How to write a long post? When not to do so?

Yesterday, I was sent a question by a friend on Quora asking how can he write a 3000-word post. I wrote an answer about what techniques he could use, and then sat thinking more about the intent of the question and what can a well meaning blogger do if she/ he is struggling with 'writer's block'. So, this post.

bloggers also get writers block
A painting by Leonid Pasternak

Why write long posts on blogs?

Long posts are seen to be valuable, because they are likely to contain information on different aspects of the issue. Therefore, visitors are more likely to refer them to others and visit the page again and again.

Long posts are also liked by search engines. Google has said, it likes long, well-researched, blog posts and articles. So, they are good from SEO point of view too.

So, a long article is likely to get more readers, better search placement, more links, more social shares and more engagement, and more traffic.

How big a blog post is considered long enough?

Blogging platform Medium says, its posts of 1600 words that can be read in 7 minutes are the ideal length. SerpIQ has found that from SEO point of view, about 2500 word long articles are the best as they are likely to come on top of search pages. Moz has reported that 1800 to 3000 word long articles attract many more links than shorter posts. Popular blogger Neil Patel says, he finds 1500 word long articles performing the best.

The length would depend on the subject. If your blog is on daily environment news, you might initially not have much to write on individual events, e.g. sudden appearance of dead fish in a lake. In a few days, when public protests have taken place, government agencies have taken some action and so on, you can write a full-fledged article on the larger issue of water pollution, also telling about such other recent events, the worst such reported event, why it happens and what are the remedies.

Hard-core scientific papers might intrinsically be lengthy and needing technical illustrations and bibliography - and if your blog is on basic science and technologies, you have limitations of minimum and maximum wordage. Other blog have no limits and if the article reads well even after 2000 words, keep going. At that stage, however, think of a series rather than a single post. 

How to write long blog posts?

  • Some people, though wanting to write long articles, find that it is not their cup of tea. Some get 'writer's block' when trying to write a long article or post. You can overcome this problem by following these tips:
  • Choose a topic in which you have sufficient knowledge. Better if you have expertise and experience too.
  • Make an outline of the topic on which you propose to write. Break it into sections and then expand each section. This will also make you more focused and you will cover the topic from all angles.
  • Research the topic. Even if you are an expert, you might not be able to recall everything when you write; there might have been some new developments that you don't know; you might get a view counter to your own view. 
  • For research, you need not go to a library. Search the web. But don't take all facts on face value, because all types of half-baked or false information floats round. 
  • Use imagination. Not all types of topics are amenable to research; some need imagination. Some need sharing of your and others' experiences. Fictional topics would need sheer imagination that is presented in an absorbing story. 

How many lengthy posts are 'a bit too much'?

Generally speaking, one long post after 4-5 short posts should be the ideal ratio. Of course, that depends on many factors.

Why I recommend one long post after 4-5 shorter posts is that if you write long posts too often, your frequency of posting is likely to suffer; on the other hand if you insist on writing long posts one after the other, you might soon feel exhausted. 

One more reason for that. Your regular visitors need breathing space. If they like your content, they should eagerly wait for your next 'epic' post. 

I'd also recommend that you write a line about the coming big post in your short posts between two long posts. You can pre-publicize it in other ways, e.g. through email.

When not to write long posts?

I will not recommend long posts of the following types:

  • Bloated posts: posts that have been unnecessarily expanded.
  • Copy-pasted posts: posts in which others' content has been pasted so that the post becomes bigger.
  • Not on the right platform: You should not write too long posts on Facebook and other social networking sites.
  • Not the right type of posts: Do not write too much on posts where visitors expect to see/ watch. Photo-blogs, vblogs and blogs on leisure usually do not require long posts. In some cases, extra text only spoils the post/ blog.
  • Do not have long posts when the audience might  dislike such posts. For example, long, didactic, posts on kid blogs and long political commentary on personal blogs are sure to put off visitors.


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