If you’re looking for short and easy answers to common blogging questions, here you go:
- How long should a blog post be?
Answer: 1,000 words.
- How long should it take to write a blog post?
Answer: 3 hours and 16 minutes.
- How often should I publish blog posts?
Two Comprehensive Studies about Blogging
Blog posts in 2017 are taking longer to write and are longer in length. Bloggers are also publishing less frequently and focusing more on distribution, perhaps consequently. In other words, bloggers are spending more time promoting fewer, but more in-depth, content pieces.
That is the top line conclusion drawn from the 3rd Annual Survey of Bloggers by Orbit Media Studios, a web design company based in Chicago. The firm says it surveyed 1,055 bloggers and published the report late in 2016.
I’ve found the data from the Orbit study to be consistent with another recent and fairly comprehensive survey of 850 bloggers, which I reviewed here: Highlights from the State of Blogging in 2017 Survey. That study was produced by a different company – the Portland-based ConvertKit which provides email marketing technology designed for bloggers.
How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
The Orbit survey found the average length of a blog post is about 1,050 words, up 19% from the same study the previous year. In addition, the study found that the percentage of blog posts that are 2,000 or more words has doubled.
Similarly, the ConvertKit study found “the most popular length” for blog posts ranged between 500 and 1,000 words. However, when ConvertKit segmented its survey data between professional and amateur bloggers, it found professional bloggers were about 70 percent “more likely to write posts of 1,000 words or more.”
Study after study has demonstrated the trend tipping towards long form content has been underway for some time – and the length is broadly characteristic of higher quality content. The caveat is that merely writing longer blog posts doesn’t necessarily mean better quality. Quality content often begins with research and analysis – and a careful vetting of supporting sources and data.
When clients ask me how long how long a blog post should be – my answer is as long as required to communicate an idea effectively.
As it turns out, my posts are usually close to the 1,000-word mark, whether it’s content for a client or not. However, I don’t set out with the goal of writing 1,000 words – rather I set out to explore a topic of interest and write good content.
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How Long Does it Take to Write a Blog Post?
The Orbit survey found the average blog post takes three hours and sixteen minutes to write – a 26% increase over the same survey last year. However, the study also found that “twice as many bloggers are now spending 6+ hours on their average post.”
There appears to be a correlation between the time invested in a blog post and the results. About one-third of bloggers who spent six or more hours on a post reported “strong results” whereas just a quarter of bloggers who spend less than six hours reported “strong results.”
The ConvertKit survey didn’t provide statistics for how much time bloggers take writing a post. My own experience – again from professional B2B marketing perspective – tells me it requires somewhere between 4-8 hours for a high-quality post. This includes preparing for, and conducting interviews, or researching a topic and closely vetting the research sources.
Yet the time investment is really challenging to prescribe definitively. There are many factors involved such as the complexity of the topic and the experience of the writer. There are also intangibles such as the seemingly unexplained behavior of a digital community.
For example, I’ve seen posts cranked out in an hour go unexpectedly viral. On the other hand, I’ve also seen carefully considered copy, that’s been painstakingly re-written over and over, received a muted response at best. I’ve also seen old posts spontaneously revived and sail around the web with a second wind.
There are best practices and techniques bloggers can do to help this along in most cases, but there should be also the recognition that sometimes, you just strike the right nerve. For all the market research we can compile, humans are still emotionally driven and irrational beings.
How Often Should I Publish Blog Posts?
The Orbit survey found daily blog post publications is down 50 percent compared with last year. Interestingly, “weekly is now the most common answer to the question of frequency.” However, the survey also found that 38% of bloggers are publishing posts on a monthly basis.
The ConvertKit study also found “vast majority of people intend to publish weekly.” Yet that study also found professional bloggers were far more likely to publish daily or even several times a day.
In my B2B marketing experience, blogging is central to content marketing and consistency in content marketing matters more than frequency. It’s important to have a cadence to publishing, or deadlines will simply slide, and the effort will never really get off the ground.
That said, two of most successful corporate blogs I’ve contributed to published daily or twice a day. One had the staff for it, the other didn’t. We just made publishing a priority and put some process behind it to work efficiently.
Consistency fosters the organizational discipline to publish on deadline and more importantly, it conditions and cultivates audience expectations. Whether you publish once a month, once a week, or once a day, whatever frequency you choose, ensure that schedule is sustainable. It’s a whole lot more palatable to ramp up production than it is to walk overambition back.
Once you develop a content marketing process – ideation, creation, review, approval, publication, promotion, analytics and content repurposing – then you can gradually increase the frequency.
Blogging Best Practices, Final Answer
What works best for any given business will vary from organization-to-organization because audiences are different. This is why the most successful content marketing initiatives focus on the needs of the audience rather than whatever it is the brand wants to tell them.
Corporate blogging is a long game and you will make mistakes in the process. Document these errors, learn from them and keep driving forward.
Many large organizations simply do not have the talent, knowledge, patience or perseverance to invest in marketing in this way. Therein lies the opportunity for the scrappy and persistent smaller company.
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