In this guide, we’ll talk about content, and more specifically, longreads (long-form) content. Not only that but we’ll also answer why it’s a good idea to have it on your website. Let’s say you’re looking for how to start an online business, right? You’ll want a full rundown, concrete information, and actionable tips that will assist you to begin a successful brand.
Of course, you’re probably going to want a lengthy resource that’s valuable, right? Eventually, this is where the glory of long-form writing shines the most. Perse, it gives you a chance to provide highly motivated readers with a ton of value and context. Long-form content generally has a word count of more than 1,000 words — so, it’s not the shortest read.
It’s very true that you can submit longreads online through various sites easily — it has an audience that’s quickly rising. However, regardless of the name ‘longreads’, there is still an ongoing debate online. Whether it’s relevant or appropriate to use texts with over 5-10K symbols as part of the website content, users prefer nothing longer than posts on Facebook.
And that they would quit a 15-minute reading already after the first paragraph? It takes less time and effort to write 2 short stories than 1 Longread. All in all, longform journalism is giving news stories a whole new meaning. And indeed, a large number of short articles can help to fill up the content of the website and present the main messages to users.
What Longreads (Long Form) Content Is All About
In general, longreads (long-form) content describes a piece of writing that is between 1,000 — 7,500 words. You might want to read long-form content to get a deep dive into complicated subjects from a robust source of writing. Theoretically, longreads (long-form) content is supposed to attract more traffic to the website.
Again, in reality, it also unfolds the topic to get the audience a lot more involved. Longreads is also known as the ‘long story’, ‘deep story’, or simply storytelling.’ There’re many names for such formats that present long or large information online. In short, longreads are one of the ways to present information in a substantial [interesting] extensive text.
These are texts that unfold the topic and are enriched with details and facts. At times, with over 5,000 symbols — taking from 5-7 minutes to read. For instance, one of the most famous longreads is ‘Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.’ Published by The New York Times with 10,500 words.
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The publication gathered 3.5 million views in its first week. While at the same time, over 22,000 people were reading it at the peak of its popularity. You can see other results of the best Longreads of the year as listed on this website in detail. Basically, longform pieces often involve investigative reporting as well as interviewing many people.
And, as a result, it can take weeks, or even months, to write just one longread. But, the solid truth is that, for anyone interested in journalism or writing at all, longform journalism is a great field to explore. However, it’s important to remember that a Longread Format is not just a broad plain text with thousands of symbols.
Rather, it’s a well-composed story containing necessary information. After all, the main purpose of long-form content is to provide valuable information to the reader. If you write long-form pieces — and make sure those articles are useful to your audience — you can increase the overall time spent on your website, the scroll depth, and even add value to your reader.
The Main Long-Form Content Vs Short-Form Content Difference
On one hand, short-form content can be extremely helpful to readers who want a quick answer to their queries. For instance, you can offer short-form content to provide a simple definition or even explain a product in small portions as well. Thus, short-form content gives your reader the information fast so their attention doesn’t wane.
Not to mention, this type of shorter writing is generally under 1,000 words. Usually, it provides a general overview and saves readers time. Long-form content, on the other hand, goes deeper into topics. In addition to diving deeper into topics, long-form content can aid with ranking highly on search engines and building your website’s reputation.
For example, this article, about how to write a blog post, has earned thousands of views — 4 minutes is the average time spent on the page. From these metrics, we can guess that this 17-minute read, well over 1K+ words, was successful in providing value to the reader. However, this doesn’t mean that you should fill your blog with 17-minute reads.
Suffice it to say, on the other hand, it can be useful to start thinking of how long-form content can be effective for your audience. So, how can you provide ample writing that’s actionable for your overall content readers?
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Well, if you build an archive of long-form content that’s valuable for readers, you can create a reputation as a source people look to first to help them solve their questions. It’s kind of like ordering a product online. Probably, you’re likely to order from a website you’ve used many times before, that has proven reputable, instead of trying out a brand-new option.
Let’s look at another reason why long-form, valuable writing is successful: page rank on Google. As an example, Backlinko found that websites with a high “time on site” are more likely to rank highly on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) than the rest. When a search query is typed into Google, it crawls websites for content that will help solve that user’s query.
Web pages that have a longer time spent on site than others suggest to Google that browsers found that information important enough to stay on that page. As a result, Google is more likely to suggest that page above others. (Don’t forget that a page optimized for SEO is also a huge boost to improving rank).
So now you know why long-form content is important to have on your site: It provides value to readers, can earn you a reputable reputation, and brings more eyes to your site. But what does successful long-form content look like?
How To Write Content In Longform Correctly
In order to create a really effective and ‘deep’ story, it’s necessary to follow some basic steps as I’ll explain in detail henceforth. And the first step is to think well before you write or submit longreads online. While, keeping in mind, writing a longread without a clear idea and plan is a waste of time — outline the main topics (usually a couple of them).
