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101 Ways to Run Out of Things to Blog About

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.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I just have to say that your blog is so informative. How many hours per day do you sit at the keyboard either writing or work on the architecture of your blog? Are you constantly looking for new affiliates? Lastly, what are your favorite blogging books either in terms of blogger’s personal stories or “how to” books?

  2. Stefan Juhl says:

    When I come up with the idea for a good list within a specific topic, then I always consider how I can make a bunch (or at least some) more specific posts, which I can write and post on my blog before releasing the list. Then I’m able to link back to the specific posts from the list.

    I also try to avoid making to generel lists for my topics. I alwasy just make lists for kind of sub-topics of my generel topic.

  3. Paul says:

    Interesting post – and timely.

    I was just finishing up a longer, list-based post and was debating whether I should split it up or leave it as is. While I do like how the post currently flows (and I think it is important to mention flow when considering the length of a post and how to split it up), your post has shed some light on other factors I didn’t consider, specifically the “running out of ideas” element.

    Glad I woke up early and fired up FeedDemon!

  4. LearningNerd says:

    I write a lot of all-encompassing posts on my blog, but I don’t have to worry about ever running out of things to cover, because I’m trying to cover everything! So much for being niche, huh? Too bad I’ve yet to get bookmarked or dugg.

    Not only do huge posts cover too much information (for a niche blog), but they’re exhausting! I started my blog less than 2 months ago, and I’m already starting to feel like I’m going to burn out. Learning everything is overwhelming! But I’m going to push myself as far as I can, and then when I’m about to crash, I’ll just have to post less often. Of course, I would’nt recommend that method to anyone; my blog is an experiment more than anything else.

  5. 新公司法 says:

    I was just finishing up a longer, list-based post and was debating whether I should split it up or leave it as is. While I do like how the post currently flows (and I think it is important to mention flow when considering the length of a post and how to split it up),

  6. Brian Clark says:

    It depends on depth of knowledge. Everytime I do a list post I almost feel bad for what I *don’t* say about each item.

    But that just means there’s room for elaboration later.

    A “101 list” that was truly compehensive would be a book, but then again I don’t know the topic your friend blogs about.

  7. Mark says:

    We recently did a 100 Beginner Running Tips article. I was not concerned with it drying up our well because a) of what you mention in terms of using it as a springboard to other posts and b) because of what Brian mentioned right before me. Brian, you stole my thunder! ;-)

    Great post!

  8. sccci says:

    a great plan is needed indeed. many bloggers tend to spell out all the ‘juice’ in their first post and thats it, they have nothing better to blog about in their future post.

  9. Ian says:

    I wrote a “1oo Things to do before I die” list, which gives me loads of potential follow up as I try to achieve my aims.

    (Some are too rude to be blogged about, but others have given me quite a few posts each.)

  10. Brian Clark, that’s an interesting idea about a comprehensive “101 things” post being a book. I wonder if anyone’s ever published a book like that? For example, Michael Flessus was asking Darren if he had any suggestions for “how to” books. Darren could gather his most important posts together in book form, send them off to a publisher and release an e-book, and possibly an actual printed book from one of the print-on-demand publishers that abound. Extra revenue stream for Darren, and much easier research for new bloggers because they cut out the extraneous “searching” time to find the real nuts and bolts of blogging. Just an idea though.

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