The 1,000 Words Rule of Blogging (Book Excerpt)

Want to be a successful blogger? Every new endeavor requires a period of ascetic dedication. You must write a minimum of 1,000 words a day.

Some bloggers make this their ceiling, but many make it their floor. Either way, you must produce on a daily basis. How do you do this? You can crank out, perhaps, three posts of a few hundred words each in the morning and three in the evening. Or you can write one big post. Either way, do the word count. Why is this important? Because if you have a goal, you can meet it. After his heart attack, blogging great Om Malik set this number for himself to ensure he produced quality content in a timely manner and did not kill himself in the process. Sadly, Om’s heart attack was brought on by the blogging lifestyle, as well as too much booze, cigars, family history and bad luck. It took a massive change in his everyday life to reorient him toward a saner blogging schedule, and he found this 1,000-word limit invaluable.

This word count is not impossible. It’s about two pages of standard paper a day. At first, do not surpass this word count. This is an endurance race, not a sprint. The recommended dosage of 1,000 words a day is doable by the average writer, is a concrete number for you to strive toward, and is about as much as your audience can read in a day. Do not do less, either. This is a regimen. You need to get used to producing this much content quickly and without complaint. Consider using a speech recognition tool: you’ll be pounding out words without pounding on the keyboard. In fact, you’ll find that by speaking your posts you often write more than you originally intended.

This also brings up an important point: writing for blogs is conversational. Some of the best bloggers write like they’re telling a story. For example, Eben Oliver Weiss, author of BikeSnobNYC, does two pertinent things when he creates a blog post: He first offers a bit of information about an important aspect of biking lore or current bike news, then blends that news into a tightly spun yarn connecting the news to his unstated mission: to poke holes in the smug superiority of biking experts. It’s a noble goal and he’s been rewarded with a book deal and great popularity.

The hardest part of this 1,000-word regimen is accepting that your audience may not appear magically out of thin air as you write. Luring readers to your writer’s online lair is addressed in my book, but rest assured that the 1,000-word regimen will give vibrancy and life to your blog. A blog that has not been updated for days is a sick blog. A blog that has not been updated for a month is a dead blog. If you do not produce 1,000 words a day, no matter what, you’re risking running out of momentum far too early.

Some bloggers do considerably less than 1,000 words a day and some do more. For example, John Gruber at Daring Fireball posts small “nugget” posts and then creates long, well-written essays on technology every week or so. Like the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks, Gruber’s long posts are a reward to his readers and a joy to read. Why not do the same? Post lots of nuggets—100 words each—and one or two huge posts every few days. Or you can publish one large post every day. Either way, you’re going to gain an audience if you give them something they want.

Just remember this motto: ABP. Always Be Posting. You will burn out. When this happens, take a break. Always take weekends off and limit your off-the-clock consumption of social media. Your conversations should happen in comments and in your writing. Bloggers should use services like Twitter as news sources and broadcast media instead of a source of endless distraction. Do this every weekday and leave the blog alone on weekends. Or, if there is no one in your niche writing on the weekends, that might be an opportunity for you. Either way, give yourself a regular weekly break.

Keep writing. Write 1,000 words a day.

John Biggs is the editor of TechCrunch Gadgets and the former editor of Gizmodo. This excerpt is from his new book, Blogger's Boot Camp: Learning how to build, write, and run a successful blog.


  1. It’s a good rule of thumb for writers too since it keeps you in the habit of writing, even when you don’t have a deadline or book or anything.

    Yes. I haven’t been following that rule (need to!)
    Does playing in MUSH’s count? :]

  2. I wish there was an excerpt about “Whattya Do If You Write 1000 Words and Still No One Clicks on Your Ads?”

    1. Because 1,000 words a day is how you get hired, too.

      I went from zero to Boing Boing in about two years after posting stuff regularly to a game culture forum. If you build it, they may not come–but they will notice.

      1. This is really true. Sure, who wouldn’t want more traffic and clicks? But there’s more to blogging than your Google Analytics numbers: creating good content over time is an excellent daily practice for writers, and it can boost your credibility. Someday, someone, somewhere will need an expert on the area you’ve been covering. 

        It IS valid, though, that blogging takes time, and time takes money. I know great writers who’d be great bloggers if not for their dayjobs, family obligations, etc. Those things can be obstacles, but they’re not barriers. 

        I’ve parlayed a passion for writing about toys and design into a way to pay my rent for a few years straight. It’s not from the quantity of blog traffic, but the quality of the visitors. What I mean is, blogging has lead to other (sometimes even paid!) writing opportunities. I’m definitely still further to the left side of the “zero to BoingBoing” spectrum, but I’m keeping at it, and I consider myself lucky every single day!

    2. > and still no one clicks on your ads?

      If a good high rate of ad-clicking is around 1% of readers, then obviously it depends on size of readership!  If only hundreds of people are reading your postings, don’t expect to see ad traffic. To attract just ten ad-clicks you need over 1000 blog views.

      Then for Google Adsense ads, it greatly depends on the topic of your entry.  Worst example: if you’re writing about microwave physics demonstrations, the ads will all be for microwave ovens, so nobody ever clicks on them (where ‘nobody’ means with well over 30,000 readers, you still get zero ad clicks.)

