Does Size Really Matter? (In Defense of the Pithy Blog Post)

 

Does size really matter?

 

Sarah B The Bard 2 sig

 

On Sundays, I publish a post of 200 words (or less). But every blogger knows anything under 300 500 1,000 (what is it now?) words is not a “real” post.

Huh. My fingers were flying across the keyboard as my ideas were pouring out. I recall reading and responding to comments. I could have sworn that was real.

Even my full-length posts are usually only 300-700 words. I say what I need to say then get the hell out of Dodge.

Yes, I know: Google spiders, SEO, zzz…

When I taught, I rarely gave my students a firm word count. If the assignment would clearly benefit from a strict number of words I did but, most of the time, when they asked, “How long does it have to be?” I answered, “As long as it needs to be.”

Yes. I’m sure that annoyed some students. Moving on.

Blogs.

If you go on and on (and on and on) when you write, maybe you should think about whether you need every single word. If you simply love writing long pieces, that’s great. Go for it.

I prefer short, to-the-point posts. I enjoy writing them, and I enjoy reading them. I will read lengthy posts but only if they’re super duper awesome with a cherry on top. I don’t have anything against long blog posts.

Why do so many bloggers have a thing against short posts?

Reason #1. It won’t be picked up in search engines. That’s kind of my problem, not the reader’s. They don’t need to worry about me. I’ll be fine. Really.

Reason #2. “It’s annoying” to click on a link and be directed to a post with less than X number of words because it has no “substance”. This one irks me. Substance and length have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I have read some loooong posts with lots of “keywords” that were fluff. A bunch of letters grouped together on a page without saying anything. Those are impressive. I mean, seriously, that’s got to be tough to do. How does one even go about writing 3,000 words without saying anything? I’ve got to take a class on that.

I’ve also read some short, thought-provoking posts that pack a punch.

If you have a lot to say on a subject and it takes 2,000 words to say it, that’s cool. I’ll read it. But please do give the little posts a chance. Writers can sometimes surprise you with how much they can say in 400 words (give or take).

 

“Don’t use seven words when four will do.” 

 

My Sunday thoughts in (way over) 200 words. I know, irony is fun.

 

ThoughtBubble

I was going to stay far away from this but I… Just… Can’t. So, for you, gentle readers, here’s what I’m saying in a nutshell: It’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it.

 

Do you have a specific word count you stick to? Do you force yourself to keep writing a post because it’s too short even if you feel like it’s done? Does the size of your blog post really matter?

 

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90 thoughts on “Does Size Really Matter? (In Defense of the Pithy Blog Post)

  1. Well said, even the (unavoidable?) joke at the end.
    I track my word counts, but that’s for me. The guilt when I see a page of “zero” entries makes me put down the game controller and pick up the keyboard & tablet I do most of my writing on.
    Does that work for everybody? I doubt it. Does it guarantee some sort of quality? Heck, no. But it works for me.
    I’m sure it’s the same with posting. Sometimes I feel like I have a lot to say. Other times, I just need to remind my followers I’m alive. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Word count as motivator. That’s actually a great approach. If it gets you to write, it’s all good.

      Honestly, I think it’s that way for a lot of people. Sometimes we feel like we have something really interesting or important to say and other times we just want to write or keep our blogs active. Usually, though, something interesting (or at least entertaining) shows up to be blogged about. 🙂

      Like

  2. It has never entered my head to care about how long except when there is a 99 or 100 word limit. I say what I have to say in what ever it takes to say it and sometimes that is just the title. Being busy I probably prefer the shorter posts due to time constraints and unless they are good I can drop off whilst reading them. I had no idea it affected search engines but I know I am found via search engine easily these days whereas when I first started I was possibly on page 300 (I had to compete with Cyclone Irene) waters were rising and also Irene Waters (Me myself and Irene) as well as other notable Irene Waters. Well I’ve reached the first page so I don’t care how long my posts are and I agree with you – good word usage in a shorter post is better than thousands of words in a post of waffle which is what I am starting to do here.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Haha! Irene! You had to wade through a Jim Carrey disaster and a weather disaster to get to your name? I’m so sorry. *chuckles* Well, here you are. And, when I search, there you are. (Well, right after Renée Zellweger. But directly after so…yay you!)

      Well, I’m no techie and, as a matter of fact, I have a lot to learn about all things bloggy but I did think there was a certain word count that needed to be reached in order for it to be “picked up” or whatever. Definitely keywords. I don’t use keywords. I use words. That are mine. They are my words. And I type them. On keys, technically, so perhaps they are “key”words. Where was I? Yes, saying what you have to say in whatever it takes to say it. 🙂 Agreed: “good word usage in a shorter post is better than thousands of words in a post of waffle…” You don’t waffle. And, anyway, I like waffles.

