Friday, 20 December 2013

Long Form Content vs Series of Blog Posts

Last week I was involved in a number of conversations with readers about blog post length and whether it was better to write long posts or short ones.
My short answer to the question was to write ‘useful’ posts, and to use as many words as were necessary to do so.
Having said that, I have been experimenting over the last few months with the two extremes of short and long posts.
If you’ve been paying attention here on ProBlogger this year, you’ll have seen some of what our team have called ‘mega posts’.
For example here on ProBlogger we’ve published:
Over on dPS we also experimented with longer posts including on a post titled The Ultimate Guide to Learning How to Use Your First DSLR (4202 words).
These posts have all performed well above average compared with other posts on my sites over the last 12 months (in fact they feature pretty heavily in the most-read new posts on my blogs in 2013).

What About Series of Posts?

When I recounted the above examples in conversation this week the question that came each time was whether the same content could have been delivered as series of posts.
Wouldn’t it make sense to break a 7000-word post down into 10 700-word posts?
The answer, of course, is that a series of posts is definitely an option.
I’ve certainly created my fair share of series over the years, and will continue to do so, but I also think there is a place for longer-form content. In fact, I think good long-form content has some distinct advantages over series of posts.
For me, I think the main advantage of long form content is that its just more useful and convenient for readers to get it all in one go.
A series of blog posts is great for page views and helping you to fill a week’s editorial calendar, however if you put yourself in a reader’s shoes, it can also be a little (or a lot) painful.
Readers following the blog have to wait for new posts to be published before getting the full information in the series.
Readers who come across the series later have to follow links between posts to get each installment.
Neither of these problems are enough to stop me writing a series of posts, however, there are a couple of good reasons why I think long-form content is attractive to readers.
The other thing I’ve noticed about good quality and useful long-form content is that it gets shared – a lot.
While I’ve had great search traffic to each of the above posts this year, they have each been shared at a higher rate than the average post on my blogs in the same timeframe.
While I do find my series of posts can get shared around too, I’ve never seen a series that I’ve written shared as much as some of the long-form content I’ve created (the only exception might have been when I first ran 31 Days to Build a Better Blog as a series many years ago).

Choose the Best Length for the Topic At Hand

Let me finish by saying that I am not suggesting creating longer-form content just for the sake of publishing longer-form content.
The key is to choose the appropriate length and style of posts for the topic you’re covering.
Long form, short form, series of posts or other formats can all work.

Have you tried longer-form content?

I’ve love to hear about your experience of longer-form content. Have you tried it? How was it received?
Please share a link in comments below – I’d love to see your longer posts.


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