For years, there’s been a raging debate among both personal and business bloggers over what’s the ideal length for posts. In general, most bloggers settle in on a post length of a few hundred words, but there are definitely exceptions to the rule.
There’s actually a lot of research that shows that the longer your blog post is, the more social shares, on average, it will get. In fact, some studies suggest that blog posts can be up to 10,000 words (you read that right) in order to maximize social shares. The logic is actually sound, as any post with over 2,000 words is likely going to be a deep-dive into a particular topic, and those posts tend to create more value, and as a result, they attract more of those coveted social shares. I’ve seen this with my own content, as my most shared posts tend to be between 1,500 and 2,000 words.
Here’s the problem: The amount of time it takes to create a post with 1,500 or more words is much more than it does for a shorter post of 500 words or less. In fact, for the two posts I just linked to (Both of which have between 500 and 1,000 social shares), it took approximately 20 hours total to write both posts. Think about that for a minute: If you knew that it would take you 10 hours to write a post, how many posts could you write in a month? 1? 2? None?
So if you commit to writing only long-form content, or posts over 1,500 words, you are also committing to creating far fewer posts. This creates another problem: It’s harder to build readership if you publish only a few times a month. Which means your 1 or 2 longer posts you publish a month are going to be seen by fewer people, which means they will gather fewer social shares.
Given all this, it seems there IS a role for shorter content, despite what the ‘experts’ will claim. The bottom line is that while creating good content is important, creating MORE content is as well. There needs to be a compromise between quality of content, and quantity. Both are pivotal for building a readership.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with a hybrid approach. I’ve been writing shorter posts, sometimes as short as 200 words, sprinkling in 1 or so longer posts of 1,000 words or more a week. This strategy has allowed me to significantly increase the number of posts I write here, and has resulted in a sharp increase in Social as well as Referral traffic. This makes sense, because increasingly, traffic from Social is coming from social shares, and those visitors are likely to either know you already, or engage you on Twitter or Facebook AFTER sharing your post. And as I talked about in the last post, it creates a nice way for your blog content to help you get noticed by others, then you can expand on that relationship via your newsletter, or during those social interactions that come after the sharing.
So if you’ve been on the fence about how long your posts should be, consider letting yourself off the hook and writing shorter posts. Shorter posts still can be quite valuable for your readers, and creating more content also helps you build readership. And more readers means when you do write that longer post, it will be seen (and shared!) by more people.