Stay Big or Go Small in Blogging for Business

long vs. short content in blogs
Your chances of being attacked by a shark aren’t great – about one in 11 million, Jen McCaffrey reassures readers of Readers’ Digest. That said, to avoid being “that one”, McCaffrey advises, “Stay big…or go small”. In other words, if the shark looks aggressive, try to maintain a strong presence; if it appears to be merely “swimming by”, avoid causing a commotion.

When it comes to blog marketing, there is an ongoing debate about the relative benefits of longer vs. shorter articles for blog post content. does a good job, I think, of presenting factors to consider:

Reasons to go small:

  1. Readers’ attention spans are shorter than in previous years and shorter articles are easier to digest. Copyhackers quotes a Forbes article that says, “Write short, pithy posts. After 750 words – or sometimes after only half that – you risk losing your reader’s attention.”
  2. It is easier to produce content regularly with shorter posts. “Successful short content is posted consistently, copyhackers remarks.

Reasons to go big:

  1. Longer posts cover a topic more deeply and may be more valuable to readers. Long form content of over 1,000 words consistently receives more shares and links than shorter form content, a study of more than a million posts revealed.
  2. Search engines have been favoring longer content. That same study showed that among the most compelling drivers of high rankings was longer content.

As a blog content writer and trainer at Say It For You, I was happy to read the  added BlogTyrant comment: “It’s not all about size.” What IS it about, then?

  • Uniqueness and usefulness. “Google wants a variety of solutions for readers.”
  • Accuracy and citations. Articles with links to authority articles are favored by Google.

Still, the long vs. short remains one of the “holy wars” of blogging for business. As a professional providing blog writing services, to what side of that “holy war” do I lean?  Both!  It’s definitely important, in each post, to offer enough information to convincingly cover the key theme of that post. Including links to other commentaries on the subject allows the reader the option to “go deeper”. “One message per post” is a mantra I pass on to every newbie blog content writer, with each post having a razor-sharp focus on one story, one idea, or one aspect of the theme.

No need to make one overriding decision when it comes to your blog. Similar to the judgment call required when a shark is approaching you, with each blog post you can choose to stay big or go small!


The Long and the Short of Business Blog Writing

“So which is better for you: long or short content?” Rob Marsh asks on

The short of it as per “Write short, pithy posts.  After 750 words – or sometimes after only half that – you risk losing your readers’ attention”.

The long of it as per Buffer:  “Posts longer than 2,500 words received more than twice the social shares of posts less than 2,500 words long.”

But, forget long vs. short. What do people actually read? March asks. An easy way to “fatten up” your thin content is to make it longer, but should you, he wonders. In other words, what do human beings prefer?  According to the data lab, the optimal posts take the average reader seven minutes to read.

To succeed with longer content, you have to use your WORDS, March cautions.

W –well researched, with examples and case studies
There’s a privilege to blogging, I always tell content writers, and that privilege comes with a duty we have to offer usable, high-quality, well-researched content, presented in quality fashion.  Our online readers have a right to expect no less.

O – outstanding, triggering an emotional response.
At Say It For You, I tell blog content writers that one reason I prefer first and second person writing in business blog posts over third person “reporting” is that I believe people tend to buy when they see themselves in the picture and when can they relate emotionally to the person bringing them the message.

R – regularly posted
Recency and frequency are crucial. Once-in-a-while blogging just doesn’t do the trick, even if it’s high-quality stuff.  To satisfy a search engine, your blog material must be updated frequently, and I mean very frequently.  It seems that when it comes to blogging for business, search engines are saying, “Never mind what you’ve done. What have you done for me lately?”

D – designed to encourage reading
A scannable, easy-on-the-eye layout, with subheads, bolding, graphics, and paragraph breaks ,keeps readers’ attention.

S – substantive – important and covering the subject in depth
Blog posts that demonstrate a high degree of expertise backed by solid research, plus a very high degree of focus, give readers a sense that paying attention longer is “worthwhile”.

So which is better for you? At Say it For You, my own motto over the years has been this:

Make blog posts as long as they need to be to get the point across, but not a single sentence longer!


Taking Content-Writing Tips from Dental Web Designers “Down Under”

If you’re a dentist, your website needs to build your brand,” Luke Hayes of Dental Marketing Solutions cautions. Hayes makes Australian dentists smile by designing websites with “visual impact and usability”. What do his websites aim to do? Here across the pond, we would do well to follow the list Hayes provides:

  • Build patients’ confidence with info about your expertise
  • Introduce practice staff and show the quality of service
  • Educate patients by providing answer to all their questions
  • Highlight main services and major benefits of your practice
  • Incorporate images through to deliver the message visually

Websites, by definition, offer an overview of the practice or business, presenting the big picture. What blog posts do, then, is focus in detail, with emotional impact, on just one aspect of the business or practice.

