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Launching a Blog – What Type of Posts Are Best?

I had an email earlier today from a reader who asked an interesting question that got me thinking.

He’s just started a new blog and was asking what type of posts he should put up first? He had decided upon a niche or focus for the blog and his first hunch seemed to be to write a long post that covered pretty much the whole niche with lots of tips on many aspects of it (it’s hard to describe it without giving away his niche – a good one).

The alternative was to write lots of smaller posts focussing upon the different aspects of the niche.

My reactions to his question were a little mixed as I thought through the pros and cons of either approach. I’m still pondering the question and thought I’d do a little thinking out loud:

The Good things about good long ‘uber-posts’:

  • they demonstrate you have a knowledge of the niche
  • they show you have something to say of worth (expertise even)
  • they can be useful in defining your blog’s niche/topic

The Bad things about long ‘uber-posts’:

  • they could overwhelm new readers
  • they could leave you with little to say later
  • they confuse search engines who seem to like posts with clearly defined one topic subject matter

The Good things about shorter more focussed posts:

  • they will do better in search engines
  • they work with the short attention span that many web users have
  • linked together well they can still convey your expertise and knowledge
  • they can leave readers thirsting for more
  • they are easier to sustain over a long period of time

The Bad things about shorter more focussed posts:

  • they can feel a little ‘bitsy’ or ‘light on’

I’m sure there are other things to say about either approach in the early days of a blog.

For me as I think about the blogs I’ve launched in the last few years I would say that either approach can work well as long as you are aware of the consequences. My own approach in launching my latest blog has been to tackle focussed problems/topics within the wider niche rather than the whole niche in a post. The posts still end up being quite sizable but they are well defined (I usually start with a problem or need that the reader would have and find solutions/tips/answers for it) so as not to ramble.

The benefit of this is that if I were to do a longer uber-post that covered every aspect of my overall niche that I might feel like I was just going over the same stuff later on or that I’d have nothing left to say.

The other thing I’d advise in the early days of a blog is that you do need to establish credibility and a grasp of your topic. People want to know that you have some idea of what you’re talking about and that coming back to your blog or subscribing to your feed will enhance their life in some way. So your content does need to have substance to it (long or short).

I guess it partly comes down to the topic of the blog and how wide it is as well as the personality and writing style of the blogger.

What do you think?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Peter says:

    In regards to length of a post, my suggestion is, if you are monetizing your site with Adsense, break the post into a series of shorter articles. This should result in increased views, and from a strictly commercial point of view, more views equals more potential ad clicks.

  2. Adnan says:

    My intial reaction to that question was that I felt that shorter posts were better. This is because once you’ve written a super long article, more often than not you’ll be “burnt out” especially if the niche you are working in does not have a lot of depth that you can explore.

    Also I agree with Peter in that having lots of posts means more Adsense on more blog pages which means more potential clicks. If you are not worried about revenue then still I would recommend writing smaller posts so as to sustain the reader’s attention.

  3. Eric says:

    I just started my first (well, my first more serious) blog and thougt about what my first post should be like. There are so many things I’d like to say, I felt I could go on forever. In the end something popped up in my head and I just started writing about that, as if it was just one of the many posts in my blog. Which, no doubt, it soon will be.

  4. Robb D says:

    Well, it definately sounds he is trying to monetize the blog and although I don’t feel one should write content for search engines, short and to the point posts are more easily indexed.

    What he may want to do is break his long post up into shorter posts that are part of a series. If the blog is brand new, just release all the posts at the same time and put links to the next post in the series at the bottem of every post. This in essence, gives the reader the same information and it isn’t uncommon for folks to read an entire series in one visit.

    Personally I think that a blog should have at least 10 posts before it is heavily advertised anyway.

  5. brem says:

    I used to write long articles, and I think it’s better to post long articles in “parts”.

    This way, you give your readers a break.

  6. Use some economy in your efforts. Why post long, long posts if your audience is tiny? Keep the posts flowing to build up readers.

  7. Whitney says:

    Writing long posts, and writing long posts frequently, will burn out the author and the readers. I suspect it will burn out the readers before it burns out the author. If readers look at posts, decide they’re long and that they’ll get to the posts later, the post inevitably gets lost in that large to-be-read pile of magazines, journals, newspapers, and online resources that too many of us have.

    –If you need to write a long post, include devices that make it easy to scan for context. These could be subheads, inline/embedded subheads, lists, and so forth…and use simple format attributes such as bold and italic. (Darren does this often, and does it effectively.) When a reader does have to put a posting in their “later” pile, being able to establish “what’s in it for me?” early on will increase the likelihood that the reader really will read later.

    –I think it would be copasetic to add, at the end of short posts, a teaser line that says something like “Next time…..” with a clue about what you’ll be discussing. Letting folks know what will be posted next addresses the “what’s in it for me?” factor and encourages motivated readers to come back. Done ad infinitum, this practice could become self-limiting, but it might work in those initial weeks of a new blog when you’re trying to establish credibility with your readers without so overwhelming them that you actually drive them away.

    –Establish a rhythm in which you vary long, short, and medium-length posts. Your posts might be a little longer at the beginning of the week and grow shorter as the week progresses, or vice versa. Maybe once a month you write an uber-post. But this kind of rhythm gives both author and reader some breathing room.

    My 2 cents.

  8. I decided on smaller posts for a few reasons. First and foremost I don’t think in general readers will read long posts, I know I usually don’t. A few times I will see a long post that has really good info in it and will save it off, but unless I am doing something technical, I don’t read long posts but skim them for points.

    Second, as you noted, I think it is much easier to produce a 200 word post every day (or at least 5 times a week) than it is to produce a 1K word article. Sometimes I do put a few 2K word documents (sermons) but mostly I strive for 200 words. In short I am only going to produce 1.5K words a week, will I do that in one post once a week or 7 daily posts?

    I used to put long articles up…But for a part timer who only has a certain amount of words in him/her…I think shorter posts in general are better…

  9. razib says:

    Writing a short post or long post? It depends on the focus on the blog and the subject matter. You have to understand when to make long or when to make short. It comes after writing for sometimes. I feel that it is better to learn by trial and error.

  10. slee says:

    Im new at this too but i would think shorter posts would be better but also provide a pdf of the whole subject which goes into slightly mroe detail this way the search engines get both the short posts which they love and also they can read the pdf document. plus it is good for the user so they can read using bite size chunks or download a pdf of it all. they could even chatge for the pdf if necessary.

    just me few cents worth :)

  11. I think the answer to this is like most answers… a little of both is the best.

    Most seem to agree that all lengthy posts would be overkill and could burn out not only the writer, but the reader. However, too many short little posts might not look as professional and could give off an vibe that says the blog doesn’t have any real “meat”.

    As such, I think many small posts with a few big ones thrown in between is the best. It’s just like when writing a story or an article, you don’t want to do all long drawn out sentences, and you don’t want to do all short choppy sentences. You want to change up the flow so that your writing is more exciting and engaging.

  12. Ian says:

    I definately think going with shorter posts is the way to go. I aim for 350-500 words with my posts.

    When I read a long blog post, I find that I have to take a break in the middle a lot of the times. These posts would have been better if they were broken up into a series.

  13. jhay says:

    Starting a new blog is always the hardest part. Building it up really depends upon the blogger’s strategies, wits, skills and luck. The same goes for moving or migrating blogs from its original site to its new home.

  14. Vincent says:

    Definately go with numerous shorter part posts rather then long posts, but do not sacrifice the quality of material. If you have a long wordy post it can almost always be broken into multiple parts that link and the blog overall looks richer for having many digestible entries. If a post is long because it has tables and pictures it may fit better as a single post. A reader should not think an entry is too short if they can see a continuation in another post, but they can often find an entry too long.

