Asking a Copywriter
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a writer; I wanted to be paid to do the thing I love. Not everybody can say they’ve achieved their dream, and the imposter syndrome whispering sweet nothings in my ear keep me from believing I have, but here I am nonetheless!
Over the last few years, I’ve written a whole host of articles for bosses, clients, friends, blogs, and magazines, as well as my own side projects (both fiction and non-fiction). In that time, I’ve received a lot of questions from people about writing. So in a move which I hope will also shush the voice in my head calling me an imposter, I’d like to share some of the questions I’ve been asked, my answers, and things I’ve learnt along the way in a series of articles.
Hopefully, you’ll find them insightful, and if you’ve been putting off that business blog or short story, this series might give you a little push in the right direction. Enjoy!
How Long Should My Article Be?
Let’s start this new series off with a common question I hear from clients and friends who write. Sorry, fiction writers, but yours depends entirely on the story or competition guidelines, so this answer will focus specifically on articles and blogs.
Firstly, there are three things to keep in mind:
- Make it as long as it needs to be – but no longer. Don’t fluff the piece out just to get the numbers up – it isn’t a competition.
- By the same token, don’t skimp on information and squeeze your ideas down just to fit in a box. You can, after all, edit later.
- Purpose will often dictate length.
The first two are self-explanatory: don’t do yourself a disservice by restricting or bulking up word counts. The latter of the above rules, however, will have a direct effect on word count.
If you’re trying to up your SEO score and court Google for a better ranking, then you’ll already know that keywords are your friend. However, what also helps is length and readability.
In my own experience, I stick to 350-750 words for B2B blogs (a rule of thumb I learnt early on in my career). Others might disagree with the upper number, and if your topic calls for it, go higher – more opportunities for long-chain keywords anyway! But this bracket will leave you with a valuable, pleasant read.
Standard ‘listicles’ (e.g. 8 best… 7 top… 3 ways…) should always try to stick to this limit to prevent readers from being overwhelmed.
Writing a LinkedIn long form post? You don’t need to worry too much about words. Perhaps keep to the 750 limit mentioned above purely because we’re a society with a waning attention span, and as long as you’re not just using all this space for two sentences, the bottom limit is flexible.
Blogging for Fun
Writing your own personal blog on a topic you love? This should be your stream of thoughts or personal views, so I can’t impose a limit on you there. Just remember to keep your voice clear, convey what you want to convey, and keep in mind people’s attention spans and you’ll be fine.
There are, of course, exceptions to all of the above, and I just know some copywriters will disagree with me on 350-750. That’s fine! But if you use that guideline as a starting point – keeping in mind that you might need to stretch higher when writing about sizeable topics – then you’ll be one step closer to having an article you can be proud of.
From there, you can find a word count which works for you, your clients, and your readers.