How long is a blog post?

Published by Bill Glover on

This post by Winnie Lim caught my attention.

“telling myself repeatedly that a blog post doesn’t have to be lengthy”
@wynlim@kopiti.am

I have a folder of unfinished blog posts that get purged every once in a while. Except, they aren’t blog posts. They aren’t long enough. They aren’t finished. To quote Alex;

“I don’t know where this barrier or expectation comes from."
@alex@social.alexschroeder.ch

I tried creating /notes but sometimes feel these need to be longer to be worth publishing.

Sometimes, I want to highlight something that I’ve found, a link, a video or an image. But these never feel worthy of a full length blog post. In the past I have tried grouping these links together in a weekly post of links. This didn’t work as I found myself gravitating towards adding links to bulk out the posts. The utility vanished.

The expectation that a blog post needs to be of a reasonable length to be worth publishing at all has held me back. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Social networking platforms have done their best to simplify our relationship with information. We’ve simplified it so much that it now feels binary:

  • like
  • didn’t like

We have “like” and we have “didn’t like”. Didn’t like is distinct from dislike. It indicates the absence of a “like” which could be for any number of reasons. I use the term “like” in place of several alternatives. Each platform picks its own, but the choice is always the same: “favourite”, “like”, “star”, “heart”, “赞”, etc.

Platforms have experimented with the ability to be more expressive with our likes. They allow us to pick different emoji, or different colours. But the underlying intent still feels very binary. This is so limiting. My relationship with information is far more nuanced than simply like or didn’t like.

I want to be able to capture why I found a link interesting. Who shared it? What was my reaction? What questions did I have? What action will I take? Is this content I’ve reviewed and endorse? Is this something I haven’t read but think will be interesting? Or is this something that deserves more visibility? This context gets lost when all we do is “like”.

A personal blog or site is a perfect place to capture this context. Rather than favouriting a link, or boosting a post. A blog post could provide more context. It could provide hand-crafted notes, illustrations or commentary. But equally, it could be a small snippet of information associated with the link. The post may indicate that this is an article I’ve yet to read. It might be something I recommend. It might pose a question or posit an idea.

So why is this relevant? These blog posts could be incredibly short. You don’t need hundreds of words of text to justify sharing a link. The link needs to be worth sharing. Further context is a bonus. I have some examples in /links but even these feel longer than they need to be.

So, how long should a blog post be? It should be long enough to provide value, spark curiosity, or inspire action. That could be a few thousand words. It could be nothing more than a link. A blog post does not have to be long to be interesting or useful. I need to remember that.