Already by day two of this longform article writing endeavor— I can tell you, it ain’t for the faint of heart.
Five thousand words is a lot. But that’s the general consensus for longform content. And longform sales pages. Writing about a topic you don’t necessarily love is especially boring, but keyword research will help you find a blog worthy of writing for so long. Longform is a good idea. Especially if you’re just starting out. We need to establish what your website is about.
You want to find something that’s getting searched regularly and wellhelp establish what your site is about. Let’s say you have an earthy home decor store. We need something earthy. A natural element many people think of when they think of earthy decor.
Like rattan furniture.
I can smell a ludicrous idea from a mile away. There’s no way I’m writing ten 5-paragraph essays about a vine from the jungle that we’ve been bending into shapes for things to sit on for centuries.
Wait … We have?
That’s pretty cool. What else can I find out about [rattan]?
Omg … Does Rattan have THORNS?!
Holy smokes. Rattan is a vine shrouded in thorns. As a harvester of Rattan, you have to separate the outer layer from the inner layer. Of an entire vine? And transport it to your house on a kayak? People hand down rattan farms they planted themselves to their family?
Is this harder to process than coffee??
Shoot, maybe this is more interesting than I thought. Maybe I CAN write 5000 words about rattan.
Write down a list of preliminary questions about that topic. Not sure what to ask? Visit the W’s.
H questions are perfect to ask, too—
Step 2: Ask a Robot.
Not sure if you’ve been living under a reality rock for 2023, but step two is “ask a robot”.
Sure, you can go to the library and meticulously write ideas on index cards with the source on the back. Or you can step into the Jetsons and ask AI. It’s not that scary. Let’s just try it.
Ask the robot again.
All the questions. Feel free to enhance your prompt as you wish. Robots are toddlers with a lot of knowledge. Sometimes we ask them twice. Most of thetime.
Now copy and paste what the robot said.
First, into google docs. The fastest way there is —>>
🟡 Now open a new tab and —>> go to www.hemingwayapp.com 🟡
Past your robot content in there again. The Google doc is just a backup, we’re not editing in there.
Do you have Grammarly turned on? It’s helpful for longform articles.
If you have Grammarly premium on your computer, it should work in Hemingway app.
Now break up all your sentences to get rid of the red. That’s your first mission on Hemingway.
Expect this to take longer than the robot took to answer your questions. You are not a robot.
When you find something that would be better up top or in another section … Copy/paste it where you want it to go. I don’t deal with the adverbs or passive voice prompts here, just the sentences.
Likely, there will be doubles and weird answers that don’t fit into even the tallest longform article.
For now, ditch all the red by shortening your sentences. Grade 10 is too high. If you don’t use it, you lose it, and trust me, as readers, we are losing it.
When I’m in the long-haul mode of a current longform content project, I listen to rain to get in a deep work session. Today it’s weird because it’s sunny on my porch, but rain and thunderstorms help me keep going.
Here’s one that’s helping me write longform article today:
ASMR Rain Sounds
Five thousand words are likely to be about 500 sentences. About 100 words per sentence, if you can figure that math out on your own.
It’s okay to have sentences start with but, and, so. Little words that break it up like that. Humans get bored easily. It’s not just you that has a hard time reading blocks of text. You can make a longform article simpler to read by using visuals, headlines, emojis, and formatting like bold, italics, and lists. Still hard to read. 🙂
Save your work sometimes by copying all and pasting over your document on Word.
Remember … We’re not editing in Google.
We’re editing in Hemingway app. Edit your longform article in Hemingway app. Robots are too wordy.
(which take me about two days, four sessions), you can ditch the blue and green … Adverbs and passive voice. You don’t have to omit all of them. If the adverb sounds on brand for us, keep it. Strong language, short sentences, and active voice are easier to read in a longform article.
But you sound like a little squeegee when your blog contains them. No one likes to read a blog written by a squeegee.
