Definitely, writing one epic in-depth article is harder than publish 500 words every day. But in the long-run, those longreads can bring you the most of traffic and sharing.
Today, the format of a longread is incredibly popular — it brings tons of traffic, people share it on all social media like crazy, it’s evergreen. Ana The New York Times does it, The Guardian does it — all the popular media publish their epic long reads regularly and collect all the benefits. And you can do it too.
Still not persuaded? Here’s the latest research by Ahrefs to back up my words. It showed, that the length of a blog post appeared to be the second most important on-page SEO factor after the age of the page.
To put it simple, Google really “appreciates” longreads and tend to rank them higher.
As we’ve established that long content is really preferable for SEO and by readers, let’s go through all the creation process step by step.
1.Come up with an EPIC topic
Oh, I know how irritating it can be — I’ve spent 18 hours trying to come up with a topic for this very article and it’s not even a real long form text. You’ll suffer way more harshly with the topic you are able to write 2000+ words about.
But hey, somewhere between throwing your keyboard against the wall and decision to start a brand new career, it’ll just strike you.
Here are some ideas. Your first epic post can simply cover all the previous material you’ve already published. You can conduct a small case study and write about it. You can make it an interview enriched with your own comments and notes.
2. Check up on the competitors in your niche.
Just Google the topic you’ve chosen and look at the top articles. How can you write better than that? How can you win their audience and Google’s “affection”? Simple — combine all of their content into your epic long read.
Here’s what you get when you Google “how to write a long read”.
All these guides are pretty old, and we know that Google prefers more “experienced” pages. But check up each of them and you’ll see they are really short and depthless.
So, that’s a good chance to write a grand in-depth article with ease. (Well, not exactly “with ease” as you have 95% of the work to do, but it’s a head start.)
3. Research your topic thoroughly
Research is a necessary part of any article. Maybe you know everything about the topic you’re writing about, but you still need to explore it to its core and find as much information as possible.
When it comes to long-form content, it becomes even more important. You’ll need to backup your article with scientific findings, statistics and interesting case studies, include different point of views. It will immediately make an article more trustworthy and, why deny it, add some extra words to the overall score.
Don’t forget to save all the useful quotes which you could use in your future article (and links to them, of course).
4. Create a clear outline
First thing I do before reading a new long read is looking through it quickly. In 90% of cases, my decision on whether I’m going to spend an hour or more on a text depends on its outline (I give the rest 10% to visuals and design, but more about this is coming soon).
If you’re about to write a lot of words and want people to read it, your article should be easy scan-able all the way.
That is the first thing to do — create a great plan with a lot of headings and subheadings. Especially if your article is a listing or consists of many different parts. All the titles should be easy-to-understand and appealing.
Write a short draft of what you’re going to describe in each of the sub-sections.
5. Write it out
Just write it out.
By now, you have an outline and a lot of information. The only thing left is to write a lot of words.
The best way is to note everything — every single idea, every sentence you have in your head. Don’t forget to include quotes and links you’ve collected on the research stage. As a final result, you’ll get a long rough copy with all your thoughts in it.
6. Rewrite your first draft
I’m not acquainted with a single copywriter who’s able to write a masterpiece from the first try. More often your first draft is pretty bad and there’s nothing wrong with it. Because after writing comes the main part — rewriting.
When your word salad is ready, start rewriting it. (And be ready to read your text many time to the point you almost hate it.) Step by step, by deleting and adding, formatting and perfecting, you’ll get your fair copy. Congrats here!
Henneke Duistermaat from Enchanting Marketing nailed it down:
7. Include some interviews
Having multiple perspectives and different contexts is always a good thing. (Which immediately gives you a lot of additional text.)
It’s not that difficult to reach out to some experts in the field you’re writing about, ask them to answer 2-3 question, but it will make the whole narration way more diverse and interesting.
Also, it would be only natural to ask these experts to share your article with their quotes after you finish it.
8. Add images, videos, and audios
The internet is a fish tank, where people can stay focused no longer than a goldfish. You know what can help to keep readers engaged? Diversity! Don’t be afraid to mix the most diverse set of media in your post — like audio, video, quotations, pictures, podcasts, music. Also, side and footnotes with additional facts and explanations will enrich your story-telling drastically.
A long read without diverse visuals and multimedia is like La La Land without all the jazz — it won’t work. The very format implies the balanced combination of different genres, design tricks, audio and visual elements. In a nutshell, all is fair in love and war, and in longreads.
Also, don’t forget to specify sources of your pictures, videos, and audious to avoid all the legal issues.
9. Add authority sites links
First, I must say, you’ve done a great job by now. A couple of days, weeks or even month ago, you had a blank Google Docs sheet in front of you and a lot of work ahead.
Now you have your longread all set up and ready — waiting for you to hit the publish button. You are almost there.
The finishing touch would be to add all those links you’ve collected during the research phase. Citing authority sources will prove your points and make your text look trustworthy. Include links to all the people you cite, people you’ve made interviews with — they all should get proper credits.
10. Proofread your article
To be honest, that is my least favorite part. I simple hate proofreading my own texts. Maybe, it’s because at this point I’ve usually spent too much time working on them, so want to publish them immediately. Well, that is just not right, proofreading is as important as any other step.
The easiest way is to ask your friend to proofread your article — it’s always better to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.
If that’s not an option, you can only pull together and start proofreading. Try to step back and read it as if it’s not your text.
Believe me, you don’t want to blush when you readers start to point at all the typos and misspellings in the comment section.
Now that you know that writing a long read is actually a hard work, you may have one question — is it worth the efforts?
Well, have you heard of Snow Fall?
In 2012, the New York Times published their Snow Fall — an interactive long read in its purest form. It looked absolutely different from all the previous articles that people were used to — 16000+ words mixed up with images, graphics, videos, and audio records.
Everything looked organic and new. And… Its success was unbelievable: they shared it on social media, they were copying it, they adored it. A week after its publication, NYT reported 3,5 million pageviews and 2,9 million visits. At its peak, 22,000 users were reading it at any given time.
It was the moment when everybody started talking about longreads as a new format. That is a power of a good long read. So, isn’t it high time to write your own snow fall?