Then thereafter, determine the structure and draft a summary for every section. Secondly, you should try and have your catch right from your first lines. Now that most people tend to carefully read only those articles which catch their attention. And as such, it can be an open question, short storytelling, or even a provocative statement.
Usually, these elements visually split the text making it more readable and allow to help readers’ attention. Not to mention, quality multimedia’s deep story is a result of the work of your entire content team. From copywriters, designers, photographers, etc. Last but not least, you need to understand that a longread is a complete story.
May it be your story plot or even the logical connection between parts. A complete finale makes a longread and interesting story to read instead of plain text. So, it’s important to make it substantial containing interesting and relevant information only. That said, below are a few more tips that you (as a publisher) should always try to keep in mind.
1. Hook the reader with an engaging introduction.
Depending on the platform you use to post your long-form article, the estimated read time is given to the reader. For instance, you can utilize a feature such that, when a reader clicks on an article, they can see the read time underneath the title. Some people might see that reading time and immediately feel compelled to skim — if it’s like 18 minutes.
To hook the reader, make your introduction something that grabs their attention. One of our colleagues is great at this — he will present an anecdote at the beginning of the piece. And then thereafter, he continues to use that anecdote to illustrate points throughout the rest of the article. Overall, it leads to gripping posts we are sad to finish.
If you can’t think of a story or life experience to use to pull the reader in, give a relevant statistic in the above-the-fold information. What you present above the fold is what’s going to make that reader think, “Oh, I have to keep going!” To enumerate, try to have a look at how the likes of Yahoo News often place their above-the-fold heading titles for ideas.
2. Divide your paragraphs into comprehensible sections
When you sit down to write your long-form piece, take note of paragraph structure. To optimize your piece for readability, keep paragraphs short. Ideally, paragraphs shouldn’t be longer than three sentences, unless it makes sense to add more. Let’s talk about that exception when writing a paragraph where the impact is best presented in rhetorical questions.
For example, from such rhetorical questions, it might look better to keep those questions in the same section. And then, ask yourself a few questions that will further guide you to the next stage.
Consider the following:
- Does the paragraph have an effect on the reader?
- Do you effectively get your point across?
- How will you use paragraphs to make content digestible?
- Are you pulling the reader in with your formatting?
In some cases, it’s alright to ignore the three-sentence rule if, like above, each sentence flows together. Adding an entirely new paragraph just to fit that extra question doesn’t provide the same effect and does little for formatting. Remember to have fun with your long-form content. Writing is a creative process, and readers can tell it all at a glance.
Meaning, that when something was a drag to write (It’s probably a drag to read). All in all, it’s so valuable to have longer pieces on your site, and readers will definitely find them useful.
3. Try to section off your main content ideas
Headers (H2s, H3s, H4s) are our friends — can be found in almost every writing tool, like Docs, Word, WordPress, HubSpot, and other software programs. They help us guide the reader through the main ideas of our piece by breaking off our content into sections. For instance, in this piece, the main idea of this guide is “tips to write long-form content.”
So, in that case, we made it clearly part of our H2 (What Longreads (Long Form) Content Is All About), which is generally used for titles and main ideas. The list items underneath this section are formatted into H3s, which support that main idea. This means, if we were to add subsections underneath any of these list items, they would be H4s.
Headers split up long sections of your text and assist with organization. If this piece lacked these items, it would be pretty difficult to navigate. Additionally, when we are outlining a long-form post, planning headers in advance support us in writing effective content — and we can, definitely, visualize what we need to add to make each portion more effective.
4. Make sure your initial thoughts are well organized
It’s crucial for long-form content to make sense. So, before you press “publish,” read over your piece for organization. Ask yourself if your piece has a beginning, middle, and ending that readers can follow. Your sections should have a logical format. For example, in this piece, we wouldn’t have jumped into providing steps to writing long-form content head-on.
Not without first explaining the definition of what we are covering in this guide at the very beginning. Think about if Cinderella started with the royal wedding, then circled back to Cinderella cleaning the house — that wouldn’t make much sense. Readers could get confused if your work isn’t organized in a logical way, so be mindful of formatting.
On the same note, it’s also good to describe the ‘so what?’ of each section. Long-form content has the added difficulty of keeping readers engaged throughout the piece. To combat this, make every paragraph count. This will do two things: Avoid unnecessary added length and keep readers compelled.
Moreover, when you write a longer piece, you don’t need to add extra information that doesn’t serve the purpose of the post. This can lead to convoluted, intricate paragraphs or sections that don’t make much sense. To keep readers interested, get to the point. End sections with why the readers should care. This ensures they get the most out of your article.
