The Truth about Blog Post Length2 min read

Some bloggers suffer from what I like to call verbal narcissism. Only it’s in writing. Anyway…

To avoid this awful fate, you probably try to keep your posts short, sometimes writing series of blog posts. After all, you don’t want to scare away readers by dumping too much information on them all at once, right?

Makes sense, but what’s weird is it doesn’t work that way.

Many popular posts here are around 1,000 words. But other times, short posts pack the most punch. It’s almost as if the length of a post matters not when it comes to how successful a post becomes.

But how could that be?

Ever watched a long movie that was totally awesome?

The Lord of the Rings comes to mind, of course. Or Titanic. As a matter of fact, we could make a pretty long list of award-winning movies that approach or cross the three hour mark.

What about short movies? Those can be awesome too, right?

Most animations by Pixar or Disney are less than 100 minutes long.

So, what’s the deal?

It’s quite simple, actually. It’s all about the story.

Each of your blog posts is, in a way, a story. Your life’s a story. Who you think you are is a story, who someone else thinks you are is another story.

And it all comes down to how long it takes to tell the story.

Hmm . . . maybe the same is true for blogging.

The Truth about Blog Post Length

A long post isn’t wrong. A short post isn’t wrong. In fact, the length of a post has nothing to do with how good or bad it is.

Here’s what matters:

  1. Writing something that’s interesting
  2. Taking out everything that’s not interesting

That’s it.

Sometimes, it takes 4,900 words to make an idea stand out. Other times, all you need is a few sentences. What’s important is that you do your idea justice in as few words as possible.

Eliminate the fluff. That’s the idea.

Fluff. It’s all about the fluff.

Long blog posts don’t scare away readers; sloppy writing does. Readers expect us to deliver content that’s as polished as possible.

Eliminate the words that seem to do nothing, the sentences and phrases that go nowhere.

Think of your post as a rollercoaster ride. It’s got to keep moving. If it’s not, then there’s something you need to edit about it.

If you want to see your blog grow and flourish over the coming years, you’ll need to come to the blank page not just with a mouse and keyboard (so you can punch the damn keys), but also with a knife . . . and the courage to use it.

chevron_left
chevron_right

Join the conversation

comment 73 comments
  • Liv Miles

    I totally agree! There’s so much stuffing in blog posts. I’ve developed the unhygienic reading habit of glazing over the first paragraph of an article, simply because I know it’s all style and no substance.

    • Astandane

      Same, and it’s unfortunate. So much ‘content’ nowadays can be safely concluded by ourselves in the first paragraph…at least, it seems that way.

  • Amitesh Jasrotia

    Great post, Cristian. I am a huge fan of the marketing guru Seth Godin who writes every day and mostly, his posts average 250-300 words.

    That said, there are SEO pundits out there who claim that for your post to succeed organically, it should be more than 800-900 words. Apparently, Google likes long-form posts.

    I do agree with your point, however, that unless there is substance in your post (minus fluff), nobody is going to stop by.

    • Cristian Mihai

      SEO is not that important. There isn’t a single post about SEO on this blog, and there isn’t a single blog post on here written with SEO in mind.

      The content here is written with the reader in mind. To provide value. That is all.

      • Amitesh Jasrotia

        I get the point, Cristian 🙂

      • Jheelam

        Mmm..so is SEO dead? I’m asking because there are FB blogging communities that propagate writing any post by keeping in mind the “optimization” nuts and bolts.
        Also, would like to hear your opinion on “Medium” as a blogging platform as bloggers over there don’t have to sweat over SEO-stuff- only writing and visibility.

      • Cristian Mihai

        SEO was never truly alive. It was never that important to begin with.

        Content and content alone is king. The rest is bogus.

        Medium is okay. It depends on what you want to do with your blog, what are your long term goals, and your plans to monetize.

        But it’s not some magic thing that will give you instant reach to readers. So, yeah, you still have to do your best to connect with folks and find readers and such.

      • Jheelam

        Gotcha. Thank you for the tips.

  • fiverronline8

    I was worried about the length of the blog post. Your article made me happy Thank you very much

  • Abigail

    My problem is that I like to write academic posts that are concise but long, so I split them into a series of posts. For example, I divided my recent argumentative analysis on illegal immigration into four posts (five if you include the bibliography) to make it look “nicer” and “more accessible.” Are you suggesting that a well-written post does not require such measures?

    • Cristian Mihai

      People can read a book in a day if it’s really, really, really interesting. Like a lot, like that book is going to be one of their favorites, and they’re going to tell everyone they meet about it.

      So, yeah, it can be done. But you must also be honest with yourself and ask yourself if the writing is good enough, concise enough, and interesting enough.

      • Abigail

        True. I’ve been known to read a book in a day. Thanks for the advice, Cristian. I shall endeavor to fine-tune my posts as such.

  • atb

    I think my trick is to start out long, then cut back and edit. It can be very hard to shorten your posts, and delete sections that you feel are important. But it makes for all-round much better content!

