.

Simply put, if you’re not actually engaged in the topic your writing about, or you’re just re-blogging what has already been written elsewhere, your audience will catch on, then move on. But, if you’re creating original content that is informative and creates value for readers, you’re much more likely to get a subscriber, follower, or bookmark, out of it.

For example, this blog you’re reading right now is focused on writing blogs. Readers can expect that by following this blog, they will be sure to get tips on how to keep their own blogs going, or other writing tips, from a writer who has published thousands of blog posts and has studied the craft of writing for decades. For a blogger, or any other type of online content creator, learning how to improve your writing is indeed valuable.

Deciding on your niche might take some work and some soul searching. The next section provides some advice on figuring it out for yourself.

Considerations for Choosing Your Niche

The most important aspect of choosing your blog’s focus is you. Since the blog will depend on you creating content for it, and you likely won’t have a boss or editor throwing assignments at you, if you don’t like the subject-matter, you’re going to suffer.

Again, for instance, this blog: Writing is a passion of mine. There is just something personally satisfying about seeing words on a page come together to form meaning, and like the big writing nerd that I am, when meanings muddle or phrases beg to be written, I smile. Simply put, writing about writing is my penultimate-geek-pleasure.

However, notice that my niche is not exclusive to people who are like me (that just take sheer delight in how words and meaning can be funny). In fact, anyone who wants to learn to be a better writer, or blogger, can find value in the content being created here.

Following closely behind what you find interesting enough to sustain a blog, the other big, very important, consideration you must ponder is value. What are you providing for your readers? Information, entertainment, education, advice, laughs? At the end of the day, if you are not consistently providing value to your readers, you shouldn’t expect to sustain their interest.

Putting Value on the Blog

You’ve surely heard the saying: “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” It’s a pretty new saying, but it’s been true for as long as there’s been no free lunch. It’s the same saying.

For bloggers and online content creators, those readers, viewers, and subscribers, are the product. On most platforms, advertising is what monetizes a blog or website. Advertisers pay more money for sites that have more targeted audiences and more views. This means you have to acquire products to sell, and since nothing is free, that means you have to give value to acquire your products, aka your readers and subscribers. Fortunately, if you’ve selected a niche you enjoy, providing that value amounts to creating good, high-quality content, which will probably be enjoyable to do and rewarding for yourself as well.

While this may seem like a distant issue to consider, if you aren’t providing value from the outset, you’re not likely to keep those first readers.

Read Your Competition

Thanks to how great the internet is, someone has probably already done and written about what you want to write about. Don’t worry, that’s not a problem. The internet is a big place and there’s plenty of room for everyone to write and publish, and if the demand is there, then the internet can sort it all out. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore these other bloggers or websites. In fact, you should become avid followers, especially if those sites are doing well. Learn as much as you can from what your competition (or peers) are doing right (or wrong).

Another good reason why you should keep up with your competition is simply to make sure that you keep up-to-date with what’s going on in your niche.

Always Engage Your Readers

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to engage your readers at the end of every blog post, beyond just the friendly reminder to subscribe or sign up for a newsletter (hint, hint). Providing links away from your site to source material, related content, or anything else you might think is relevant, may feel counter-intuitive, but it helps build your credibility, both from readers and from search engines.

If you have any comments or requests for future topics about blogging, feel free to contact me.