5. Keep a conversational tone throughout your piece
This circles back to keeping the attention of viewers. Instead of taking an extremely formal tone, it’s okay to lighten up a little. In college, whenever when reading academic textbooks, it is hard to keep focus — the highly technical language won’t keep any interest. Unless your article is from an academic journal, don’t try to use complicated language.
In particular, you would want to try not to seem like a very professional academic expert on your topic. If you give well, researched, thoughtful, and actionable content, readers will find your post useful. Remember, that trying to sound “too” formal could actually have a negative effect and leave your readers feeling like they don’t have any takeaways.
In the same fashion, you should also try to add visuals to break up long sections of text. In addition to breaking up long sections with short paragraphs and headers, eye-catching visuals are another way to break up long sections and keep the reader engaged. When skimming an article and seeing a picture or graph included, we are immediately drawn back.
You don’t always have to use images or videos. Blockquotes and anchor text are also amazing tools. Blockquotes are those huge quotes you see highlighted in articles, and anchor text directs your reader back to sections you reference earlier in the piece. Generally, you can find these tools within the software you’re using.
How To Submit Your Longreads Online As A Publisher
As I mentioned earlier, there’re numerous ways to submit Longreads online through various sites such as this site for free. And it still has its audience while storytelling a long deep story. As long as you’ve published a story and would like them to consider it for an editor’s pick. With that in mind, you can submit an already published story for Editor’s Picks consideration.
Equally important, you can also share your story link with @Longreads on Twitter. Or even share the story using the #longreads hashtag. But, if you don’t use Twitter, you can send story links to [email protected] to get featured in that case. Additionally, you can also pitch them an original story for publication.
Now that longreads is currently accepting pitches for original work. And they’ll even pay you at a very competitive rate! But, unfortunately, they’re not accepting any fiction at this time. You should also note that they’re just a small team, and thus they receive many essay and story pitches. So, they’ll only respond if they’re interested in publishing your piece.
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We recommend you simultaneously submit to other publication sites too to increase your chances of being shortlisted for a feature. Also remember, if you optimize your website for search engines and add calls-to-action in the body of your piece, you can improve lead generation. Your articles will have a higher chance of being clicked by users.
Because your website pages and posts will start showing up on the first page of SERPs at large. And, in the end, you can also quickly but easily guide your web content readers to offers that relate to the topic of your work. Long-form writing has its own advantages over short-form content, even though the latter might be the quickest way to beef up your archive.
The Key Features That Drive Longreads
On the surface, long-form content doesn’t sound like it’s great for user engagement. It might seem counterintuitive to give your audience more to read in order to keep them on your website longer. But, that doesn’t mean that short-form content isn’t useful for your website. You should have both to serve different purposes.
First of all, is there somebody who is going to read a text that long? The NNGroup gathered NNGroup, 200 users to study the way they read online content. According to this research, most of the participants have a similar pattern of looking through the text regardless of the website. It resembles the letter F.
This means that the reader tends to pay more attention to the title [heading] and the first paragraph. And then looks through the rest of the text. Based on these results it appears to be useless to publish texts with several thousands of symbols. However, there are some pros too!
In 2014 the Newswhip company Newswhip carried out another research to determine the best way of presenting online news. Naturally, short posts appeared to be the most popular format. Nevertheless, there was almost the same share of users who prefer extensive articles (from 1,200 words or 7,300 symbols).
Another study by Newswhip revealed that the most ‘shared’ social media posts tend to include over 1,000 words and over 6,000 symbols. The study involved the world’s media leaders like BBC, CNN, The New York Times, etc. See more features:
1. The reading lists and blog posts requirement
As you go on to submit longreads online, you’ll realize that — just like the other publishing sites for longform content, specifically this site frequently features writers diving into a variety of topics. Like site themes and application topics through curated reading lists.
However, as a rule of thumb, reading lists should be approximately 750 words. Just like — an essay-style introduction followed by a collection of curated links. And more specifically, the links to stories, books, and other resources related to the theme you are writing about.
As well as why it matters to you. And surprisingly enough, they’ll pay $250 per reading list. In that case, you should also note the “Reading List” in your email subject line when pitching these pieces. Not sure of what to submit yet?
Some reading lists we particularly love:
- World Emoji Day: A Reading List
- Pages You Can Dance To (A Book List)
- We All Die In the End, But Our Skin Looks Great: A Reading List
- Eating What Feels Right: On-Going Vegetarian
- Why We Write Memoir: A Reading List
- Really Good Shit: A Reading List
2. Essays / Investigative Projects / Features
Well, well, on one side, their preferred essay features are generally between 2,000 and 6,000 words. But, these can also be longer or broken up into a series depending on length and subject matter. On the other side, personal essays should be submitted on spec, and they’ll pay $500 per story.
