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SHHH! The 5 secrets of a great list post #blogging

The 5 secrets of a great list post

A list post is one of those posts that you absolutely must have, need to have on your blog.

It’s a post that’s an ordered list of things that are really useful to your reader. As a writer they’re usually fast to write as they have an easy outline or structure to follow.

In this list post I’m going to share with you the 5 secrets that will take your list post from good to great so that you get the traffic and the traction you want. I’ll take it for granted that you know how to write a list post, you just want to give it some extra polish to make it really awesome.

1. Use numbers.

Numbers make it easier for your reader to work out how long it will take to read the post. If it’s a small number it will be a quick read, if it’s a big number it may be a longer read and get bookmarked (which is a good thing) and send you more traffic. The numbers should be included in the headline to attract in casual browsers and then in your bullet points so that each point stands out.

When each point stands out, it’s easier to scan-read the post and get the gist of it. If it’s appealing your reader will then scroll back up and read it more thoroughly. If the list is something they already know then they’ve not wasted a lot of time.

Make sure your numbers are consistent. What do I mean by consistent? It’s easy to miss a number when you do a huge list post, and your readers will notice it even if you don’t.

If you give your list a number then people expect to see numbers, they don’t expect to see bullet points.

2. List relevant items

If you’re in the UK you may have heard a radio show segment called Dave’s Tedious Links. The DJ lists about 10 seemingly random items and links them together. The first 20 times it’s amusing. Then it becomes boring, dull and really tedious; you know it’s random, you know they will be cleverly linked but you reached a point where the value is no longer there, if it ever was at all.

Your list should be consistent with relevant and related items. That means that all the things you list should be on the same topic, in the same niche and have a tangible connection to each other. It makes your list all the more powerful for containing related items. It becomes a post that’s a resource that you can refer back upon and share with your readers.

3. Think logically when listing

Think and plan the order of your list. As demonstrated above in the tedious links clip, none of those links would have worked in a random order. They had to be listed in a certain way to connect to the next item on the list.

You can guide your reader and tell them that the items are listed in a best to worst order, or that they are in no particular order, or they are in the order that they are most used. Whichever option you choose you should share it with your reader, it helps them focus their mind on the content they are about to read.

Popular structures include:

  • Numerical
  • Who, Why, How, What, When
  • Alphabetical
  • The order of the working day ie 9am, 10am, 11am and so on
  • Daily / weekly / monthly lists
  • Seasonal lists
  • Chronological
  • Timelines
  • Steps to xxx

As well as logical be consistent in your formatting. If each item is just a name and a link don’t randomly throw in a paragraph and vice versa. Keep the formatting consistent throughout your list post so that it doesn’t look odd or awkward.

4. Categorise your list

If you’re creating a huge list then break it into categories for your reader so that it becomes easier to read. They can also scan the post and look for the topic they’re most interested it. They’ll read that first and if it captivates them go and read the rest of the list.

A list that’s categorised is easier to create as it gives you the basic framework for the post outline. If you type it into your editor, you’ll be able to move each part around with ease before you start adding to your outline. As I wrote this post item number 2 became item number 5… it’s easy to rearrange your outline and saves you a lot of time and energy.

When it’s a big list it becomes much easier to read with each section broken down into a category.

 5. Don’t ever, ever, ever save the best for last

Start with the strongest items first, you’re  not a Vanessa Williams song. A powerful opening paragraph is the only way to keep your reader on the page, and its the same for your list. Start with your strongest item first. If you start with an item that’s not so hot then you’ll struggle to keep them reading until you get they get to the good stuff. If it’s hot, then its at the top of your list.

This isn’t my best secret, so its not at the top of my list. However,  you should finish with a powerful item, for those that read the bottom or the PS first (yes people do that, statistics show that the PS is often the most read part of any content). But if you only have one awesome thing on your list, then start with that or reconsider whether you should be creating the list in the first place!

A list post can be a quick and easy way to engage with your reader and done well will generate a lot of traffic. Come and share with me some of your secrets for creating a great list post.


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Sarah Arrow

Hi, I'm Sarah Arrow and I want to help you increase your visibility. It's time to stop being the world's best kept secret and step into the spotlight. I created my first blogging challenge back in 2007, and I've helped 1000's of bloggers since then increase their presence online. I've been internationally recognised as a top content marketer, Forbes and MSN list my websites as top ones, and I'm the author of many quick-start marketing guides. You can find my books on Amazon. Let me be your guide through the business blogging maze. Join the free 30 day blogging challenge and get the recognition you desire.

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