Guest

How Long is Too Long?

By: Guest | January 20, 2011 | 
356

Ingrid Abboud aka ‘Griddy‘ is a whole lot of things with a ridiculous amount of interests.

Get your mind out of the gutter people! I’m talking about posts and comments. Jeez!

When the fabulous Aunt Gini (editor’s note: She calls me this because of the Christmas video with my nieces and nephew) asked me to guest post on Spin Sucks, I was ecstatic. But I’ll be honest – I panicked a bit as well.

You see, I have this tendency to ramble – I mean write long, witty and insightful pieces – and I knew I’d have to abide by a certain word limit – which is understandable but poses quite the challenge for me. I’m at 90 words so far, phew!

I know you’re dying to count, so go ahead – I’ll wait.

I told you so!

I panicked for another reason as well. I knew I’d have to step it up and present her with something that was up to the standards of her intelligent and well-spoken audience (editor’s note: Don’t let her kiss up you!).

You see, she kinda brilliantly tooted me in one of her super #FollowFriday posts so I couldn’t possibly let her down with a “non-entertaining or below average post”.

I’m not kissing ass folks. I’m just telling it like it is.

Defying the Norm

I’ve often heard bloggers say it’s best not to exceed 500 or 1,000 words so that you don’t lose the attention of your readers, and that shorter posts often get the message across better. And although these are very true, I beg to differ – at times.

My last guest post for Traffic Generation Cafe was around 2,800 words. Yet somehow it got over 110 retweets. Another that I wrote for Famous Bloggers was close to 1,500 words. It generated 110 comments and was RT’d almost 300 times.

I’m not implying those numbers are something to brag about, they’re not. But they’re definitely decent. I must have done something right to retain the attention of my audience.

Have you ever read one of Glen Allsop’s posts? They may be as rare as peace in the Middle East, but they’re as long as treaties as they often surpass 2,000 words. I for one, don’t want them to end. They’re insightful, idiot-proof, and loaded with great examples. He has about 11,000 subscribers that agree with me.

Could it be that we underestimate the attention spam (not a typo) of our readers? For these are three times longer than the proposed “norm”.

Does the writing style not play an integral role?

I know when Seth Godin writes 50 words including “the” and “it” people listen and he gets retweeted a gazillion times. And all Brian Clark has to say is “Boo” and the blogosphore goes into an RT frenzy. But here’s the thing…you’re not either of those two “influential” chaps. But if you are – in my very fake French accent…“well hello there, I’m Ingrid and this is Gini’s blog, please comment, RT,  and connect” icon wink How Long is Too Long? GP for SPIN SUCKS.

Presentation is Everything

Much like a meal at a restaurant, or the design of a website – presentation is everything.

If you were to visit a site that was shabby-looking, would it inspire you to browse through it? I didn’t think so.

If I had started this post using a dissertation-like style and a monotonous tone, would you have read this far? Yup, didn’t think so either.

So like I said, presentation is key.

The way we present our words and the voice we use, determine whether we capture our readers attention or not. Ever hear the saying, “it’s not size that matters, but the motion of the ocean”? Well, your blog is the ocean and your words are the motion. It’s how you move people that counts.

You can write 200 words that are full of drivel or 2,000 that are loaded with insight! It’s not the length that counts but how you manage to remain interesting and captivate your readers till the end.

Gini’s posts are usually highly intuitive, informative, and to the point – but they’re generally no longer than 500 words.

If I’m able to hook you with intelligent and magnetic words from the first paragraph, you’ll want to read on – regardless of how “long” it looks.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to write a long-winded article that takes three pages to get to the point – on the contrary. I’m just telling you it’s how you get to the point that will leave an impression. It’s how you break it up using short paragraphs that don’t scare the Bejeesus out of your readers. It’s how you talk to your audience. Because you want to talk to them in an engaging manner and not dictate to them.

Me, My Comments, and I

The same goes for comments.

I’ve come to be known around the blogosphere (“my friendosphere of bloggers”) as the girl who leaves novel-lengths comments. But are they thoughtless or do they actually add value somehow? Obviously, the latter.

“Gini and Danny, I swear to you if you’re smirking or coughing here…I’ll…Oh, who am I kidding?! Laugh away lol.”

Personally, I would much rather gasp pleasantly at a long comment than see a simple drive-by that says, “hey, great post”. I’m interested to hear what readers have to share that could enrich my own views. Why? Because if and when I have something to say, it most probably means the post is deserving of more than a simple “good job”.

We have news releases that limit us to a page or less and Twitter cut our musings to 140 characters. So why impose another limit on our personal thoughts on our own blog?

Write intelligently, wittily, insightfully, amusingly, respectfully, numerically, resourcefully, or commandingly…and people will listen. They will take the time to read if your thoughts are well-written and worthwhile.

So How Long is Too Long?

Is 1,000 words all that our brains can handle? Would you not give an article the time of day if were 3,000 words? Okay, 10,000 – maybe not!

My rule is that there is no rule!

Write what you want. If you want to be clear and succinct with a short news type post – YAY. If you’d rather opt for a longer, more comprehensive post – then go for it! Do what feels right for you and your writing style.

I was initially set on backing this piece with solid resources from probloggers to prove my point. But…

Had I told you from the start that Darren Rowse averages 1000 + words per post but Chris Brogan about 500, or that Steve Pavlina writes over 2000 words but Leo Babauta around 600 – then you might not have bothered reading till the end and would have simply concluded for yourselves that it’s“your blog, your rules – mix it up”.

This post has a grand total of 1,139 words (editor’s note: Uh…more like 1,254).

Was it dreadfully painful to read? Rhetorical of course!

I’d love to hear your thoughts – and guess what? I’ll probably reply with a not so short answer to your not so short comment.

Editor’s Note: I really wanted to cut this down, but she’s right…I was captivated. Darn her!

Ingrid Abboud aka ‘Griddy’ is a whole lot of things with a ridiculous amount of interests. For one, she’s a social media enthusiast with a tremendous passion for writing and blogging. She’s also a pretty cool copywriter but a more serious MarCom Consultant. But most of all, she’s the proud owner and driving force behind nittyGriddy.com – A Kinda Social Media Journal with Net News & more.

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