I just read a very good article by Jakob Nielsen on proper writing for weblogs. His opinion is that blogs (most notably, business blogs) should focus more on in-depth articles rather than short, post-lets. I think Mr. Nielsen’s advice is absolutely correct for a large number of business bloggers out there – but I hesitate to agree it is the best format for all business blogs. I genuinely respect Nielsen’s research on the subject, but a few thoughts from my experience have led me to the opinions mentioned below.
It Depends on the Goal of the Blog
If the goal of your blog is to market your expertise on a particular subject matter, then, by all means, listen to Mr. Nielsen. However, if your goal is to engage an audience around a particular topic (in order to increase sales), long-winded articles may not be the best format. Creating an audience/community around a business can be a very successful method for driving sale and keeping a close watch on a segment of your consumers. Consistent, and frequent updates are one way to ensure that people will continue to read your content – giving your business and product(s) more exposure.
It Depends on the Audience
Certain types of business lend itself to longer, more articulate articles – others do not. For instance, if I have a skateboarding business and decide to start a blog, the last thing I am going to do is write in-depth writeups on certain subjects. For style-based businesses (music, clothing, etc.) much of the success is based on its cool factor, which should not necessarily be communicated through a 5000 word article. Also, is your audience even interested in reading a boat-load of content or would they rather see the product?
Listening to Gurus Can Be Ridiculously Boring
If part of your business is about exuding a personality, not just know-how, it would be wise to use the format that best exemplifies that personality. Many of my favorite writers use a short format very successfully. Short does not always mean shallow, it can just as easily mean efficient. Readers definitely want to consume content, but they do not want to be bogged-down in articles that are heavy for no reason. Many of the web guru articles that I read are merely skimming material as I am hesitant to commit 15 to 20 minutes to read a post – even if it interests me.
Less (Good) Writing Is Better Than More (Bad) Writing
As someone who is just beginning his first steps in the business world, I know it takes a lot of time. Writing in a blog can be a nice-to-have luxury for many small business owners. Nonetheless, publishing content in a blog can be absolutely invaluable for many business owners. Writing long articles is not an easy thing to do – the larger the article gets, the more that can go wrong. Nielsen states that “In-depth content provides more value in less time than numerous superficial postings”, but I have not had the same experience from my blogging. For myself, the publish time increases exponentially the longer the article gets – and I find myself having less and less time for devoted writing. If time is an issue, I would advise writing smaller, sharper articles rather than sloppy longer articles due to time constraints. Additionally, I much rather see people move towards shorter format posts than just quit altogether.