Many writers start out with writing short content and take their first steps in the industry on the back of 300-700 word content. It may seem like a trivial task afterwards to jump into long-form content. After all, you’ve had so much success with the rest of your blog posts!
Well, here’s the thing: writing long content isn’t the same as writing shorter pieces. There are many more moving pieces involved, multiplying the number of mistakes that are possible. If you don’t know how to write longer pieces, what’s the point of writing a post that nobody’s going to read past the introduction?
To help you understand how to create content that works, let’s show you some of the most common long-form content creation gaffes.
1. No Multiple Hooks
People only spend an average of 37 seconds looking at a blog post. This is enough for readers to skim through a short blog post, but for a longer blog post, this is a death sentence! Readers are looking for bits and pieces of info that will get them interested and possibly stick for a while. Otherwise, it’s an X in the top-right corner of their browser.
If you’re only retaining your readers for 37 seconds, they’re not going to get much from your post. They might not even get through it completely. This is where having multiple hooks comes in. In short-form content, you want to have a “hook” at the introduction. In long-form content creation, you want one every 300-700 words.
What are these hooks you speak of?
Hooks all serve the same purpose—making your reader want to stay and read more of what you have to say.
Here’s how you can hook your readers:
- employ humor
- be conversational
- place visuals, such as that funny George Clooney GIF
- include visual information (covering some stats with unique infographics makes the numbers easily digestible)
- format your text to make it more scannable
- have a rhythmic variety of short and long sentences
Grabbing your readers’ attention at multiple points in the post is the best way to guide them from the beginning of your post down to the end.
2. Too Much Repetitiveness
“Repeating yourself in a long-form post can be bad because it brings no new information to the reader.”
Nobody wants to read a post that’s chock-full of repeating points. You might as well write a shorter article and state your argument succinctly—rather than unnecessarily putting your audience to sleep.
Repeated sentences also don’t do anything to keep the reader engaged. In the era where reader retention is key, these should be near the top of your editing list.
“Hack away the unnecessary,” said Bruce Lee once. We couldn’t agree more.
This applies not just to making points and writing the same sentences in a different way, but also to words. One of the most common writing mistakes is using the same word often. Diversify your content; instead of saying “website” 10 times, say site, or webpage.
3. No Detailed Outline
Every decent blog post needs an outline—a guiding star that will keep you focused on the topic so you won’t stray away.
While short-form content requires less thought, longer posts demand planning every step of the way. You need to define your subheadings, as well as what they’ll be covering. Having clarity about the content even before writing it will definitely ensure that your readers don’t get lost and miss the point.
Outlining also helps improve the readability of your post. Its impact is often underestimated, but it’s the most crucial part of making a post easily digestible and accessible.
Following a structure is also important. The usual beginning-middle-conclusion structure can oftentimes be insufficient in long-form content. Instead, consider that structuring a long-form post is more like structuring a novel.
You can’t just take your reader from the introduction, through the middle, and to the climax. Instead, guide them through multiple ups and downs of the story you’re telling, before finally reaching the climax. By doing this, you make them invested in your post.
4. Not Paying Enough Attention to SEO
Knowing how to use SEO is extremely important. Search engines are the most dominant presence on the internet today. Google gets over 3.5 billion searches a day, and tapping into what’s being searched in regards to the content you’re about to write is a critical part of being a successful blogger.
Failing to properly address keywords and other elements of your blog can be back breaking. Over-optimization and keyword stuffing isn’t exactly a solution we’re proposing here—but if people can’t find the information you are offering, then what’s the point?
Write with quality, but stay mindful of the defined parameters—such as keywords and your audiences’ vocabulary.
For shorter content, sprinkling a few keywords here and there and writing a decent meta-description can work out. At the level of short-form content, you can afford to treat SEO as an art.
When it comes to longer posts, approaching it as an art is no longer sufficient. You’ll need a bit more SEO knowledge. Here, keyword density, SEO placement, and other SEO elements come together as a science. While Google prefers long-form content, you need to ensure it’s made correctly.
