Short blog posts or long ones?

Is it possible to deal with a topic in depth in a single blog post and still be read by a substantial number of people on a blog platform? Or is a blog post meant to be short, striking, entertaining for a moment, even intriguing, merely pointing to something more extensive and detailed? Is it meant to just keep people updated, a “Hello! I’m here” as opposed to “Hey! I’m here to visit and here’s my luggage. I plan to settle in for a while.”

Obviously, there is no one answer to this question. Yet, it might be important to consider the question simply because it would tell us how much effort we might put into each post and how frequently it might be feasible for us to publish each post. If we went the long, extensive, in-depth way we could obviously post less frequently hoping readers would remember us in the hiatus between posts while short, quick posts could be written even a few times a day.

Long, detailed posts obviously have their virtues. Apart from being exhaustive, they can address counterarguments, provide examples, be more creative in a detailed way. They buttress the writer against adverse criticism more effectively since the defence can be in-built into the post itself rather than in a small corner in the comments section. Those of us used to a more traditional method of reading also tend to take well-written, longer posts more seriously.

Yet, long posts have their problems too. If we put in everything we have to show about a topic in a single long post, would people read any of our other writing? That too assuming they’d get beyond the first few paragraphs in the short attention span they have while browsing.

If we  put too many of our eggs in one basket in one long post, we fall victim to the  very short shelf lives that blog posts tend to have. Also, a badly written beginning might ensure that many a well-written word remains unread, the longer the post, the more the unread words! Yet, a single long post, very well presented, might gain a more strongly dedicated readership than a bunch of short, snappy ones. Or will it?

Short posts have their virtues too. If posted frequently, they have a possibility of reaching a wider audience. They seem more shareable on social media and can be read in short bursts while a person is casually browsing. For people who don’t already have an established reputation, a reader might be more willing to invest a shorter time to read them. But writing good short posts requires a special talent and all of us may not have that kind of specific gift.

After all, we wouldn’t want to shove a novel into a short story and expect it to fit. Or vice versa. So what do people think?

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99 thoughts on “Short blog posts or long ones?”

  1. Very interesting. And I’m not sure what I think on this yet. Having just recently started out, I find I need to keep it short until I get into the habit of posting and learn what I most want to write about. As a reader, long posts must be well written and, if it’s a subject I know little about, be easily accessible to me, or they won’t keep my attention.

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  2. I’m a little late to the party, but it depends…. if it’s informative and useful, I will read the entire blog. Like this one. While travelling, like now, I have to read quickly as my internet is pretty limited, so the blog better grab me right away.

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  3. Most of my posts run @ 750 words. Editing is crucial. If you have strong/interesting, well-edited material, you can go longer. I think, unless you’re *very* good, the first draft shouldn’t be what readers see! We need to be concise and clear. A great trick is to break what seems to be a too-long post into a series; it keeps readers coming back. Also, as someone else said, the look of the post matters — white space, subtitles, and photos to break up the text. Keeping paragraphs short helps, too.

    A great post here! I enjoyed the read and will keep the advice in mind.

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  4. I like short posts, we all have acquired the attention spans of gnats. So in that mode – thank you for liking Newbie Writers Guide – may we not post anything too long!

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  5. I have thought about this time and time again, i dont want to sound like im dragging out a story and i dont want to leave out anything either..Hmmmm i go with how i am feeling that day, the mood im in. Although once i start writting i go into a zone and my fingers and brain are acting as one.. lol so the answer is … there is no correct answer its up to the writer..lol OMG i can go on for ever( guess im more of the longwinded type) 🙂

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  6. One of my longest posts is actually the most liked (nearly) on my entire blog. (Over 130 posts)
    However, the posts that are not challenges and writing are not designed to have a long shelf life and unless followers use my backwaters menu button they are unlikely to find them without going back through pages and pages. I do feel I needed to make a wiser and less arty decision on the theme to enable side bar menus and navigation.

