The ‘list’ is a popular (and effective) style of blog post that appeals to many bloggers (and their readers). However in chatting to a few bloggers lately using lists can also be something of a trap at times – especially using the ‘mega list’.
nb: by ‘mega list’ I mean those long all encompassing lists – you know the type, they often are titled something like ‘101 ways to…..’.
While mega lists are quite impressive and often get a lot of attention from other blogs and social bookmarking sites – they also have the potential to bring your blogging to a halt quite quickly.
I was chatting to one new blogger last week who told me about a ‘101 ways to….’ post that she’d kicked off her blog with in his first week of a new blog. Here’s are a few snippets from an IM conversation we had:
‘I spent days putting together this great list. I wanted it to be big as a way of bringing new readers in and to show how much I comprehended of the topic…..’
‘the results were amazing. I got on the front page of Digg and high on Reddit and Delicious…..’
‘I had close to 30,000 visitors in 48 hours!….’
‘the next day I sat down to write my next post and realised that every topic I thought of to write about was covered in my mega list…..’
‘Readers are giving me feedback that I’ve lost it. They want more posts like that first one but I’ve got nothing else to say….’
‘I’ve run out of things to say after 2 weeks of blogging because I said it all in that first big post….’
It was a fascinating conversation and actually reminded me a of a few times in my own blogging that I’d had similar feelings of running out of things to say as a result of a list that was so comprehensive that it left little more to be said on a topic.
I recommended a two things to the blogger:
Consider the impact of using lists before you write them
Hindsight is a great thing but a little forethought can save a lot of pain. Before you hit publish on your next ‘list post’ ask yourself what impact it will have both in the short term (potential traffic) but also the long term.
- Is it so comprehensive that your readers will be satisfied and not need more?
- Does it leave you room to write more on your niche later?
- Are you setting your readers up with the expectation that this is the way you write all your posts?
Use the list as a spring board for 101 posts
Of course my first piece of advice came too late for the blogger in question – they’d already posted it and was suffering the consequences already. So what should they do to get things running again? My advice was to use the list as a starting point for future posts.
Obviously people responded to the content in the list. It did cover a lot of ground but as with many lists it didn’t go into a great deal of depth on any one point. As I looked it over the list I reflected that each of the 101 points would have made a great heading for a future post going deeper. The blogger could do this either as a series (and tell people that she was working off the list) or it could just be something that the blogger knows she’s doing.