It’s a challenge knowing how many words you should be writing for your blog posts to get the right engagement. There’s an argument that for some content, writing long-form pieces can work well in converting readers into customers – but there’s a fine line between giving the right level of information to move them to buy, and boring your audience.
Get the balance right, and your audience will enjoy what they’re reading, get value from it, and move on to follow you and share your content with their audience too. That’s the sweet spot, and it’s where you should aim to be.
So let’s take a look at what we mean by long-form content and how you should structure it to keep people engaged.
What is long-form content?
When we say long-form content, we’re typically talking about content over 1,000 words. Writing longer pieces means that you can go into much more depth on your subject, giving further background and relevant information than you can with shorter text.
You’ll find varying advice about the ‘perfect’ length for long-form content – some experts say that around 1,900 is the sweet spot, but this will largely depend on your subject and your audience. In the end, like all content, it’s about quality over quantity, so don’t be tempted to ‘fill’ your content for the sake of hitting a specific word count.
Why is long-form content important?
Long-form content encourages people to spend longer on your website – which is brilliant for SEO. When people come to your website and then click away after a minute or two, that behaviour informs search engines that your content isn’t hitting the mark.
A quick note, though – I mentioned before that long-form content isn’t always the right way to go. Don’t write long-form for the sake of it – in fact, there are instances where it might be better to write short-form instead. For example, you might be writing the kind of article where your readers will be satisfied to just scan through and pick out the bits of information they need. If you can fit that information into a shorter article, then that’s what you should do.
With the kind of posts where you need to convey more detail and explain points in-depth, then long-form is your friend.
How to write long-form content
While writing long-form content isn’t more difficult, it requires a bit of extra planning to be sure that you’re structuring it right and not going off-topic.
Think about the points you want to cover, and how you can arrange them so that you are giving the information in a way that it will make sense to your audience. It’s useful to list these out first, as it will help you to make sense of it. Plus, you’ll also be able to pick out sections, or headers from it too.
Once you’ve got a plan for the structure, then you can work on putting it all together.
Lead your audience into your article with a strong introduction. Ideally, your introduction should ‘hook’ your audience by letting them know what they can expect from the rest of the article.
Tell a story, share an interesting statistic, or ask a question that you can then go on to answer later.
Try to adopt a natural and friendly tone. People are more likely to keep reading if they feel that the writing is personal – if they feel as if you are having a conversation with them, then they connect with you on a much deeper level.
Break up your paragraphs and sections
No one wants to trawl through massive blocks of text to get the information they need. Make it easy to read by using clear breaks between subjects and paragraphs. Use well-defined headers so that your audience can quickly scan through to the bits that are most relevant to them.
Don’t forget your keywords
Although you are writing for your audience first (always), writing long-form content gives you more opportunity to get those keywords and phrases into your articles. Whereas with shorter pieces, you often have to get a bit creative so that you’re not ‘stuffing’.
Make it interesting – add media
By breaking your text up with images, graphs, infographics, and even video, you’re allowing your audience to take advantage of a sensory break to visualise your subject. It gives space for them to consider what you’ve been talking about, and process the information in a fresh way. This encourages them to read on to see what’s next.
Long-form content works amazingly well, as long as you can engage and inform your audience. As with all content creation, it’s as much about relationship building as it is about giving information. If you can bring your audience into your world, allow them to get to know you a little, then they will be more willing to look at what else you can offer.
For further writing tips, download my free eBook ‘Kick your content into shape.’
About me: I’m Emma a copywriter and content manager based in Harrow, London. I have a passion for writing and for creating amazing content for brands that have a strong social and ethical mindset.