Why Are Bloggers Writing Shorter And Shorter Posts?

Have you noticed? Bloggers these days seem to be writing shorter and shorter articles, with many of the longer ones artificially inflated with images. So what’s up with this trend? And why is it starting to dominate the industry?

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By DangApricot

From The Experts: Go Short and Snappy!

According to the experts, readers want simple easily-digestible content, that can be quickly read or scanned.  And, as Seth Godin points out on his blog, there is stiff competition online. Writing shorter posts gets your point across quickly without giving visitors a chance to leave. He states:

Realize that people have choices. With 80 million other blogs to choose from, I know you could leave at any moment (see, there goes someone now). So that makes blog writing shorter and faster and more exciting.

So is short the way to go? Maybe. There are indeed advantages to writing short posts which include:

  1. the ability to write more frequently. Drafting long articles takes a lot of time. When you write less per article, you can easily crank out a few more.
  2. a smaller chance for burnout or writer’s block. The more you stuff into each article, the fewer ideas you leave for the next article. By writing shorter articles, you save some of your material.
  3. greater potential to lure visitors in. More often than not, new visitors from search engines are looking for specific information. If they see a shorter post, they are likely to scan it for their search terms. But if they see something longer, they might just return to the search engine that sent them there.
  4. a greater number of comments per article.

But before you decide that short posts are for you, you should be aware of the benefits that you can have by writing longer posts.

Forget The Experts: Why You Should Go The Distance

Some of the most important reasons to write long articles include:

  1. long articles are better link bait.
  2. many topics cannot be adequately covered in short articles.
  3. search engine optimization is arguably easier with longer posts.
  4. long posts help you to build credibility.
  5. quick ideas can be better shared in a different format such as Twitter.
  6. sometimes visitors are looking for depth.

And if you are concerned about losing potential readers because of the length, be sure to structure your post so that it appears shorter. You can do this by using headlines, lists, and images to break up an article into smaller sections.

 

So what do you think? Are you conscious of the length of your posts? Do you care? And what do you think readers prefer?

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47 Responses to “Why Are Bloggers Writing Shorter And Shorter Posts?”

  • TrainWreckIdeas January 16, 2009 at 1:17 am

    I usually write articles which are approximately 350 words in length. A lot of times I go over, even though I delete a lot of content to stay beneath a word ceiling. Why? As mentioned above, I find my attention diverging after a certain point. And of course, this is not an experience I want to pass on to my readers. There are of course advantages to long articles, such as being able to ensure that your readers not being confused and having to guess at a point you did not make clear due to your short article.

    • Velvet Blues January 16, 2009 at 7:38 am

      Well, how ever did you manage?! This post was 433 words! ;-)

      Yes, you are right. After a certain point, you can get distracted or lose interest. However, for some articles, I do want more depth. And I often find myself searching for more substantial articles. So I cringe whenever ‘experts’ suggest that you write no more than 250 words. As for your word ceiling, 350 words is definitely a more reasonable limit.

  • Jen Patton January 16, 2009 at 7:49 am

    I think it depends on the post itself but a lot of times I see short posts that really don’t have any useful material.

    I vote for mixing it up- have shorter posts when you can get your point across quickly but still provide knowledge. Have longer posts when you are really teaching and presenting an idea with a lot of content.

    That way you are able to appeal to both sectors and people who don’t like the longer posts can still get information from you- just not all of the time.

    • Velvet Blues January 16, 2009 at 8:40 am

      That formula seems to work best. With me, I rarely try to limit the length of something that I write. But if I write something that is really short, I don’t publish it because my rule is that if I can’t write enough about it, then its not worth writing… (Kind of like how you mentioned that many short posts don’t have useful information.)

  • stratosg January 16, 2009 at 9:45 am

    i will have to agree that it depends on the post and topic. i actually start writing and see where it gets me. sometimes short sometimes long. all depending on what i am writing on…

  • Dennis Edell January 17, 2009 at 7:35 am

    I wouldn’t mind going shorter sometimes, but can’t seem to do it lol.

    Basically I write until my point is over, long or shorter.

  • Ajith Edassery | DollarShower January 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Interesting topic :) In fact, earlier I was writing at least a couple of 750-1000 words posts and realized that ‘my category’ of visitors do not read them fully and comment. But when I started posting short posts (even bullet posts) people seem to be generally happy.

    Hence, unless I need to write a pillar post, I go short.

    • Velvet Blues January 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm

      Yes, I find that for comments, you need to go short. Many visitors will visit a blog and skip anything which is over a certain length. Or they won’t read it fully and present a comment which is obviously off topic.

