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Can You Write Too Much?

Posted by on Jul 27, 2015

Although there’s always a little bit of deviation here and there, it’s my goal to write two posts a week on this blog and on my business blog. For all my other blogs, my goal is to write at least one post a week. I try to space them out so that they’re not competing against each other when they go live, as they all initially go onto Twitter.


Creative Commons License Jase Curtis via Compfight

Lately I’ve been going after some of the latest recommendations that I see online, both by folks with sites ranked high and sites ranked low. One of the latest recommendations is that, instead of writing more articles, all of us should concentrate on writing one “epic” post a week, something along the lines of 5,000 to 10,000 words. Supposedly, Google likes those posts better, ranks you better, more people will see and share your stuff and you’ll be the latest golden goose to strike it rich.

Okay, I just added that last part. In any case, I’m here to debunk, or discuss, that and other things as they concern writing one’s blog because that’s what I do. 🙂

First, writing ultra long posts. I touched upon this one in my post on 6 Answers To Questions From New Bloggers where I wrote:

The people who write one really long post a week (sometimes one every 2 weeks) put a lot of time and research into it. Some folks burn out having to write what’s essentially a term paper every 2 weeks. If I had to do that I probably wouldn’t still be blogging after 10 years, which I’m up to right now.

How well did you do in school when you were told to write a 10-page report on… whatever? As much as I like to write, there were times when, because of the subject, I found it really difficult to do. Back in the day, we had to go to the library, look for a lot of books, bring them home and try to put things together. I had lots of encyclopedias that, it turns out, were pretty old, but they were references for some of what I wrote. And I didn’t understand a lot of it.

For most people, even if they know the material, trying to write even 1,000 words on a topic is going to cause a lot of consternation. My last post, on marketing was 2,122 words.

Luckily that was something I know a little bit about but you want to know something? That post, which was released last Thursday, is 9th on my list for the last 30 days at 67 views, which is pretty cool. However, the average length of time anyone has stayed on it… 43 seconds. How many of you can read 2,000 words in 43 seconds? It also only has 2 comments.

So… do long posts really work well? Will they work for everyone? Can everyone do it? I’ll let you answer that one.

Hand Writing
Dave King via Compfight

Second, writing multiple posts a week. In that same article I referenced earlier, the 6 answers, I said this:

A reality is the more you write, the higher your blog will rank. The problem is that high rankings don’t always equate to lots of traffic nor targeted traffic, which you care about if you’re hoping to do any type of business with others.

Trust me, the more you write the more traffic you’ll get and the higher you’ll rank… but it might not bring you what you want. For those of you who know Darren Rowse, aka Problogger, that’s how he got started about a decade ago. He started out writing upwards of 10 posts a day; yup, sure did.

I know because when I was getting going on this blog I went to check out his beginning to see what he did that what’s what I saw; wow! That was astounding; as prolific as I like to consider myself, there was no way I could do that on one blog though, a few years ago, I found there were times when I could write 10 articles in a day when I was getting paid for it, sometimes more.

These days, the only blogs that will survive putting out that kind of content are blogs with multiple writers like Huffington Post, which to many isn’t quite a blog but that’s what it officially is. They can get away with writing that much because they not only have multiple categories, but some big name folks writing for them.

For the rest of us… I’ve found that writing two posts a week on this blog, which is just a blog, has helped its ranking stay pretty consistent over the years, a Google animal notwithstanding. The same goes for my business blog now, because while I was traveling my goal was to only have one article a week and the rankings suffered a little bit.

At the same time, my other 3 blogs have responded well to having at least one article a week because for a long time I wasn’t putting much of anything on any of those sites. That’s where trying to have something once a week can be a major benefit. Depending on what you’re looking for on your blog, you can determine how much you should probably write to either grow or maintain traffic and rankings.

Third, let’s look at the main question: can you write too much? Without thinking, the easy answer is “no”. However, with thinking and contemplation, the answer changes, though maybe not for the reason you think it will.

5/365
Creative Commons License J.B. Hill via Compfight

As I stated above, the more you write the more traffic you’ll get and the higher your site will be ranked. Search engines love content, lots of content and ever changing content; that’s not new.

What also isn’t new is that, overwhelmingly, no one is mentally ready to keep up with it all. You might have all the ideas in the world to write on multiple topics and be able to come up with something new 5 times a day. Heck, to tell you the truth, one of those things I used to do is sit down on a Sunday and write 8 to 10 posts in a day so that, if I wasn’t in the mood to write something specific on a certain day I didn’t have to.

The problem? If some people can burn out after writing 3 or 4 blogs posts in a lifetime, imagine what happens to those of us who are writing so much that it feels like it’s consuming our life.