      Liked by 1 person

    • If it’s your own site, word count should be whatever you please. SEO and google are committed to quality, not quantity. Backlinks are going to matter more. Relevancy (popularity and quality) are what appeal to search engines.

      As for word count, if you’re submitting and writing to major blogs like The Huffington Post, 800 – 1000 words are non negotiable. As for your own blogs, entirely up to the writer.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree completely. I prefer shorter blog posts that get to the point and pack punch rather than long, rambling posts. If I do read something long, it is because it’s a well researched article on a subject that interests me. So count me in as a short post aficionado.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Whoa. That is so cool! (If they’re syndicated, it can’t be a bad thing that they’re short. Are the tides turning???) I think I’ve seen links to the posts you’re talking about (the mini-blogs about your granddaughter) on Twitter. I must read those. *hangs head in shame*

      Like

  4. I like short posts. Usually, when I’m looking at blog posts, I don’t have a lot of time. If I find a long one I want to read, it gets bookmarked for “if I have time”.

    My own posts vary. Sometimes they’re short, some are longer. Depends what the post is. A story, a check in, some microfiction. I don’t have wordcounts, or limits – upper or lower.

    I like what you said. It’s as long as it needs to be.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh no! The “bookmarked” posts. I do that, too. They only get read occasionally because new posts are coming in every day. I don’t have word counts, either. Ironically, I have some long ones (like my Pulp Fiction post) and some on Lemon Shark Reef that are micro/flash fiction and are super short. So, you’re right, it depends.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m 100% with you on this. My posts usually hover around 500 words because that’s how many I need to make my point. It may hurt search engine results, but oh well. I think a post that does a good job of taking a concise stance is more “evergreen” in the long run. Who has time to read a bunch of 3,000 word posts?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am all about the evergreen posts. I have a mix but I do try to get those in. I don’t think there’s a magic number but, since I posted this, I’ve noticed how many people post around 500 words. It’s a good size. And, agreed, I’ll worry about my SEO when I feel like adding more stress to my life. So ‘never’ is pretty much good for me. As far as reading… No, I don’t have time for hundreds of blogs posting daily and writing 3,000 words. Gah!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Totally love this post!
    I say the same thing to my students, and it drives them mad!
    “Substance and length have absolutely nothing to do with each other.” Precisely! I prefer short reads. I prefer to write short things. But I will read good long things and write longer if the subject warrants it. And this comes back to what I tell my students. Write enough to cover the topic thoroughly. Don’t skimp and don’t let your ideas get lost in extra words.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hee…driving our students bonkers. That’s always fun. 🙂 “Don’t skimp and don’t let your ideas get lost in extra words.” Exactly. It’s solid advice. I wonder where this correlation between substance and length came from. If it’s engaging and well-written, I don’t care how long it is.

      Like

  7. I also tend to write shorter posts, because like you, I prefer going straight to the point rather than ramble on and on.
    Even as a reader, I favour shorter posts rather than a draaaaaging one that I usually end up glossing over.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I would much rather write short posts but also, as far as reading, I really want to give a post my full attention so, if I start skimming, I usually stop reading.

      P.S. I LOVE your last name! I think cairns are so cool. 💖

      Like

  8. I don’t have a specific word count as such, I just write. I like the sound of my own voice! *shrugs* that means it usually comes out around 1000 words, but sometimes its 600 and sometimes its 2000. I write till I have no more words!

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s perfect. Write until you’re done talking about your topic. If it needs 2,000 then it gets 2,000. If it needs 600 then it gets 600. 💖 Your posts are interesting and they don’t read like you added a bunch of fluff to get to a certain word count.

      Like

  9. I vary the length depending on content. My post on the Vampire Rabbit of Newcastle was about 1000 words because I had loads to say, but my post on writing dialogue that’s going live tomorrow will be about 400! I know there’s a marketing reason for blogs being a particular length but I really do think that it’s quality over quantity!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vampire Rabbit of Newcastle?! Haha! That is awesome! I can’t wait to read that. 🐇 How Monty Python of you.

      Agreed, it depends on what you’re writing. I have a lot of short posts but some that are longer…like the one you inspired on pulp fiction. 🙂 Yeah, marketing and searches and exposure… Eh. I probably don’t care as much as I should. For me, I’ll always choose quality over quantity.

