A question I come across often is how long does it take to write a blog post? It’s not a surprising question to be honest.
What may surprise you though is it’s not only those new to blogging asking this. It’s a question that I often ask other bloggers. It’s also a question that bloggers I know have often asked me.
We’re all obsessed!
It seems like it should be a really simple question to answer. The reality though is somewhat different but perhaps the best answer I can give is that it depends!
Perhaps though we need to ask another more relevant question: how long does it take to write a GOOD blog post?
Let’s take a look in more detail why this is the case.
Writing Blog Posts
Over the past 15 years I have written literally hundreds of articles for blogs. The time it has taken me to write each one has varied enormously depending upon the niche and the objective.
At one time, the general consensus was that you should produce as many articles as possible over 500 words in length. People considered this a large enough number of words to avoid producing thin content.
My view has always been that 500 words is the bare minimum. There is simply no way you can write a blog post that is both informative for human readers and appealing to search engines with fewer words.
Does every article you write have to be in depth, informative and appealing?
Of course not. There is always room for lightness and for you as a blog writer it’s good to mix things up to keep things interesting for your readers and for you.
But if you want to be taken seriously by your readers and by search engines, the blog posts you write must be substantial. And when I say substantial, I mean several things:
- Every blog post you produce should add value to your community or niche.
- Your posts should offer an informed opinion based upon real experience or something that is supported by evidence.
- If you’re going to discuss something in depth, provide analysis or try to educate with tutorials, I just don’t believe it’s possible to do this in 500 words.
- Your blog posts should be link-worthy.
I’ll focus upon this last point for a second or two.
How can your posts be link-worthy? Your blog posts will be link-worthy if the are good enough to DESERVE a link!
Is this achievable in 500 words?
If you achieve the purpose of your post without using words as fillers to hit a target word count then surely this is a good thing. If you have written a post that does exactly what you set out for it to do and explained it all in plain and succinct language better than anyone else, then this is link-worthy.
However, I would argue that most blog posts of 500 or less are not as worthy of a backlink as more substantial articles written by others on the same topic… as long as these more substantial posts are achieving their purpose.
Now I’m not saying that there is no room for short, discursive types of posts that perhaps don’t have a purpose, a pertinent conclusion or a hard lesson to teach. But in general, substantial posts that achieve a purpose probably add more value then less substantial ones.
Back to How Long it Takes to Write a Post!
Now, to some people, 500 words posts might seem like a mountain. However, I can prove to you that it most certainly is not.
The count from the first word in this article to the last word in the sentence above is 507 words!
507 words… and it’s really just the preamble.
The truth is that ANYONE can write a blog post of at least 500 words in a relatively short period. At this point, this post has taken me around 30 minutes to write… but it doesn’t yet contain what I consider to be the really valuable stuff, which is more detailed and requires more effort.
So let’s move things forward!
How Long Does it Take to Write a Good Blog Post?
Well, firstly let’s determine what a good blog post is and how it can be so good that it’s link-worthy.
As I’ve mentioned, a good blog post is one that adds value in some way. It has a purpose and achieves it. In addition, perhaps it delivers its purpose in a more conclusive, detailed or interesting way than posts written by others based on the same subject.
For example, you might have a blog about survival skills and post about how to make fire without modern equipment. Is this the only article on the Internet about this?
Hell no! So is there any point in writing another?
Well yes… as long as your post is not a facsimile of someone else’s. And why should it need to be? The one thing that can make your blog posts different than anyone else’s is you.
You are unique. No-one on this earth has had the same life experiences as you. And although many people know how to make fire in this way and have blogged about it, perhaps your experiences can lead you to adding something different into the mix: your unique take on it and your unique anecdotal experience.
Okay, it’s just an example and maybe it’s not the best, but hopefully you get the point.
Another factor to consider is quality. I’ve discussed this at length previously in the following post:
I won’t repeat this contents of this post here so I’ll summarize.
Google sees post quality as super-important for visitors and rewards or penalizes pages for it accordingly. Therefore you should consider Google’s quality factors as something that contributes to making a blog post good.
According to Google, high-quality content is generally:
- has a purpose and achieves it;
- beneficial to its readers;
- written in a professional way without spelling errors and poor grammar;
- linked to by other websites.
Google advises that good blog posts need to be substantial. So what does substantial mean in terms of post length?
How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
As I touched upon earlier, a blog post should be as long as it needs to be to deliver its purpose in an expert, authoritative and trustworthy way.
Substantial doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be long.
It might mean that it takes 500 words to do this or it might mean it takes 4,000 words. It depends upon a bunch of factors such as:
- The purpose of the post.
- The niche in which you are writing.
- The specific topic within the niche.
Having said this, there have been many studies on how long a blog post should be to give an indication of the likelihood of it achieving high placement in the search results.
It should be noted that each of the research studies below suggest a relationship between long form content and performance. They do not definitively prove that longer blog posts guarantee higher search results placement.
Moz Analysis of Content Length
In 2015 Moz and BuzzSumo analyzed the shares and links of over 1 million articles. The intention was to understand the relationship between content and the links and shares it receives. Their analysis found that
- Research backed content achieved higher shares and links than other types of content.
- Articles with over 1,000 words received more shares and links than shorter ones.
- 85% of the articles in their research set had a total count of less than 1,000 words. Moz surmised from this that surpassing 1,000 words increased the likelihood that performance in search engines increases.
In other analysis on search ranking factors from December 2018, Moz observed that:
High quality content is longer by nature. Long-form content is arguably a byproduct of creating for quality.Moz.com – Content, Shares, and Links December 2018
We can read from this that a comprehensive blog post will naturally be quite long. However this doesn’t explicitly mean that you sacrifice quality for word count:
SEMRush Ranking Factors Study
In 2017 SEMRush published analysis of the factors that make websites rank high in search results. Aside from analyzing backlink data, SEMRush also looked at the success of content that ranks high compared to word count.
The analysis looked at the top 10 pages for 600,000 keywords in search results for US, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and others.
SEMRush found that pages that ranked higher tended to have long form content. Not only this but pages ranking for popular keywords have 150% more content than pages that rank for less popular keywords.
HubSpot Analysis of Shareable, Linkable & Popular Blog Posts
In September 2015 HubSpot looked at over 6,000 of its posts to see how they performed in search results. The analysis showed that posts:
- between 2,250 and 2,500 words received the most organic traffic;
- over 2,500 words received the most inbound links;
- and posts over 2,500 words long received the most social media shares.
HubSpot advises that whilst its findings don’t prove 100% that long blog posts guarantee high rankings, it does provide:
Guidance on the types of things that could be contributing to the success of a piece of content.HubSpot – The Anatomy of a Shareable, Linkable & Popular Post
Orbit Media – Blogging Statistics and Trends
In August and September 2018 Orbit Media ran a survey about Blogging Statistics and Trends. They asked over 1,000 bloggers about how they write blog posts. One aspect of the survey asked, on average how long does it take to write a blog post? The results are as follows:
The research showed that it took surveyed bloggers 3.5 hours to write a blog post on average. It also showed that bloggers who spent more time writing post (in excess of 6 hours) self-reported better post performance the more time they invested.
Backlinko Content Study
In February 2019, Backlinko published results of its content analysis of 912 million blog posts. The analysis focused on factors such as content format, headlines and post length and how they related to social shares and backlinks.
Here are some of their findings:
How Long Does It Take to Write a Blog Post Like This?
At this point I’ve written around 1,700 words. The first 507 word introduction was pretty quick at around 30 minutes. The rest of the article has taken me substantially longer.
I’ve had to research, find examples, create images, write up the research, optimize my post and publish it.
End to end it’s taken me around 6.5 hours. However, I will probably tweak it some more over the next day or two, so let’s say 7 hours in total. It’s a pretty big undertaking.
Sometimes writing blog posts is like swimming in treacle… especially when it requires lots of research like this one. Other blog posts seem to write themselves very quickly, but these ones tend to be the more experiential / anecdotal types of posts I make.
If we take Orbit Media’s survey results, we might say an average blog post takes around 3.5 hours to write, but the aim should always be to deliver quality. If quality means a high word count and consequently a longer time to write your blog post than this, then that’s the way it has to be.
- In general, there is substantial anecdotal evidence that there is a relationship between high word count and higher rankings in search results.
- Blog posts that involve lots of research take much longer to write than anecdotal posts.
- Orbit Media’s research suggest it takes bloggers an average of 3.5 hours to write a blog post.
- It seems that longer blog posts generate more backlinks and more social shares.
- It’s worth remembering that posts with a high backlink profile tend to appear higher in search results.
I’ll leave you with one final thought from Rand Fishkin:
Publishing a lot of content is a great idea if you are trying to learn what works. Great bloggers write a lot of crap, especially when they start out!Rand Fishkin
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!
Update – 31st July 2019: I’ve published the post How to Start a Blog at 6,268 words, which took me around 25 hours to write, refine and create images.
Please share your own experiences in the comments section below or feel free to ask me a question.
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