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“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead” – Mark Twain
Ulysses by James Joyce is a whopping 265,000 words and took him the better part of two decades to write. Kafka’s Metamorphosis by is a cool 22,000. Both are considered quintessential modernist masterpieces.
We’ve already discussed the merits of why quality writing matters—but what is quality writing? And does more writing mean better writing?
Some argue that because people have shorter attention spans, it stands to reason that shorter posts (600-800 words) are superior. Others say that long, comprehensive posts (2,000+ words), will ultimately generate more engagement.
So, naturally, we took a look at how length affects performance.
Why Shorter Blog Posts?
Americans believe that time is money. It’s a valuable resource that can be gained, lost, stolen, or wasted. And short form blog posts respect your time. They’re:
- Easy to write. You can produce three short blog posts in the same time it takes to write one longer one. It’s simple math: more hooks equal more fish.
- Easy to read. Short blog posts have a much better clickthrough rate, which means more readers stay engaged.
- Affordable, so you don’t have to reach deep into your pockets.
According to Hubspot, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0–4 monthly posts. Those are hard numbers to ignore.
But another recent study found that, on average, users have time to read only 28% of your words.
In other words, brevity is king. If you’re taking a couple thousand words to get to your point, most of your readers are going to get lost in the clutter. But if you keep your content tight, you have a better chance of delivering that home run of a message.
Why Longer Blog Posts?
Short posts draw in traffic while keeping things pithy. Long posts, however, have the advantage of being in depth. More words means more detail. And people aren’t reading your business blogs for their health—they’re doing it to learn something useful.
Longer blog posts are:
- Sources of credibility. If you can write at length on a topic of interest in your industry, you’ll build trust that much faster.
- Thought-provoking. Although longer blog posts have a lower average clickthrough rate, they do a great job of engaging quality leads for a longer period of time. These readers are more likely to comment on and wrestle with a post.
- Link-heavy. Simply put, Google loves quality links. So do your readers.
One often-overlooked benefit of longer posts is that they can be reused in bite-sized chunks. By breaking down a long post into three shorter posts, for example, you can effectively reposition your content. That’s much harder to do with short blog posts.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Let’s not forget about the different stages of the buyer’s journey. While short blog posts are great for “top of the funnel” visitors in the Awareness stage, long blog posts are ideal for warm leads in the Consideration stage who are already interested in your brand. A good mix of both short and long posts makes for the best strategy.
And if you’re ever in doubt, take the advice of my tenth grade English teacher. When I asked him how long my essay should be, he said:
“As long as it needs to be. No longer.”