  • Wei Liang | Earn Money Online January 17, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    I have been delivering long post in ABB and I am pretty much convinced that my readers are used to the trend. There are no right or wrong answers for the length of a post because it depends on what you are writing about and who you are writing too. But an occasional change in post length could be refreshing as well.

    Wei Liang

    • Velvet Blues January 17, 2009 at 11:28 pm

      You deliver a lot of ‘lessons’. So the long format is ideal. When someone gets there, they know that they will be learning. And so the length is worthwhile.

  • Ben Pei January 17, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    My guess would be because ideas are running try and the topics are getting saturated. Coming up with something fresh would take more effort than before..

    • Velvet Blues January 17, 2009 at 11:28 pm

      I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, something that no one else has mentioned would definitely necessitate a longer post. When ideas have been rehashed, then all you need to do is say something brief and link to some other article. :-/

  • Brian D. Hawkins January 17, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    By nature I tend to go too long on posts. I’ve been working on shorter, to the point posts. I’ve seen an increase in traffic and comments but there could be other factors too.

    • Velvet Blues January 17, 2009 at 11:31 pm

      Well, the comments, I agree, were probably increased due to shorter length. However, as for traffic, there probably are other factors at play.

  • Kurt Avish January 18, 2009 at 10:46 am

    My blogging style is a bit weird from some feedback I get from friends. :P Infact I mostly write long post of more than 600 words with big images to illustrate some part of what I say in the post.

    I think some people can get bored by reading long post so I try to add some fun by adding some bizaar pics in there.

    Well its a bit true however that people like shorter article which is to the point however I really like to write long ones where I can say what I want using as much words that I want. :-)

    • Velvet Blues January 18, 2009 at 11:31 pm

      Yeh, adding the ‘fun’ is key. ;-) It definitely makes a long post more interesting. As for my word count, I’d say that I typically right articles in the 350 – 550 range.

  • Kim Woodbridge January 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    It really depends on the topic. People seem to like lists and I’ve been doing more of those. I’ve also been highlighting themes lately so it’s usually just a bunch of images.

    In other articles, it can’t be short – there’s just no way to cover the topic.

    It’s kind of sad that people can’t read a page of content even on a topic that they find interesting. I don’t know – I really like to read so maybe I have a different perspective.

    • Velvet Blues January 18, 2009 at 11:31 pm

      Yeh, for some reason people have short attention spans. It’s because people are ‘spoiled’ by other blogs which present information in a very brief format. So people get used to seeing things without supporting material, background, or anything else that makes an article complete.

  • Nihar January 18, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Good topic. I have never really check how long my post is. It totally depends on the type of the post i am composing. But, these days bloggers/readers have no time :)

    They want to read and get the gist of the post with minimum reading. May be this could be the reason.

    • Velvet Blues January 18, 2009 at 11:36 pm

      Time is definitely another factor. Blogging requires a lot of time, and for those who only blog parttime, writing long long posts is not really an option.

  • Goktug Gedik January 19, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Absolutely! I blogged on the same subject a couple of months ago.

    Please my friends, let’s keep it simple, eh? ;)

  • Ed Kohler January 19, 2009 at 9:47 am

    “Artificially inflated with images” is kind of a strange term. Are you referring to the use of random stock photos as opposed to images such as photos or charts that help illustrate a point?

    • Velvet Blues January 19, 2009 at 10:09 am

      Yes, exactly. Many people use images to take up space or add some pizazz, whether or not they are useful to the discussion.

  • Derek January 19, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Short posts are boring. These quick hit lists that list out common sense information get boring. I’ll read Steve Pavlina’s articles over those quick hits any day of the week.

    Additionally, in Seth Godin’s case… his posts are short for a reason. They’re good. Extremely good. However, most people can’t write like Seth.

    • Velvet Blues January 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm

      Yes, Seth’s articles are good. But he is indeed telling everyone to write short posts like him… But I agree, short posts typically have very little value.

  • Natural January 19, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    yes i have noticed this. i don’t like a post that’s too long…not everyone – myself included- can write a long interesting post.

    some bloggers who used to write, throw up pictures and a caption and a few words. it is their blog so they can do it, but they have the talent to write but choose not to, i guess.

    • Velvet Blues January 20, 2009 at 7:27 am

      I have noticed that. Some of the ‘greats’ have been taking the easy way out. Hopefully they will will start giving us the kind of posts that made us flock to their blogs in the first place. :-)

  • VENKATAKRISHNA NALAMOTHU January 20, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I will never think about the length of the article. I will try to express my thoughts which are useful to investors in the best possible manner. It depends on the topic and knowledge I have.

