In Defense of Short Form Content

Let's keep this brief. The latest research from Orbit Media confirms a long-standing trend: blog posts are getting longer.

A little bedside reading anyone?

A little bedside reading anyone?

According to the 2017 survey of 1377 bloggers, the average blog post racks up 1142 words, increasing from 808 in 2014. That's 40% longer to be precise.

Unsurprisingly, the average time spent on producing a blog post is also up by 40%, at 3 hours 20 minutes, over the past three years.

One in eight bloggers are spending more than six hours producing each post, found the annual research.

Why Go Long?

There's no doubt blog posts are getting longer and publication frequency is reducing.

Proponents say it speaks to a growing appetite for greater in-depth engagement. The age of short, snackable content is finally passing.

Of course, long blog posts - just like long novels - have a place but we need to be careful not to assume that longer always means better.

If you really need 1500 words to convey your point, so be it. Certain technical explanations absolutely require length.

But let's not forget economy of expression. What takes 1500 words to say at first pass can generally be condensed to 1000 words without over-diluting the content. 

In fact, tightening the expression often strengthens the message.

What Would Abe Say?

Short story exponent Raymond Carver was a genius at distilling deep meaning into the fewest possible words.

James Joyçe's story collection Dubliners is just as impactful a read as his swirling, swaggering extravaganzas Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.

Print journalists are used to seeing their 850 words of copy extruded to a more manageable 500 words to fit the space available.

And what's wrong with a little snackable content anyway? A quote here, a few sentences there, a 200-word article that summarizes the key points. These all have their place in the ecosystem of content. 

Remember Lincoln's Gettysburg address. A total of 272 words. The most supremely snackable of oratory. 

Dessert Anyone?

So don't be afraid to go long but don't be afraid to go short either. It all depends on the skill of the execution.

In other findings from the Orbit research, 55% of bloggers are in the practice of updating older articles and almost two-thirds of respondents guest post at some point. And those bloggers who publish the most frequently report the strongest results. 

For the record, this blog post comes in at a total of 420 words  A little more than snackable but certainly not a three-course meal. Let's call it a light lunch.