IWSG – blog posts word count

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
MAY QUESTION: Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

MY ANSWER: Yes, all the time. It did surprise me the first time I encountered a totally unanticipated reaction, but not anymore.

After my recent foray into the A to Z challenge in April, I’ve been contemplating the optimum length of a blog post. Does it exist? I went to the internet for answers, and Google spit out tons of hits. Here are two that jumped to the top.

Both of them, and some other sites I checked, recommend approximately the same numbers, depending on your ultimate goal as a blogger. If you want more comments, more interactions with your readers, your posts should be 200-600 words. If you want to come up high in Google search, your posts should run to 2,000+ words. Google needs lots of text.

Personally, I prefer to write shorter posts, 300 – 500 words, with one or two images. And as a reader, I also prefer shorter posts. When a post is over 600 words, I become bored. Of course, it also depends on the quality of writing, but even with mediocre writing, I would probably read a shorter post to the end but start skimming a longer post halfway through, and simply close the window if the post is overly long.

It is also about my time. I don’t want to spend too long on reading posts unless the information is too important for me to skip a single word. I think the post falling into the category of HOW TO, manuals of anything from using Photoshop to knitting a patterned shawl should be as long as needed, while personal opinions and journal entries should be short and spiffy.

The only exception to this rule is fiction. When I participate in the flash fiction blog hop WEP, the stories by all the participants are around 1,000 words. We all know it and gladly read each other’s stories in full.

Images also play a role. When a post includes many images on a single theme, I’d probably stay with the post to the end, especially if such posts are not heavy on text. I subscribe to a couple bloggers who post mostly images linked by a common theme. For example: ‘My garden’ or ‘Hot Air Balloon Festival’. I always scan their posts to the end.

But if the images are not connected, I rarely read such posts from top to bottom. Or if there are a glut of images plus several thousand words of text. I really dislike those. They might do well in Google search, but they take too much time to read. Of course, it is a personal preference.

What length of posts are you most comfortable with as a blogger and as a reader? Tell me in the comments.

BTW: this blog post is a little over 500 words. I think it borders on being too long.

This entry was posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to IWSG – blog posts word count

  1. patgarcia says:

    If I am writing a blogging post, I try to keep it at 300 words. It may go over by a hundred words, but most of the time, the word count is 300. I follow more than one blogger and I do have a problem when long posts are posted.
    I participate in the WEP but I don’t consider the WEP’s Flash Fiction as a blog post. I consider it more as a training tool to help me tighten a story.
    Have a lovely day.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  2. L. Diane Wolfe says:

    It really depends on the content. If you are dispensing information that others will search for, then longer is all right. (Some images, please though.) For conversation, shorter is better.

  3. This is a new to me topic. I never actually counted the wordage of any of my blogposts.
    But I am in accordance with you that too long texts are not a splendid idea – unless it’s fiction. Sometimes I cut my fictional pieces in two or more chapters, because I think they have grown too long. But I never wondered how long is too long.
    I did not perceive this post (at 500+ words) too long. You told what had to be told without being verbose and without grammatical errors (well, I did not see any). I think actually these two are more important.
    Now you’ve made me curious. I’m off to count words in some of my posts 🙂

  4. Jemi Fraser says:

    I’m with you! Time is limited and I definitely scan, skim, or skip if a post is too long!
    The WEP stories being an exception of course!

  5. Alex J. Cavanaugh says:

    My post today is long, but I’m cramming in three big things. And I try to use a lot of images and topics so people can pick what they want to read about. Time is valuable!

  6. I think IWSG Wednesday calls for shorter posts because there are so many sites to visit. But other days, 1000 is fine. Two thousand? Sure. If the writing’s good, why not?

  7. Ronel Janse van Vuuren says:

    My folklore posts are all about digging into research, but I also have big headers to separate the information so someone can read the original folklore, my summary, skip to how it’s used in modern culture or just go and see how I used it in my own writing. I also have loads of images connecting it all. Though long, these are my most frequently visited posts.
    I guess it’s all about what you want to achieve with your blog concerning your readers (ignoring Google and “experts” alike).

    Ronel visiting for IWSG day Whirlwind Publishing

  8. emaginette says:

    I try to stick to about 250 words with a couple of pics from pixabay.com. But I’ve been known to do write longer posts and when I do, I usually put in headings. I’ve heard, and hope it’s true, that the busy eye will scan the document and read only the information they are mining for. IMO everyone is happy in the end. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  9. I agree with you about the word count of posts in general. I know I break the rules in mine when I do interviews, but I try to bold the questions and put subtitles to break up the post so that readers can just read what they think would be helpful.

  10. I honestly haven’t looked at the word count, but I do definitely have a limit. Sometimes I will pre-scroll to see how long a post us before I attempt it to know if I am skimming or fully reading.

  11. I am often surprised (and very, very grateful) by the generous responses to my posts. My usually photo heavy posts.
    Words counts can daunt me, but unless they are repetitive I usually do read to the end. And always read fiction to the end.

  12. Loni Townsend says:

    I tend to favor shorter posts, but I think it depends on how much I’m invested in the person writing them. If I’ve known the blogger for a while, I like hearing about their thoughts, even if it take more words. But too long, and I’m usually too crunched on time.

  13. Bridgina Molloy the Wicked Writer, (aka abydos6) says:

    Hi there, I really do think it depends on the subject and how much time you put into it, like the one on my blog for the IWSG today, it’s extremely short, but only because I joined up today without prior thought about it.
    If it’s a piece of fiction, or an interesting subject, then the longer the better, and photos / jpegs and gifs are welcome to me as well.

  14. Lee Lowery says:

    I definitely prefer shorter posts, unless I’m actively researching a topic. I don’t care what Google says – 2000 words is a short term paper – waaay too long, unless one is an expert in something fascinating. Like you, I love images to break up text. I always try to make the pics relevant to the material, but sometimes, I just throw in a random pic of my cat, Hemi.

  15. Jenni says:

    I’d never really thought about it before, but I think it depends on the topic. I will, as you say, stay with a very well-written piece that’s longer and/or about a topic I’m researching or interested in. But generally I like shorter posts. And pictures of course are very nice!

  16. Yes and yes! I like shorter, consumable over a cuppa. I can’t believe (but I do) that Google prefers very long.

  17. Erika Beebe says:

    I think it’s an art to say more with less 🙂

  18. ChrysFey says:

    I never pay attention to how long my posts are. They tend to be on the long side… With A to Z (when I did it), I tried to keep my posts compact since everyone is reading so many of them each day.

  19. Denise Covey says:

    Hi Olga. This debate has been going for some time. Yes, Google says long posts, but blog readers are time poor. I guess then If you’re ruled by CEO, you’re going to write long posts. But I thin 300 – 500 is optimal. Reading fiction in a post is different. Once early in WEP days, we used to restrict stories to 400 words, but that’s just not enough. Nevertheless, I’m glad WEP is only every second month!
    I didn’t post for IWSG this month so you don’t have to read my post – it’s zero words!

  20. I strongly agree with what you said about the shorter length for blog posts. And those longer posts sporting images that have no real theme? I can’t get a handle on that.

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