      Like

  10. I think you are onto something. I think the shorter posts are better. I read an article about blogging and it recommended keeping posts to 500 words or under. I used to write long book reviews, but now I try to follow that rule and if I have more to say I split the post. Whether it’s good or not, people want us to get right to the point. Happy Sunday!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I try to be short and sweet but I’m more of a long and winding trail with a few dead ends and more than few distracted meanderings. Even when I have nothing to say it somehow takes me 1000 words to say it. Not say it? Lol I won’t judge you, if you won’t judge me 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m also a fan of the shorter post. I will skim longer ones but often do them and the writer an injustice as I don’t have time – unless it’s really engaging that is. Thanks for highlighting this issue as I had no idea it mattered what length the post was. One day I’ll learn these things but until then I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. When I first started following blogs, I’d read anything and everything. But time started to get in the way, so when I came to long blogs, I’d make a note to read them when I had more time. Then I realised I wasn’t going back to read them, so now if I come across a long post, unless it’s a blogger I really feel adds value, I usually just ignore it.

    And when I write my posts, I bear that in mind. I aim to keep my posts to between 600 and 800 words. Occasionally I creep above, but not often. When I’ve found I really can’t complete a short enough post, I usually convert it into two (or more).

    The biggest benefit I’ve found from aiming for shorter posts is that my editing skills have developed. I go over a post several times, snipping a word here and another there, whittling the word count down while keeping the essence of the message I want to get across.

    So small is beautiful. So my partner keeps reassuring me, anyway…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, time tends to do that. I’ve done the bookmarking thing. If I see a really long post that looks good, I bookmark it for later but noticed I rarely went back to read it.

      Yes! You are the first person to mention editing. Writing shorter posts is so good for that. I started my Thought Bubbles as a challenge for myself to write something in 200 words (or less) that actually said something. It has tightened my writing in the same way flash fiction has.

      Haha! Small IS beautiful. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post, Sarah. You’ve reached a lot of people and attracted a lot of comments so that tells you … um … a lot.
    I do like your short posts. But I would still read them if they were longer, if they needed to be.
    Maybe mine are too long. I try to keep them under 1000, and they usually end up about 800, I think, sometimes less. Perhaps someone should tell me if they are too long. I do write until I have said what I am thinking, but then I revise, cut, edit and proofread. If it’s too long, something’s gone.
    I love your summing up – it’s not size, it’s how it’s used. I find long over-wordy, repetitive and un-proofed posts frustrating and not respectful of readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Norah. 🙂 I don’t think your posts are too long. If you’re saying what you need to say, then they’re just the right length. You do tend to add research and quotes and external links (as your type of blog benefits from) which all add to the length of the post but also to the quality of it. So…that’s good. You make good points and bring interesting things to our attention all in under 1,000 words. Good on you!

      “I find long over-wordy, repetitive and un-proofed posts frustrating and not respectful of readers.” Well said.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s so weird. I know this post was about blogging, but it hit one of my secret combustion points. Judging based on word count…Oooooh, that makes me mad, and it’s one of the things that puts me on the defense. Granted, my feelings are book-oriented, but they still exist.

    I’m like you, where I prefer shorter posts because with as many connections I try to maintain, I don’t have the luxury to spend a long time online.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You were in the back of my head as I wrote my post this morning. It kept going and going and I thought, “Ha! Sarah just wrote about long blog posts.” I suppose that’s what happens when I don’t post anything about my life in a month.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know. You’ve mentioned before the long vs short books. I know some of yours are on the longer side. I was referring to online, but I know what you mean.

      Yes, exactly. “I prefer shorter posts because with as many connections I try to maintain, I don’t have the luxury to spend a long time online.” I’d rather have more time to connect with and read many bloggers than to read only a few and not be able to follow as many.

      Like

  16. I try to keep it under 1000 if I can, because people have only the attention span of a goldfish now and huh, is that a deer in my garden? No? Hmmm, I wonder if I need to water the vegetables. What is the weather forecast? Maybe I should go for a walk later. I sit too much as it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Completely understand. I have such a… Damn, never made that dentist appointment but at least I…oh, seriously? Look at that. I need to dust this place. Where’s the cloth? Whatever, I’ll use my sock. My feet are cold. I should have slippers. Why don’t I have slippers? I should order some. Ooh! #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan are trending on Twitter.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Preach it, sistah! I have a big blog reading list and longer posts can sometimes be discouraging. Sadly, if I’m short of time, I have to skip longer posts.

