A question that keeps popping up among article writers is: How long should my article be? Should I write 300 words, 400 words or longer?
And people are always willing to answer this question. The majority says: the shorter the better. If you write long articles, people get bored. So write 300-400 words.
I used to be one of those people who would give that kind of advice. I even told one of my pupils that he should shorten his articles.
Yes, I’m ashamed about that, because he was right, and I was wrong. I have some great excuses, though, and I’ll tell you about them, as well as why I was wrong, even though 1) my experience told me that shorter articles were better and 2) my own habits as a reader proved it.
This stuff is important to know, if you’re writing articles. If you don’t write them the proper length, you might be wasting your time and energy, and not earn your article’s full potential.
Many years ago, I worked for a solicitor, and he taught me a lot about the Danish language. I thought I knew it all, when I started as his secretary, but I was wrong.
One of the most important lessons I got from him was: Write short and to the point.
While other solicitors in the same office wrote long and winded letters that their clients wouldn’t understand, he wrote short and clear letters. He saved time, too. He never needed to explain what he wrote afterwards by telephone.
Stephen King talks about it in his book “On Writing”, too. When he was young, he worked for a newspaper, and the old editor there told him to take out all the superfluous words. I wish internet marketers would do the same with their videos. Some of them just waste so much of our time, talking and talking, but saying nothing.
And that brings me on to the next part of this blog post: Long articles are soooo booooring, right?
More than once did I unsubscribe from ezines or blogs, or stopped reading an article, because it went on and on, and I was bored!
I blamed it on the length. I thought I wasn’t able to read a long article. I never stopped to question this, until recently. Because I could read a book, right? That’s certainly longer than an article.
However, the general opinion still is that long articles are boring, and that people will not read long articles.
Look at this poster on the Warrior Forum. He writes at least 1,000 words in his articles and says:
“The trouble is that while they may be useful, I think their length makes the reader fall asleep or leave the building.”
SEO? Nah, I Never Stuff My Articles With Keywords Anyway
Okay, for SEO length matters. If you want to be found on your keyword, you better show Google and the other search engines, that you mean business. So let them know that your article is about KEYWORD by writing KEYWORD as many times as possible.
Haha, no, Google figured it out, and if you keyword stuff your articles, it will harm you.
What can you do, then, if you want to have your keyword out there four times in an article? You can write a longer articles.
Bingo! So you add a lot of words to your article, and you’re now entitled to use your keywords several times more.
Only… This would probably mean a boring article, right?
And in my case, I often forget to put my keywords inside an article, if I don’t remind myself of it, so that wouldn’t be an argument for me to write longer articles.
Besides, writing longer articles takes more time, so why should I do it?
So WHAT Made Me Change My Mind?
At the beginning of this blog post, I said that I changed my mind about what the correct length of an article should be. I used to preach 400 words, not more. Now I say something different.
I still don’t think you should write longer articles, just because you need a longer article. You should write longer articles, because you have something to give, and that it would need more space to share everything you want.
Because when you give, you should give without ulterior motives. Don’t write to get. Write to share. The length of the article will take care of itself, then, and you’ll get a nice reward, even though you never asked. Maybe BECAUSE you never asked.
When you share, openly, without holding back, people will love to read your articles. Even long articles. Just don’t be boring, will you?
If you’re submitting your articles to article directories, other marketers will love them, and they will pick them up and share them with their list members or home page visitors.
You get more exposition; you brand yourself as an expert in your niche; and you could very well end up making a lot more money from one article of 1,000 – 1,200 words than from three of 400 words.
Alexa Smith is one of the article writers that made me change my mind about how short or long an article should be. She says:
“It never fails to impress me, time and time again, in conversations here about article length, how consistently all the successful article marketers I know to be getting syndicated are writing far longer articles than others.Webmasters looking for content for their sites tend to prefer finding something long, simply because it fills more space for them and reduces their time searching for additional material.I reliably get far more traffic and backlinks and income from a 1,000-word article than I do from two 500-word articles.”
I trust Alexa. What she doesn’t know about article marketing is not worth knowing. And I found that after I shifted my focus and went back to my basic idea from when I started out on the Internet: Giving and sharing, then it was easy to churn out lengthy articles that I felt proud about.
True, I write fewer articles now than earlier, but I give at least the same value away, if not more.
This is interesting. This fellow already had a high click through (CTR) on his articles, but what happened, when he wrote a longer article? Did people lose interest and left? See for yourself. Oh, I love his final point, by the way.
According to readers, they want to get their question answered. They’ve stumbled upon your article by typing some keywords in their favourite search engines, and they want you to ANSWER that urgent question for them. Not to leave them hanging there, having to click through to your home page, buy a 40 hours DVD video course… They want their answer NOW!
So give it to them, and if it takes 200 words to answer their question? Fine. If it takes 1,200? Even better. Just answer it.
How do I know what readers want?
Well, I’m a reader myself, and besides, others tell me too, like Anita Cross here, who is driven off by spelling and grammar errors, and also says:
“So, yes, I want good solid information; I want resource(s) cited with links where appropriate; I want my question answered, or my problem solved; I want the promise kept that enticed me to read the article in the first place; I want the article long enough to do the job, and not one word longer.”
Or Christine Perry who manages to do it even shorter:
“As a reader, I want you to answer my question.”
When you write an article, take your time to answer that question. And use as many words as you have to, and not one more. But you should make not expect to be syndicated as much with your short articles as with your longer ones.