The Return of Storytelling: Long-form is Alive

typingWe have become accustomed to thinking and publishing in quick burst formats, thanks to micro-blogging platforms like Twitter. Texting isn’t exactly helping the cause. But 5 sources mentioned below paint a different picture: an under-served demographic has emerged, one that wants to tell (and be told) a story in more than 500 words. 

While editing a video the other day, I checked its length and gasped. If there is such a thing as “content etiquette” on the web, it would dictate that the video shouldn’t be longer than 2 minutes, perhaps even closer to 90 seconds. Respecting your audience’s time is important.

Mine was 25 minutes long. Ok, 25 minutes and 46 seconds.

For some reason, after hours of editing the audio to exclude my “umms”, long pauses and throat-clearings, the video was still at 25 minutes. Keep in mind, this was a tutorial video for a software product — far from sexy. But to me, the video couldn’t be much shorter; I had followed a step-by-step process in my narration, with an accompanying script of key points to cover.

My editor would be the final judge, so I decided to send him the video in its entirety. What he said caught my attention:

“I like it… on one hand, it is way too long… on the other hand, older marketers might appreciate a longer explanation.”

His point underscored a broader truth: the general audience online has become increasingly fragmented, not only in how they consume content, but for how long they consume it. In a recent article on gigaOM, it was noted that more than a third of all YouTube viewing comes from long-form content.

After years of indulging in bite-sized content on social networks, finding longer articles and videos has become a refreshing exercise. Reading on mobile devices is much more enjoyable now, with HTML5 and responsive web design enabling words and images to break free from the confines of traditional site templates. Apps like Pocket allow you to save long articles to read later.

In my journey to uncover long-form journalism, I noted these 5 excellent sources:


“Publet lets you create beautiful digital publications that work on any device. With built-in analytics, you can learn how people read your content to increase customer engagement and sales.”

Publet is an innovative publication platform that harnesses the power of HTML5 to help you create PDF-like documents (ebooks, white papers) for self-syndication. Not only do you have much greater control over how your content formats across the web, you also get a much deeper analysis into how far your audience actually reads and what they respond to.

publet, long-form, content


The coolest part about Medium — every article shows you how many minutes it will take to read. Sure, the Amazon Kindle app has an identical feature, but there is something magical about the simplicity and clean interface that Medium offers. The words are the star of the show.

Medium is the antithesis to Twitter and the 140 character concept. Launched in 2012 by Twitter co-creators Biz Stone and Ev Williams, Medium is a stream-lined CMS and blogging platform for articles that “are over 140 characters, and not just for friends.” One year into its life, Medium is an invite-only community of quality bloggers and editors that remains as mysterious as Twitter was in its early days.

medium, long-form


If you’re active on Twitter, you may have spotted the hashtag #longreads accompanying a fantastic 1500+ word article. Founder Mark Armstrong began #longreads in 2009 as a way to share and collect the most popular long-form articles on the web. 4 years later, the site hosts a deep repository of stories that follow the only requirements for a #longreads submission — 1500 or more words that take no more than 6 minutes to read.

longreads, long-form

Vox Media (The Verge / Polygon / Curbed / Eater / Racked / SBNation)

Vox has become a long-form publishing powerhouse, with 6 thoroughbred sites in their stable. Boasting extraordinary style from design firm Code & Theory, Vox sites each offer a gorgeous and inviting experience for their readers.

For tech lovers, be sure to see the latest articles on The Verge, and gamers will have a blast at Polygon. Foodies would do well to check out Eater, and house hunters will find Curbed to be right up their alley.

vox media, long-form

Nowhere Mag

Porter Fox, with 15 years of experience in the travel writing industry, founded Nowhere Mag to showcase longer, more illuminating stories about the adventure of travel. In response to typical travel posts that focus solely on tips and recommendations from travelers, Nowhere Mag is a journal of literary travel writing, photography and art.

nowhere mag, long-form

Do you have a favorite long-form site to recommend? Please let us know in the comments below!



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