    I try to keep my posts around 650 words, because I know people are busy. There a many things people could be doing, other than reading my blog. Plus, having an arbitrary word count helps me keep focused.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The long blog-reading list. Yes. I know it well. Yours are perfect. Love the length. I hadn’t thought about a specific word count keeping writers focused. But, um, we do that all the time while writing. We often set word counts for ourselves. Nice. Thanks. 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I totally and utterly agree with you…I have precious time to spend on a blog when I have the editing to do on my novel. And yet, when I write, my blogs tend to run on for longer than they should because I feel I cannot end them until what I have to say is ‘out’, yet, if I come across someone’s long blog, I find myself time pressed to read it. I have a dear friend who has quite rightly said I could split my blogs and spare myself the rod. Each week I say, “this is the week”. I cannot believe that I find myself in this position given that have always been of the ‘short and sweet’ style of writing. The reason I think they end up being longer is that my imagination won’t stop a-weaving. And am generally a private person too, keeping my thoughts to myself. Right, my next blog, I am really going to try. I shall. I don’t do it for the numbers thing at all I just can’t be keeping up with the Jones’s. Too exhausting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! A lot of bloggers have other projects going on. There’s life, for example, but also they have day jobs, families, and/or are writing / editing / revising / publishing / marketing novels. Interesting conundrum you’ve got yourself into. 😉 I love that you write and write because your creativity is flowing. I really think that’s awesome.

      That’s an idea…maybe you could split them. ? (That would give you something to schedule for the next post, too.) But only if you want to. If you feel that it fits nicely together, don’t. Forget keeping up with the Joneses. Please! Enough stress and exhaustion in the blogosphere.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I’ve managed-with a nudge from your post ‘Does Size Really Matter?’ to keep my post short and sweet this week and I’m going to continue in that vein. I knew in my heart what to do, had been advised what to do, but your blog really managed to get through to me, so thank you! You’ve really helped 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I still remember when blog posts were shorter, and it was because people also posted frequently, like five times a day! I think nowadays, those short blurbs went to social media. But I still remember the quick updates, multiple times a day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting. I still prefer shorter posts on the blogs themselves but I do see updates on social media. Hadn’t thought about it that way. They seem different to me. (I guess that depends on what’s being talked about.)

      Some people still post multiple times a day. Just another reason I like them to be short. 😉

      Like

  20. To me it all depends on the day and the post. Sometimes it’s 250-400 words, sometimes it’s 1,000, sometimes it’s a short story that is several pages long. I don’t limit myself. To me, the main thing is to challenge myself and write something I would read, whatever the word count. I’ve seen short blog posts that feel like a waste of time and long ones that are worth the effort. I’ve also seen short blog posts that knock the wind out of me and posts that drag on so much that you have to question the need for stretching it out so much. I also don’t limit myself in style, content, topics, or anything. My mind is one crazy mess and my blog is a reflection of the good, the bad, and the random. Some people like it, and that’s always a super bonus motivator to keep doing what I’m doing, how I’m doing it. Your blog has one of the best comment sections I’ve ever seen, so keep doing what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. it rocks. 😀

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really does depend. Don’t limit yourself for anything or anyone. But it would be nice if I could get your damn post notifications! Just saying. I would like to read “the good, the bad, and the random.” And…awww. Thanks. ❤ That's a sweet thing to say. I do love my commenters. They always have wicked cool things to say. And you're awesome. Cheers! *sends excellent quality virtual beer*

      Like

    • Haha! “Personally, I prefer it when someone says something and then stops.” I don’t know why that just cracked me up! That’s awesome. Yes. Say something and then stop. Good advice for blogs and beyond. 😀

      Like

  21. obviously the topic is geared towards a particular brand of blogs (a haiku tends to be under 500 words), but i would posit that in the blogging world, shorter is better. we are only kidding ourselves if we write some long blog (regardless of its merits) and think the readers soak in every word.

    i used to write political posts at another site and often i received the infamous TLTR in a comment. (e.g. too long to read). Even with those that did “read” some of these posts and were commenting upon it, it became evident in many cases there were whole paragraphs that they just flew over. i am as guilty of this as the next person. given how much out there is to read, who has the time to ponder each sentence of a 3000 word post, or even a 1000 post.

    and maybe coming more from the poetry (and flash fiction) world – smaller is better, and one could argue more difficult if the idea is to get a particular point or points across.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! Yes, a haiku does tend to be under 500 words. But, whether it’s a food blog, a fashion blog, a fiction blog, or an eclectic mix of life stuff (like mine), length still plays a role. I’ve seen some epic poetry and some wicked short posts with recipes and a photo, for example.

