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)