Ideal length for a blog post: Is there one?

June 15, 2006

As my blog name suggests, I’ve a tendency to ramble. I’m easily fascinated by tangents; in writing, this is forgivable because I can read what I just wrote and rescue my chain of thoughts by hammering in the connective logic. Tangents are what makes things interesting. Tangents are as much a part of the writing as anything else. Tangents can create equal opportunities for exploring new lines of thought. But yes, I have scope to limit my meandering once in a while.

The typical web reader has a short attention span when it comes to reading content online. Experts in Search Engine Optimization consider that both extremely short and long web pages are not ranked as highly as pages that are of a reasonable length. Of course no one really knows how many words are ideal – but the general opinion seems to be that a page of at least 300 words are probably a reasonable length. Similarly, many advise keeping pages under 1000 words.

But in my case more than a few posts themselves have crossed the 1000 mark.

  • Post on ‘Nostalgia’: 3045 words
  • Post on ‘The Hero’: 1201 words
  • Post on ‘Ashtavakra’: 1998 words

I remember a friend saying that you should write enough to comprehensively cover your topic and then stop. Long posts for the sake of them are not a wise move – but so are short ones that don’t cover the topic well. I feel if you are going to be longwinded make sure it is so focused, topically relevant and interesting.

I usually start with an anecdote or reference to an item. Personal anecdotes work very well. I feel each blogger needs to work out what length post suits their writing style and topic. The length of a post is truly a case of “it depends”. It’s like arguing about the perfect colour or the ideal layout (Yes, I always bring it back to design!). Maybe, the length should be just like a girl’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to keep it interesting.

Mark Twain once said: “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter so I wrote you this long one instead.” It is absurd to criticize someone for an economy of words. Forgive me, but in writing, size does not matter. Anyone with stamina alone can bang on a keyboard to reach some magic “300 words or more” length for a posting.

I write really long posts on topics that I’m passionate about. So, how long should a blog post be? There is no one answer to this. The length of a post is dependent on its topic and depth of thought and text required to convey your message, idea or argument. In this regard there is no write or wrong: sometimes I can convey a thought better in 100 words than I can in 1000, and at other times vice versa. Sometimes it might be somewhere in between. As a blogger though I can only say to others that this isn’t something you should get hung up on: quality is not measured by length.

10 Responses to “Ideal length for a blog post: Is there one?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I regularly read newsweek,NYT,washinton Post,Times and ofcourse Churumuri.
    I also read thatskannada,sanjevani,deccanherald,cricinfo,immigrationvoice,
    immigrationportal in between work. offcourse all Client Paid for reading .I am not sure how long would it last .
    Lengthier blogs are really pain ,it depends on content too.
    I will visit your blog though
    Dheerendra Gopal

  2. Gangadhar Says:

    If the post is very interesting..that is from the beginning,a reader can stick on to the entire post,how long will it be..It’s really an art to write like that..But i generally prefer short posts to publish..ha ha

  3. RK Says:

    DG: Gopalanna, Nanna Blogalli nimma kannada welkammu. Kannada nishedha illa anna illi. dhaaraalavaagi baribahudu.

    You seem to be a voracious reader. Nice to know that you will visit the blog. Thanks in advance.

    Gangadhar: I see that you are a fan of SPA, ie. SHORT POSTS ASSOCIATION!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    how can you possibly write all of this in one lunch period?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    o just for your information the anonymous is me, amrutha

  6. RK Says:

    amrutha: i don’t write these in one lunch period. it takes quite some time, editing and correcting before you get to read the stuff.

  7. Shruthi Says:

    How true!! Previously I tended to ramble too much.. later I started snipping and cutting a lot, to make my posts a little shorter.
    But when I felt that cutting something out will make the blog lose its flavour, then I retained it.
    But yes, there is no correct length. If the reader gets your attention right at the beginning, then he will read on completely 🙂
    And the background also matters. Some have black or red backgrounds – I don’t even feel like starting reading those blog posts!! 🙂

  8. RK Says:

    Shruthi: I think we can say that for a blog post ‘Sky is the limit’!;)

    I have seen some comments, including mine in some blogs, exceeding 500 words.

    And as you say, if we try cutting the length, the flavour is lost.

  9. RK Says:

    Shruthi: forgot to tell this – the template that one chooses reflects one’s personality. also readability matters.

  10. I run an animation-related blog with a friend who happens to be blind. (But is nonetheless an animation fan, relying on memories of decades ago when he could still see.)

    Up to now, when I wrote reviews of cartoons, I’d write a scene-by-scene, camera angle-by-camera angle description of everything that occurs in the cartoon. That enabled my friend to better participate in our discussions about cartoons, and write reviews of his own. Great for him, but a bit intimidating for my sighted readers.

    My blog posts have been, on average, about 1500 words. However, I fear even if I were to eliminate the scene-by-scene synopses, I wouldn’t be able to get them much under 1000. I include a lot of historical background, in-jokes and other trivia, since the cartoons are usually classic ones from the ’30s and ’40s, and I often need to put them in the proper historical context. Not easy to do briefly.

    What then, is the ideal length for a review? And how do I make my reviews shorter without “cheating” my blind friend?

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