    • Cristian Mihai

      Kill your darlings, as Stephen King said.

  • sullivanspin

    I had a female English professor who said “writing should be like a skirt – long enough to cover the issue, but short enough to keep interest.”

  • 3wanderwithme

    Awesome topic!! As soon as I saw it in my email, it was a must read. An encouraging reminder to write quality regardless of quantity. Its been a pleasure to read your insights.

    • Cristian Mihai

      Maybe I should also write a post on how often one should post. That’s also about quality versus quantity, so to speak.

      Also, thank you for your compliments. And for reading! Cheers.

  • olehippies

    That is so true. I love reading your posts. They are so informative.

  • IamJirah

    TRUE ENOUGH! Well said! Thank you for this 🙂

  • pondersavant

    I’m curious to know your opinion on series. I started my blog and had in mind doing mini series with it. You had mentioned that in order to avoid long posts that some people break them up into series, so I was wondering if series are not such a good route in general or is it only bad if you are trying to avoid length?

    • Cristian Mihai

      They are only bad if you are trying to break down a long and boring post.

      Series are great. Before I started this blog, I used to do blogging weeks on my main blog, and I’d get a lot of traffic and stuff: one of my most popular posts is from one of those blogging weeks.

      If you do a series right, and you end it with a cliffhanger of sorts, then you’re guaranteed success.

      • pondersavant

        Thank you! I appreciate the information!

  • Benjamin Gonçalves

    Have you ever written on how to get feedback on your writing? You can only be as honest with yourself as your knowledge allows it. What can you do if you manage to get a lot of traffic on your blog, but no one leaves a comment and you know they didn’t read any of your other posts? Did I target the wrong audience or is my writing bad? I know it’s very very short. I made sure of that, because I used to be a narcissist.

    • Cristian Mihai

      You need to write in such a way to emotionally engage your audience. That is the trick. It also helps to ask a question at the end of the post. I wrote a few articles on this very topic. How to get more comments and such.

      • Benjamin Gonçalves

        Thanks a lot for taking the time, Christian. I’m reading your blog on a regular basis and every piece of advice is very helpful. Thanks.

  • Benjamin Gonçalves

    So if I got it right, it’s better to write as less as possible (write much and cut down the excess) than to write as much as necessary (write little and complete what’s missing)?

    • Cristian Mihai

      No. Write as much as necessary. But not more. And you don’t have to write a lot and then cut down the excess. That’s not the point.

      The idea is that no matter how you want to write your post, you’ll end up writing words that don’t belong there.

      I read once that you can always delete the first paragraph of a post/article and it still makes sense. And then delete what is now the first paragraph, and so on…

      You can delete quite a lot from a post and it still makes sense.

      That’s the idea.

      But never, ever, ever write more than you have to. Never write for the sake of writing, or because you like how a phrase sounds, or because you think you’re way too smart.

  • VictorsCorner

    The post made sense. The last paragraph about coming to the blogging table with a cutting tool made me chuckle.

  • Phemo

    I totally agree, was confused when i started blogging because i read somewhere that google recognize long posts. now it make sense interesting matters whether short or long. an example of a book make it clearer

  • bestregardsfromfar

    Interesting topic! Our articles tend to be in-depth and on average a bit longer than what seems to be popular in the travel blogging world. As our posts cover different topics (when it is about history or a neighbourhood for instance) we notice that the attention span of readers gets shorter than when it is about how we experienced something (which I don’t always think is interesting). It remains a challenge to find the right length when the audience is very varied.

  • queeenvk

    Thank you so much for this! This is incredibly useful information.

  • John H. Watson

    Love the post except I don’t like conciseness in writing. I like expansiveness in writing and actually, I like writing to be like a narcissist giving a long winding talk dominating a conversation. There is excess but there is also an overly edited writing that does not resemble speech anymore. Writing should be like speech and actually more accurately, good writing should be like future speech, how we should be and will be talking in the future. Consider Hemingway and how his writing although resembled a little of how English was used in his time, it also enlightened the readers how English can be used in the future and then, it changed the way we communicated as a society. In some sense you are also advancing the English language and how it will be used in the future. I like your writing, good sir!

  • MutedMouthful

    I was overthinking this very topic, thank you!

  • Until Jenn

    I’m very new to blogging, and it’s fun and challenging to figure it all out. I am also an elementary school teacher, and it’s awesome to know that the same basic principles of writing and the writing process are highly valued on the blogging platform. Editing and cutting the “fluff” is basically what we also teach at the elementary school level, and now I empathize with my students even more because it’s pretty challenging for me too! Thanks for your informative and validating post.

  • righteousbruin9

    Yes, to this! My posts have to fit the subject matter. Sometimes, that can be done at length; other times, succinctly.

  • Ethan Tyrrell

    Thank you! Post length is one of my rough spots. I guess being in school and following word counts has scared me. Sometimes I’ll go longer than I should and try to cut it down, and other times I’ll go the same length and feel like the length is necessary. For me it really does just boil down to cutting out the parts that aren’t interesting or necessary.

