Keep blog posts short to increase readability

Here's another case of do as I say, not as I do. (Since the last one, I've actually been taking my own medicine – perhaps it will work again?)

We all know that the web is a crowded world, which makes having our voice heard all the more difficult ... no matter how invaluable our pearls of wisdom. So what's a blogger to do?

One of the most valuable things you can do for your readers is keep your blog posts short. Yes, it would be lovely if people took the time to read your entirely engrossing essay delving deep into the nuance of your latest self-growth technique or productivity idea. But chances are they won't. After all, they have 100 other emails to deal with before they knock off.

What's short? My ideal (seldom hit) is 400 words up to around 600. Eight hundred – the length of a typical newspaper opinion piece – should be the absolute maximum.

If you're struggling to do this, here are a few things you could try:

  • Get to the point (guilty, your honour!). Spend some time trimming the background material down to its essence, then get on with the meaty stuff.
  • Focus on a single idea. This can be hard to do when you have a lot to say, but you'll get better with practice. If there are two equally important points to convey...
  • Break your long post into two or more shorter posts. Bonus: you get to add two posts to your queue without having to come up with a new idea!
  • Give your reader the option of reading more by linking your blog post to a longer article on your website. There is definitely still a place for long-form writing on the web – it's just that your blog probably isn't that place.
  • Use bullet points to break the text up. These tend to facilitate a 'blunter' writing style which is more economical.

If you really find it difficult, as I do, to keep some posts short, another strategy you can use is to structure your posts using a version of the journalist's 'inverted pyramid' technique. The idea is to put your most important information at the top of your article, then follow with detail of decreasing importance. This allows the hurried reader to get the gist of your message without having to read the whole post.


As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please contact me directly, via our Facebook page or in the comments below.

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