The term “weblog” was first used in 1997, and blogging has risen in popularity ever since. The process of blogging has changed over time, especially since the release of WordPress in 2003. Now, there are millions of posts per day.
When blogging first began, it was usual for bloggers to post multiple times per day, under the belief that “more content is better”. In the early days, partly because there were fewer sites online, you could write a blog post on a Monday, and find yourself ranking for that blog post by Wednesday of that same week. Now, though, with so many new blogs coming online, and so many blog posts being written per day, it can take weeks or even longer for your content to be indexed. Of course, you can assist the process through use of sitemaps and other technologies, but, in general, it’s taking longer for content to be seen and categorized, especially on newer or less authoritative websites.
For the new blogger, this can be frustrating. Once you’ve decided to blog, you, of course, want everyone to flock to your website and read what you are sharing. However, in blogging, as in many aspects of online marketing, building audience and engagement is the first step to growing your blog readership.
One of the key ways that you can use blogging to build your audience is by sharing good information and positioning yourself as a trusted expert , and by building relationships over time. Information is considered “good” if it’s useful, relevant and timely.
The structure and format of blog posts has changed over time, as well, and that will be the main focus for the rest of this post.
When blogging first began, it was mostly text based, and the concept was that because it was easy to publish blog posts, you should publish as many as you could, as frequently as you could. The internet favored short, fresh, new posts. Bloggers have built entire businesses on providing short, fresh, “just-in-time” stories to their target audiences. Sites like PerezHilton.com are built on this model, as are many of the trendwatching sites.
Over time, this shifted to multi-author blogs- now you had a lot of people publishing a lot of content each day. Sites like Huffington Post are built on this model.
There is always a balance between delivering new ideas or content first (speed) vs delivering it deeply (length of post). You can’t necessarily be fast if you are trying to be thorough and in depth; nor can you, necessarily, create in-depth content multiple times per day- especially if you are a solo-entrepreneur and don’t have a separate writing team.
So the first thing to realize is what role blogging plays in your business strategy. If your goal is to be a full-time blogger, meaning you want to grow your blog readership enough that you can create a full time living from your blog, perhaps through advertising, blogging will play a pivotal role in your daily activities and business life. I found some statistics that suggest that most bloggers with high traffic sites earn about 1% of their pageviews per day. So if you have a site getting 1000 pageviews per day, you can expect to earn about $10/day. Depending on your desired lifestyle, it can take a lot of pageviews to reach a livable income.
If, like me, you are an entrepreneur who is using blogging as a marketing channel to sell services and products, then your goals are different. Your blog is meant to be a way to create conversations, contacts, and credibility.
It creates conversations because it enables you to start a dialogue with your readers and visitors, and to share who you are and what you believe. In many cases, having a blog creates new contacts; such as when you are invited to be a podcast guest or to take part in online communities because of what you’ve shared on your blog. Blogging builds credibility, because potential clients and business partners can read your thoughts and get to know you as a person. Transparency is becoming increasingly important.
When we look at blogging for quality or quantity (presuming you can’t have both all the time, at the same time), the shift in blogging for the typical entrepreneur is moving to increasingly long form content.
In a blog post, The Ideal Length of Everything, Orbit Media shares that the optimal length for blog content, at least from the perspective of SEO ranking, is a blog post length of about 1500 words. While search engine optimization is a huge topic, the idea is that the search engines are now looking for more in-depth explorations of content areas, as opposed to short, frequent posts.
For the typical entrepreneur, who is balancing multiple roles in the business, this will mean a shift to less frequent posting, but posts which are longer in length.
I’ve been making this shift over the past few weeks, and have noticed that it’s making me feel better about blogging and what I’m sharing. I like to write, so this may not be your experience if writing is not a preferred mode of communication- but what I’m finding thus far is that having the longer format to work with is giving me a chance to develop my ideas more, and to show connections between thoughts- to give my readers a framework to use for thinking, not just reading.
We are all attracted by stories, and want to know the meanings of things- how processes evolved, in essence, how things are made.
Piaget, a cognitive psychologist who studied the way we learn, referenced two key processes we each use to absorb the world around us. The two processes are accommodation and assimilation. Accommodation refers to the process of creating new mental frameworks (Piaget calls them “schema”), which become the ‘containers’ for our experience. These schema enable us to categorize new information. Assimilation is the process of taking in new information, and placing it into our frameworks. It’s how we understand that certain things are like other things- and that some things are different from each other.
My belief is that longer form blog content enables our readers more time to accommodate and assimilate new information. Of course, we can’t forget that attention spans are getting shorter, but I think this is for social media more than blogging. People are spending less time discerning where to focus their energy, but are spending more time immersed wherever they decide to focus.
So this means if you can attract and engage a reader initially, they are more likely to keep reading, even if the content is long.
As a blogger, our goals are to find ways to take part in, and then extend the conversations our audience are already having with themselves. There is not a blogger who hasn’t wondered if they should write long posts, less frequently, or shorter posts every day. The answer is: it depends.
It depends on your strategy and goals for your blog. If you want to become a full-time blogger, it stands to reason that you’d need to put full-time effort into creating content; so that means long posts, frequently. If your goal is to use your blog as a vehicle for connection, contacts, and credibility, you might consider medium to long posts less frequently. Less frequently might be once or twice per week, but these posts should appear consistently on whatever time schedule you have decided.
As a business owner, you have to be aware of return on your investment from all your marketing channels, including blogging. If you don’t like content creation, and won’t do it regularly, don’t start a blog. From a credibility standpoint, there is little worse than a blog which is abandoned because a business owner decided to start it, but never found the energy to keep it going. Similarly, you don’t have to have a blog, just because many other people do. As I share in my internet marketing book, you only really need three or four marketing strategies, implemented consistently, to have a profitable business. If blogging is one of them, then by all means, blog well. But if it’s not, don’t do it halfway.
The ease of publishing doesn’t mean everyone should do it. We all know there is a ton of crap on the internet already… why would we add to it?
The goal is not to reach everyone; it’s to connect with those (potentially) few, but important people and resources who like you, like what you have to say, and want to invest their time and energy to connect with you more. Given that your blog content is like a “24/7 ambassador for your business”- it makes sense to invest in it as fully as necessary. You never know who will be reading one of your blog posts, or when.
I’d rather have a few people who are paying deep attention than a hundred people offering fractured attention.
It’s the people who are interested and deeply engaged who will be most impactful for you and your business in the long term.
So blog accordingly. 🙂