  • emzelf

    This is so helpful, thanks!

  • Astandane

    It’s also about presentation, as writing long and seemingly unending paragraphs will swamp people.

    Quite often, I will click off an article/post if it’s written more like a dissertation, simply because I am most likely reading at a time where I want to do so quickly-and easily.

    Your information/point should stand out.

    Like this, right?

    Not:

    It’s also about presentation, as writing long and seemingly unending paragraphs will swamp people. Quite often I will click off an article/post if it’s written more like a dissertation, simply because I am most likely reading at a time where I want to do so quickly, and easily. Your information/point should stand out.

  • chicoinematt

    Thank you for sharing these blogging tips! Seeing each post as a “story” will definitely help to orient my mind toward appropriate post length for future reference. Thank you again! 🙂

  • katrubie

    I can see this one will very likely be my biggest challenge in writing blog posts. I have always been very long winded. I love the use of descriptive words that paint a more colorful picture of what I am trying to communicate. I love details too – those little factoids and things that add truthfulness and credibility to what I am saying. I also tend to be redundant, thinking (and rightfully so) that people are not really paying attention to what is being said, so repeating it in a slightly different way gives me hope of adding clarity if they were paying attention and that the idea Im trying to convey will not fall on completely deaf ears. And there it is…my love of words has taken me away and I realize I must also learn how to break up my ideas and add white space before I lose my audience after sentence two – or even (alas!) before word one!

    • Cristian Mihai

      Well, you add clarity by removing certain parts.

      By the way, I sent you an e-mail to the address you used to pay yesterday.

      • katrubie

        Ah! I get it! Clarity is gained through clutter removal!

    • untsculdidung

      With my blog I intend do awake Portuguese for a civil problem: free euthanasia, free choice of the place and the date where we shall die.
      Thank you for your comment. I just do not care if my blog has long sentences or is each of its text long, and so and sofort – I did nor learn to write with two fingers in a smartphone. As you, I do not mind being redundant because I love words and languages and love read and write. Simply, I do not dare writing a book because what really matters has already been written long ago and there’s no need to leave on this ending planet more rubbish that there’s already.

  • lifewithlane14

    Thank you so much for this! I have struggled with not knowing how much was too much and If my blogs were too short!

  • Thomas THE MOVIE-WARDEN

    I struggle from this issue by the way but try to always try to overcome it

  • Candy Keane | Geek Mamas

    One of the compliments I get often about my blog is “I like that your posts are short and to the point.” I have the rare long winded piece when I have something more to say (or I’m paid to write a particular amount of words) but it’s few and far between. To be honest, when I click on a post to read and it’s a huge block of text, unless it’s really compelling, I’m going to lose interest and not finish. If I wanted something really long, I’d read a book, not a blog. (Though if you have a blog about writing/short stories/etc. then your audience is totally different and that would warrant longer posts)

  • Michael Jereld

    Thanks for this post. Quality over quantity is the model for my site and nothing bores me more than a long post; yet I can sit and watch a 3-hr movie like The Avengers and be totally sucked in. You’re absolutely right when you said its all about the story. Great advice!

  • Diana Dupont-Roman

    I just started my blog and this was really interesting, thank you!!!

  • Life in Words

    This is a truth so enlightening. It’s the story that matters

  • Nirav Dave

    The best way to get more organic traffic to your site is to write in-depth and informative content. It’s not about the content length, though 2000+ words seem ideal. It is more about how beneficial the content is to your readers. Thanks, Cristian, for sharing this advice. Really helpful!

    • Cristian Mihai

      Maybe. Maybe not. I almost never write more than 1500 word blog posts, yet my blogs are some of the most popular on WordPress.com

  • heresmeg

    LOVE that image of coming with a knife! Something I for sure need to apply. Thanks!!

  • Kim Petitt

    Personally, I have an short attention span and I will lose interest if the content doesn’t pull me in or catch my attention so I try to keep that in mind when I’m writing my blog posts.

  • Brandon Brown

    Very well put. I know how difficult it can be to consider blog post length, when you “have a way with words.” It’s just like you said.. the story has to be interesting.

  • JanBeek

    That’s a great tool to be sure I carry in my writer’s tool kit: a knife. Thnx, Cris.

  • JZ

    This is so true. Great writing is about audience and purpose – who you are speaking to, and what you want them to get from it. Concise, clear writing wins every time!

  • Rhondalynny

    Thank you for this. I’m new to blogging and looking for advice. This post was very helpful!

  • Itsjusttiana’s Thoughts

    It’s the craziest thing, I write very short and to the point blog posts that I don’t assume will do very well, and then they get the most views of the week. Then I spend hours typing and revising 2k word blogs, thinking it’s going to launch me into blogging history and nada. It’s the most frustrating thing. I’ve learned a lot from this post that I’m going to try and incorporate. Thanks.

  • PARROT IN PINK

    I find it true enough. Thanks for the great tips.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: