So we’re looking at how to structure a post on a personal blog, and the first, simplest, most obvious element is length. As with every aspect of your own non-commercial blog, the decision is yours. There are no rules about how long each post should be—only your personal preference and habits and conventions.
It’s worth thinking about length, but chances are it’s not worth changing what you do already. After all, your faithful readers soon get used to your patterns of publication and adapt accordingly.
Example posts showing wide variation in length
The following are all posts that I have enjoyed, and as you see, they are of no fixed length. Each one is as long as it has to be
- Harvest for the grandmothers by Marva Lee Weigelt
- Histoires a tiroirs, 17 march 2019
- Obsessions—in which spiders break up, by Little Fears
- Forgiveness 101 by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
In other words, you can hardly make a bad decision when it comes to length as one discrete aspect of your blogging. On the other hand, the length of your post does not exist in a isolation but interacts with other factors. Who is your audience and what do they prefer? What’s the purpose of this blog post—to instruct, entertain, start a discussion or amuse yourself? And how much information are you trying to convey? (More about that in the next article.) All these things influence your choice of length.
But what is the ideal word count for a blog post?
This is a trick question, because the experts’ recommendations apply only to goal-oriented commercial or professional bloggers. To summarise a few recent articles on the topic:
- To get social shares, please mobile phone users, go viral and entertain: short posts, 300-500 words
- To get ranked high in search results, gain influence as an authority, and attract links: long posts, 2500 words or more
Should you write blog posts of a consistent length?
Some bloggers are marvellously consistent and I enjoy that. You know what to expect, and whether you can read it in the time available.
For example the poet Y-Ching Lin writes one short poem every day like this:
you say a problem
shared is a
problem halved –
let us practice
our karate chops
Others regularly write posts as a stand-alone creative exercise in response to a prompt, and these tend to be of a similar length (pretty short). Examples: Wordless Wednesday, Daily Word Prompt, First 50 Words, Stream of Conscience Saturday, 99 Word Prompt, Daily Haiku, Thursday Photo Prompt and January Recipe Prompt.
However, plenty of bloggers both mix and match their word counts: blog posts are both variable between types of posts and consistent within a series. For example, right now I tend to publish four types of posts — which will change again after a few weeks no doubt:
- Unyoung poems (typically 100-150 words)
- Articles about blogging (typically 1000–1500 words: this one’s short)
- Cat Thinkies (typically 15–50 words)
- “Other” or “Miscellaneous” (no typical word count).
Since my own blog posts are of such varied length, I could hardly lay down the law about consistent word counts, could I? Still, I find it interesting to consider this aspect of our blogging.
Structural elements can be objectively described
All the elements of structure are concrete (excuse my little joke). I mean they are not airy-fairy abstract ideas: they can be measured objectively. Structure isn’t about the content or the meaning or the tone or the style of writing. Those are hugely important but are usually described subjectively.
- CONNECTIONS AND TRANSITIONS
Everyone will agree on the number of words in this post (736). On the other hand, opinions on its style and tone will vary considerably. Are my style and tone relaxed? sloppy? bossy? formal? informal? academic? pedantic? laboured? light-hearted? You could reasonably use any of those adjectives, because your view is subjectively pegged to your own expectations of such an article. And that is fair enough.
Next week: we’ll look at the quantity of information contained in a single blog post, and we’ll try to do this objectively. That’ll be a challenge…
Do you agree with all the ideas in this article? I wonder. I’d like to know so please do comment?