    • Velvet Blues January 21, 2009 at 1:33 pm

      You know, in the last few articles that I’ve written, I’ve found myself conscious about length… The responses to this article have apparently changed the way that I view post length.

  • Emma January 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    An article should be as long as it needs to be and as long as the writer can hold interest. Consideration needs to be given to your blog’s focus as well: are you offering authoritative explanatory articles or short news updates? Are your readers happy to stick around for a longer article or are they bouncing off to skim something shorter? My reviews tend to be shorter than my advice-based articles.

    • Velvet Blues January 21, 2009 at 10:21 am

      Yes, holding interest is important. If you find yourself rambling, then something definitely needs to be removed…

      But yes, topic is also important as well as your readers’ expectations. I find that sometimes bloggers often change their writing style. Some who have regularly created longer posts have now opted for shorter ones. This leaves their readers disappointed and wanting more.

  • Pinny Cohen January 22, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    At the risk of confusing some visitors, I tend to switch between long and short. I try to deliver useful info each time though.

  • Web Design Bureau January 23, 2009 at 1:40 am

    I’ve found out that I tend to have 2 types of writing incentives. Sometimes I’ll write long (600+ words) posts while I’ll also want to deliver quick short posts (a bit like twitter). I’ve therefore arranged my blogs to be able to do both while separating long and short with a “mini blogging” part on the right side of the design.

    • Velvet Blues January 23, 2009 at 6:33 am

      I just checked out your website. That’s awesome. Those really are the two extremes. And you’ve presented it to your readers in an easily-digestible way. Great job. :-)

  • Bamboo Forest – PunIntended January 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Shorter posts are definitely superior. Definitely.

    If the subject matter demands a longer post — it can be justified.

    But I think sometimes we bloggers are narcissistic and want to believe our readers want to sit around and spend extra time going over our writing. And so we get a little verbose when it’s completely unnecessary.

    I’m a big believer in making an effort to keep posts short, and I think the majority of blog readers really appreciate it too.

    • Velvet Blues January 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm

      Haha. Narcissism? Well, I hope there are only a few bloggers like that out there.

      One thing that I think contributes to long posts is that people are used to writing for print. In essays or reports, for example, people typically write a lot. So when someone who is not used to writing for the web starts a blog, they’d likely keep their former writing style.

  • David Erickson January 24, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Great post and fascinating discussion.

    I think blog posts should be as long as they need to be. The blogger’s thoughts will dictate the length. I write a lot of long posts and my readers do tend to spend quite a bii of time on individual pages, so I guess what I’m writing is valuable enough to keep them around for a while.

    At the end of the day, however, I write for myself and if other people are interested, then great. If not, I don’t really care. For me, the writing process is a part of my thinking process. I can clarify my thoughts much better once I get them out of my head and am able to look at them objectively, as it were. So I’ve never really give a lot of thought to the length of my posts.

    I will say this: short posts are faaaaaaaar easier! :-)

    • Bamboo Forest – PunIntended January 25, 2009 at 12:28 pm

      I respectfully disagree. Short posts are, by no means, necessarily easier.

      With a shorter post every word carries incredible weight — since the objective is to make everyone count. Every word is absolutely necessary, and tells something.

      To lengthen a short post and maintain the same value would be easier.

      • David Erickson January 25, 2009 at 6:18 pm

        They are for me, anyway. But I’m not writing poetry or fiction, in which case I’d agree vehemently with you.

  • Jonathan Dalton February 3, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I have a very, very precise process for my posts …

    1) When I have an idea, I start writing
    2) When I’m done conveying the idea, I stop

    Sometimes that’s 100 words. Sometimes it’s 500. It just depends on what I’m writing.

  • Dennis Edell February 4, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    LOL I have the same process. I believe thinking about length as you write will just hurt the post in one way or another.

  • relationshipsellingbuffs May 1, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I’ve always struggled between too much and too little. Some say I write opuses but I love to write, feel that you offer the reader much more value and it is better link juice for the search engines. Thanks for this article. Helped me see that maybe my way isn’t the wrong way. Both work – you brought out the differences very well.

  • stan September 29, 2010 at 7:07 am

    I think blog posts should only be quality-centered, not volume-centered. Who cares of you’ve written a 100-words post this time? You’ve said all you wanted to say. Period.Blogging is not about marketing or SEO–it’s about engaging.

    Still, I believe, we should always be lead by endeavor to write more without giving up style.

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