One of the more exciting trends on the Internet of 2014 is a shift from short blog posts to long-form posting. Readers are tired of the same generic, rehashed content that pops up on dozens of blogs at the same time. They want unique information, and often that requires going in-depth.
Obviously, writing a 1,000-word (or longer) post is a rather different beast than coming up with a few 300-500 word articles. Here are five things to keep in mind:
- Break It Up: If your readers wanted a massive, unbroken block of text, they’d curl up with a Kindle – or even an old-school book. For the most part, readers on the Internet want small, easily digestible chunks of content. If your post is longer than about 300 words, use subheadings, bullet points and images along with the text. If your blog is powered by WordPress, consider using the Pagination feature to break up very long posts into multiple pages. (I do this all the time on my other blog.)
- Use Your Words Efficiently: Believe it or not, the word concise doesn’t have to mean short. A long-form blog post can still be concise if it uses words efficiently. Don’t waste space by rehashing the same points over and over again, and don’t use needlessly wordy constructions like “in my own personal opinion.” Every word you write needs to be carefully selected to inform and delight your readers.
- Incorporate Multiple Sources: Likely the worst possible way to write a long-form blog post is to take a single shorter post and just spin it out over more words. A good rule of thumb is to do three times as much research as writing; that is, if you’re writing a 1,000-word post, plan on reading at least 3,000 words’ worth of sources. Bring only the most salient points from each into your post, and don’t forget to add your own spin on the ideas.
- Do Original Research: This doesn’t apply to every single post, of course, but whenever possible you’ll want to give your readers a fresh perspective. Conduct an interview, cite the results of a little-known study or otherwise bring in information that hasn’t been recycled elsewhere.
- Keep It Light: Here, I don’t mean light on content, I mean light in tone. The last thing anyone wants to do is trudge through yet another boring, point-by-point, no-nonsense article. Don’t be afraid to be conversational, casual, even witty. Use personal anecdotes and off-the-wall ideas. Believe me, your readers will appreciate it.
Writing a long-form blog post may seem like a monumental task, but if done well, it’s worth the effort. Plan ahead, do your homework and keep these tips in mind to make your content fresh and engaging.