This post is based on episode 149 of the ProBlogger podcast.
So you’ve come up with a great idea for a blog post. It’s a great topic, has plenty of depth, and will boost your reputation as an authority in your niche.
But do it justice you need to cover a lot of ground, which means you’ll be writing a lot of content.
Which begs the question: What’s the best way to share that information with your readers? Should you write one long and detailed post that includes every aspect? Or should you create a series of posts that deals with each one in turn?
And the answer is… it depends.
The benefits of writing one long post (the movie)…
The beauty of posting everything at once is your readers get the information they want without any interruptions or delays. They don’t need to keep coming back for the next instalment, or follow the links from one post to the next to get all the information.
Remember how you felt last time you watched a TV episode and read the words “To be continued…”? Well, that’s how your readers will might feel when they have to wait for your next post to continue their learning.
And while those reading after they’re all done won’t have to wait, they still might not like opening post after post just to get to the end – especially if they decide to print it out so they can read it offline.
Another advantage to having everything in a single post is it comes across as being quite comprehensive and authoritative. In the same way a published has an authoritative ‘weight’, having a 5,000-word blog post that covers every aspect of the topic will make what you’re saying seem more credible.
And people like sharing posts that are meaty and comprehensive. They seem to appreciate the fact you’ve made the effort to provide them with lots of solid information, and want others to benefit from your effort as well.
Google seems to appreciate it, too. I’ve noticed that our longer posts tend to rank really well in Google, possibly because they get linked to and shared more than our shorter posts. Some SEO experts also believe longer posts can rank better than shorter ones.
… and the drawbacks
However, there are some downsides to putting that information in a single post.
One of them is the effort it takes to research and write them. Some of the longer pieces I’ve written have taken several days (and a lot of effort) to complete. And if you struggle with motivation, that could be a problem.
Another downside is that unless you’re a gifted and engaging writer, not all of your readers will make it to the end. Some people prefer to scan rather than read. Some people don’t have the time to read long pieces (or at least not in one hit). And some people will be reading your post on a mobile device and not want to be continually swiping.
And finally, putting so much information into one post can quickly drain your pool of ideas. I know of one blogger whose first post was 9,000 words on everything he knew about his niche. It was a great post, full of useful, actionable content. But when he tried to brainstorm ideas for future posts, he couldn’t think of anything he hadn’t already covered in that first post. In retrospect, he would have preferred to have broken up that information into a series of posts and released them over a series of weeks.
Which brings me to…
The benefits of writing a series of shorter posts (the miniseries)
Obviously, breaking up a long post into shorter posts will give you more gives you more posts to publish. So instead of having one week’s worth of content for your site, you could have three, four or even more.
And each of those posts can be more focused, which can help with SEO. While long posts might rank well for broad, overarching keywords, they may not rank as well for the more focused keywords of your niche. Smaller posts have a better chance of ranking for those more focused keywords, which might help you rank for more of them over time.
Search engines also tend to like links, and so having more posts on your site for other sites to link to can help Google rank your site.
Writing a series of blog posts can also build momentum on your blog. Readers will be anticipating your next post, which can help you get more subscribers. (They don’t want to risk missing out on the next post in the series.)
It’s also good to have a series of posts on your website if you’re planning on monetizing your websites using ad networks such as AdSense.
And if you struggle to write long posts because of the time and effort involved, shorter posts will feel like a breath of fresh air. Knowing you can write and publish a blog post relatively quickly can motivate you to keep going.
Writing a series has downsides, too
But your blog post series won’t suit everyone. As I mentioned earlier, some people will prefer to have all the information available in a single post so they can get it all in one go.
Another negative aspect of writing a series of posts is being locked into a particular topic. If your readers aren’t interested in what your series is about, and the series goes for a number of weeks, they may get frustrated enough to unsubscribe and stop visiting your blog.
But that being said, I still think you should consider writing a series of blog posts. I try and do two or three series every year, because so far they’ve all worked really well.
Of course, you can always do both
Ultimately, the decision of whether you write a movie of a miniseries is entirely up to you. And the the good news is you don’t have to choose one over the other. You can write a series of posts to build momentum when you want to, but also write the occasional long-form post to build authority.
And you can always turn that series of blog posts into a something bigger. The posts I wrote for 31 Days to Build a Better Blog were combined, and eventually became a PDF that people could buy. I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested, but thousands of our readers bought a copy. They obviously wanted something they could read and work through time and time again.
So what’s your preference? Will you be writing a movie or a miniseries? Let us know in the comments.
Photo by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash