Answer: 1,000 words
Answer: 3 hours and 16 minutes
Short answers aren't always the same as thorough answers, of course. Read on to understand why:
Two comprehensive studies about blogging
Bloggers are publishing longer posts these days-and spending more time writing them. Bloggers are also publishing less frequently and focusing more on distribution.
In other words, bloggers are devoting more time to promoting fewer, but more in-depth, content pieces. This is the top conclusion from Orbit Media Studios' 3rd Annual Survey of Bloggers. The survey's data are consistent with another recent and fairly comprehensive survey by ConvertKit. Additionally, the data in both studies mirror my experience in B2B content marketing.
How long should a blog post be?
According to the Orbit study, the average length of a blog post is about 1,050 words. This is up 19 percent from the same study the previous year. Additionally, the study found that the percentage of blog posts with 2,000+ words has doubled.
Similarly, ConvertKit found that the most popular blog post length is between 500 and 1,000 words. However, when ConvertKit segmented its data between professional and amateur bloggers, it found that professional bloggers are about 70 percent "more likely to write posts of 1,000 words or more."
Study after study has demonstrated the trend toward long-form content—and length is broadly characteristic of high-quality content. However, just because a post is long doesn't mean it's of better quality. Quality content often begins with research and analysis and careful vetting of sources and data.
When clients ask me how long a blog post should be, my answer is: As long as required to effectively communicate an idea.
My posts (whether or not they are for a client) are usually around 1,000 words. I don't set out to write 1,000 words, though; I aim to explore an interesting topic and write good content.
How long does it take to write a blog post?
The Orbit survey found that people take about three hours and sixteen minutes to write a blog post. That's a 26 percent increase over the same survey last year. However, the study also found that "twice as many bloggers are now spending 6+ hours on their average post."
There appears to be a correlation between the time invested in a blog post and its results. About one third of bloggers who spent six or more hours on a post reported "strong results," whereas only a quarter of bloggers who spent less than six hours reported "strong results."
The ConvertKit survey didn't provide statistics for how much time bloggers take to write a post. My experience tells me it takes somewhere between four to eight hours to write a high-quality post. This includes preparing for and conducting interviews, researching a topic and closely vetting research sources.
However, many factors are involved, such as the topic's complexity and the writer's experience. There are also intangibles, such as the seemingly unexplained behavior of a digital community.
For example, I've seen posts that took only an hour to write go unexpectedly viral. I've also seen carefully constructed copy that the author has painstakingly rewritten over and over receive, at best, a muted response. I've also seen old posts spontaneously come back and sail around the web on a second wind.
There are best practices and techniques bloggers can implement to encourage shares, but sometimes you'll write a post that simply strikes the right nerve.
How often should I publish blog posts?
The Orbit survey found that daily blog post publication is down 50 percent from last year. Interestingly, "weekly is now the most common answer to the question of frequency." However, the survey also found that 38 percent of bloggers publish posts monthly.
The ConvertKit study also found that the "vast majority of people intend to publish weekly," but that professional bloggers are far more likely to publish daily or even several times a day.
Blogging is central to content marketing, and consistency matters more than frequency. It's important to have a cadence to publishing, or else deadlines will slide and the effort will never really get off the ground.
That said, two of most successful corporate blogs I've contributed to publish daily or twice a day. One had the staff for it, and the other didn't. We simply made publishing a priority and put some processes in place to make it work.
Consistency fosters discipline to publish on deadline and, more importantly, cultivates audience expectations. Whether you publish once a month, once a week or once a day, make sure that your schedule is sustainable. It's much more acceptable to ramp up production than slow it down.
Once you develop a content marketing process—brainstorming, writing, reviewing, approval, publication, promotion, analytics and content repurposing—then you can gradually increase frequency.
Blogging best practices
What works best will vary from organization to organization, because audiences are different. This is why the most successful content marketing initiatives focus on audience needs rather than a brand's agenda.
Corporate blogging is a marathon, and you will make mistakes along the way. Learn from them, and keep moving forward.A version of this article originally appeared on Sword and the Script.