    Is the workman blaming his tools again?

    The life of the post depends on the content if it is being read, if it is not scannable it will be ignored.
    So at the end of this long post, I have no answer.

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  7. I’m wordy. I try to keep things shorter for the blog, especially since I don’t often attach media (read pictures, in non-blog English.) But short is good if you can wrap it up nicely.

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  8. Abraham Lincoln said a man’s legs should be long enough to reach the ground. I think a blog’s length should be long enough to say whatever it is a person has to say. I’m happy to read long well-written pages but not long rambling narcissistic rants or purple prose. Coming from a journalism background, I try to keep my own websketches (I hate the word blaaaag) to about column length – 700-800 words. And I try to have something to say whenever I write. If I don’t, I just don’t post.

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  9. From a reading perspective, I prefer shorter posts, as they tend to get their point across sooner and with clearer language. That’s not to say that I reject reading any long posts, but sometimes the length decreases a lot of the clarity.
    –JW

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  10. I go for shorter blogs. We writers do have a lot to write, right? But the net offers a lot to viewers who can get daunted just at the sight of a 700 word article. Remember that they can leave the site with just a click of the mouse. BTW, thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

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  11. I usually stick with short to medium posts. Occasionally I go with a long post, but that is only if I feel inspired to. I have a friend who likes to write long posts most of the time.

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  12. I prefer short for blog posts, both reading and writing. Sometimes though, usually if something makes me angry, I’ll go into the 1000 word range for posts. But I tend to write short; short stories usually <3000 words, novels <90,000 words. 🙂

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  13. what i don’t like is bloggers leaching off other blogs for self-promotion, right shaun and matthew? e-mail one another instead, short or long.

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  14. Short is better.

    Most of the time when I find myself going long it is because I feel like there is so much in me that I have to say and just have to get out but if I am honest with myself I will realize that much of what I am actually doing is just undisciplined rambling. Is it even possible to throw so much great stuff into a shorter, more concise well written blog?

    Yes.

    Most of what needs to be said can be said to greater effect for a wider audience if I would only discipline my thoughts and writing. As a point in fact, this entire paragraph is a redundancy. Everything I need to say in this comment has already been said and now I am going on and on for absolutely no reason at all except for my vain desire to seem witty and intelligent. So I guess it is time for me to…

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  15. Yes, there are pros and cons of each. From what I’ve gathered in my 3 years of blogging, shorter posts generally are more likely to be read. I’ve done longer posts (1,000 words +) but I try to break them up with pictures so it’s not a big block ‘o text.

    For me, if there is space between the paragraphs and it’s not visually overwhelming (pics help), I’ll read longer posts. What I love is when I start reading a longer one and get to the end of it wishing there were more. That’s a sign of a well-written post 🙂

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  16. You make very good points and we have maybe all had the same or similar thoughts. I think a variety in posts are good if a writer can do a variety (longer vs. shorter, fiction vs. prose, poetry, etc.) and if not do the kind that is your best work or style, and make every word count (after an edit and proof-reading). Then look at the results, i.e. in the bigger, wider audience of the # of bloggers, viewers, visits and ‘likes’ and regulars to their site as an indicative sign of success.

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  17. I certainly don’t seem to have the gift of short, frequent posts! And so I’ve tried variety as the secret sauce, trying to spread the net wide.

    It’s not working yet…but I’ll break through one of these days and be the blogger that *everyone* reads!

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  18. seems to me the shorter nuggets of deeper things (like parceling the substance) are more apt to be read in a blog-context; however i also appreciate the chapter-people and the prolonged philosophical discussions (one just has to set aside time, as if with a book). the rule simply seems – make each word count.

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  19. I also debated about this issue when I started blogging. Would anyone read past the 300-word mark? I tend to keep my posts between 400–700 words. Most are around 400 or 500 words. But I’ve read some great longer posts.

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