I wanted to share with you a recent article from one of my favorite blogs, ViperChill. ViperChill is all about viral marketing, but so much more. Its author, Glen Allsop, is just starting into his 20s and has already achieved more online than most of us dream of accomplishing in our entire careers. He recently returned from a hiatus from ViperChill and I — for one — am very happy to have his entries appear again in my daily reading list.
The blog post I want to highlight is entitled “Bloggers: This Is How Long Your Posts Should Be.” This is a topic that all bloggers wonder about at times, even when you’ve been in the business awhile and figure that you have most of the answers to most of the questions. In the post, Glen looks at a number of blogs from different industries, tracking them over a period of time to find the average word length of a post. ViperChill posted a nice graphic of the averages, but I’m including the more nitty-gritty table of all the data used to come up with the averages, as I think it reveals a little bit more information in this configuration.
ViperChill and most of those commenting on the blog entry agree that each blogger needs to decide what works in their own niche and for their own audience, even within what appear to be industry-wide “standards.” If you are writing a gadget-oriented blog, for example, but your readers are mostly comprised of technical wizards, they may prefer lengthier posts that go into the specs and performance of the gadgets featured in great detail. If so, you’re going to want to increase the length of your blog posts to satisfy those requirements or lose your audience. It can be a balancing act to find the right point.
What I found most interesting about the numbers presented was that they confirm that, for most of the general topic areas that we think people access the web for — news, gadgets, entertainment/gossip, political updates — people want it short and sweet (relatively speaking). They want to get the facts they are looking for quickly and concisely, without additional commentary. If they want to think, or read someone else’s thoughts, on a topic that impacts them personally, they are prepared to invest their time in longer blog posts, but within niches identifiable as those inherently promising a more in-depth analysis (personal development, finance, marketing).
In this, online isn’t so different from everyday life. We want to know the necessities of navigating the modern world (the weather, local happenings, entertainment, shopping info, the latest and the greatest) in small bites without engaging our brains too intensely. When we are ready to actually think about a topic and apply something we have learned to a topic deeper than what the local commute looks like on the freeway, we are willing to spend the time to digest a longer piece of writing.
Keep this in mind as you plan your blog posts and adjust according to your own specific niche and you’ll soon stop wondering if the blog posts you are writing are long enough or too long.