Summary for busy people
A 2017 survey of 1000+ bloggers shows:
- ⏰ Average time to write a post: 3 hours 20 minutes
- 📖 Average length of a post: 1142 words
Source: Orbit Media Studios
(I usually spend 6–8 hours on my posts, but they’re often 2000–3000 words long and sometimes contain videos, which take time to produce.)
- What does it take to create a good blog post?
- How long do others spend on writing blog posts?
- The challenges with writing blog posts
- Let’s wrap up
That’s a common response I hear when I ask people whether they have a plan to create content.
You’ll probably expect me to follow that up with some wondrous stat that it takes only minutes to write a blog post and that therefore it’s really not that hard to run a regular blog on your site.
I’m not going to do that.
Yes, it’s possible to write content quite quickly – perhaps in an hour or so – but that ignores the truth that most such content isn’t very good. And content that’s dashed off in a hurry often doesn’t stand the test of time.
There are around 3 million blog posts published each day.
Only a tiny proportion of these posts will receive a large number of views, likes, comments and shares. The vast majority of the posts will be seen by almost no one.
Why is that? Why do some posts do much better than others?
Two big factors are quality and consistency.
Quality is a no-brainer here: a well-researched post that is easy to understand, flows well and looks gorgeous has a natural advantage over a wall of text cranked out on an ancient-looking website.
Here’s what SEO company Moz have to say about creating quality content:
— John Espirian ☕️ (@espirian) June 29, 2017
So, your aim should not just be to write a blog post but to write a good blog post.
And you don’t want to write only one good blog post: if you’re going to bother with blogging at all, it should be a consistent effort over a long period. That means a commitment to creating lots of good blog posts.
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What does it take to create a good blog post?
Producing good-quality blog content means you need to do at least some of the following:
- Listening: Do you know what your audience wants? Have you talked to them in person, by email or on social media?
- Keyword research: Have you done any searches to see what keywords are relevant to the topic you want to talk about?
- Multimedia: Images, videos and infographics are some of the most time-consuming resources to create. And yet they can give your content a unique visual stamp and make it much more shareable than similar articles that contain text only. Would you be willing to put in the effort needed to create or source your own images?
- Original thought: There’s little in the way of original thought left but you need to do more than copy what others have already written. Can you put your own spin on what’s happening in your industry?
- Editorial: Getting your thoughts down is one thing, but you also need to invest some time in formatting, editing and proofreading your content. Without this, your posts can lose credibility.
And all of that’s without the part where you publish and then promote the content. Yes, blogging well requires a large investment of time.
I’ll often spend 6–8 hours per week on producing my blog content.
That’s 20% of a typical working week. To some people, this sounds like an insane amount of time to spend on content creation.
(In my defence, some of my posts contain videos, and that’s a real time-gobbler. It often takes an hour to produce 1 minute of video.)
I get it. It’s a large chunk of time.
But look at the benefits of regularly producing blog content for your business:
- Less need to advertise (and a better long-term method of marketing).
- Improved Google rankings (people find you when they search online).
- More satisfied customers (your content helps them ➡️ they stick around).
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How long do others spend on writing blog posts?
I wanted to hear feedback from others, so I asked my network on LinkedIn how long they took to write their content.
I also asked them to tell me how many words they typically wrote per post, and what was the biggest challenge they faced when creating content.
Here are the figures they responded with:
- ⏰ Average time to write a post: 3 hours 4 minutes
- 📖 Average length of a post: 1113 words
And there was no surprise in the challenges people faced. I’ll get to those in a moment.
Now, the figures above represent a pretty small sample of only 16 people. Hardly enough to draw any firm conclusions, right?
The good news is that Orbit Media Studio’s recent survey of 1000+ bloggers showed that it took their respondents on average 3 hours 20 minutes to write a post.
— Andy Crestodina (@crestodina) November 23, 2017
The same survey also put the average blog post length at 1142 words.
So, Andy’s figures line up quite well with what I found (quite surprising, as my sample size was tiny compared with his).
My sample of 16
- ⏰ Average time: 3 hours 4 minutes
- 📖 Average length: 1113 words
Orbit’s sample of 1000+
- ⏰ Average time: 3 hours 20 minutes
- 📖 Average length: 1142 words
In terms of article length, the received wisdom is that long articles tend to outperform short ones. There’s plenty more about this in my article about how long blog posts should be.
Short blog posts may not contain enough value to rank well on Google.
— John Espirian ☕️ (@espirian) December 22, 2017
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The challenges with writing blog posts
The people I spoke to on LinkedIn told me their challenges with blog creation, and I’d put those into 3 categories:
- 💙 Audience value: finding the topics that would be valuable to readers.
- 🖋 Editorial issues: sourcing images and proofreading the content.
- 🕘 Time management: avoiding distraction and procrastination.
These are common issues that all content writers face.
You can improve your audience value by taking time to understand your ideal reader (see pen portraits). What real questions are your customers asking you? What content would genuinely help them?
You can reduce the stress of editorial issues by having a go-to set of visual resources. For example, check out this great list of 35 free photography sites. When it comes to checking the text of an article, take a look at my top 10 tips for proofreading your own work.
And as for time management, why not try closing all of your windows and leaving only one document open – the one in which you write the text of your article. Use a free tool such as Protect Your Vision to give you a reminder to take an eye break every 20 minutes.
Pro tip: I usually write my blog drafts in Byword on my iPad Pro. It takes up the whole screen, has a very simple interface and makes it easy for me to write without distraction.
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Let’s wrap up
If you’re going to commit to creating blog posts, expect each post to take at least 3 hours to write. And if you want to produce something with real depth and lasting value, prepare for it to take much longer than that – I often take 6 or more hours to put my content together.
Remember that there are a lot of terrible blog posts out there, so don’t add to them by rushing the creation of your own content. Take your time, do it right, and if you need a hand then get in touch.
How long do your blog posts take to write? What’s your biggest challenge with content creation? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Thanks for reading,
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