Purpose in writing blog articles; question of length; how should they be read

What is my purpose in writing articles for my blog? How long should they be?


So I’ve got this blog that my son Brendan and his wife gave me for my birthday. And it has been populated with some of the things I have written over the past while, plus some new ones. Also the blog contains certain personal things about me (links to my photography and recent board work, for example). But an important question is what is the purpose behind writing blog articles in the first place?

The bottom line for me is that I write on subjects that interest and engage me. Secondly, I want to engage other people, to perhaps trigger debate. That’s why I am/will be pleased when someone takes advantage of the comments section following each piece (or if very personal, just sends me an email). Are there challenges or corrections to my thinking; are there additional points or arguments or logic I could have used?

Thirdly, did I (and then hopefully the reader) learn anything. My writing process is that I begin on a general theme and start to paint a word picture that assembles information from which I can eventually draw conclusions. My post on China, for example, took me over a month to write and was drawn from a number of books and well over 50 magazine and newspaper articles. I enjoyed the learning process and then making some sense in the form of conclusions/actions.


Occasionally the question comes up regarding the “correct” length of a blog article. The literature and on-line advice is quite varied. One of the measures considers what content gets the most shares say on Twitter and Facebook. Another being the related one of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO rankings are important when one wants to be seen (and read) by a wide audience. That usually means increased sales of a potential product or service, or greater impact of an idea or philosophy.

Visuals (photos, graphs, etc.) can be important. Along of course with the obvious: does it have substance, style, purpose. There is a myth that shorter is better; that most online readers have short attention spans. However, the general conclusion is that most of the good posts are robust and comprehensive, and to be that way, tend to be longer. It is generally agreed, logically, that the ideal post is one that holds attention, that people read.

Article length in words is one common measure. My recent posts vary from the 860 word “Connected-by-Canoe” article (that was written for a magazine), to the 25 action Items to fight climate change at 3,600 words, to the COVID implications for the future at 3,800, to the 7,100 word article on China, to the double barrelled piece on Trump at nearly 9,200 words.

How should they be read 

My blogs can be read quickly from the bold headings. Occasionally I will do a very short précis, which can substitute for the quickie heading strategy. The next level is obviously reading the full piece. Then finally tackle the attachment, which contains back-up material to support the main article. In my biased opinion there is much to be gained through digging into the attachments, but of course you have to be interested in the subject.


It’s my own blog so my standards prevail, including what facts I choose, conclusions I reach and number of words I use to get there. I’m not trying to sell anything, get published or promote a cause, but I do want to be interesting and engaging to the point of triggering debate, and as I said, provide both myself and readers some learning opportunity. I don’t want to be like the proverbial tree falling the forest and nobody hearing it. I do want to be read, thus my strategy of providing either a précis or the bold heading technique.

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