Writing for business: what’s the “right” length?

I’ve seen lots of advice on the internet about the “right” length for business content, especially blog posts.

The thing is, over the years, the “right” length has changed a lot. When I first started writing blog posts for businesses, I was asked to write 300 to 400 words. Then, what was considered “ideal” changed to 800 words. Then it went back down to around 500.

Were any of those the “right” length? Who knows? 

I’ve seen successful home-business owners write emails and blog posts that barely break 200 words. I’ve seen others, just as successful, who write emails and blog posts that make me scroll and scroll and scroll.

I think the truth is that each piece of writing — or podcast or video script — should be as long or as short as it needs to be to convey what you want to say without either waffling or missing out some critical information.

Having said that, here are some questions you should be asking yourself when you’re writing.

  • How much time is my audience likely to have — or be willing to spend — to read, watch or listen to this?
  • If it’s getting “too long”:
    • Should I narrow my focus?
    • Should I create a series — perhaps addressing each stage in the buyer’s journey in separate pieces of content or looking at different aspects of the same topic?
    • Am I repeating myself or taking too long to get to the point, so there’s room to cut some content entirely?
    • Should I choose a different format: if an email is getting very long and involves a lot of subheadings and formatting, would it be better to create a blog post and use an email to encourage people to read the blog?
  • If it seems “too short”
    • Do I need to broaden my topic a little?
    • Do I need to dig deeper into each point I’m making?

Of course, if you’re writing  for print (or for a printable of a fixed-length, such as a one-page freebie), you’ll have some tighter constraints around what will physically fit in the space.

In the end, it’s not about whether you’ve written the “right” number of words or created a video of the “right” length, but about whether it’s worth it for your audience to spend the time you’re demanding from them.

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