Short or Long? Which Way to Post…

I follow several blogs on blogging. I’ve read the advice—write short posts, readers want short posts, keep your word count below 300—and I’m not 100% convinced.

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Yes, when I’m searching for information on the Web, I’m more likely to skim than read pages in-depth, and shorter articles are good for that. And I’ve read many great blogs where short posts are the norm. Shorts posts can be funny and succinct while still being informative.

However, I’ve also found that my some of my favorite bloggers write longish posts several times a week.* For example:

Why do I read these writers’ posts even though they take a bit of time to digest? Because they provide real information, not just brain ticklers. I like to think that’s why my “information” posts tend to be on the longish side. Even when I went to a list format—theoretically, list posts would be shorter and quicker to write, right?—I ended up adding examples and explanations, so those posts are long, too. And yep, they take a while to write.

What do you like to read, short or long?** Where’s your “overload” point—the point where you stop visiting the blog because you can’t possibly keep up with all the terrific content?** Please share!

*There are many, many other wonderful bloggers out there who write long posts, but I’ve limited the list in the interest of keeping *this* post short

**FYI, this blog weighs in at an astonishing 360 words.

***Yes, I have blogs like those in my blog reader, and no, I’m not telling which ones, because they’re FANTASTIC blogs. I just need to figure out how to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater…or find another few hours a day.

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This week, we’re taking a look at different ways to spend time with our characters. Why “spend time” with them, you ask? Because we want to learn more about them…and since most of us don’t have a crystal ball, we’ll have to actually get to know those characters up close and personal-like. If you want your […]

Comments

  1. Rebecca Kiel says

    I think much of it depends on the type of post. If it is about a topic I am interested in or dispensing information I need, give it all to me. If the topic is about breakfast, I am more likely to skim.

  2. Cheryl Reif says

    Hi Rebecca–right, I do that too :) It's nice to hear that I'm not the only one who appreciates a long post if it provides good info.

  3. Thaddeus says

    I am a complete offender. I write infrequently but when I do, the posts tend to be longer than the normal 300-500 words most seem to favor. I am like the New Yorker, I prefer the long form of an idea, than a "brain-tickler." I like to deconstruct an idea and discover the history and reasoning behind a topic. This probably reduces my readership quite a bit.

    But I am much happier with the quality of my work and accept that I will probably never be famous in the mainstream because of the length and depth of my articles. I look at it and say I would prefer if you stop at my place, and decided to partake, you left full, intrigued, and satisfied by the idea you and I delved into.

    Such is life.
    @ebonstorm

  4. M.C. says

    I wonder the same thing. I write rather short posts and worry if I should try to add more. As a reader, if a long post is enlightening or really entertaining, I'll read it. If I get the slightest sense I’m wasting my time I'm going to find something else. As a blogger I noticed that my shortest post (which has zero words since it’s as a comic) has gotten the most attention out of all my posts. I guess I’ll have to keep experimenting.

  5. Andrea Mack says

    I have to admit, I don't think too much about the length of my posts.

    Sometimes, I find posts can be too short to give enough information about a topic, if it's something I'm learning about.

    I do like it when information posts have a little depth and go beyond just making a single point.

  6. erica and christy says

    Typically, I write short and christy writes long, so I guess we mix it up. But personally, I'll read the first few sentences and then skim the rest, no matter the length. If it's more than a few paragraphs, I probably won't make it through unless it's on a topic I'm specifically researching. (like this one, so I read the whole thing. :)
    erica

  7. Cheryl Reif says

    I think this deserves a poll :)

    Thaddeus, you bring up an interesting point–the post length is influenced by our purpose in blogging. If I was trying to gain a million followers and earn money through ads, I probably would choose a different blog topic; but this blog lets me connect with other writers.

    M.C.: Interesting! I wonder if people are more likely to forward a link to a short, funny post (like a cartoon) than a link to an article about plot or character development. Kinda like LOL cats going viral. There's not necessarily a lot of meat in a short post, but do we share "meaty" posts or those that entertain?

