Best Length for Blog Devotions

How long should a good online article or devotion be? How many words?

According to experts, long posts are less likely to be read by the typical internet reader.  

Some readers won't even start long articles, others will only read a few paragraphs, and some will simply skim. Only a handful of faithful readers will complete it.

If we have lots to say, we can always write a series.  People read and retain things better in bite-size pieces anyway.  Lincoln’s Gettysburg address is just over 250 words, but it's probably the best remembered speech in American history.  

For 5 tips that will help you avoid unnecessary words, I highly recommend "Writing Tips From C.S. Lewis." Lewis was one of the most readable apologetic writers in modern history. 

In my experience as an editor for WOW devotional blog, most 700-1000 word posts can easily be trimmed to 500 words. And doing this usually improves the message instead of weakening it.




15 comments:

  1. I know you're specifically talking about devotions here, but I've always wondered how long blog posts should be... I mean, I want to be conscious of other's time, yet I want to make sure the post includes enough information.

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    1. Yes, Alana, I'm focusing on devotions because that what I edit and write. But I feel pretty much the same about articles when I'm reading on the net. Unless the content is extremely important to me, I usually don't read long articles. And I think we actually retain more of an article if it's a short daily burst (a series) than one long post.
      And hopefully, short or long articles/devotions should include info that the reader needs/wants.
      What are your thoughts about the best length?

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    2. I've read about this a lot, and most of the things I've read recommend around 500 words, so that's what I try to aim for, and even that takes a LOT of cutting down for a wordy person like myself :)

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    3. On the WOW (writingontheword.com) site that I edit, we originally allowed 800 words and we writers typically write as much as allowed or more. But when WOW cut the limit to 500 words, the submissions improved...stayed on point better, were more organized and more interesting.

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  2. Gail...I've read that 400-600 words is best so I think you're suggestion is a good one. I know I'm guilty of not reading a real long post unless the topic draws my attention. On my blog I try to be cautious of length as well. Thank you for a good reminder and for sharing at WJIM.

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  3. I once heard the following story and it left a lasting impression on me:


    Some years ago a great actor was asked at a drawing-room function to recite for the pleasure of his fellow-guests. He consented and asked if there was anything they specially wanted to hear. After a minute's pause an old minister of the Gospel asked for Psalm 23. A strange look came over the actor's face; he paused for a moment, then said, 'I will, on one condition—that after I have recited it, you, my friend, will do the same.'

    `I!' said the preacher, in surprise, 'I am not an elocutionist, but, if you wish it, I shall do so.'

    Impressively the actor began the Psalm. His voice and intonation were perfect. He held his audience spellbound, and, as he finished, a great burst of applause broke from his guests. As it died away, the old man rose and began to declaim the same Psalm. His voice was not remarkable: his tone was not faultless; but, when he finished, there was not a dry eye in the room.

    The actor rose and his voice quivered as he said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I reached your eyes and ears: he has reached your hearts. The difference is just this: I know the Psalm but he knows the Shepherd.'

    (Ps. 23. 1; 2 Tim. 1. 12)


    I'm not a professing writer Gail, but I do love sharing and encouraging others in the Lord and this is something the Lord led me to do via writing things down. Just because I am not a writer does not mean that I cannot learn... that's why I appreciate blog posts such as this.

    However, I am so encouraged that God can use imperfect posts from the heart as much as He can use polished posts from the heart and I hope that this will encourage another, who like me is not a professing writer. However, I would also say "don't stop learning with God's help - God wants us to do our best... and then leave the results with Him."

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    1. I love that story, Wendy. You are so right: in the end, it's not the sytle but the heart of what we do that matters most.

      God wants us to do our best at everything we do for Him (Colossians 3:23; Ephesians 6:7), so learning to improve our craft is a way of honoring Him,and writing in ways that attract and keep the reader's attention help get out the message God has given us. But the heart always matters most. Thanks for that important reminder.

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    2. Wendy, what a great story! I had a little tear of my own! As a novice blogger, I know I'm too wordy. Working on cutting it down, but trying to be sensitive to what God lays on my heart. Gail-- great advice, thanks. (www.4iampersuaded.com)

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  4. Gail - I hope you don't mind if I post this on my favourite weekly blogger posts page? Such helps to review such posts from time to time and reflect.

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    1. Not at all. I'm encouraged that you think it could be of help. Thanks, Wendy.

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  5. Thanks for the advice! I love your site! Have you written any others about helpful blogging tips? Lauren, lholmes79.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Lauren. I have my archives on my Blogging Tips Page.

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  6. great post and so true! thank you for sharing!
    hugs and blessings, peggy aplSEEDS

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  7. I try to keep my posts short. If it seems too long I will break it into a series. My longer posts I will try and highlight the main parts so that skimmers will get the point. I will have to look and see how many words I am really using. I haven't counted words before. This should prove to be a good experiment. I usually just feel it out. Thanks for the advice and guidelines for novices like me.

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    1. I hope you know that Microsoft Word gives you a word count at the bottom of any document. So, even if you write your post in your blog text box, you can copy and paste it into a Word document to find out the word count. Just in case you didn't know...saves a lot of time. : )

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