When I was in newspapers, I found it frustrating when reporters would exceed word count. In print publishing, I knew the value of keeping within an established word limit. The news articles had to live with ads on a finite amount of paper real estate. The paid ads wouldn’t be cut. So if there wasn’t enough room, the news articles were edited to fit the space. Hence, my frustration when reporters didn’t self-edit.
When I made the leap to content marketing, I realized keeping within a specific word count with web and email content is just as important. The attention span of the online audience is short. So, if I write a long piece, it’s pretty much going to fall victim to many a trash file.
That’s actually a good thing, because knowing I have to stay within an ideal word count challenges me to stay sharp. I know I need to only use the necessary number of words to produce content strong enough to grab the audience’s attention, give readers the information they need, and strengthen my client’s reputation as an industry influencer.
The Skimm is amazing at saying a lot in just a few words. This newsletter provides daily updates of the latest news with just a few paragraphs – and sometimes just one. Plus, the quirky humor makes me almost forget I’m just catching up on the day’s headlines. It’s something I keep in mind when producing my own newsletter content.
But what is the ideal size for a blog post, the most common project I write for clients? Well, I’m finding that’s always changing. Just a year ago, I was writing 250-word blogs for some clients and 500 words for others. It just depended on each client’s message and audience. Now, that number has bumped up to 300 words for some and 600 or more words for others. This shift has a lot to do with changes in search engine algorithms that place preference on content within a designated word count, shooting them up to the top of their rankings. So the ideal word count is ever-changing. But my need to write tightly never is.
Regardless of the content I create, one thing remains the same. No matter what I’m writing, I strive to make every word count.