      For the opposite spectrum end, I’ve heard that “product review” websites do best.  In that case you’re posting about a certain product, therefore Google will target the ads for that product.  Your readers will actually start clicking ads to get more info and current prices.  Then you might expect one reader in twenty will click an ad.  Don’t forget, one click in 100 views is a respectably high rate.

      And finally, different ads of course give vastly different payouts.   Each ad-click for, say, high-end camera accessories might pay a significant fraction of a dollar.  Ads for school science supplies, way below twenty cents.

      Other hints: the vast majority of my own income comes from Google searches and Stumbleupon.  To attract that continuing traffic, each posting needs to stand alone as a single-page illustrated article with URLs which make sense to a human.  If it’s just buried in some archive with many entries per URL, it won’t appear in anyone’s google search.

  3. I have a blog myself @ and have worked on others in the past with varying success.  What I don’t have right now though is time to devote to it daily like BoingBoing.  With that in mind, I don’t focus on trying to market my blog/site but marketing my articles instead.  If I write a decent article I’ll try and get it pushed out.

    I had a short joke book review I wrote for “Going Rogue”, from the viewpoint of a D&D player expecting something else make viral rounds around the web/blogosphere. :P

    At any rate, the basis of this is pretty sound.  Most blogs don’t have dedicated staff like BB does. Most are just one man operations so focusing on quality not quantity is more important than churning out 20 articles a day.

    Of course, if that’s your job then I guess that’s a different story. However, if you work yourself to a heart attack like this guy did it makes me wonder if perhaps flipping patties at Burger King might be a better idea?

  4. This is very helpful information to me. I just started actively updating my blog about web design, and this would be a great tip to follow for me. Thank you for the article. :) I’ll be sure to reshare this on my blog too. 

  5. I’m not sure I’m sold on a 1,000 words a day, though posting regularly and often is a solid suggestion.

    For me:

    a) many people write a lot of “fluff” pieces (or
    paragraphs) in their blogs that completely turn me off, since their sole
    purpose is the expand the word count,b) some types of blogs simply
    don’t require as many written words as others (and on the flip side,
    some blog types need a lot of short articles that could easily
    surpass a 1,000 words),c) I understand that this is supposed to be a
    “bootcamp”, but I would recommend to people just starting out to begin
    with an easier goal, lest they get discouraged quickly.  After they do that for a few months, then perhaps move the marker to a higher point.I write a blog as well ( about books and book publishing.   I could get to 1,000 words a day, but then I’d have no time for writing/editing my own novel… I think posting two good posts a day rather than worrying about a word limit is a nicer goal, since it gives me time to do a bit of writing (and, more importantly, be with my family!).

  6. Om’s heart attack was brought on by the blogging lifestyle

    Wait…. what lifestyle? You guys have your own special lifestyle? And it’s dangerous? I thought that was only bloggers who critiqued Etsy.

    1. They have to go underground like Salman Rushdie whenever they write blogs critical of Ron Paul. Living day to day like it was a Jason Statham movie as they try to avoid snark bombs about taxes being theft and the importance of boot-strapping your way out of cancer.

      I can see how that would give you a heart attack after a while.

  7. Uhm. Y’know, I never cared whether my web page was “successful”, except when I was maintaining a page for a coffeehouse (in which case “successful” means “at least as useful as the paper flier”).  If I start blogging, it will be because I have things I want to discuss/present, not to sell advertising space or boost my ego with  number of subscribers.

    (Same reason the whole FB “friends” game strikes me as an exercise in stupidity.  I have friends. Some of them are also on FB.)

  8. “ABP. Always Be Posting.”

    First thing that came to mind was the Alec Baldwin speech in Glengarry Glen Ross:  “ABC.  A-Always B-Be C-Closing.  Always Be Closing.  Allllwaays Be Closing.”

  9. as a speachrec-prog using author i see your point, but 1000 blown up words cant be it. i rather read 10 nuggets instead.  it is still about the content, or the story. i rate matter over blather.

  10. One of my favorite bloggers has an explicit goal of 500 words a day (well, most days). That goal works great for him, and me too, as 1000-word posts on other blogs are often too long. I also like the way he lays out his posts, for easier reading–

    “500 words a day on whatever I want”

    Boiling things down that way makes his posts lean and informative, but quick.

  11. I can understand why its a good idea to write 1000 words a day, but surely you don’t have to publish that many! I was always told to write what it takes to get your point across, then go back and take out the rambling and the redundancies and make it easy to read. Then publish. And then sometime I even take out typos.

  12. That’s cool about the 1000 words — it’s good advice for writers. But if I had to read 1000 words from every blog on my reading list, I’d be reading blogs 25 hours a day. 

    Is there something in your book about respecting the reader’s schedule and not burdening him with vast flocks of words when, say, 250 would do? :-)

  13. I run a blog with a few friends ( and the concept of APB is something we’ve always struggled with pursuing. There’s the argument that a few quality posts a week, are better than daily mediocre ones – but in the long-term, I can only see good things coming from a daily habit of writing. I’m definitely going to give this a shot.

  14. Thanks for this, I just started my blog about 2 weeks ago, this is  a great perspective for someone just starting out.  I try to post about 3 – 4 articles a day which definately covers my 1000 word / day minimum.  Now to just figure out how to get  people to my site…..

  15. Great advice. I blog for work and for the show I’m directing, but I so quickly fall out of the habit. A novelist friend of mine says the trick is to keep writing. Nothing comes easy in life!

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