You've done a list post before and you can't understand what the fuss is about. Your 50 ways to peel a pineapple didn't go down very well with your audience and you're wondering what went wrong. The Good news is, there are 7 simple steps to list post heaven and reading this post is a step in the right direction. There's also a free roadmap at the end of the post!
Let's start at the beginning with your list post – you did put numbers in the headlines, didn't you?
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When you add the number in the headline it grabs attention. Readers see numbers as facts, so when you combine a number with a topic your audience cares about, you greatly improve the chance that your ideal reader will click on your headline and read your post.
As far as writing the body of the post, the list format makes it easy. You start with a summary paragraph, list your points, number them, then finish by recapping what you've shared. When you can't come up with a blog post idea, lean on the simple list post for an easy-to-write, easy-to-read format that practically writes itself. Keep the following points in mind and you will write a heavenly list post every time.
1 – Pick a Number
21, 7, 5 … you are going to have to figure out how many items you want on your list. Think about the topic you are writing about. Consider the reason why you are writing this blog post, and what problem you are trying to solve for your audience. If you're creating a massive resource, 101 is a popular number that has proven to work well in the past.
For shorter lists, choosing a number between 5 and 25 usually works well. Like those birthdays that end in zero, round numbers like 10, 20 and 100 lend a greater sense of authority to your list post. In most cases, odd numbers have been proven to draw more traffic than even numbers. Try to use a number equal to or greater than 5, or your list post may appear to provide little value. It's the difference between getting the click and not getting the click.
2 – Ensure Your List Has a Theme
Plan the theme for your list and stick to it. Choose one style and stick to it. Stay on theme. People feel short-changed if you don't stick with your theme. It creates chaos.
If you mix quotes, websites, instructions, books, and MP3s in your list you confuse your reader. However, a top 10 list of motivational quotes, with no websites, books or instructions listed, appeals to the natural inclination of the human brain in craving order in chaos.
3 – Think About the Sequence
When writing lists, you want to follow a sensible order. If you write a list post about how to publish a book, there is an obvious process that needs to be followed. Certain steps need to be taken before subsequent actions can follow.
This is true with recipes and processes, but can also work with other types of lists. Think most to least popular, biggest to smallest, fastest to slowest, or whatever sequential order makes the most sense for your list.
4 – Come Up With Plenty More List Items Than You Need
If you are creating a list post with 21 items, brainstorm 25 or 30. Always aim for 10% to 20% more items than you were planning on using. Then you can pull out those that don't fit with the rest. Many times you may also find yourself listing 2 almost identical items. Coming up with more items than your list requires gives you a lot of wiggle room, and helps you give your reader the highest quality list.
5 – Always Number Your List Post Items!
You improve readership and make your readers' brains happy when you number your list. When someone sees “Top 11 Ways to Eat an Elephant” as your list post title, their brain is already preparing them to see numbers 1 through 11 listed in order. Always, always, always number your list post items. Don't make your reader put their finger on the screen and count the numbers… They will do this!
6 – Always Use the Number in Your Title
For whatever reason, web surfers across all demographics are more likely to click on a headline with a number, as opposed to that same headline with the number spelled out. “17 Blogging Traffic Secrets” will draw more traffic than “Seventeen Blogging Traffic Secrets” every time. Use the numerical version of the number rather than spelling it out in your title.
7 – No Fluff
Don't include a list item just for the sake of stretching your list to a particular number. Your list post should deliver high quality, valuable information. Take out the fluff, including any list items which aren't pulling their own weight quality-wise.
It's List Post Heaven!
The final part of your list post is to summarise what you've shared in the post. In this post about list posts, I've reminded you to check your headline and make sure you have a number in it. You know how to keep your list sane and how not to drive your reader to distraction by listing similar things.
Next, you plan your sequence so that it flows and then you number the items in the list. Make sure the number in the headline is a number and not a word and then edit out all of the fluff and filler words.
My final tip for heavenly lists is to remember that done is better than perfect. A list post sitting in your drafts folder waiting for the right moment will never perform as well as the list post with a low number and mixed items on the list.