“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
The above quote has been attributed to everyone from Mark Twain to Winston Churchill. However, regardless of who actually said it, its meaning is timeless.
When many young marketers start out, they are generally fresh out of school and are used to assignments that require a certain number of words. Personally, I learned a few tricks in order to “beef up” my assignments, one of which was to include very long quotes.
Real life, however, is far more complicated than school – a lesson I have learned the hard way. Word counts tend to hold little relevance for marketing writers, and even less relevance for bloggers. Writing a post with 100 words probably won’t cut it, but should you make it longer just for the sake of it? This begs the question: Does size really matter?
A blog post, especially one that is written for content marketing purposes, needs to focus on one thing: providing value. If you write a keyword-laden schlock-fest, no one will want to read it. Similar to authors, marketing writers need to keep the reader enthralled and entice them to keep reading.
One might think that writing a shorter blog post requires less time and effort. This is patently false. As the quote at the beginning of my post indicates, it actually takes more time to create a clear and concise piece of written work.
I, like many young marketers, have fallen prey to the pressures of “bigger is better” – partially due to misinformed managers who subscribe to this school of thought. However, since changing my marketing tactics towards content marketing, I have learned, and formed strong opinions on, what types of content are most effective for marketing purposes.
The practice of content marketing presupposes that the writer will be providing value to his or her reader, rather than just content for its own sake, or a straight sales pitch. I have learned this lesson through trial and error, and my style has evolved accordingly. It is my opinion, based on experience, that a shorter blog post that is hyper focused on a single topic is the most effective type of content for marketing purposes.
As a consumer of content, would you want to read an SEO focused sales pitch about a company you most likely have never heard of? Would you even finish the article? Chances are that you would not – and for that matter, neither would I.
Part of formulating a clear and concise blog post is to understand who your target audience is. This will enable you to write points that pertain to a very specific area of interest. It’s better to write a great post that will interest smaller audience, than a bad post for a large one.
Now, don’t get me wrong, a blog post shouldn’t be stripped bare. A writer needs to be able to showcase his or her own writing style and unique voice. Just like writing a long, meandering post will disinterest a reader, so to will a bare bones post with no flavor. If you have ever read Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or any other influential writer you know that they distinguish themselves from other authors in the way they write. Avid readers will often be able to know who an author is, based on just reading a few paragraphs.
So does size matter? Well, actually yes, but not the way you think.
With blog posts, bigger is not always better. When it comes to size, a blogger needs to find that “Goldilocks” middle ground: not too big, not too small, but juuuust right. It’s finding this middle ground that is the real challenge.
Do you keep your blog posts to a certain length? Any best practices when it comes to the length of posts? Leave your comments below!