Go Long or Maybe Go Short: Be a Quarterback with Blog Length


One of the most debated subjects when it comes to blogging for business is how long a blog post should be for maximum impact.  To get to the main point of the article right away: there’s no one answer for this.  There really isn’t.  No matter if you ask James DeBono at Business2Community, Yuwanda Black at Copyblogger, or Kipp Bodnar at HubSpot, you’re going to get different answers every time.  Them’s the breaks.

So What Are the Priorities?

However, it’s important to remember that like many other things in life that aren’t accounting, blogging for business and content marketing in general is a fluid subject.  Sure, there is a stark difference between content marketing and blogging for pleasure: for example, you don’t want to go on and on for 5,000 words about the sun on your garden if you’re trying to sell widgets. But there’s a great deal of creativity involved in copywriting as well.  Don’t forget it.

Basically, when Van Gogh was painting, it’s highly unlikely that he sat down and measured out molecules of blue paint to get the right shade for the starry sky.  No, he probably sat down and just mixed things together until they looked right.  However, Van Gogh didn’t make any money until after he was dead.  Hopefully you’re looking for your content marketing to take effect a little faster.

In this post about static site content, I reference a fun little idiom that my 8th grade English teacher taught me: writing should be like a woman’s dress; long enough to cover the subject, yet short enough to keep it interesting.

While this is cute, it doesn’t necessarily say anything.  Same problem.  Either you’re an artist missing an ear, or you’re comparing words to a woman’s hemline.  Here, have a drink.

When you’re done, let’s turn the metaphor to something a little more… competitive.  After all, when you blog for business you’re looking to deliver your content marketing message to your customer.  You need to deliver it in the right way.

Here we go.  Football.

Time Your Blog Length Like You’d Time a Pass

So, imagine your favorite quarterback of choice.  Doesn’t matter who.  Now, assuming that they were in the NFL at any point, it’s probably likely that they got filthy, stinking rich.  How did they do it?  Well, not only did they understand football well enough to outsmart the other team, they were also able to deliver throws to the receivers that the receiver could catch.

It doesn’t matter how great of a football mind you are if you’ve got a cannon arm that blasts your throws past the receiver every time; it doesn’t matter how nimble you are on your feet if you can’t throw more than a yard.  The quarterback who can’t throw isn’t going to get far.  And he’s not going to get filthy, stinking rich.  (To take it a bit farther, I suppose that Vince Lombardi didn’t get far as a player, but if you understand the game and can’t/don’t want to play it, you become a coach.  Or a consultant.  We’re talking about the game, which is blogging.  All right, back to the huddle.)

See where I’m going?  The quarterback who got filthy rich—which is probably also the goal of your business, because, well, most of us are in business to make a profit—did so not only because he understood the game, but because he knew how to throw the ball.

If you’re blogging for business, it’s likely that you understand the game which is your industry.  Hopefully you know more about it than the layperson.  The quarterback has all of the plays memorized, correct?  Not only that, but he understands that sometimes the plays break down.  But he’s got the knowledge needed to think on his feet and figure out how to throw.

The Receiver is your Audience

You are the quarterback.  The football is your blog.  Now, the question is, how far should the quarterback throw to reach the receiver?

Well, it changes every time.  You can’t say that the quarterback should throw a 73 yard pass all the time.  Assuming that the receiver is anywhere else other than 73 yards away, the throw is not going to connect.

So your blog length needs to be tailored to meet the needs of your audience.  You need to figure out where they are.  Are you trying to target early, middle, or late stage buyers?  Your early buyers are still at the top of the sales funnel: you’ll likely do better by throwing them a soft pass and not overwhelming them with your cannon arm of information.  Late stage buyers?  Get into the nitty gritty and show ’em your stuff.

Not to say that you can’t occasionally lob a 2,000 word blog at your early stagers.  You just need to know what sort of information you’re trying to feed them and be careful that the length of the blog hits ’em the right way.

So the question really should not be, “How long do I make a blog post?” but rather, “Where the heck are my buyers at and how do I best reach them?”

And of course, the answer is different for every company.  This is why passing off your blogging and content marketing to a competent writer is so important; and why dedicating 10 minutes to your content marketing a day isn’t going to be enough.  You don’t just need to understand the game.  You need to understand where your customers are.  You need to know how to throw.  And just as you’d never tell a quarterback to throw 50 yards all the time, you wouldn’t tell your blogger to always write 500 words.  The customer is a moving target.  When you blog for business, you need to move with them.

All right, break.

Do you understand where your customers are and how best to target them? Share your tips with us here!

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Laura

Laura Hancock is a co-owner of ContentEqualsMoney.com. She has also been a long time writer for us. She writes with a passion for accuracy and flow. While her administrative duties have grown, she is a still a big piece of our content writing services team! Currently pursuing a certification in Technical Writing at the University of Washington. She lives in Seattle. +Laura Hancock

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Comments

  1. I’m loving this analogy! (I am a pretty rabid football fan, and a Joe Montana fan at that, so you had me at “football”, but still…)

    I think the idea of “long enough to cover, short enough to be interesting” works for me. If you are starting to write a book, then, write a book (an eBook could be just 3,000 or 4,000 words).

    Great post.

    • Thanks, Brad! I really like coming up with fun analogies for blogs – and obviously this day I was feeling a bit sporty. And I agree that things should be as long as they “naturally” feel – there are some topics that can easily be covered in 300 words, and others that can be extended to thousands of words.

      Repurposing content is also great – I mean, the same content can be covered in any number of word counts. That’s the beauty of content marketing – it’s incredibly versatile! Just like excellent quarterbacks. 🙂

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