It’s the most common question asked at my blogging for business workshop. New bloggers always ask whether I know the ideal length for a blog post. What do I recommend as the perfect post length?
Here’s the thing: I’ve written and read many blog posts of all sizes. From 100 words to 2000-plus words. I consider many things when choosing the word count. I’ll get to them shortly. But first, let’s check out the three rules I’ve set for myself.
Rhonda’s rules for word count
1: Never write less than 500 words.
Why? It gives enough space to share useful information (and also to place the keywords so they appear natural). I don’t want to appear spammy, and I don’t want Google and other search engines to punish my site for appearing spammy.
2: ONLY write what I need to get my message across.
Not one word more. This has worked quite well for me. Once I’m done, and before I press Publish, I go through and remove as many words as I can without making my post sound too bland.
3: Try something completely new once in a while.
I’ve tried different formats and lengths to see what my readers prefer. From my tests, I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as my content is interesting, my readers will continue to read my blog posts.
So I’ll say the same thing to anyone who asks me whether they should write long or short posts:
You can’t simply say there’s a set number of words for one topic and another set number for the other.
Not even Lord Google can put a number on it.
Having said that, I encourage you to pop over to Google and search for blog posts about a topic. You’ll notice that the posts that appear at the top are usually long blog posts. That’s a fact I consider when writing.
If I’m unable to deliver my message through short and sharp bullet points, and if I need to elaborate or use stories to make people ‘get’ the message, then I go ahead and write till I’m happy with the post.
It’s all about providing information that adds value. What you’re delivering needs to be timely, relevant, interesting, engaging and well structured. The reader needs to feel that they got something out of it.
Do you know your target audience?
“Getting to know your ideal customer” is the main focus of my blogging for business workshop. My students learn how to find out how their ideal reader consumes information.
What about you? Do you know whether your readers prefer long versus short blog posts? What do they read the most? 500, 800, 1500 or 2000 words?
And in what formats? Would they appreciate lots of infographics with pictures rather than lots of text?
Or do they prefer videos and podcasts?
Now let’s say you’re interviewing an expert, should you turn it into a feature story or simply transcribe the interview? What would readers prefer?
And so on, and on. You need to test if you want to know the ideal length for a blog post your reader would appreciate.
You could always survey your readers to find out what they like. Find out how your ideal reader consumes information.
Don’t always go by what marketing researchers claim, especially if your audience is different to the audience they surveyed.
Also, remember that your job isn’t to try to please everyone under the sun. When you’re blogging, just as when you’re doing business with people, you’re here to serve your ideal customers. The ones who are more likely to buy what you’re offering. Please them first, others second.
Others who are just a tad interested may not read your entire blog post if they read it at all, and that’s OK. They’re not your ideal customers.
Some people will tell you: “People don’t have time to read!”
But how do they know this? Did they test with their readers? If they claim they did test the ideal length for a blog post, how did they do it? With just a couple of blog posts? How long did the test last?
Or did they read an article written by a marketer who has a love-hate relationship with writing?
Here’s what YOU need to know about ME:
I read long articles.
I read 2-5 long articles per day.
I read most of the long business-to-customer letters that I receive in the mail… because they’re interesting. The rest are boring or badly written, so I bin them.
I read many long children’s books to my son.
I read long Facebook posts (I’m talking about posts of 800+ words). They’re usually written by some specialist sharing their insights.
I read, regardless of the word count. As long as it’s written in an interesting tone, language and format.
The thing we sometimes forget is this: in today’s busy, and expensive, world, many people don’t have time and money to attend training in person. Some are happy to do things themselves. They’re happy to read blog posts that teach them how to achieve a goal or how to avoid mistakes.
Many people are happy to read step-by-step instructions. They don’t mind the length of your post – as long as your post is to the point, easy to follow and clear enough to understand. They don’t sit there counting the number of words.
Yes, there’s no “right” word count.
Figure out the best word counts for your blog based on what you know about your audience. Make your ideal length for a blog post the number of words it takes to deliver the message to your specific audience.
Set your own rules
Here are some examples to get you started. Simply:
- write long enough to hold the reader’s interest
- treat the subject with enough detail so the reader gets something out of it
- write a clear post, regardless of its format (e.g. text, videos, podcasts, pictures, or some other form of content)
- break any extra-long posts into a series when you fear readers could find it too long
- remove unnecessary words your post can do without
- remember why you’re blogging.
So there you go. All you need to do to find your sweet spot.
If you’d like to know more my blogging workshops, pop over to the workshop page now.