Some people give me a hard time about how long my blog posts are (you know who you are). They tell me I should break my posts into smaller posts, or suggest I consider a 500-word post for a change. I deserve the razzing, particularly when I publish a couple of 3,000-word posts back-to-back.
In the absence of column inch or word limit restrictions, I’ll use as many words as I need to get my point across. It’s not that I don’t know how to write short posts, it’s just not my preferred style. If I’m limited to 140 characters (for now at least), I’ll use 140 characters. If I decide to write a 500-word post about how to write shorter blog posts, I can do it.
To prove my point, you’re actually reading that 500-word post I mentioned. Here are six of the most-helpful tips I’ve come across for writing shorter blog posts:
- Bite-Sized Content – when planning posts, pick topics that can be addressed in 500 words or less.
- Get to the Point – focus on one point for your topic. If you have more than one point to cover, consider writing a separate post.
- Blueprints Before Building – before you start writing, create a quick outline for your post. Focus on your opening, your main point, and your conclusion as the key ingredients.
- Omit Words – review your post at least once and cut half your copy. Follow the “omit needless words” rule from “The Elements of Style.“
- Worth 1,000 Words – What image or graphic can literally take the place of 1,000 words in your post? Or provide your readers with 700 ideas for headlines without writing a single one?
- Supporting Info – don’t repeat or rewrite things that exist elsewhere – instead of saying it, link to it.
- Revise and Tighten – if you’re not on deadline, keep revising until you copy is tight and you’re completely satisfied.
As a bonus tip, I suggest you find a blogger who has mastered the art and science of writing short posts. For me, I enjoy reading and learning about startups from “David Cummings on Startups.” Cummings uses a consistent formula for his posts, which is part of the reason he’s been able to publish a new blog post EVERY DAY without fail for several years now. His posts typically flow like this:
- A short, descriptive headline – what topic today’s post is about
- An introductory paragraph – introduces main point around topic
- A bullet list of supporting points – backup for the main point – often linked to helpful resources
- A summary paragraph – to reinforce the main topic
- A consistent request for feedback – always end with the CTA (call-to-action)
I’m often surprised how much I learn from two paragraphs and a couple of bullets. I think his blog is a great example of how you can deliver both quantity and quality from your blog.
And in case you were wondering, this post is 500 words.
What tips would you share for writing shorter posts? Is there a blog you love that publishes short posts? Please share…
(Image Credit: “6” by Goynang / Flickr)