How Much Can You Write?

These days I might be the wrong person telling people how to build up traffic for one’s blog. At the same time, I might be the guy who gives you good guidance towards the possibility of getting more traffic via search engines.

Have you ever heard of a guy named Steve Pavlina? Back in the day, his was one of the first blogs I came across, and his posts were wonderfully written and very long and detailed. He was the precursor to Neil Patel’s type of writing, and if he hadn’t decided to invest in trials on a lot of other things he’d be even more known than Chris Brogan and others. and this guy has great content.

Back then he wrote this post on how to How To Build A High Traffic Website (or Blog), and I have to admit that it was not only fascinating reading, but also a major departure from what many other people were saying about building traffic or making money with your blog at the time. Some people are prescient when it comes to things like this; judging by how high his website is ranked even now, he seems to have been on a cusp of a new generation that was still 5 years away at the time.

In that post, he talked about his top ten ways of generating traffic, and the first 8 address the topic of writing. It was a long post, almost 6,000 words, which was amazing for its time. It was rare for me to have articles longer than 600 words, which was fine at the time, but has proven that almost no content stays evergreen with so few words unless it solves a problem.

One of his point is that in order to give great value, you have to write longer posts so you’re not wasting anyone’s time. These days I can easily see the value in writing longer posts, though most of mine come in between 800 and 1,200 words, though I’ve been known to pontificate here and there and get pretty wordy, like I did a few weeks ago talking about ways to live a happy life.

All his points make a lot of sense. He makes a lot of money off his blog, and that’s without advertising. He makes money from the rest of his website, which is the best way to use one’s blog to generate business.

Because I’d love you to go read what he wrote, I’m not going to list all 10 of his points here, but I am going to list the top 3 because I believe they’re important enough to reinforce:

  1. Create Valuable Content
  2. Create Original Content
  3. Create Timeless Content

It doesn’t get better than that, does it? Let’s talk about these a little bit more.

What’s valuable content to you? Some would say that you need to pick a niche and write everything in that niche to offer value. The problem is if it’s not something you already know a lot about, how much value can you really give?

I tend to vacillate between posts that offer tips on blogging and writing, a bit of motivation and a little bit of commentary on the state of things social media and offline. One never really knows what they’re going to get from me. Maybe it hurts my search engine value, but I don’t hear many people complaining about it… not like I’d listen anyway. 🙂

Next, original content; I’m great on that front. If you don’t think offering 7 lessons learned from doing videos everyday in a month, offering 16 blogging tips or giving 22 tips on promoting one’s blog or business are all that original, try finding someone else who gave you 55 blogging tips on my 55th birthday.

No one likes to see something that another person has written being parroted back at them. I’ve talked about this for years, yet often I’m still seeing the same thing being written from a different person, using almost the same exact wording. If I’m seeing it, you have to be seeing it also; boring!

Finally, timeless or evergreen content. That’s kind of a tough one because things are always changing. Yet, if you know anything about the concept of repurposing content, whether from the same blog or other blogs and articles you authored, you can take an older post and make it new again. It also gives you the chance to improve or enhance it. Not only do search engines love it but your readers will enjoy seeing something they probably never would have gone back to check out, even if they knew how to do it.

thinking before writing

How much can I write?

Wait a minute; didn’t I begin all of this by asking you how much could you write in the title? What does that have to do with most of what I’ve written here?

I told you about Steve, and I told you about a post I wrote giving 55 tips that was just under 3,600 words. I didn’t talk about this post mentioning 31 mistakes people make blogging and on social media, which came in just over 4,600 words, or another 30 mistakes people make with their blog that came in around 5,800 words. I have mentioned in the past, though not on this post, that I’ve written nearly 6,000 articles online and off, 3 books, 200 songs (music and lyrics) and 2 plays (which I’ve lost; sniff!).

I’m not bragging; I’m making a point with my question. How much you can write depends on how much you value and enjoy the process of writing. I’ve often said that I don’t set out to write either long or short blog posts most of the time. The idea is to say what I want to say and then get out of here. The exceptions are the high number list posts; those are intended to be longer to the search engines will give me a little bit of love; at least it works for DuckDuckGo and Bing; the big G not so much all that often, although they’re starting to give me a bit more love than they used to.

