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 weΒ  put too many of our eggs in one basket in one long post, we fall victim to theΒ  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?

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

  1. I write for me. I write for anyone else who decides to stick around. My posts can be long, but they move. I inject humor, reflection, examples into my content and I think both my followers know what to expect from me. My short ones, I brand as thus, my longer ones are usually less than 1500 words and take about 5 minutes to read. If people need less than 5 minutes to get into my head, we’re not meant for each other. I don’t have ADD and I think anyone who did and read me would not be able to follow. I write for me.

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  2. I use a combination – my short posts take a few seconds to read and my long posts take no more than 3 minutes. Admittedly, I post only one or at most 2 “long” posts a week and do not post more than 5 times a week.

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  3. That’s a really good question.
    I’ve been a YouTube contributor for a really long time (not so much lately)(araneus1) and I remember some of the heavy weights talking about the length of posts, (back in the day your vid had to be 10 minutes or less unless you were one of the ‘chosen few’) the consensus seemed to be that around 4 minutes was the time frame that would encourage people to watch. Presumably this meant that it was long enough to have content and not so long as to be boring. This might apply to ‘every day’ vids but I notice that some of the really popular ones like ‘sexyphil’ are closer to 10 minutes (his produced channel ‘sourcefed’ is closer to 3 minutes and they do several of these each day!)
    In my case, I see a post of a photo as a ‘short’ post, a post of a photo with a back story as a medium and an essay (with or without photos) as a long post. The long post essay will be however long it needs to be, as ideas come in all shapes and sizes.
    Thanks for the ‘mind poke’, I enjoyed the exercise.

    Terry.

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  4. I guess initially it would have to be posts tending to be on the shorter side and as the readership grows one can venture out and write longer posts since he/she would have built up a more dedicated audience by then

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  5. I’m an aphorist – so the purpose of my posts is to say much with less; trying to engage the reader with their own thoughts.
    But I will read a long post if the piece is well written; otherwise I tend to skim the post for content.

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  6. I think it’s a matter of tactfully approaching a topic. Some topics warrant extensive writing and back story and research and commentary etc etc. I like when bloggers break pieces like that into several entries making almost a series out of it. Its the same topic and a lengthy but it’s not reading a story all at once. If its TOO long i feel like I’m reading from a text book.

    I do enjoy short blogs but I like a well versed blog. I’m clicking over and I want more than a few sentences. At least 300+ words. I consider a long post 1000+ and if it’s up to 3000 word count it should be broken up until two posts.

    I think there should be a balance of long and short posts on a blog too. Not just consistently one or the other.

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  7. I think in large about the actual link of my posts. I’ve only once (in recent memory) posted about anything other than creative writing, but I must admit; my posts have become quite long. You raise very interesting points here. I am glad to have caught this post.

    ~Julius P.

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  8. I try to mix a little of both on my blog. It really depends on the topic, but I try to keep my posts to about 700-1000 words and if it is going to be longer I like to warn people to go get a drink or something and settle in. I also think it depends on your readers and who you are trying to attract to your blog. My readers know that I am wordy and don’t seem to mind. Sure I might lose a few that stumble on my blog, see the length of a post and run screaming from it, but I think there are just as many that appreciate a well covered topic.

    So if you guys like longer blog posts – come visit me!

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  9. I think a shorter, well-written post is what I enjoy most. Reading text on my laptop can be difficult for long articles and I find my attention wandering away. When I write a post, I try to keep it around 500 words or less.

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  10. All that’s necessary is the number of words that you need to use to make your point. Most things can be summarized in one line. Anything more is just further explanation to find out why and how that one line was made.

    People respond to the meaning, the message, sometimes the controversy of your words. If they can see the point, then the point was made.

    I have a big category on my blog called “one liners.” As labelled, they are one-liner posts. Sometimes one line makes a point best. Other times it’s the opposite. Novels exist for a reason. A longer post is for the mental/cognitive journey people want to take. That journey is designed by the writer to make the point that the one line can make in six words. It’s the writer’s job to decide which strategy is best considering his/her circumstances and subject. Of course, it also depends on personal taste and preference.