    Hi Andrea! I'm glad you like longer posts at times, because you've written some that wouldn't provide as much value if you shortened them. :) I like posts that are succinctly written, but for an info post that doesn't necessarily mean short. I don't want to waste my time, but I also want information I can use.

  8. Jami Gold says

    I'm not sure any of my blog posts come in under 500. :) And I'm okay with that because the posts around 300 words feel too short to be useful to me.

    And I think you inspired a blog post. :) (She says as she restrains herself from leaving a 500 word essay for a comment. LOL!)

  9. Dean K Miller says

    I, too, am more of a "longer post" personality type. I'll read both lengths, like others, dependent on topic and my attention span at the time.

    Whatever the moment dictates, I go with that.

  10. J.A. Paul says

    In general I prefer the shorter posts. I will often skim and possibly lose interest in the longer post unless they have pertinent information I am interested in.

    If I have to skip a blog or two that day it will be the longer posts. I have also stopped following several blogs that are consistently long winded.

    I do not write a blog myself. I am just a reader of blogs. It would be curious to hear what more non-bloggers think of this. Great topic!

  11. Jacqvern says

    If a long post is full of words with no meaning, just to fill out the paper, then by all means I prefer short posts.

    But if it is full of info and it is well written, then I don't mind.

    On the other hand if the short post is "crippled" for the sake of being short, then I don't like it either.

    So, I guess it depends on the context. If the context justifies a long post then it should be long and the same goes for short posts.

    Interesting post :)

  12. Cheryl Reif says

    Erica & Christy: that's a nice way to offer variety.

    Jami, you made me laugh! I'll look for that post :).

    Dean & J.A. Paul: It's interesting–it seems like post length is definitely a personal preference. Maybe it depends what audience you're trying to reach, as well. I write for writers, and they tend to be more forgiving of long pieces.

  13. Cheryl Reif says

    Kate: Aw, thanks! I'll go take a look. You just made my day :D

  14. Caledonia Lass says

    Admittedly, I try not to read long posts. I am guilty of writing long ones as well, though. If I get stuck reading a long post, I don't usually comment much. But these days, I need to comment more. People think I am ignoring them when I really am just doing my best to keep up with all the blogs I read.
    I like both long and short blogs when I have the time, but it really just depends on you, the blogger, what the length of the post should be. Sometimes you just have lots to share!

  15. Cheryl Reif says

    Caledonia, I understand about the time issue! It's hard to find me to read all the posts I want to read, never mind comment, share on Twitter, etc. I'm working on that one, too.

  16. PW.Creighton says

    I think it really does depend on the content. I've read the posts by Konrath and Eisler at more than 10K words each. On average I find the 300-400 word post digestible in large quantities but they may lack some details that could be covered. If there's an excellent post I'm not going to stop reading. Great insight Cheryl.

  17. Kate Kyle says

    definetely short (one of the reasons why I like your blog, Cheryl :)). My attention span lasts for around 300-500 words. If the post is longer I skim it, which takes me to another important aspect of (longer) posts – breaking them in short paragraphs and giving headings. I stop reading a blog when I notice that the posts are almost awayl longer than 500words and 'unscannable' (e.g. no white space on the page, no headings etc).

    Having said that, some of my recent posts are far longer than 300-500 words. They were a pain to write nd had to spread it over a few days.

  18. Cheryl Reif says

    Hmm… @P.W. Creighton, your mention of Konrath and Eisler reminds me why I rarely read their posts. If the topic is really valuable to me, I'll start, but it takes a LOT to keep me engaged that long. Obviously, they're doing something right, though! I think they have a lot of great content to share.

    Hi Kate :) Glad you stopped by, because it reminded me to go see what was up at *your* blog and I found a great character archetype post. Glad to know you like the shorter posts here! Some of them have been LOOOOONG of late, and yes, they take a while to write; but I like the list format for exactly the reason you mention. Lists are easy to scan quickly. I can go back and read the details if I want, but they aren't required.

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