Proper subheadings, usage of H-tags, implementing lists—everything becomes exponentially more important in longer blog posts.
5. Introduction Is Too Long
With long-form posts, it can be easy to fall into the trap that every part of your post must be proportionally longer.
This doesn’t quite work that way though. Your introduction is still your first hook. Regardless of word count, you need to have your introduction grip the reader. Making it 400 words long isn’t going to accomplish that. So much can be said with just a few words as a conversation opener.
Keep your introduction short. Make sure it doesn’t waste any time getting to the point of what is going to be covered and identifying with intended pain-points you are resolving.
Have it serve as a preview of what is to come. Your introduction doesn’t need to take your point and drive it all the way home.
The conclusion of the post shouldn’t be long either. This is where you look back on the text and give a quick summary. Even if the content is longer than in a short post, you can still summarize it to a similar degree.
6. Forgetting to Be Succinct
Just because it’s a long-form post, doesn’t mean you need long words, longer sentences and paragraphs resembling the Great Wall of China. It’s easy to forget to use “exhausted” instead of “very tired” in a post, which is double or triple of what you usually write.
The importance of being succinct and direct isn’t decreased as post length goes up. In fact, it only rises higher, because you’re already making content that is longer than what your readers are used to. Endless droning on to get to your point will leave your readers tired and bored. It makes sure that your blog is quickly replaced with something more direct.
Search engines preferring longer posts isn’t an excuse to beef up the word count needlessly. The old mantra of “Don’t say in a hundred words what you can say in two” rings true just the same.
Additionally, using big words where small ones would suffice is a quick way to annoy your readers. Sure, they might have an idea of what “procure” means, but as award-winning writer Skip Boyer once said, why make them translate?
7. Post Lacks Focus
A lot of bloggers new to publishing longer posts mistake a higher word count for a higher breadth of material covered. Instead, when you’re writing content, focus on achieving a higher depth of the topic at hand.
If people wanted to know a larger breadth of things about a topic, they’d read an encyclopedia. When a reader opens your post, they expect it to be just what it says on the tin – you have to ensure you give them what you promised in the title; nothing more, nothing less.
After all, would you be happy if this post also covered general blogging tips, a blog-starting guide, and a short passage about cats?
Straying too far off of your topic can even get your post labeled as clickbait. Which, while sometimes an effective strategy, is not one your readers will enjoy.
Dive into your topic and dedicate the whole article to it. Don’t stray too much and go off tangent. Keep your post informative and try to tell as much about it as you can.
8. Fudging Conclusions
In a 1,500-word post, it’s no surprise you’ll feel increasingly tired as you write more and more. Slowly approaching your conclusion, your sentences get worse and style begins to fade. You might think your readers won’t notice, but they will.
A hurried conclusion is one of the most obvious mistakes you can make. Conclusion is the focal point of your post. It is where all the threads you’ve weaved throughout the article finally tie together. Because of this, it is arguably the most important part of a blog post.
If you feel tired and burned out, step away and give yourself a breather before taking another crack at writing the conclusion. If you feel like it’s still coming out forced, plan it out. It’s alright to spend more time on it than the rest of the post.
Look back at the rest of the post, summarize each of your points in a few sentences. Then step away, and read the final few passages. Ask yourself if the conclusion fits the tone and style of the rest.
9. Not Enough Editing
Being succinct and straight to the point isn’t going to apply when you first go about your content creation right? That’s why we all scream that editing is the ultimate final step.
With a shorter post, it can be easy to leave it off with a few touches here and there. A long-form post will require more dedication. Thinking that the amount of content on a long post makes up for smaller mistakes is a rather easy trap to fall into. Instead, small mistakes culminate and cascade together, which makes fixing them vital for success.
There are also more things to consider. You have to think about how coherent your post is, how well your sentences flow, among others. After all, the whole reason this list exists is there are so many things to think about.
The most important thing to remember is—Don’t write long-form blog posts like longer short-form posts. In doing that you tempt your readers swipe away. So stop looking away from your mistakes and learn to make better content with every new iteration.