Audience with Long-Form Evergreen Content


I’m yet to meet a blogger who doesn’t, so I’m picturing a room full of bloggers with their hands in the air!

If you’re one of them, I would highly recommend you spend a few minutes today listening to the first 20 or so minutes of this podcast by Tim Ferriss, who outlines how he’d build his audience if he were starting from scratch today.

Note: the rest of the podcast answers other questions which are good but less relevant for bloggers.

There are some great ideas in his answer that, in essence, are similar to what I’ve written and spoken about previously:

  1. Identify who you are trying to reach
  2. Ask where those readers are gathering and/or focusing their attention
  3. Work out how to build a presence in those places

But one of the other key messages in Tim’s podcast that really stood out to me was this statement that he made:

‘The most labor-efficient way to build readership over time is long-form evergreen content.’

There is so much wisdom in this statement, and I’d highly recommend bloggers ponder two parts of it.

Long Form Content

There has definitely been a trend over the last few years for many bloggers to move toward shorter-form content. I’m not sure if this has been the result of the short-for nature of social media, an assumption that people’s attention spans are short, the pressure to publish more posts, or something else – but I’ve heard it taught from the stage at conferences and have definitely noticed more and more bloggers creating shorter posts in recent years.

My experience has been similar to Tim’s. I’ve noticed that it’s my longer and more in-depth posts that get the most shares, the most links, and the most traffic – both when they’re launched and over their long tail life.

There are exceptions, but today, as I look through the top 10 most-read posts here on ProBlogger over the last 12 months, the shortest one is 714 words, and the longest is over 7000. Their average is 2491.

I recently spoke about some of the benefits (and some of the costs) of creating long-form vs. short form content here, so I won’t go on too long about it except to say that, at the very least longer, form content is worth weaving into the mix of content on your blog.

I’m not arguing that every post needs to be longer form – it takes a lot of effort to create, and there is definitely a place for shorter content – but the effort you put into longer posts can be a great investment to make into your blogging.

Further Reading: read Search Engine Journal’s article Why You Need to Start Creating Long, Evergreen Content Today.

Evergreen Content

Note for those not familiar with the term ‘Evergreen Content’: Evergreen posts are ones that don’t lose their relevancy over time. You write them today, and they will be as helpful to readers in a few months (or even years) time.

I know that not every blog topic/niche naturally lends itself to the creation of evergreen content (for example, ‘news’ and ‘reviews’ sites can sometimes struggle with it), but most blogs should be able to find a way to create at least some content that doesn’t date quickly.

As I look through the most read posts on both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School over the last 12 months, every single post is what I’d consider to be evergreen content.

Of course, part of the reason for this is that it’s the main focus of what I do – but we do cover ‘newsy’ type posts from time to time on dPS, and apart from a spike in traffic shortly after it is published, it rarely ever gets more than a trickle of traffic ever again.

Evergreen Content Case Studies

To illustrate the case for evergreen content, let me give you a couple of examples.

Here’s how a time-sensitive post announcing the launch of the New Adobe Lightroom that we published on dPS recently performed in terms of traffic.

You can see the initial burst of traffic as it went live and as our readers excitedly gobbled up the hot news (and it was fairly significant news in the photography niche).

But in the month after, it’s had little traffic, and I suspect I will never see more than a handful of visitors again coming to it on a given day.

Contrast this with an evergreen post I published back in January of 2007 on the topic of ISO Settings.

The post had its own little spike in traffic in the first days (although I had hardly any readers at that point), but to this day, it continues to get traffic (for example, yesterday, it had over 1100 visitors).

The beauty of evergreen content is that it not only gets the same initial spike of traffic to it when you publish, but it also is much more likely to be searched for and found in search engines in the years to come.

The other benefit of the evergreen content is that you (and others) can keep sharing it on social for years to come also! It is this evergreen content that I’ve built my whole social media workflow around.

I would like you to look at this daily traffic graph of the same post on ISO, where you’ll see some more enormous daily spikes periodically on the days I reshare it on social media.

I have given that post a refresh over the years, but it’s essentially the same content that I published in 2007, and, despite being eight years old, it still gets a great reaction every time I share it on social.

Worth noting here is that this example is different from what I’d consider being ‘long form content’ – it’s around 700 words in length which isn’t short – but it shows you that there’s a place for’id-sized’ form content too.

The Most Compelling Case for Investing Time into Evergreen Content…

As I look at the two examples of posts I’ve just shown you, the investment that was put into those two posts was similar.

From memory, I spent an hour or two writing the post on ISO. I don’t know how long the author who wrote the Lightroom announcement post spent on it, but looking at it, he put at least that much time into researching and writing it.

Considering that investment of time – the case for evergreen content is pretty straightforward.

The quote I started with from Tim Ferriss was all about labor-efficient ways to build readership. It’s not the only way, but I’d have identified one approach that resonates with mine.

Further Reading: Check out Ali Luke’s post Your Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazing Content that Draws Readers Into Your Blog.

If you want to learn more about creating content, take ProBlogger’s Create Content Course to learn how to consistently create compelling and engaging content.

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