A few months ago, I’ve analyzed 694 posts from 10 writers that I follow on Medium, and that I think are top Medium writers. They have between 50k and 150k followers. I’ve analyzed all the articles they posted between July 1st — November 30th, 2016. During that period, each writer posted between 22 and 213 articles, that were somewhere between 1-minute and 32-minute reads.
More than 60% of the posts are 3-, 4- or 5-minute reads, and more than 90% are 2- to 9-minute reads. Yet, it looks like longer posts have more recommends: the average number of recommends for 4-minute reads is about 600, whereas it is close to 1,000 for 9-minute reads. It even goes up to 4,000 recommends for 32-minute reads! Yet, only two 32-minute reads have been posted.
So you probably think that you should write 30-minutes-long posts. Well, actually it’s not that simple.
Let’s learn some more by breaking it down to each writer, to find out what is actually the best-performing post length.
If you don’t want to have a look to each graph for each writer, you can directly skip to the Learnings.
top writer : Business, Entrepreneurship, Life Lessons
That makes an average of 360+ ❤ per post
3-minute posts (29%), 4-minute posts (23%), 2-minute posts (17%), and 5-minute posts (13%)
8-minute posts (620+ ❤, yet he only wrote two), and 5-minute posts (580+ ❤)
top writer : Inspiration, Business, Life, Startup, Productivity
Editor of Art of Practicality (20k followers)
That makes an average of 1,100+ ❤ per post
5-minute posts (36%), 4-minute posts (26%), and 6-minute posts (13%)
7-minute posts (2,500+ ❤)
top writer : Entrepreneurship, Life, Life Lessons, Productivity, Self-Improvement
That makes an average of 2,200+ ❤ per post
7-minute posts (16%), 4-minute, 5-minute and 9-minute posts (14% each), and 6-minute and 11-minute posts (8% each)
32-minute posts (3,900+ ❤) and 8-minute posts (3,800+ ❤)
top writer : Social Media, Venture Capital, Business, Startup, Entrepreneurship
Editor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship (139k followers)
That makes an average of 370+ ❤ per post
4-minute posts (25%), 3-minute posts (19%), 5-minute posts (17%), and 2-minute posts (14%)
8-minute posts (550+ ❤) and 5-minute posts (540+ ❤)
top writer : Technology
That makes an average of 540+ ❤ per post
4-minute posts (18%), 5-minute and 11-minute posts (14% each), and 7-minute and 8-minute posts (9%)
22-minute post (2,400+ ❤, yet he only wrote one), 18-minute post (1,200+ ❤, yet he only wrote one). His 11-minute posts have also a good average (880+ ❤).
top writer : Psychology, Life Lessons, Productivity, Creativity, Life
That makes an average of 1,000+ ❤ per post
4-minute posts (64%) and 5-minute posts (15%)
6-minute posts (1,700+ ❤) and 5-minute posts (1,400+ ❤)
He writes a lot about tech.
Editor of 500ish Words
That makes an average of 120+ ❤ per post
4-minute posts (33%), 5-minute posts (27%), and 3-minute posts (20%)
7-minute posts (250+ ❤, yet he only wrote one) and 3-minute posts (170+ ❤)
top writer : Startup
Editor of Both Sides of the Table (20k followers)
That makes an average of 400+ ❤ per post
5-minute and 7-minute posts (20% each), 3-minute posts (16%)
8-minute posts (810+ ❤)
top writer : Design
That makes an average of 690+ ❤ per post
5-minute posts (22%), 4-minute, 6-minute and 8-minute (17% each)
4-minute posts (1,600+ ❤)
top writer : Writing, Startup, Entrepreneurship, Life, Life Lessons
That makes an average of 530+ ❤ per post
4-minute posts (32%), 3-minute posts (20%), 5-minute posts (17%) and 2-minute posts (13%)
10-minute posts (3,600+ ❤, yet he only wrote one), 9-minute posts (1,300+ ❤) and 6-minute posts (1,200+ ❤)
It seems that the ideal length for a post to get the most recommends is 8 minutes. For three of these ten writers, the 8-minute posts are the ones bringing the most recommends on average. Then comes the 7-minute posts.
It is also interesting to note that a few long posts (two 32-minute posts written by Benjamin P. Hardy, and one 22-minute by Steven Levy) are the ones bringing the most recommends on average to their respective writers. So it is also possible that writing long posts is a good way to get a lot of recommends.
Though, writing long posts is likely a difficult exercise — not every writer can keep the reader’s attention during 20 minutes. It probably needs a lot of work and talent to master. I would suggest reading pieces of Benjamin P. Hardy to learn how to do that, given his impressive numbers of recommends for his long posts. What’s also interesting with Benjamin is that he always recommended his own stories a few days after releasing them. A good way to give a second boost to your posts — provided that you have a good amount of followers of course.
Needless to write an 8-minute post just because numbers are showing here that this is what brings the most recommends. If you can make your point and deliver the value in 4 minutes, it’s even better. Remember, less is more.
Yet of course, when writing, you can probably go deeper into the analysis in 8 minutes rather than 4, and that may be the reason why 7- and 8-minute posts are that much appreciated — long enough to make a good analysis, but short enough not to lose your readers halfway.
Don’t get this wrong: it’s not because you will write an 8-minute post that people will like it. Instead, write what you have to say without focusing on the length of your post. Once you think it’s done, check how long it is (an 8-minute post is approximately 1,800 words).
All in all, this 8-minute mark should act as an indication for you, rather than a rule to follow.
Focusing primarily on anything that is not writing, is a waste of your time.
Hope you found this post useful, and if so, please don’t hesitate to click on the ❤ so that other people can also see it :)