If you have been around ChurchMag for a while, you may have noticed a changing emphasis in the last year on different kinds of writing. When ChurchMag was in its hay day of 2-4 posts a day, sometimes many more than that, we were getting a lot of short-form articles.
If you are dedicated to looking at our content daily, we still have that once or twice a week.
But we have been switching to long-form content more consistently.
We want to be an authority to writing, and that doesn’t happen in 300 words.
To be fair, our Post Guidelines for bloggers still has the recommended 300-700 words per article. In fact, anything approaching 1,000 words should be considered to break down into a series.
Long-form content has so many benefits, it actually is not good for your website to ignore it. Google sees long-form content as a reason to put you higher in results as opposed to previously rewarding frequency of content. Why? It infers if a person stays on your site longer, your audience sees you as an authority or that you have developed intimacy with your audience. This then shows you have more authority and value to give to Google’s audience. And actually, that should be true, even if you do not care about where you fall into Google’s search results.
Switching Wasn’t Easy
I think the easiest part of short-form writing is you simply read other articles, consume content on YouTube and Pinterest, or have simple conversations with other Christians and content easily rises to the surface. Then, in 15 to 30 minutes, you can have a moderately polished article ready to add a featured image and publish.
It’s not that easy long-form content.
You start with the short-form approach, but that’s just the lead. Then you need to research. Sure, you gave an opinion, but is it the right opinion? Is it supported by others who probably already have invested in the dialogue? What do others say about what you have to say? If there is any, what links can you share for products and services that will help out the reader?
Now, you have a minimum of 1,000 words. Here the article takes finesse with your writing style. Does the content take you on a journey that flows easily? Did you end where you intentionally wanted it to and does the beginning of the article actually resemble what you started with? Will the reader get lost in the weeds? Did you make a case for it to be interesting or is it just you droning along like I am with these questions?
I Mess Up, A Lot
I’m sure it’s shocking. It hurts to admit I messed up. But writing is not something that you just know, it’s something you grow into.
I’ve had articles that started out as something and by the time I was done writing, I actually didn’t prove anything, I just rambled the whole time. It was boring and honestly kind of insulting to make the reader go through all of it.
I also found myself wanting to counter EVERY QUESTION that may come up and therefore I would miss the flow of the article. It didn’t connect well but sounded more like I was hostile and defensive towards an unknown enemy.
And I would spend hours on a single article. Before I would edit the article or come up with a good set of photos. It actually led me to want to only write short-form again.
I’m Jealous Of Those Who Do It Well
Chris Wilson is the king of long-form content on our website. We actually push him to go shorter because he puts so many words into it. When he simply can’t, we challenge him to break it into a series that naturally breaks into a second or third article.
But I am truly jealous of him. I don’t know how he does it, but it fits his style so well. I know it takes him a while to get a single article out, but it’s always so knowledgeable that it’s a joy as a reader to go through the whole thing. The payoff is so worth it.
But I don’t want to know how he does it because I’m not Chris. We don’t need to of them. I need to find my own style. When I blog for ChurchAndMentalHealth.com, I give myself a week between articles because I want to research and be thorough, but that is a world I live in professionally as a counselor. I have a ton to say. It’s hard for me to write an article under 500 words. Church tech just seems to go faster.
We plan to have long-form content be the premium on ChurchMag. It’s why we have the podcast. Even a 15-minute podcast is thousands of words and can be better than a single blog article. We hope to have more authority with what we talk about, more intentionality, and hopefully establish integrity and credibility within these conversations.
But I’d love to hear what you guys have to say in the comments below.
Do you like the long-form content more? Do you want the short-form content to never go away?