What blog post length should you aim for on your business blog?
This is one of the most common questions new blog owners have when they come to me for help. And that makes sense. The length of your blog posts can determine how much time you have to invest in your blog, or how much money you can afford to invest in hiring a freelance blogger while maintaining the post frequency you want.
This question is problematic though.
The Problem With “Average” Blog Post Lengths
I’m a bit of a stickler for numbers. So when I see statistics thrown around, I expect them to be accurate. But accurate numbers from a survey or study aren’t enough. The interpretation needs to be accurate. It also needs to be relevant to your particular situation.
When it comes to surveys and studies about blog post lengths though, I’ve never seen one without serious credibility issues, either in the methodology or interpretation.
Methodology issues might include things like:
- surveying a narrow sub-section of bloggers, and claiming the data represent something much broader; OR
- evaluating an overly-broad data set algorithmically with no context regarding industries, niches, types of posts being looked at, etc.
The other issue I frequently come across is a shallow or self-serving interpretation of the data being reported.
For example, there was a survey put out by a big site a few years back that made a claim along the lines of “blog posts should be 2000 words or more because they get almost twice the social media shares of posts under 1000 words.
Bloggers throughout the marketing, SEO, and social media communities were sharing this statistic (and advice), thinking it was coming from a reputable source. But popular sources aren’t necessarily reputable, especially when it comes to data (why your own posts should always cite primary sources when possible — not just other blogs talking about them).
In this case, that source was a company where the entire mission is emphasizing popularity through numbers of social media shares. They sell a service to track that. So of course they’d interpret the data on a shares-per-post level rather than take a total-shares view (which equals more overall exposure and consistency for your business).
Here’s the thing though…
It’s great that 2000 word posts saw on average twice the shares of something like 500 word posts. But that’s four times the length of the shorter post, and for only twice as many shares. In other words, if you wrote 2000 words broken into four 500 word posts, you’d get twice the shares of one 2000 word post.
If you’re hiring a freelance blogger, and you’re paying per-word, logic says that 2000 word post isn’t such a great deal based on the ROI.
Even that’s a simplistic view. It doesn’t account for research, marketing time, conversions, the length of content readers in your niche or industry actually digest before they stop reading, etc.
But it illustrates the basic problem: you shouldn’t get advice for your specific blog from a general study or survey that might not apply to you. You’re better off talking to an experienced pro in your industry if possible, and have them help you craft a content strategy.
Things to Consider When Choosing Blog Post Lengths
In the example I gave above, you can see how the statistics from a general survey might be skewed depending on the motives of the source presenting the data. So always consider what they’re selling or promoting, or what their own niche focus is (they might just have unintentional blinders on).
But what should you consider when choosing blog post lengths?
Here’s an old writing rule that far too many bloggers forget:
Your writing should only be as long as it needs to be to make your point or tell your story.
Stretching out a blog post to reach an arbitrary word count target is not the right approach. Neither is over-editing posts to reach low target word counts. The latter can be a problem for freelancers like me when clients are more worried about length-based budgets than giving their readers the information they want and need.
Always make sure your budget (or time available if you write your own blog) and your content goals for your readers meet in a realistic place. You might be surprised how many clients have 2000-word post content scope demands they want to jam into a 1000-word post budget; it just doesn’t work that way.
Your business blogs posts will often do one of the following things:
- Solve a reader’s problem
- Answer a reader’s question
- Inform the reader about something they need to know (think news posts)
- Educate the reader (anything from a brief tutorial to a several-thousand-word thorough guide for more complicated topics)
- Entertain your reader
Ultimately your posts have more self-serving goals as well. This is business, and that’s okay. For example, you might use your blog to try to make sales directly. You might use that content to build your email subscriber list. You might focus on shareable content to increase your social media presence.
So when it comes to post length, consider both sides of that equation. How long will it take to reach your goal for your readers, and what will get them to take the action you want?
For example, if you sell enterprise software and you’re marketing to a highly technical, high level group of managers, you might turn an all-out white paper into a very long blog post. They need that level of information to make big purchasing decisions (which they might have to justify to higher-ups). That kind of audience is used to long-form content, and you’re unlikely to lose their interest quickly. So you have time to push for conversions for them to contact you for a quote at the end.
On the other hand, if someone’s looking for an answer to a simple question, they probably don’t want to scan through thousands of words for something that only takes a few words to say. You will lose those readers before they can get to the end of a 2000-3000 word post to get to your call-to-action (CTA).
So how long should your blog posts be? As long as they need to be. (And that will very likely be different from one post to the next.) Your blog only serves you if it serves your readers’ interests first. So let the content guide your word count choices — not the other way around.
Need help coming up with a blog content strategy or writing blog posts for your company blog? Contact me and find out how I can help.