      I didn’t know you wrote a political blog. That’s cool. Though I’m surprised at the comments. Really? I know a lot of people skim or don’t read long posts but to actually comment, “This is too long to read” is kinda rude. Just don’t read it, you know? I’ve never seen that. Sorry.

      Now my Lemon Shark Reef blog is different. I’m in the poetry/flash/micro fiction world over there. And, I agree, smaller is better. Even if someone is posting an excerpt from their WIP, I prefer if they share a shorter blurb instead of an entire chapter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • i agree with certain kinds of blogs there is an element of a need to say something of substance, and this requires a certain amount of words, sentences and paragraphs. Probably a key question is simply, whether it is a poem or an article on fashion is “am I being redundant?” — can I say it in one sentence what i took five to say. This is to be followed with “am i being focused?” — am i trying to discuss three different things that deserve three different blog posts, or is there a purpose in trying to intertwine them.

        one of the posts i remember getting the “TLTR” was a post i started with Patty Hearst and a discussion on Stockholm Syndrome and then eventually made my way to discussing the issue of creating a environmentally sustainable society (based on work being done by an institute based in Stockholm). Let’s just say it was rather lengthy read, yet i feel it moved along, not being redundant and showing how the diverse threads of thoughts were inter-related. My reaction to the TLTR was exactly as you responded. It was the first time I had come across the acronym and having looked it up on Urban Dictionary, immediately felt the anger that comes from being insulted by someone, by someone being rude. I responded by telling the person (there was a small community of regulars, so we had read and commented on each others’ blogs before, sometimes in agreement, sometimes not) that i didn’t write it for him and could care less whether he personally thought it was too long to read.

        It did, however, make me ponder, as i was prone to do, the limitations of blogging as a medium of communication, of expressing ideas. There are many books out there that are not read, not because of the content, but because the book was too long to read…it is just that with the book didn’t have a comment section, the person just merely didn’t purchase the book and kept their knowledge on the topic limited to articles in magazines and on-line, or maybe just the author’s short stories, avoiding the novels.

        every approach has it pluses and minuses

        Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m late to the party. Oh well… I’m sorry. I’m having two problems – one, that my feedly feed seems to be randomly dropping subscriptions (yours seems to be the latest victim), and two, that I find myself pulled about a dozen different ways and so tend to catch up on things all at once. I’m not particularly happy about either circumstance, and always feel like I need to justify why I’m not a better follower. (Ugh)

    I had a Canadian Lit professor who gave us a page count and told us to write to the bitter end. At the time I hated it, but now, looking back – I think his aim was to get us to develop arguments more than just a simple hey, this is what I think, so there.

    Anyway – I tend to write long, and I’m not sure I like it – I’ve been trying to think shorter. However, I do fall into the trap of not wanting there to be a link with nothing substantial. I shy away from posting poetry as often as I might because of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No apologies needed, my friend. The internet has gremlins and we’re all busy. Being pulled a dozen different ways? Sounds lovely. I know the feeling. Nice to see you, though. 🙂

      It’s obviously crucial to develop your writing beyond “Here’s what I think. The end.” Interesting. “Write to the bitter end.” I could see using that method to make a point NOT to write lengthy arguments. As a teacher, I hated reading papers that were obviously full of fluff – just a bunch of crap padding the real writing so the student could get to the word / page count.

      Hmm. You write lengthy pieces but don’t like it? Be ruthless with editing. But, really, if you need it to be long to say what you want, you should keep it long. Haha! Trying to “think shorter”. Well, IMO, I think your poetry is lovely and I would hate to see you not post it. (There are quite a few poetry accounts on Twitter…you should try their prompts.) Really. I’m serious when I say that substance and length have nothing to do with each other. I truly believe that.

      P.S. I got you covered with your “random 0” but the comment was so cute I almost posted that, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol, you totally could have. *laugh* Yes, I do need to be ruthless about editing. So often I barely find time to write anymore. I love the idea of the poetry prompts – do you have any you particularly love?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been asked this so many times in the past month I’ve lost count. I have a post written and might just publish it at this point. Anyway, I created a weekly prompt for my tweeps to give them a spark of inspiration for a post, fiction, or poetry for their blogs. It’s quick (since it’s on Twitter) and easy. You can read about it here:

        Tweets4Blogs

        FAQ for Tweets4Blogs

        I’ll DM you. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: Who’s That Blogger? Sarah Brentyn | Book Club Mom

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