After you get the yellow, red, blue, green, & purple parts out of your text on hemingway app, you’ll be left with a mostly white screen. Check the red underlines for mis-spellings (that’s Grammarly).
Then, finally. You’ll have a bunch of white text. Now get to rearranging your longform article for comprehension.
Did I say to get up and take a walk first? I meant to say, get up and take a walk first. Pet a dog, drink coffee, do a few minutes of jump rope, lift heavy stuff, & harvest your lettuce. Then sit back down.
Not sure what you’re gonna do to take a break, but take a break. Because you’re going to need your brains with you when you start to read this robot’s really bad story.
Why even write a 5000-word essay? It seems hard.
Because longform content helps establish what your domain is about. Do you know how much information you can fit into 5000 words?
10x more than one 5-paragraph essay in high school. Not a lot of other coffee roasters or real estate agents are taking the time for this.
Google is going to be like:
Woah, there’s only one 5000 word essay on the internet about rattan.
Let’s point requests for information there. After you rearrange your information into a somewhat cohesive whole, you will fill in the blanks with your own words, then add some pizazz.
(I know, this is its own whole 5000-word essay about blog posts and longform content, agh.)
—>> Name your images.
—>> Add alt text to your images.
Link your blog out, and at the end, link back to yourself.
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I suspect it is terrible. The recording is 30 minutes. I will listen to it now while I take a chill pill and transplant something in my garden
See if there is a natural way to organize the information when I listen to it back to myself. I’ll let you know.
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Yo, I’m back. Okay, I’ve zeroed out my red and yellow, and purple (simpler alternatives) on Hemingway. And I’m happy with // burned out and ready to move on about // my passive voice and adverbs.
Next up, rearranging.
I need the entire 5000-word blog post about … Rattan?? To be a cohesive story. I use workflowy for that.
I know the basic story arch, and so do you.
Let’s give it a go:
In ancient civilization, before clear-cut forests and fern gully plants— vines grew like savages.
They beamed toward the sun and soaked up the rain climbing into the canopy.
Primates swung from vines, and humans noticed the strength of the vine.
He cut the vine, despite the thorns, and brought it back to camp.
It rained for days, the vine began to break and there was a different material underneath.
Soft and pliable when wet, the man bent this into a basket. Then a chair. And then a bed.
For a few decades in recent history, plastics have become king. We lost much beauty in the world and damaged our earth. The resilience of human beings brings crusaders of earth. Here to save the planet with a sustainable culture.
We’re bringing back rattan decor. We’re building with bamboo.
At home, we are decorating with plants to remember to work with them, not against them.
Clear cutting is out.
Earthy home decor is in.
I run it through WordPress. I’m not going to publish on WordPress, but I want to get the okay from Yoast’s WordPress plug in. So since I have a WordPress blog for another site (this one),I run it through to get the okay on the SEO analysis. The dots that can still be red from Yoast are outbound links, images, internal links, keyphrase in slu, and meta description length. Those can’t really be handled except on the blogging platform. In this case .. Shopify.
But when I’m writing a WordPress, I go all the way to double green smileys.
Next we install our longform article into Shopify /or/ your blog host
H1 is the Title, and H2 are your biggest ideas.
In a 5000 word longform article, you’re bound to have 3-5 H2s.
Maybe more! If you’re doing a huge round-up style blog to reach 5000 words.
If you have a series of information that expands on the idea in the h2, those would all be h3s in your longform article.
The H1 will be something someone is searching for “choosing colors for branding” or something else related. The H2s could be:
H3s would be another bulleted list under each H2. Respectfully:
red, orange, yellow // blue, green, purple // cream, tan, slate // evergreen, sky blue, snow white // copper, bronze, gold
And there could easily be a whole other hierarchy that livesbelow each. Red, Orange, Yellow each have options. Those options would be H4s.
Does this H thing need it’s own blog podcast, or video?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
They will appear bigger under most themes.
H3’s are there to support h2s. There’s not really an h3 that doesn’t support an h2.
