The marketing department at your law firm has decided that a blog is a good way to reach a new audience. They have asked you, a busy attorney, to be a regular contributor. Sure, you sigh. I’ll fit it in amongst the 90 hours of billable time I’m already working each week. The first question you probably have is simple and grudgingly asked—how long does this have to be?
There are 4 factors to consider in determining your ideal blog post length.
Search engine minimums
There’s no point in writing something that’s so short that a search engine will refuse to index it. As a rule, blog posts have to be at least 200 words. So this is your starting point.
Online reader behavior
Some studies show that online readers only consume about 20 percent of the content in any individual blog post. Other studies will put the rate at closer to half, but either way, the point is made: most people are going to skim your post rather than read it.
Your profession is different
Before you start thinking, “Hot dog, I can get away with a slapdash post of a few hundred words and get this off my plate,” take a step back. Those studies don’t deal specifically with law.
A blogger who writes about who they think is going to win the Super Bowl can get away with a short blog post. They’re going for quick clicks and someone to click on the ads that monetize the post.
You, on the other hand, are going for an audience that you hope includes a future client who will pay a substantial hourly rate for your services. This audience is going to have expectations. This doesn’t mean you have to crank out a 10,000-word law paper—in fact, we’d advise pretty strongly against that. But it does mean you have to write something compelling that demonstrates your competence.
That probably means some research, it definitely means giving yourself enough time to do reflective analysis on your topic and it likely won’t be done in 200 words.
What needs to be said
That brings us to the final key of the ideal blog post length. The right length is when you have covered everything that needs to be covered. You’ve written enough to produce a piece that’s thought-provoking and leaves readers with the impression you know what you’re talking about. At the same time, you haven’t written so much that you’ve provided a free consulting session.
Then do a rigorous edit of the content—or even better, have a second set of eyes edit it for you. Not for spelling or grammar, but for places to cut. Maybe there’s superfluous words or sentences that can be eliminated. Maybe you returned to the same point multiple times.
It’s well possible that post-edit, you might be back down to a few hundred words, but those words will be jam-packed with valuable content.