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long-form blog posts, blogging trendsBloggers are taking more time to write longer blog posts, and bloggers who write longer posts say they generate better results, a survey of 1,777 bloggers reveals.

The average blog post is 1142 words long — 41% longer than the average post three years ago, according to the survey by Orbit Media. An increase in especially long posts increased the average. Six times as many bloggers write posts of more than 2000 words, and they are twice as likely to report strong results.

“Careful with this data,” cautions Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media co-founder and chief marketing officer. “This doesn’t say that long posts are always better. But it does show that greater investment correlates with higher ROI.”

The ideal length of blog posts remains a much-discussed, somewhat controversial topic. Despite the trend to longer posts, 500 to 1000 words remains the most common length, typical for 46 percent of bloggers surveyed.

Think Before You Decide to Go Long

Although leading digital marketers advocate long-form content, many bloggers are disappointed when they fail to achieve results from long posts, warns Blog Tyrant. Before you decide to go long:

  • Determine if your audience will read long posts. Some people don’t consume long-form content.
  • Select a topic that warrants massive detail and in-depth research. Many popular topics require only very short reports.
  • Decide if your writing skills are up to the task.
  • Don’t do it just for the sake of it. Publish only if you have something worthwhile to say.

More Time to Write Fewer Posts

As the trend to longer posts continues, bloggers take longer to craft posts and publish less frequently on average, according to the Orbit Media survey.

The average time to write a blog post increased to three hours and 20 minutes this year, up from three hours and 16 minutes in 2016 and two hours and 24 minutes in 2014. The percentage of bloggers who complete posts in under an hour has plummeted while the portion that takes more than six hours has steadily increased since 2014.

Almost half of those taking six or more hours report “strong results.”

The survey shows that quality beats quantity, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs told Orbit Media. Blogs don’t need more content. They need more relevant content. “It’s better to spend the time to create a beautiful one thing than less time creating a bunch of meh,” Handley said. Google and Bing agree. Substantive long-form articles usually achieve higher page one ranking in search engine results.

Publishing Less Frequently

As posts become longer, bloggers naturally publish less frequently. Most publish anywhere from several a times a week to several times a month. Two years ago, most posted two to six times a week.”

Only 1.3 percent of bloggers publish more than once a day, yet 66 percent of that group report strong results. “These people are dedicated,” Crestodina observes. “Who would maintain that kind of output without getting great results?”

The more frequent bloggers are often corporate bloggers who use content marketing to generate web visits, improve SEO rankings, create sales leads, and enhance brand reputation.

The Value of Editors

Most bloggers work with an editor or at least have someone informally review their work.

Twice as many bloggers work with editors compared to 2014: 18.7 percent work with an editor, 4.8 percent work with more than one editor, and 28.5 percent show posts to others in an informal review process. Bloggers with a formal editing process are 43 percent more likely to report strong results.

“In short, it’s in the editing that good content becomes excellent,” Brian Clark of Copyblogger told Orbit Media.” It can be tough to objectively edit your own writing, plus an outside perspective can help your work go to the next level.”

Paid Promotions: a Dramatic Trend

The rise in paid promotions is the most dramatic trend the survey uncovered. More than one in five bloggers promote posts with paid advertising, five times as many as in 2014. Many of those (44.3 percent) report strong results.

About a quarter pursue influencer outreach and 44.7 percent report strong results from that strategy. More bloggers use SEO, email marking and social media but those strategies tend to generate less valuable results. The survey shows that less popular but more difficult promotion strategies produce better results, Crestodina says. Conversely, more common but easier ones produce weaker results.

Bottom Line: Blog posts are becoming longer as more bloggers write long – sometimes extraordinarily long – articles, according to a new survey. Many bloggers say their long posts generate better results. That indicates that greater investment can lead to higher ROI but doesn’t necessarily mean that long posts are always better.

William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.