Let me use a college example with you. As a junior in college I took music history for two semesters. The main assignment each semester was to write on a topic and be as complete as you could be. Most of my classmates picked topics to write about that were nearly impossible to write completely on because they were too comprehensive.

What did I do? The first semester I wrote my paper on the first movement of Beethoven’s 6th symphony, the Pastoral; the second semester I wrote about Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata. This was the days before computers, and each paper had to have at least 8 reference sources. Not only that but my professor received her doctorate in studying the final years of Beethoven’s compositions.

The first paper was just under 20 pages; the second came in around 13 pages. That’s not counting the images I added talking about motifs, chord changes and other things you don’t care about. What separated me from my classmates is that I was smart enough to pick a topic I knew I could cover in full, had lots of references, and didn’t leave anything to chance. I only got B+ on both papers (I almost always got B’s on everything I wrote; no idea why… well, I have an idea but I don’t want to say…).

Each paper was over 2,000 words easily, and I didn’t leave anything out. Not only that, but I was a Beethoven aficionado myself, so I added my own opinion to what I was writing. That’s the par that made them totally original, since it turned out she’s read almost every book I used as reference material (which was surprising since I got some of my data from books at a different university).

I think my little story proves that no matter what your niche is, don’t shortchange your audience. Don’t leave things out because you’re trying to keep things short; that doesn’t help anyone. Don’t pad an article with lots of extraneous words that don’t offer any value. Think about what you want to say, say it, make sure it’s complete, then move on.

Your turn to answer the question: how much can you write?

16 thoughts on “How Much Can You Write?”

  1. Hey Mitch,

    Another useful article! I read a little while ago that all blog posts should be at least 1850 words…

    I suppose you read all sorts of different opinions!

    I’m hoping my gravatar now shows up!

    I look forward to more of your posts!

    1. I read lots of posts Nick, and I see different numbers from everyone. The problem with that type of recommendation is it encourages bad writers to start repeating themselves when they don’t have a lot to say. If you’re answering a specific question that a lot of people are searching for and it only takes 500 words, that post will be more valuable than another post that was written specifically to reach 1850 words. That’s why I always recommend to write to your strength, be complete, and when you’re done you’re done.

      1. This is the best and only advice that matters on word count. A blog should be as long as it needs to be. There is no arbitrary “perfect” length. And you’re right – for an amateur who only has 400 words in himself, saying “Write 1800 words” is the kiss of death. He’ll pad it; no one will read it. Even the machine will hate him for the repetition.

        A topic may be so meaty that it requires a whole series of 2000 word articles. Don’t shortchange the reader with the tiniest taste and then tell them to go off and do their own research – that’s why they came to you. Maybe give them a source-cited round-up of the BEST information on the topic if you don’t want to deal with it, but give them something of real value.

        Or write a book. But don’t gloss over a thing if you’re going to bring it up.

      2. Good stuff Holly! I’ve always written as much as I felt was needed; sometimes it resulted in short articles, sometimes some epic articles. Back in 2017 I wrote an article saying I’d never be Nail Patel; almost all of his articles were over 10,000 words, and I was totally amazed by that kind of output… until I started wondering if he was actually writing all that content while working his business, with multiple employees doing a lot of the research. I realized there’s no keeping up with something like, or even getting close, and thank goodness I gave that goal up!

        Even in college, I knew that not every paper needed to be a textbook. In one of my classes, almost everyone there wrote 20-30 page dissertations on classical music pieces; the first semester of this particular class my paper was 8 pages, while the second semester was 6 pages… and I got a B on both of them. As Tay Money said in a song (I had to go look up her name lol), I “understood the assignment”. 🙂

  2. Hi Mitch,
    I must say content is the very first thing which should come in mind while doing blogging. If there is content on the website the chances of its appearance increase by 30%-40% on search engine.
    But quality matters allot. If someone puts any random word in the article which doesn’t make any sense, this is also a penalty generating thing.
    Thanks Mitch for this wonderful article and telling about your experience.

