You know what? I get that long-form content is great for driving traffic.
I’m not here to argue about the effectiveness of long-form content. Having a supply of long-form content on your site is a good thing. Google likes it, therefore we should like it.
But can I make a complaint here? Or maybe a call? It’s a call to the authors of long-form content to stop trying to cram Every. Single. Fact. and Every. Single. Statistic. and Every. Single. Example. into a single piece of content.
Such pieces, typically running in the 3,500+ word count range, and covering vast, broad, subjects, are, in my experienced opinion, too f*ing long. When articles are crammed with soooo much information, they become useless.
People like to create overly fat infographics, too. I voiced a similar complaint about those bloated, unhelpful pieces.
It’s just too much information! Overload! One would have to read through such an article or infographic again and again, piece by piece, to be able to implement ALL THE THINGS in it.
Here’s an example. Check out this post on Content Marketing Institute’s site called “How to build your email list: The (better than) ultimate guide.”
Instead of “better than,” I think the author meant “longer than.”
Right here, right now, I’m going to bullet out all the information in that blog post, and my questions about the information, so you can see — and avoid — the curse of bloated, long-form content.
I’ll use a bulleted list for readability purposes.
Here goes. As I dig in, I learn that:
PAUSE FOR REFLECTIONSo … email marketing works. I’m not sure you had to convince or reassure me, as I clicked in to read this ultimate email guide, didn’t I?
Back to the article.
PAUSE FOR REFLECTIONHow do I choose the right lead magnet for my audience? What would my subscribers value — how would I know? How do I create a guide? How to I create a webinar? How do I create a white paper? How do I create an e-course? Is there a certain coupon percentage that works better than others?See, this is what I mean. I’m barely 400 words into this massive post, and I’m already overwhelmed. However, for the sake of my argument in favor of short-form or narrower content, I must carry on.
PAUSE FOR REFLECTIONThe “other” article adds another 1,627 words to our reading assignment. Yikes! I do appreciate the fine summary you provided, perhaps to save me from reading that other article?
PAUSE FOR REFLECTIONWow. That cleared it up!(For those of you who may not get my sarcasm: it cleared things up — NOT. )
PAUSE FOR REFLECTIONOkay … so when you talked about lead magnets, you were talking about gated content?And … which industries and products? How about a hint or a clue?
Okay. That’s not very helpful. Onward.
Now, let’s learn about buttons:
PAUSE FOR REFLECTIONAre you seeing the problem here? There’s so much more that can and should be said about buttons. What about button color? Button shape? Button size? Button location? I can’t help but think that a shorter, more thorough article on buttons would be MUCH more helpful than the few tidbits the author chose to provide here.
Next, let’s learn about forms,
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired here.
At this point, to bring you the bullet points I’ve laid out already, I’ve consumed 1,528 words, PLUS the extra 1,600 from the “other” article I mentioned earlier.
And as I look at the scrollbar on the side of my browser, I’m dismayed to find out that I’m not even halfway through this massive post!
Because the post I’m writing to you right now is AGAINST bloated, long-form content, I’ll stop the exercise here.
But let me end with this recommendation: If you want to create long-form content, and if you want it to stand out from the pack, being truly useful to your readers, then keep the topic tight and actionable. Don’t let your writer wander here and there all over (tarnation!).
Instead, choose ONE topic. And then focus on it. For instance, how about long-form content on:
If you find that there’s not enough to SAY about those topics to create long-form content, then create short-form pieces instead.
Really, it’s okay to publish short articles, especially if they’re meaningful and helpful.
I, and other Readers of the Internet, will thank you for it.
Do you sweat the small stuff? Do you want your online presence to inspire trust and confidence? Do you grit your teeth when others don't care enough about YOUR web experience? Are you all about creating an excellent website and excellent content that makes it easy for people to get to know, like, and trust you and buy your stuff?
I think we might be soul mates. And I'd love for you to join my tribe.
When you do, I'll alert you to new blog posts, new programs and products, and new ways for you to create excellent, frictionless, online experiences that lead more people to YES! I promise to be relevant and real, and to send only thoughtful content and advice.
Renae Gregoire is a content mentor and clarity expert changing the world one outstanding leader at a time. The coaches, consultants, and experts she works with have big visions for creating transformational change--if only they could create that content! Her work typically involves a blend of strategy and wordsmithing, with a heavy focus on the reader's perspective. Renae is also the creator of the Blog Post Inspiration Deck, the Blog Your Brilliance online program, and the Content Coaching Club.
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