    Did my comment need to be this long? Not necessarily. There were somethings that I felt I needed to share–that you needed to hear– which brings me to another consideration: sometimes the point isn’t even the point. Sometimes the point is just to get things off our chest. Communicated. Unlocked. Released from our minds and left for others to ponder.

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  11. The length of our posts ought to reflect the mission of the blog.
    My primary blog is something of a sampler of short entries touching on a variety of categories each month.
    But my other three are designed as places where I can get chapter-length material out to an admittedly small audience. One is currently examining the use of the Light metaphor in early Quaker thought and ways it might apply to modern spiritual practice; another is essentially a workbook for people delving into their relation to money, work, and time issues; and the third is a set of genealogical narratives and research notes.
    I had thought about breaking these longer posts into smaller sections, but realized a blog has a curious structure: while some readers will be reading each part as it comes out, others will come across it later and thus read the overall work in the opposite direction. As a result, trying to build an overarching argument becomes problematic when you’re using the shortened entries.
    Also, the point raised about the frequency of postings is valid here. The longer entries go out once or twice a month, while the shorter ones can be daily. Readers need time to digest what we offer, long or short.
    And there you have a comment that’s longer than a lot of posts. Whew!

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  12. I think the answer is, “Yes.” πŸ™‚ I think it depends on a variety of factors–what you want your blog to do, what each individual reader wants and the topic. Not every blog or blog post will appeal to every reader or follower. My blog started as me writing about whatever struck my fancy and is still that way, although I have some established routines: my photos, my once-a-week stories for Friday Fictioneers, some poetry and food & travel posts.

    My experience, albeit only a little over a year now, has been that if you write about or have pictures of pets, especially dogs, people love it. If you post photos, people seem to like that, maybe because they don’t require thought and can be appreciated (or not) easily. But once you build a core of readers, I think you’re doing what they (or at least your regulars) want. Find what you’re good at, what comes from your heart and what people are reading and keep doing it.

    janet

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  13. I work on the basis of one idea per blog post. That way you can more easily generate posts and don’t bore the reader. Blogging is short and snappy – your main audience is likley to be people bored at work who want a quick buffet rather than a full meal.

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  14. I think the length depends on the topic but it seems that blog posts less than about 500 words tend to fare better. I’m a fan of the posts that are split up into several parts, posting one section each day for several days. Great post!

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  15. I like long blog posts that have lots of breaks, and highlight important info because I skim and skip through them. If I see a wall of text I move on unless it is something I am particularly interested in. The one exception for me would be tutorials. Those need the in depth approach. Otherwise, break it up. Keeps people coming back day after day, and they can quickly get the info they want.

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  16. both…I like short via the wording and the getting to the point and the ride you take someone reading the words…it makes the creativity sharp and witty. I like the long, when details and point of view come in.

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  17. I personally started writing shorter posts recently (600 words max. as opposed to the 1000-1200+ I was running before). I haven’t really noticed much difference in terms of readership/engagement on my blog, but I must say I do appreciate that it now takes me half the time to write each post.

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  18. I personally think you write mostly short posts (4-5 paragraphs tops), and occasionally mix it up and write something longer if you have something particularly important to say. The shorter posts will be more accessible to most people and draw them in, making them more likely to read your longer, more detailed posts.

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  19. I think there is a fine balance between short posts that impact on our readers and make them go away and think about a subject and long posts that can appeal to other readers who have the time to read or are happy to print them out for future reference.
    I like posts that create discussion or give handy bite size pieces of information. If I need more I go and find it.

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  20. I dont want to read a book unless I Am reading a book. I prefer post that only take a couple minutes of my time to read.

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  21. I tend to mix up my blogs. But, I NEVER post anything more,than 5 or 6 paragraphs. Personally, unless something is really awesome, ( which is rare) I tend to skip over most, and cut to the end. I like breaking it up with photos or links. Just my opinion.

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  22. I like writing (and reading) longer posts, but my experience is that shorter posts get more response. Trying to shorten posts has made me better at editing, I suppose, but fundamentally, I think and write long — by blog standards, anyway.

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  23. I seriously believe that it is not people’s attention spans that are the problem but time. I find that my shorter posts tend to get more traffic–but once in a while a longer one will get a lot of response. As you say, it is dependent on many things–shorter posts do get a lot of commentary because in a shorter post you are presenting an idea and not an exhaustive treatment of the subject — a lot of times I will present my view and get the opposite or other viewpoints too in teh comments – which adds to the whole conversation aspect of the blog posts.
    Good post-good conversation starter!

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  24. Having read this you have given me an idea. I wrote a long post, nobody read it. I am going to re-post in spurts and see what happens. Will let you know.

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  25. it’s not often you hear “the shorter the better” with regard to length, but i think that’s fair to say for blog posts.

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  26. I think it depends on so many factors that it’s hard to give a solid answer. I gave up focusing on my post length because long or short, I merely wanted to get my point across, get a few laughs, and be happy with what I wrote.

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  27. Depends on the topic and also on the writer.
    Say a topic like ‘What’s wrong with the education system’ can’t really be wrapped in 500 words,but something like ‘Why I like black coffee’ can.But that’s my view.Maybe someone else can write a very convincing yet short piece on the former,and go on over 1000 words on the latter.
    However,I feel very few people have the patience to read 1500+ words blog post.Personally I like reading ones between 500-700.Though there are few engaging bloggers who compel me to read their long as well as interesting post.
    Liked the topic a lot and of course your writing:D

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  28. I’m very new to blogging. And still figuring out what matters, what makes sense and what doesn’t. But the more I read other blogs and the more I wonder about this, I think that perhaps the only thing that matters is how you’re telling it. So what if it’s lengthy? Or so what if it’s only a few lines? As long as you’re engaging your audience, you’re doing it right.

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  29. It’s funny that you bring this up today – I had just noticed that my shorter posts are getting way more readers than the longer ones. I’ve been thinking that if I have a lot to say on a particular topic, I can just start a “part 1, part 2” series and keep everything short and sweet. You don’t have to neglect the in-depth writing, you just have to break it into smaller chunks and let people know that there is more coming.

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    1. Hi Mattew.
      I noticed this also. Keeping things short gets more debate. But I guess that is the followers I have or the way I blog, no idea. There are people out there that can read a blog for 10 minutes, this is why I Audio blog. People can listen and browse about a bit also.

      Cheers
      Shaun

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  30. I get antsy if my posts start surpassing 700 words. I start looking for fat to trim, mots that aren’t so bon, the reason being that I know people have tiny attention spans. If they’re following dozens of blogs, they may not want to commit to something longer than 1000 words. It’s hard enough to grab their attention, so why give them a superficial reason to skip you? That said, I write humour, and brevity yada yada…

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  31. I tend to blog long. As a content writer, I have learned the fine art of saying as much as I can in 400 words or fewer. I also only blog once a week, if I get lucky to have that time. When I blog, it means it is important, to me, anyway. It’s working well so far.

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  32. It’s probably a good idea to stagger the length of posts for the sake of all your readers. Some readers will prefer your longer novel-like posts that cover a topic in depth while others will enjoy shorter short-storyish posts. After all, we don’t only read novels all the time. We like the variety of short stories and news articles to mix things up a bit.

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  33. Well, in my opinion, I like both for the following reasons:

    As a journalist, I am very critical of an article if it doesn’t answer all my questions. I love the fact that I’m writing for several online publications and can write as much as I like, as opposed to newspaper writing when you are more limited due to space restrictions. Writing online, there is no excuse for a choppy article.

    I do like short articles, they have their purpose too. Nothing beats a quick read if it’s done well. I like short poems, “quotes,” snippets of a person’s life, photo blogs with captions. In those cases less is more because less says a lot πŸ™‚

    Hope I’m making sense πŸ™‚

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  34. I’ve wondered about this myself. It seems like most of my posts in the past have been well over 400 words–some longer than 1,000 words, although those were generally author interviews. I have a few here and there that run about 250 words. The shorter ones are the most fun and easy posts to write, although I like musing in the longer ones, too. πŸ™‚

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  35. If I have a long blog in mind, I do an Audio blog.
    I find it easier (With the pain) and when it is a BIG, LONG read, sometimes people find it easier to just click play and listen.

    Good blog and should stimulate good debate.

    Shaun

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