Let’s say you’re explaining (7) things under an H3. —>> Go ahead and make them all h4s. Most times, your theme will show this as a different font. I use my H4 to change the font, actually. Rather than just for the heading hierarchy, it’s also visually different.
If each of the 7 things has supporting evidence, that info could be an H5. If it would help a robot, do it. You don’t always have to do such deep Heading settings. But on your 5000 word blog posts — that take 3 days? Just do it. Go all the way.
Think of each batch of Hs as a folder, if it helps. If the part of the blog you need is in a folder labeled H2, you don’t need to look in another folder’s H5 folder.
You don’t use H5s much, but I used it in a 5000 words blog about earthy home decor. I even used H6s.
As you do your headings, clean stuff up. Rearrange again, now that you’re seeing where stuff lives. This is the time.
How does an H6 support an H5 that supports an H4 that supports and H3 that supports an H1?
Let me build it back to you I almost never get to H6, but when I’m writing a longform article about gardening, I do get there sometimes. Each plant has a common name and a latin name, so that’s already 2 subheadings.
A major misconception about blogging is that each new heading would be a new H, but that is not at all what Google wants to see.
There’s no place for an H6 in a longform article if it doesn’t get nestled under an H5. And all H5’s are nestled under an H4. And you don’t get to an H4, even in longform content,unless you need a separate category under an H3. H3 is as deep into the Headings hierarchy that most of your blogs will get. H4 and beyond is a special occasion.
This is why it is important to write for robots, not for people. We are not the same. Humans aren’t really going to read your first 5000-word blog post. But robots will, and that will help establish your website as “in the ______ space”.
Here is one way to get all the way to using H6’s. Unlikely in most of your posts.
H1, H2, H3, H4 is probably as deep as you’ll get before just calling everything a [p] paragraph text, but this works. Imaging I’m writing an article about decorating with plants for earthy decor. If I name some species of houseplants to buy, I might get to H6 with the latin name. H5 for the Common name. If House plant propagation is part of my article about Earthy home decor. Why would anyone decorate with plants anyway? I could write a whole article about that.
H6. Monstera deliciosa
H4. Houseplants that like to propagate in a bin with moss
H3. How to Propagate
H2. Why decorate with plants
H1. Earthy Home Decor
Each ascending H directly supports the H above it. “Why decorate with plants” supports “Earthy Home Decor”. “Monstera deliciosa” supports “Monstera”. Monstera supports “houseplants that like to propagate in a bin with moss”, which supports “How to Propagate”.
Send me an email at email@example.com if it’s still not making sense. I’ll make you a quick little Loom video explanation or go all out on a new YouTube if I get a few asks.
After Your headings, clean stuff up.
Rearrange the text again, now that you know where stuff lives. This is the time.
Next up —- Get your images in there.
I like to use a good amount of thin horizontal images that break up a blog. I asked my creative director for icons && she gave me everything I needed, included my beloved squiggle blog breaker.
Her name is Anna, and you can find her at bluntcrayon.com
You won’t have to do that for every blog. Most of my blogs have 3-5 images and some blog breakers.
But this is a 5000-word blog post. We’re trying to rank with this one. I don’t want to write this one again. My images are pretty good. Well, not on this secondary blog that I’m writing about my longform content writing practice, but on the earthy home decor blog I keep rambling about.
Images enhance my brand’s visuals, and corroborate what I’m throwing down. And they also call out a bit to my main brand. My blog visuals use fonts that I use throughout all my brands. I trackmy branding in a notion database.
My 5000 word long form blog post has 27 images. Many of which I worked or chopped or changed in some way. If you count all the blog breakers and emblems, there are a dozen or two more.
I don’t always count my blog breakers because they are more for subliminal branding than blatant branding.
After I find some stock images on a stock site like Pexels or Unsplash, I bring them into Canva to add a little pizazz. Maybe some text overlay in my brand’s fonts, and some blog breakers or brand icons to break up the visuals.
This is my niche site, so I’m gonna choose emoji’s in my niche. I’ll use them in a few places. I might use emojis instead of dots or dashes.
