WordPress has revised its site stats to present a more honest picture of what’s happening, and it’s thrown up the “interesting” fact the average number of words in a blog post is 250 – a number that means – nothing at all, though it has triggered some deeply impressed and speculative responses. I tried to submit my own response (the text which follows is based on it), but twice it sank without trace, and all I got for my pains was a blank page.
I know religions have been founded on less, but there is nothing whatsoever significant or mysterious about the number 250. It’s just a statistic and, like all stats, it’ll change over time. Maybe a lot, maybe a little, but it will change. There is no immutable, universal law that says the average length of a blog post today will be the same in the future. Sorry, the world doesn’t work that way.
As for 250 words being the ideal length for a post, as has been rather naively suggested quite a few times, that’s a misperception – 250 words is an average, many posts are longer, many are shorter, and very, very few will actually be exactly 250 words in length.
One of my most consistently popular posts is a rolling project of benefits, disability, and medical advice and information, added to almost daily (it’s based on the questions in the Google section of my stats), and currently approaching 9,000 words. At some point, I’ll need to stop it, and create a sequel – maybe when it reaches 10,000 words. Until then, as long as it continues to top my stats, it’ll run as is. My readers will let me know when they’re tired of it (by not reading it).
The perfect number of words is the number a subject needs to make it interesting and informative, and the post well structured and a pleasure to read – every post has its own natural length.
Don’t, please, obsess about length. Focus, rather, on things that are worth obsessing about, if obsess you must – syntax, grammar, spelling, and punctuation; in short, focus on writing well – the quality of the writing, and the subject matter, are far more important than the number of words. The length will take care of itself.
For the record, and excluding this comment and what follows, this post runs to 386 words (that’s the count in Word – the WP counter disagrees)!
Since finishing this, I’ve written five more posts today (must get a life!). The wordage for each was 381, 636, 193, 170, and 747 – my point is that each of those posts was the length it needed to be. Not, I hope, a word too few or too many.