When Hayes asks dentists, “Are you making these dental website mistakes?” the pointers he offers apply to blog pages as well:

  • Is your phone number displayed prominently on the top right?
  • Is your website modern and uncluttered?
  • Is it easy to navigate and to find the relevant information?
  • Is it responsive (able to be read on a mobile phone)?

“Your website (substitute blog page) is your best opportunity to attract and book a new patient.  Make sure your site, Hayes advises:

  • is primarily focused on patient (substitute customer/client/patron) needs
  • is user-friendly
  • provides all the important information about your practice

Blog marketers in Indiana can take quite a few tips from that dental web designer down under!


Shrinking Blog Paragraphs Like a Strip of Bacon

Fried bacon strips“When I see a paragraph shrinking under my eyes like a strip of bacon, I know I’m on the right track,” says Peter DeVries, American author and novelist known for his satiric wit. Paragraphs, says Richard Anderson in Powerful Writing Skills, are like rest stops, giving our eyes and minds a break before going on to the next matter.

Minimalism in blogging, I think, includes making posts readable and easier to look at, and short paragraphs are part of that. In fact, short paragraphs are part of the formula I teach newbie Indianapolis blog writers:

  • Choose one main idea as the focus for each blog post.  I call that the Power of One. (More to add? Save it for future posts.)
  • Compose an opening sentence that’s a “grabber”, so that readers just have to find out what you meant.
  • Explain, clarify, illustrate, discuss your one main point, using a few short paragraphs.
  • Issue your parting “shot”, a snappy exit line that sums up the thought you want your readers to remember. This one tip, I’ve found, can be of enormous business blogging help.

Paragraphs do not all need to be the same size, Anderson stresses.  In fact, they can be as short as one sentence or even one word. But each paragraph, with the exception of the opening one, needs to be tied in some way to the one that came before it, and each should begin and end with important pieces of information. “You don’t need to sum up what you’ve said before going on to the next paragraph; use a transition that makes the reader want to hurry on to that next paragraph,” he advises.

It’s interesting that Richard Anderson tells writers to use only indented paragraphs. “Our eyes have been trained to recognize each new indented paragraph as a chunk of new information to process”.  (In formatting business blog posts, I prefer to use block paragraphs, with the spacing between the paragraphs signaling that a new chunk of information is being presented.)

But whether you choose indented paragraphs or space-separated block format, Anderson’s next piece of advice is very valid, and perhaps particularly valid for online content: “Enormous blocks of print implant the image of a difficult subject in your readers’ minds….Generally speaking, the shorter the paragraphs and the fewer the number of ideas contained in them, the easier they are to read.”



For Kazoos and Blog Marketing, Don’t Blow – Hum!

childs red gazzooWant to pick up the kazoo?  Start with Rule No. 1, advises Barbara Stewart, a classical musician who took the humble instrument all the way to Carnegie Hall. What is Rule #1? Hum, don’t blow.

Always on the hunt for interesting trivia to use as business blog content writing fodder, I was fascinated to learn that the first documented invention of the kazoo was in 1883, but it was not until 1902 that the version we know today was patented by George D. Smith.  One of the original kazoo factories is still in business today in Eden, New York.

Barbara Stewart was an anomaly among serious musicians; the kazoo had lost popularity among professionals, who recognized its serious limitations (although the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix each used it in certain of their songs).

Point is, there’s a lot of similarity – and symbolism – in the kazoo for us business blog content creators.

1. Blogs are not “serious literature”.
“It’s important to distinguish between creating multimedia content and writing in a pure literary sense,” Timothy Bowers tells authors who use blogs to promote their books. “A writer’s blog should deliver the text, and as little else as possible,” is his advice. Strategies and techniques used by other bloggers (hyperlinks, images, embedded videos) do not fall under the category of writing in a pure literary sense, he adds.

2. Like Kazoos, whose musical range is limited, blog posts are, by definition, short pieces, which limits the quality of character and theme development possible in longer works.
While the Internet marketing mantra proposed by, “Every piece of content should be as long as it takes to convey the message, and no longer” may be applied to writing of every ilk, blog posts, unlike, say novels, are best when focused on a single message or theme. Novels in contrast may effectively and purposefully meander into character development and even philosophical musing. What each blog post does is focus on just one aspect of your business, so that online searchers can feel at ease and not be distracted with all the other information you have to offer.

3. Blogs, like kazoos, should be hummed, not blown.
The secret of successful business blogging, I found, lies in not “blowing your own horn”, in other words coming on too strong.  A blog is not an advertisement; you might say it’s an advertorial,. staying in “softly, softly” mode. As a content writer for a business or practice, you’re answering readers’ questions and “humming” solutions, not blowing them in readers’ faces!