I recently listened to an Ologies podcast about emojis. Riveting stuff, I tell you. Before bed, I like to hear from scientists. I didn’t know that before I found Alie Ward’s delightful science podcast, but it’s been such a pleasure to fall asleep to learning from the various ologists.
We can communicate quite a bit in emojis. Emojis can stand as creative examples of stylizing text. We can assist our readers in understanding where to look/
—>> emojis can add humor
—>> assist with visualizing
—>> draw attention to a specific location.
The longform content writing process is more than a day for me. I can’t stay on track for more than a couple of hours on the same topic. I get very bored. One thing I love to do for editing is add in my voice. When I choose to persevere and get a project done through sheer tenacity, the writing itself gets a little bland.
So I give it a few days live and then I’ll add in my brand voice from my copy bank.
After I’ve published my blog and it’s live, I’ll do a follow-up check in a few days to read it like a scanner. I look for opportunities to improve the visual appearance of my blog just with headings and bullets and italicized sections of text. I give my brain a rest before I come back. Then I’ll get my final formatting done.
I have a certain way I like things. My emdashes and my ellipses. MY copybank is full of “use this, not that.” Grammarly says I use
Too many … And not enough ;
We know, Gramm. We like them …
So we use them.
When you’re establishing your pattern, expect writing longform to take hours. An entire day, or more likely, a portion of many days. Not all of your blogs need to be 5000 words. Many of your blogs will sit around 200 words and even 1200-1500 is acceptable, especially when it is part of a series of blogs.
You can do a series of blogs that are “X best music venues in Connecticut”. Or talk about all the sweet concerts you’ve seen and link to each venue and the best nights to go. You can do another series about Colleges in Connecticut. “X Bookstores in Connecticut fo your fall trip”. “X Fall festivals in Connecticut for 2023”. Each of those blogs could be around the 1200-1500 mark.
But a comprehensive blog about coffee that’s written to establish your website as an authority on coffee is going to have to write a lot of words about coffee so that Googlebots will be like “hundo percent sure this one’s about coffee.”
Spend a few days getting it all down. I use robots like Jasper.ai, heminwayapp.com, and the Google itself. I even reiterate a portion of the same information in slightly different contexts. It’s hard, but you can establish branding and your voice in a longform article content piece. If you’re creative, you can use it to link to all of your products in a pretty chill manner.
You can write a series of blogs that are about “Moving to Colorado from Arizona,” “Moving to Colorado from New Jersey” & “Moving to Colorado from Texas”. Each of those blogs can be about 1200 – 1500 words. But a longform content blog that could establish your site as an authority in this space would be about 5000 words. Not a lot of realtors are writing 5000-word essays about “Moving to Colorado from the East Coast.” You could easily split up a long blog like that into small sections about each state from Maine to Florida. There are 14 states that touch the Atlantic Ocean.
5000 / 14 = 358 words about each state. Easy.
Next, add links.
Be extra good for your potential people and give them what they want. Link to helpful sites. Show visuals that pique their wanderlust. Use popular quotes like “the mountains are calling and I must go”.
I like to link out to .edu information. They’re not my competitors. .edu sites have a higher domain authority. It’s my intention to make a habit of linking to .edu sites on my blog.
And link back to your own blog, of course.
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5000 Word Blog Post Update:
It’s been a few days. Like 5 or so. I just sent back and added some more sneaky keywords. Learned that term from Ryan Moreno. Need more SEO inspiration? Check out Tonic Site Shop and sign up for SIMPLY SEO.
I’m ranking for my chosen keyword. The one I used a million times in my 5000 word blog post about Rattan. I’d link you to it, but it’s really for SEO, not random readers.
If you find this interesting, check out my YouTube video about writing blogs.
It’s not specifically talking about the 5000-word longform article, but that all fits into the 6th part. The Solution.
There are many other parts shrouded in sales psychology. I’m very proud of it. I use it for every blog I write. Here’s the vid: