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Write a List Post [Day 2 - 31DBBB]

Today your challenge in the 31 Day project that we’re running here at Problogger is focused around writing a post and is to write a ‘list post’.

List-Posts-1

Today’s Teaching:

Using ‘lists’ has always been a popular and effective technique among bloggers wanting to write content that gets spread from one person to the next. Just look at pages like the front page of Digg, TweetMeme and Delicious and you’ll see that many of the ‘hottest’ content on the web at any given time are written in this style.

Check out this screen shot of Delicious from yesterday:

Delicious-Lists

You can see there that every post in the most popular page of Delcious at this point was a list of some type.

8 Reasons Why List Posts are Powerful for Bloggers

‘List posts’ are popular because:

1. Lists are Scannable – online readers are notoriously lazy and tend to scan content rather than read it word for word. A list helps communicate a number of points quickly and easily and helps readers to know if a post contains information that interests them and which they should actually read more of.

2. Lists keep posts succinct
– there is something about a list that keeps you as a blogger from rambling. Each point has a start and end whereas with an essay style of writing points often bleed into one another.

3. Lists look ‘neat’
– I don’t know about you but when I surf onto a site that is full of messily formatted text – I don’t tend to stick around for too long. Lists on the other hand can be quite visually pleasing and more likely to stimulate someone to start reading.

4. Lists can be comprehensive
– while some might argue that lists ‘dumb down’ ideas and concepts – when written well they can actually be just as comprehensive as any other style of writing.

5. Lists are persuasive
– if you want to mount a case for something quickly presenting numerous arguments in a list can be quite convincing. Again – it’s about identifiable points that together go to forming a convincing argument.

6. Lists can add to the ease of writing
– I like writing in lists because they break down my thoughts into bite sized pieces which is good not only for readers but me as a writer as I consider how to express myself.

7. Lists go Viral – lists can start epidemics of ideas. For the above reasons (and others – bloggers and those on social media seem to love sharing lists and as a result they have the ability to spread quickly through out the web (and beyond)

8. Lists break down the complicated – one reason I find list posts to be powerful is that they can be great for breaking down complex ideas or tasks. I know on my photography blog that many of our photoshop tutorials work best when our authors present their instructions as ‘steps’ – meaning a procedure that can at first seem overwhelming becomes a list of bite sized tasks.

Warning: don’t go over the top with ‘list posts’. They can be incredibly powerful but on many blogs readers can become frustrated with them if that is all you do.

Your Task for Today – Write a List Post:

Today your task is to write a ‘list post’ on your blog. You may not choose to publish it today if you already have something lined up – but aim to publish it in the next day or two if you can.

3 Types of ‘List Posts’

There are a variety of ways of incorporating lists into your blog. Depending upon the topic and style of blog you’re building some of these options might be appropriate for you:

  • The post as a list – in this case there’s nothing in the post except for the list. The title of your post introduces the topic and then the list speaks for itself. The list can be quite barebones – short and to the point. However readers often like them because of their bluntness and the way that they tell it like it is. Example: 21 Ways to Write Posts that are Guarantees to Grow Your Blog.
  • Extended lists - this is how I generally approach ‘list posts’. I’ll show you a couple of examples below but in a sense this type of post is not dissimilar to an essay or article but the main points are broken down into a numbered list format. Generally there is a heading for each section (highlighted in bold or heading tags) with a paragraph or two under each one. Example: 10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits.
  • Lists Within Posts - the post you’re reading right now probably illustrates this type well. In this post there are two lists that present ideas in the midst of other content. In a sense the list becomes a way of breaking up your text. I find that often these posts do quite well as other bloggers looking for a quote to share with their readers will many times grab your list.

Some bloggers do at times get a little ‘anti list’ and suggest it is an overused technique and a lazy way to write – but this need not always be the case. There’s nothing to stop a blogger developing a list post that is in depth and on topic for almost any blog.

List posts will not suit everyone’s style and probably are harder to use with some blog topics than others but they are a useful style of post to have in your tool belt for when the opportunity arises.

Highly Recommended Reading: If you’re after a little extra reading on the topic of writing list posts check out this excellent and practical guest post from late last year on ProBlogger with 10 steps to writing the perfect list post.

Examples of List Posts

I know some of our participants will find today’s task easier than others. Some of you have successfully written a lot of list posts while others have not. Some have topics where these types of posts ‘fit’ better than others. I hope that in the following examples (both from my blogs and others) that you’ll find a little inspiration that might help you to discover a type of post that might work with your blog.

Also: also check out this long list of ‘list posts’ written in a group writing project by readers of ProBlogger. This list of posts has hundreds of examples (some good and some not so good) on hundreds of topics. Hopefully some of them will give a little inspiration).

Share Your New List Posts

It’s time to go away and write your list post. Once you’ve done it – do come back here and leave the link and title in comments below. My hope in this is that participants will get a little traffic but also that you’ll inspire one another with your posts and give a much more comprehensive list than I’ve come up with above of great list posts. I’m looking forward with what you come up with!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

Update: You can also join the discussion over at the forum, and see what others have done for this task! Day 2 – Write a List Post

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. Hey Guys,

    I’m a little behind but I’m a big fan of the list post, it’s especially handy for travel style posts which I write.

    Check-out my latest blog post:

    There’s More to Philly Than Cheesteaks and Rocky

  2. My list post is about funny things my dad liked best and least to eat: http://karenzemek.blogspot.com/2009/04/harrys-top-6-favorite-foods-6-least.html

  3. chris says:

    Things i have learnt so far.

    1. Elevator Pitch

    - A Depository of Randomly Considered Things.

    2. List Post

    - bitsnbobsshowntell.blogspot.com

  4. The Fritz says:

    Top nine reasons David Letterman won’t call me back.

  5. Sam sall says:
  6. trev says:

    Hm, my blog doesn’t really lend itself to lists. “Twenty Ways to Become Enlightened.” “15 Days to Merging With the Daghda.”

    Don’t think so. hehe

    Personally, I skip blogs that consist of nothing but lists. I don’t want a PowerPoint presentation; I want a real discussion. Often, this requires a bit of stream-of-consciousness rambling.

    I can see where it would work in some cases, though.

  7. Jeanne says:

    Darren,
    I think this course is awesome!

    Although as you said in today’s email, I am one of the ones that thinks your ideas are coming faster than I can work on them. That’s okay though, I am just working at my own pace and will go back to the emails and work through them.

    I just finished my list post: Seven Steps to Soft, Silky, Sexy Skin!
    http://tinyurl.com/cwlafs

    I appreciate all you are doing for novice bloggers, like myself.

    Jeanne

  8. Julie P. says:

    Okay so I finally got my list post out this weekend. I have been working on getting my blog up and running, so there are minimal posts on there, but you can get and idea of what the site will be like when it is fully functional.

    My site is helping women get started with outdoor activities like hiking, climbing, biking, backpacking, cooking for camping, etc… This post is a list of my favorite women’s outdoor clothing manufacturers.

    Here is a link to my list post:

    http://www.backcountrybabes.org/2009/04/12/the-best-womens-outdoor-clothing/

    Any feedback would be helpful, email me at [email protected]. Thanks!

  9. SINgleGIRL says:

    Damn, I posted this days ago and forgot to update here (actually – I’ve been forgetting to update here everyday)
    How Not to Look Like a Loser:
    7 Things Guy Needs to Know to About Picking An Online Dating Picture
    http://www.sex-lies-dating.com/3018000

    And for the next day’s assignment – it was linked to by 2 other blogs. I was going for more…

  10. Em Dy says:
  11. A bit late, but here is my list post:

    7 Recession Survival Strategies

    http://goodlifezen.com/2009/04/14/7-recession-survival-strategies/

  12. Sahail says:

    Thanks for the advice on list posts Darren.

    I’ve tried a kind of twist with mine, and broken down some info into steps towards an objective.

    So it’s a list of steps, rather than advice. Could well be the most concise post I’ve ever done…

  13. Big Boo says:

    I don’t tend to use lists that much on my Blog, but they do come in useful sometimes. They are very good tool for linking back to previous posts.

    I generally favour having an introductory paragraph or two before the list itself, as I feel this helps with the aversion people seem to have to lists on blogs.

    A couple of examples from my Blog then – one written as the exercise for this course, and the other I did a while back.

    http://www.childofthe1980s.com/2009/04/14/eighties-slang-words/

    http://www.childofthe1980s.com/2007/10/04/primary-school-glues/

  14. Lee says:

    I’m a bit late getting started but I’ve just gone for a ‘vanity’ list about Twitterers with a certain field of interest : http://www.scamtypes.com/21-security-minded-people-to-follow-on-twitter.html

    Not only do I hope people find it useful but also that some of those who are on it, and some who arn’t, may take notice too.

    Also, within just a couple of minutes of publishing my list I made a new connection on Twitter from a guy who was able to offer a massive addition to my work so that’s a win-win situation too.

  15. I have used the list technique a couple of times so far in my blog, so I’m using one here that is recent:

    http://www.thecustomerauthority.com/2009/04/25-things-you-should-do-in-customer-service/

  16. Dominique says:

    I try to work a few days ahead on my blog, so my list post ended up being scheduled for upload today.

    Five Midwest lighthouses to love http://tinyurl.com/c4kokl

  17. doula says:

    This was a great idea as I’m trying to establish my blog. Thanks!

    http://choices-in-childbirth.com/2009/04/doula-bag/

  18. GreenLava says:

    This is my list post: 10 Tools To Develop A Better Blog
    http://bloggersentral.blogspot.com/2009/04/10-tools-to-help-you-develop-better.html
    I hope somebody somewhere will find this useful.
    Thanks

  19. Hil says:

    I’m a little late, but I wrote a post about

    11 Things I have Learned About Blogging here: http://hilsblog.com/2009/04/14/11-things-i-have-learned-about-blogging/

  20. Sharif says:

    Very very Great Idea.Thanks a lot. I’ll follow this on my blog.

  21. My List post is call ’5 Reasons to market your business in a creative and intuitive way… you can read it here…

    http://www.senn-sational.com

  22. I’m running behind, partly due to lethargy and partly due to last minute weekend getaway for my wife and me. my list post is Five Steps to Becoming a Vital Member of Blog-Based Communities.

  23. Dave Anthold says:

    Lists are always good – I like when people issue up a list, I can scan fast – here’s my list: http://daveanthold.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/excellence-action/

  24. James Sims says:

    I’ve been a bit slow in keeping up with the project, but my list post is finally up. http://www.simsscoop.com/blog/archives/450. It’s titled “Films for an Unemployed Journalist.”

  25. Nora Jeanne Hirsu says:

    Thanks for the great tips. Didn’t think about it.

    Here’s my list post. I hope I get it right. Here it is:
    http://www.howtogetyourexback-talk.com/blog/

  26. Reeta Luthra says:

    I’m enjoying the challenge and finding it very helpful in structuring my ideas.

    Here is my list post – 7 Ways Role Models Influence Your Success. http://paradoxofreality.com/blog/2009/04/15/7-ways-role-models-influence-your-success/

  27. Gala says:

    Sorry to join so late.
    I rather like to use lists, but I prefer unnumbered ones. When numbering, you should more think about importance of individual paragraphs. Sometimes it is not so easy.
    My new list post is titled “How to write a good essay” (Recommendations for students). It is written specially for 31Day Project.
    All the best everybody!

  28. ondolady says:

    Well mine is not a numbered list as such but it is a list. Seven Photographs That Changed Fashion.

    http://themusingsofondolady.blogspot.com/2009/04/seven-photographs-that-changed-fashion.html

  29. ArdeasNest says:

    I have created my list post on my blog. It is Art Quilting Inspiration and I linked to several artists who move me. I wanted to add pictures of their work, but I worried that would be a copyright violation. I am going to do another, though that will feature “amateur art” and for those I will get permission to post pix and links. That actually, will tie into the next exercise you have posed. These first two exercises have already got me thinking more critically about my blog and what I want from it and what I want it to say about me. I have worked on the appearance and have decided to focus the blog more specifically on one thing. I can start other blogs for other interests, if needed.

  30. Mom Time says:

    Here’s my list post: Open Your Heart On Your Mom Time.

    http://www.imahotmom.com/?p=704

  31. Kid Friendly Travel says:

    for some reason i’m having trouble correcting the link above but it just needs the duplicate “travel-gadgets” taken out.

  32. gearsofrock says:

    I love list posts! I wrote “Top 10 Movies of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal”

  33. Here is a link to my list post. It’s title is Top Reasons I Joined Probloggers 31 Day Challenge. I know I’m behind. I had family come in, but I’m going to speedily catch up. I’m really excited about this project.

  34. Beth says:

    Great assignment. I’ve never done this before, and it was fun!

  35. Beth says:

    forgot to actually add my post:

    10 steps to a successful move to a foreign country.

  36. Diana says:

    Here is my list post. 5 Reasons Reading is Sexy
    http://www.readingssexy.com/2009/04/5-reasons-reading-is-sexy.html

  37. Jeff Young says:

    I love this post on list posts. I agree. List posts are easy, they are scanable, and they appeal to our curiosity.

    Here is list post at The Catholic Foodie:

    10 Food Blogs that I Read Daily
    http://www.catholicfoodie.com/2009/04/10-food-blogs-i-read-daily.html

    Jeff Young
    The Catholic Foodie… Where food meets faith!
    http://www.catholicfoodie.com

  38. I am sorry for being late, but here is my list post. Please help me know how are these?
    http://digg.com/d1oo0k

  39. Hi Darren,

    Thanks for this. I am new to blogging and am excited about being part of this community. Am looking forward to catching up with the rest of you as I just joined. Check out my blog: 24 things I do when I give myself permission to @ http://clareconsulting.wordpress.com/?RD=1

  40. Sandra says:

    I write most of my posts ahead of time and then schedule them so i’m a bit behind in sharing this list post. I never thought about it until I read this assignment but I use lists a lot, especially within posts (this is me patting myself on the back! :) )

    The Three Keys to Clear Client Contracts:
    http://www.provabydesign.com/the-three-keys-to-clear-client-contracts/

    I’d love feedback on this if anyone wants to stop by, which reminds me – thank you to all of you who have already stopped by!

    Thanks Darren!

  41. Hydee says:

    I decided to go green with my post. Interesting to see the post and how formatting effects how easily the list is seen! Definitely making me rethink a colored background.

    http://caffeinatedvenom.blogspot.com/2009/04/6-ways-to-fix-plastic-bag-problem.html

  42. Joel Brown says:

    This was a great post and really got me into the mood to write something different. So i came up with a topic ” getting more visitors to your blog” and did a little research and the result is the post now on my blog “10 Ways to get more blog visitors” http://joelbrown.id.au/2009/04/16/10-ways-to-get-more-blog-visitors/

    I really look forward to following this 31 day process through to the end, and i am really glad that Darren has chosen to put it out there for everyone.

  43. Ilona says:

    Behind as always… but finally got this list post written :)
    http://ilonagarden.blogspot.com/2009/04/five-steps-to-dazzling-daffodils.html

  44. Amy Warden says:
  45. NightRains says:

    I had to do some more “tweaking”, but my blog is completed and *shudder* (lol) I left it open for the public. You should be able to come and read without much (or, hopefully no) difficulty.

    How to create a garden in 12 easy steps.

    :-)

  46. Abi Harper says:

    Wow I am so glad to be back!!!

    Had a lot of fun writing this post, love the concept.

    5 Reason Why Laughter Is Good For You

    http://sunzoostudios.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/5-reasons-why-laughter-is-good-for-you-2/

    Please provide feedback as this is my first blog :D

  47. Shailee says:

    This so true! I started your challenge yesterday and also yesterday I wrote a list post without realising it. and it has got the highest responses on my blog!

    How to “Get a life”
    http://shaileelathe.com/2009/04/15/how-to-get-a-life/

    Thanks Darren!

  48. Elaine says:

    I had a difficult time coming up with something for this post. It seems like in my head I am always coming up with good list posts but couldn’t pull it together for this one so I feel it is a bit lagging.
    http://grunionfabrication.com/?p=222

  49. Elaine says:

    I had a difficult time coming up with something for this post. It seems like in my head I am always coming up with good list posts but couldn’t pull it together for this one so I feel it is a bit lacking.
    http://grunionfabrication.com/?p=222