    1. Hey Kaushal, I’m not sure that random words can hurt an article’s performance. Matter of fact, years ago Matt Cutts said that very thing when asked whether incorrectly spelled words degrades an article in Google’s eyes. It takes a lot more than that to make search engines penalize someone. They definitely like new content on a regular basis, and hope that content has relevancy to their audience. However, I’m one of those people who believes we should write for people, not search engines; audience first.

  3. Hi Mitch,

    I often wonder how many words we’re supposed to be writing. So every fourth post or so, I write around 1,000. The others are about 500. But as you say, you don’t want to simply stuff a post with empty phrases just to get the word count correct. Thanks for the post. I always enjoy your writing!


    1. Thanks Carol. My writing has evolved over the years to a point where I don’t write any articles under 750… and that’s not because I’m planning anything. It’s my intention to be thorough on anything I’m writing, which often ends up being kind of wordy. If I’m writing tutorial type stuff it’s always long because there are few things I can talk about in less than 500 words and still tell people everything they need to know. If I have something short, I’ll always add more than one thing because I don’t want to promote anything I’m not going to be proud of… and 300 words ain’t gonna get it done. lol

  4. Well…handwriting I can do more or less two pages. But today for one of my lessons we had 15 minutes to analyse this advert and I wrote around 2 and a half? I suppose it all depends on whether I’m actually interested in what I’m writing about and that there’s a lot to write about.

  5. Hi Mitch, I don’t try to hit a certain number after 900 words. I do what works, what I think someone needs to answer a question. I don’t like landing on posts that ask the same thing over and over just to add more paragraphs, really? I don’t have TIME. I like to read new stuff, stuff that interests me or answers questions I may have.
    I love Neil’s content and I don’t know he does it all the time but I imagine he has a full staff now. That’s my goal. I’ve got to get going as I’m getting old trying – LOL. Actually I’m doing better than I thought at the 6 month mark full time, so I’m on the way! Have a good day Mitch and I hope you don’t get more snow on the way.

    1. First Lisa, we’ll be getting more snow over the weekend; it’s what we do best. lol Second, I agree with you on the output thing. I don’t start out looking to write a long post, but I do plan on being thorough with my point or tips or whatever else I’m talking about. I think it’s important, especially to keep an audience. In the old days, you could write 3 paragraphs and your regulars would come by and comment, but those days are gone. You not only need to keep some of your regulars coming, but you need to entice new people to check you out. Your stuff these days is epic; keep it going!

  6. Hey Mitch

    You’ve made it clear for me now.
    I can rewrite other topic but in my own words and add new value to them, or I can write about a topic that I know much more than anything else, and here I have a great idea to add.
    Bloggers these days watch so many videos than the past, and the content they digest can easily be converted on a blog post.
    For instance, I watched a video tutorial on how to increase website speed in 4 easy ways, and I implemented that and my website went from 20 seconds to 4 seconds page load..So this will be my next post on my website.
    All in all, bloggers just need to be original and tell their real stories and experiences, and on this blog, you provide a great example of this. 🙂

    1. Great stuff Fariss; you get it. No one wants to read a rehash of something someone else said. Even if you write about the same thing, find ways to make it look original. Good luck to you.

  7. Mitch – I have thoroughly enjoyed the expertise that you have shared when it comes to the lengths of articles that bloggers should be writing.

    I agree that there are many theories about how long your content should be. However I have started crafting content with a goal in mind. You see I really don’t care about the length of my articles as long as I can get my main point across to my readers. Also I just make sure that there is some sort of opt-in form on each single page of my site so that I am able to collect names and email addresses.

    As long as though two things are taken into consideration then I feel that my articles have done their purpose. No matter what the length is.

    Thank you again for the great share and I look forward to reading more from you.

    Keep on rockin’!

    1. Jason, the length thing has been around for at least a decade. Back in the day, one of my most popular posts was only a paragraph, but it was breaking news on that day that no one else knew. I think what’s more important in today’s landscape is as much evergreen content as possible, as well as writing for people rather than search engines. You at least have the graphs and such down; I’ve never been able to figure out how to do that properly so I use words instead. You’re going to be big; keep it up!

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