    You need to avoid trying to be the definitive blog for you niche within the first week! I think it is better to build up at least a couple weeks worth of posts before you start promoting it and trying to get readers and to demonstrate your range in those two weeks, eg. tangible technical knowledge, character, personal, news etc.

  15. Renee says:

    What I usually do when I start my new blog project is to write shorter on topic posts (350 to 550) that are quite keyword optimized. Reasons: It’s a new blog, hence no much traffic, readers nor comments. Meanwhile I do some self promotion. As the traffic gradually picks up, I’d add more “meaty” and series articles.

    Personally, I find articles written in series works great as I create readers’ anticipation (return visits) and it also allows me to gauge how feasible to expand further, vertically and horizontally.

    The longest post I’ve ever written so far is about 970 words, and that tires me out leaving me not much room to write more later in the week for other blogs.

  16. Ming 2.0 says:

    I think start with a good story, and deliver on early promises..will work.
    it worked for us, to an extent

    http://www.30dayartist.com/aboutus.php

  17. Ming 2.0 says:

    and now a question,

    which i hope you’ll answer in a post:)

    how many blogs can ONE person manage successfully?

  18. Noel Kuhlman says:

    I’ve seen very few blogs pull off the super-long uber-posts. You have to be a hell of a writer to pull that off, IMO. Most longish posts I’ve seen make good points at some parts and then ramble on in the rest. Or the point ends up getting lost across so many words. While I will favor shorter posts because of this, if you can go long, dispense more information and still keep your ideas coherent, I think you can really serve readers more by going that route.

  19. Vamsi says:

    Decide the length depending upon the subject you write.Try to pack the post precisely with quality content and according to your visiotors expecting from your blog

  20. Tammy says:

    For me – reading posts that are around 450 words are the easiest and keep me coming back. Search engines like smaller focused frequent posts. Over time, smaller frequent posts draw more visitors more often – so other than full “articles” its best to keep it concise.

    Myself – I still have a difficult time keeping my word count down ;-) but I know when I do – it’s much easier to read.

    The way you use bullets make it easier to to grasp when reading online isn’t easy to follow. I just started another blog which I’m planning to keep to this guide – smaller frequent posts – focus is the key.

    Tammy

    the posts

  21. jf.sellsius says:

    Go with shorter.
    If you want to write a very long post I suggest you write it as a “white paper” or reference work that you put on your sidebar or other permanent spot on page 1 so readers can find it at any time.

    As you write other small posts in the future, reference the white paper that’s free for the taking. This paper will establish your expertise. A good example of this method is Brian Clark of Copyblogger. check out his blog & viral marketing paper.

    One of the problems of blogs is that really good posts fall into archive limbo where no one sees them unless you resurrect them. A really good post should be seen forever. good luck to you. keep your passion.
    If you want to market yourself as an expert see
    http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com/?p=913 (shameless plug)

  22. Lani Giesen says:

    I know this is post is old but someone just sent me the link because I’m asking myself this very question right now.

    Like the others who have commented, I’ve come down on the side of shorter posts, with the first couple dealing with just one issue, but the broadest issue, of my niche (if i can call it that). I hoping that it will set the tone and give those brand new readers a good indication of the angle I’m coming from without bombarding them with everything I’ve got to say.

    I’ve also decided to open by raising a question, which might be risky, but reader involvement will be crucial to the success of the blog and there are a number of subscribers already waiting for the first post.

    Now I’m off to read Don’t Launch Until You’re Loaded… and I’ll see where that takes me. :)

  23. Rita says:

    This is a great article, and the comments are helpful, too.

    I’m launching a new blog today and I’m wondering how to do it. I’ve been asked to write a reader blog for a Seattle newspaper on the same topic as my blog I started in January.

    I write a blog for boomer consumers called The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com.

    Rita

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