Here are some of our favorites:
- All that Was Innocent and Violent: Girlhood in Post-Revolution Iran
- Revisiting My Grandfather’s Garden
- Grieving, but Calmed by a Different Kind of Storm
- Vacation Memories Marred By the Indelible Stain of Racism
For critical essays and columns, they also accept pitches — with their rates starting at $500. But, these rates often vary depending on the level of reporting and research required.
3. Allowance to submit longreads online as pitches
Longreads features that require original reporting should be submitted as pitches. These features are rigorously edited and fact-checked. They are also interested in collaborating with artists and photographers on stories. And thus, would be open to working with any partners you’ll have in mind. Equally important, they’re especially interested in investigative stories.
And therefore, they would love to work with experienced reporters — if you qualify that is! As they provide them with a great amount of time and resources required for such projects. In fact, some of their year-end series highlights the best journalism across a range of categories. And this may give you some insights into the kind of work they’d love to produce.
4. The payments criteria requirements
There’s even more to longreads that you should know about first! Like telling them what makes your story incredible and urgent. Or even why you have the required criteria to write them. And why Longreads is the place to tell it.
Having said that, if all factors are constant here, they’ll pay you at very competitive rates for these features. Below is some type of work they’re constantly looking for from you as one of their publishers:
- Queens of Infamy
- The Hunt for Planet Nine
- All About The Final Five Percent
- The Endgame of the Olympics
- Marmalade: A Very British Obsession
- The Strange and Dangerous World of America’s Big Cat People
Luckily, it all depends on the degree of reporting required and the complication of your proposal. Whereby, their base payment begins at $1,500. They’ll even work with you as they pay you a solid fee and also cover expenses.
And like I said, longreads can offer monetary and editorial support to projects that could otherwise not get done. And as such, you can go ahead and email their team through [email protected] for more info.
5. Addition of publisher collaboration features
In simple terms, longform journalism stories are a terrific form of writing for anyone to read. Especially students who’re studying to become journalists. And in reality, there’s no better way to become a stronger writer than to read vigorously and often. For your information, the longreads website is your best bet — to submit longreads online.
It has collaborated with other entities, third-party sites, magazines, and podcast producers for the past several years. To help fund projects and disseminate them to a wider audience. Some of their topmost collaborators included The Marshall Project, the Oregon Public Broadcasting, the Atlas Obscura, Racquet, This Land Press, and Food & Wine magazine.
How The Journalism Future With Longreads Looks Like
When journalism comes to mind, most people think of short news pieces that get right to the point of a story. You may think of popular news sites like CNN or BBC, or even your own local or on-campus newspaper. Journalism is not always considered the most creative type of writing. But, the industry has many different types of journalism or writing forms.
One kind of journalism that is becoming increasingly popular is longform journalism. This branch of journalism often involves longer, more involved pieces. While taking the form of creative nonfiction or narrative journalism.
Oftentimes, longform journalism can read like a novel. But it’s factual and follows the same ethics of journalism as other forms. Above all, whether you enjoy reading about politics, environmental issues, or fashion, you’ll enjoy longform sites.
Such sites are:
- The Cut,
- The Atlantic,
- Pacific Standard,
- Guernica Magazine,
- Longform — visit the site,
- Longreads — visit the site,
- The New York Times Magazine,
Whether you enjoy reading about politics, environmental issues, or fashion, these websites offer longform journalism articles for anyone to enjoy. Ranging from light-hearted and silly to intense and traumatic. In addition, many of these websites also take submissions from readers (a great way to get your work out there and read by many people).
Not forgetting, some of these websites may also feature stories ranging from light-hearted and silly to intense and traumatic. Be that as it may, in an age where journalism is a continuously threatened industry (dead clickbait), it’s important to support journalism publications that are striving to save it and educate the world.
The best thing about using WordPress CMS Software is that it is possible to import your website blog content from a variety of other blogging platforms. Including but not limited to Blogger, GoDaddy, Wix, Medium, Squarespace, Movable Type, Typepad, Xanga, and more… You can also easily import your content from a self-hosted WordPress website too.
That said, in an age where journalism is a continuously threatened industry, it’s important to support publications that are striving to save journalism and educate the world. All in all, if you work for a website or publication and want to collaborate on a project, please feel free to Get In Touch With Us for more custom guidelines fine-tuned to your unique needs.
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- The 10 Best Websites For Top-Tier, Longform Journalism
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Finally, after going through the above-revised guide, it’s our hope that you now know how to submit longreads online. Do you think it’s a worthy course? You can share some of your additional thoughts, opinions, suggestions, recommendations, or even other related contribution questions (for FAQ Answers) in our comments section. Thanks for your time!