Over my 10 years of blogging I’ve contemplated quitting a few times. Luckily it’s probably less that 5, but I’ve thought about it. It can get really tiring, especially if you’re not making a lot of money (or any at all), or don’t have tons of traffic or comments, and you’re not generating any business from all the work you’re doing.

Burnout is tough to deal with. Burnout is why I don’t have a newsletter right now. I wrote one for 9 years, the other for 10 years, and I just couldn’t take it any longer. The thing about the newsletters is that I almost never got any feedback. If I wasn’t getting any feedback on my blogs… well, at least on 3 of them, I might give up the ghost, say it wasn’t worth it, and move on with life.

This one is as much a life lesson as it is a writing lesson. We all have to determine what we’re getting out of writing our blogs, or anything else we write. If we’re doing it for our livelihood and it’s not too oppressive, then it’s all good. If writing is a chore and you’re making money, well, it might not be the best job but you’re working for yourself and that’s never bad.

What’s your goal? Truthfully, that’s a question I have to answer at least once a month with my blogs. What am I trying to achieve? How close am I to achieving it? Should I change something, and if so what and how?

If I just wanted traffic and nothing else, I can do that; I’ve done it so I know what’s needed. Targeted traffic… that’s a little harder.

I’m not going to get any deeper on this one because it’s getting close to 1,500 words. Instead, I’ll leave you to consider the questions I’ve asked above, the other information I wrote before that, and ask you to share what you’re hoping to do with your blog and your writing and whether it’s giving you want you need for now.

Hey, homework! At least I’m not asking for a 10-page paper, which is about 2,500 words; ugh! 😉
 

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6 Comments »

I think your posts should be as long as the topic demands they be.

Readers can tell when you’re not serious, or when you’re just “phoning it in.” I’ve had a lot of compliments on mine, this week, so the effort to commit to better writing on my blog – whether I’ve stated it overtly or not – has been noticed and is paying dividends. Traffic has increased 10x over that of last weekend. 🙂

Post several times a week. I don’t think there’s a magic number, but not posting one week, then posting five times the next, isn’t as good as 2-3 times a week at regular intervals. It’s okay when someone’s subscribed by email; they only have to come visit the blog when there’s fresh content and they know it. But for newcomers who may not have committed to subscribing yet, a week can make it look like “dead blog.”
Holly Jahangiri recently posted…Lean Back and ListenMy Profile

July 27th, 2015 | 3:36 PM

Good stuff Holly. You know I subscribe to the belief that a blog post is done when it’s done. Except for the one time a few years ago I never head into writing anything expecting it to be long; sometimes it just turns out that way. That’s because my other belief is that when people start writing something and then leave a lot of things unsaid it takes away from the reader experience. When it’s a post that’s supposed to be teaching me something… that irks me to no end.

As for the once a week thing… I like to think that most people who read blogs are “professional blog readers”, which means they understand that some folks might only write once a week. Everyone else is a “hobbyist blog reader”, and those folks might think a blog is dead, but they’re usually not the ones coming back anyway, even if you wrote something every day. I think we both get a lot of those folks; at least I know I do.

July 27th, 2015 | 5:42 PM
Carl:

I’ve lost the momentum on my main project about 6 months ago, as there have been a lot of work and side projects. Though I am thinking to restart the system and actually hire few article writers and push it to the limits in the next couple of months. Writing is not my power, but with my development and SEO skills, writing is the only missing segment.

July 28th, 2015 | 12:21 AM

I totally get it Carl. Sometimes you’re working on a project and it feels a little overwhelming because for whatever reason it’s not coming together the way you want it to. I hope you get back to it, as I check in on your site here and there… unless you’re talking about a different project.

July 30th, 2015 | 12:43 AM

Lots of good stuff here my friend. you’ve given me a lot to think about.

When I started blogging back in 2009, I enjoyed it a lot, mainly because I was involved. I was reading other blogs and commenting on them, but more importantly, I was spending time answering comments both on my blog and replies to comments i had left on other blogs. I was, what you referred to as the professional blog reader.

What I gained from this article, is that I need to clearly define the relationship between my business and my blog. And it will certainly help if I can determine if I want to build a blog around my business or a business around my blog.

In either case, you have given me a starting point. Like I said, good stuff.
Rasheed Hooda recently posted…Good Morning From ParisMy Profile

July 29th, 2015 | 10:37 AM

Glad to help Rasheed. I’m actually thinking more about it all myself these days. I’ve never really tried to make a living or life off blogging. Even my business blogs, which I’ve used to help show my proficiency in places, hasn’t done as much as I’d like because I haven’t gone out of my way, until recently, in trying to get the word out.

Yet, I’ve kept writing and producing all these years because… in the end that’s who I am. Now I just need to refine myself a little bit. 🙂

July 30th, 2015 | 12:45 AM
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