I have been thinking more on the issue of brevity vs the longer post this week. I wrote recently in ‘Shorter posts, smaller steps’ about the value of working in smaller chunks for blogs, other writing and for managing many things in life.
Then very shortly after, via twitter, I read a recent post of Jonathan Morrow on Copyblogger, advocating for quality, not quantity, in ‘The Three-Step Guide to Getting More Traffic by Writing Less‘ and recommending that one strong post a week will work better, drive more traffic and be less onerous than more regular posting: ‘There’s no set number, but here’s a suggestion: start with one really good post per week, and if you have time, work your way up.’
This seemed to totally contradict what I had just read from John Sherry in his guest post, Why bite size is the right size content’ at Virgin Blogger Notes and what I’d written about. But I believe what Jonathan Morrow wrote also and I can see the sense in one well crafted post a week. They both make sense – how to reconcile?
Like all things, it’s clearly not ‘a one size fits all’ story. After I wrote my post on the value of shorter posts, I reflected on a longer post I had read and loved recently: Your Own Revolution: Poetry, Publishing and the Internet. This was more like an essay, fully developed, and I thought that there has to be a place for the longer, reflective thought piece in all this. Sometimes I love to write like that and love to read work like that and have something very deep and solid to take away. But does a post have to be long to be deep and solid? Which is better?
To help me makes sense of all this, John Sherry who wrote the original post on ‘bite size chunks’ chimes in on the comments to Jonathan Morrow’s post saying:
‘Good, sensible advice Jonathan. Slow and sure to start, building it up as you go. It’s easy to compare with top blogs and bloggers with their active presence and high subscriber numbers but best to first get a firm foundation. Get blogging at a pace that’s comfortable and then reach out a bit and connect to the wider blogging community is a wise suggestion.’
This is a lead and taking a little further the analogy of driving from E L Doctorow’s image from ‘Bird by Bird’ discussed in ‘Shorter posts, smaller steps’: We need to have the driver’s skill-set for all occasions and conditions. Sometimes, we might choose to drive in short bursts with frequent stops; other times it might be a longer haul, perhaps getting to the destination quickly or other times, meandering and enjoying the view. Having all these tools in a blog writer’s repertoire means we can write as required and as we feel for the topic, the timeframes and our focus at the time. And for maximum reader impact.
Like I wrote about in ‘Planning to be fluid,’ you need to have a strategy, a roadmap, to guide the changes in your driving and your itinerary, keeping in mind the conditions. But it’s also great to be adaptable, diverse and fluid. One of my favourite quotes is Walt Whitman’s lines from ‘A Song of Myself’:
‘ Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.’
SOME people out there are posting hardly any words at all. Led by Susannah Conway, an ever-growing team of bloggers are having a rest from words and posting only photos for the month of August. Called ‘The August Break’, bloggers all over the place are joining in – you can see some of the collective photos here on flickr.
I also love Danielle LaPorte’s posts that are only a few concentrated words. A recent one, soul equation, had me thinking all week about presence demonstrating the punchy power of a purely held thought.
For me though, I need to put a little less pressure on myself and take smaller steps just now. I need to establish a rhythm and a pattern and not get overwhelmed by volume or density. I need to settle my strategy, to calibrate and fit it with my life, and keep my content clear. The long and the short of it are all tools for the repertoire, just suggestions, and it is best not to be too prescriptive either way and to just modulate as you go. As John Sherry continues in his comment to the post of Jonathon Morrow: