Recently I got my first “TL;DR” comment on a blog post. If we’re being completely honest, I had no idea what it meant. I also had no clue that I should have seen this before now. Losing some web cred then, and even more now as I admit it on this blog, I took to Google for a definition.
This popular web comment is a short way of telling the writer that their article was longer than it needed to be, or it wasn’t formatted in a way that was easy to read. It was “too long” and they “didn’t read” the whole thing.
I’m lucky that nobody had posted this acronym for “Too Long; Didn’t Read” long before now, but I’m sure it’s been thought. In fact, I re-read the article and said to myself, “well, they have a point”.
So in an effort to make this a quick read, let’s run through a short list of seven opportunities you have to quit blathering and get to the point.
1. When your eyes glaze over in editing: When you’re reading your article over and you find yourself glazing over certain parts, reconsider how important those paragraphs really are.
2. When you post daily: Writing 1500 words every day gets overwhelming for your readers, especially the ones who are keeping up with you in their RSS readers. Save the blockbuster posts for once or twice a week so that people make time to pay attention.
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3. When you don’t have a story to tell: Storytelling in blog posts has proven to keep the attention of more readers until the end of an article. However, if you don’t have an interesting story to tell, don’t make one up, just get to the point.
4. When you have nothing to sell: Long-form journalism is great at selling products. Whether it’s a magazine with an article too long to read at the checkout counter, or a conference that requires a lot of convincing—the more words, the better. However, if you’re offering a quick tip, then stick to a quick tip format!
5. When you have nothing more to say: A list of five really insightful tips are better than a list of thirty that readers will just scan through. Make your point quickly. Some stories only take 300 words, while others will keep readers on the edge of their seats for 1000 or more. Remove everything that’s uninteresting.
6. When it’s better off as a series: Longer posts tend to get more comments and social virality when they’re considered comprehensive guides. This doesn’t mean it needs to all fit on one page though. That’s what hyperlinks are for. Creating a comprehensive series, instead of a single post, gives you the flexibility to elaborate more in each section too.
7. When you have a lot of keywords to use: If you have similar keywords you want to rank for, spread them out by writing shorter, niche posts for each one, instead of sticking them all on one page and walking away.
How do you read your articles? Do you find yourself becoming more impatient with reading longer blog posts? Or is it just about good writing and take-aways?