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Build a Quality Resource List for Your Blog

When was the last time you compiled a resource list for your readers?

Tom Ewer recently wrote up his own ultimate resource list for readers of his blog, titled 100 Blogs You Need in Your Life. (And ProBlogger came in at number 2! Thanks, Tom!)

If you look at the response from his readers, you’ll note the sense of excitement that this post generated. Words like love, awesome, absolutely amazing, and cool come up again and again in the comments. Readers are bookmarking the list and immediately (it seems) going to check out the recommended sites.

Resource lists like this really are valuable for readers. But if you’re putting together a resource list, you’ll want to think hard about how you do it. To my mind, there are five key factors that make or break a resource list.

1. Size

This post is a whopper—100 resources is a lot. It does make the list epic, and link-worthy, but it also works because the links aren’t time-limited. These resources will be as good in eight months as they are today, so readers can bookmark the list and come back to it again and again.

A list of 100 daily deals, for example, is probably less bookmarkable, since it’ll be useless by tomorrow. In deciding on a length for your resource list, look at the longevity of the content as well as its sharability. The greater the longevity of your resource, the more repeat traffic it’ll generate from those who do bookmark it.

2. Quality

At the beginning of the post, Tom explains that the list is “a labor of love”. Your resource list should reflect the same degree of care for your readers.

Many lists are put together simply for the sake of links, but they’ll gain fewer initial links—and less repeat visits—if the quality isn’t up to scratch. I often find the best resource lists are those that list “plugins that have saved my site” or “sites that helped me make my first online paycheque”—tools and services that the author has used herself, and can speak intelligently on.

Don’t just jam well-regarded resources together into a post. If you can give your own personal take on the resources you’re listing, your readers will relate, and appreciate the list all the more.

3. Layout

Tom’s presented his list in an easy-to-use, completely sortable table. This makes it really easy for readers to use the content, and undoubtedly encourages readers to use the post more than if he’d just provided an unsortable bullet list.

It’s the little things like this that really make your resource extra-valuable for readers. Think about the usability of your list, from the perspective of your readers, as you’re preparing it for publication.

4. Extras

You’ll notice that Tom asks readers to mention any other sites they feel he should have added. This tactic helps to make the resource even more valuable. Once dedicated readers have checked out every link in the table, they can start scouring the comments for good resources that didn’t make the cut.

This technique also ensures Tom has additional resources to consider for next year, gives him insight into the other information his readers access and value on a regular basis, and may help him to shape things like his content strategy or brand position going forward. Asking readers to contribute their own links is a great way to provide—and gain—extra value from your resource post.

5. Iteration

This post is a repeat of a resource list that was compiled almost six months before. This is a great advantage to these kinds of posts—especially if they’re as epic as Tom’s list.

We do the same thing with Jade Craven’s Bloggers to Watch posts, which she compiles every year for ProBlogger. Run your updated resource post regularly—at an appropriate interval—and your readers will likely refer to the previous ones as well as bookmarking the most recent one. They may even come to look forward to your new resource post each quarter, six months, or year.

Have you created resource posts for your blog’s readers? What’s worked for you—and what hasn’t? Add tips from your own experience in the comments—we’d love to learn how you make resource posts work.

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. Samuel says:

    Darren, Tom wrote the article in an excellent manner. Resource lists as you say can be a killer way to generate links and traffic.

    He wrote the post and now you are helping him promote the same list. That is such a great way to get your own blog known.

  2. Larry James says:

    Thanks for reminding me about the value of a resource list Tom. The very first website I ever built was my family tree hosted on Geocities. I included a page of Genealogy resources with links to websites to help others wanting to research their own family history. It wasn’t just a list of links, I provided a brief description of each site. Google loved my resource page, it drew huge amounts of traffic and was linked to from a lot of other Genealogy websites.

    • Tom Ewer says:

      Geocities! Now that takes me back ;-)

      Just goes to show that lists have always been popular (and probably always will be).

      Cheers,

      Tom

  3. nice post and very true. similar posts have done well for me.

    a resource post is also a list of practical resources one can use to help them achieve their objectives. my affiliate sales have sky rocketed since I have compiled a comprehensive resource page for my readership.

    just ads another avenue through which I can soft sell resources by simply discussing how I use them in my business and what kind of results they are generating for me.

    one particular benefit of such a page? no research is involved. just a matter of taking the time to compile everything that you’ve tried and provide honest feedback on how it has worked out for you

    again, good post – great reminder for all of us

    • Tom Ewer says:

      Sunil,

      What you’ve done is a great method of legitimately raising affiliate income as a blogger, as long as you do it with the right intentions. Good stuff!

      Cheers,

      Tom

  4. Tom Ewer says:

    Darren,

    You have made my day. I had lunch with James Farmer today and he was chatting to me about you, and I mentioned that I thought you might be writing a post about this. I wasn’t ready to believe it until I saw it. Thank you so much for featuring my list and doing this writeup – you have my endless gratitude!

    And just to put my two cents in on the actual subject matter, I agree with absolutely everything you say. The key was essentially in having a genuine desire to build a quality resource – as opposed to just slapping some casual link bait together.

    I would add just one more thing – one of the biggest reasons for the list’s success was due to me reaching out, individually, to each and every blogger on the list, asking them to share it. Not in a spammy way, but in an individual, personalized, “I would love it if you would share this but if not, thanks for reading anyway” kind of fashion. Finally, I believe that the first edition being so successful led to this one performing even better.

    Thanks once again!

    Tom

    • Jade Craven says:

      Totally. Derek Halpern said recently that we should spend 80% of our time on promotion, rather then spending all that time on creation. I generally take a 50/50 approach but you are right in that outreach is the best way.

      I don´t do outreach as such – I wait for people to be surprised to find that they are on the list. I will however see who is talking about it elsewhere and chat with people there. This meant other blogs, twitter and email. It also meant being incredibly relaxed when people criticized it and asking how I can do better. When really, I just want to yell.

      The other thing I agree with is creating a resource. Linkbait comes back to bite you, I´ve found. The people on the lists just embarass you because their motivations change. Providing a resource really gets people excited and wanting to change. That is what I love :)

      • Tom Ewer says:

        Hey Jade!

        I was just about to email you to say thank you for all your advice on both editions of the LWB 100, but here you are. So I’ll say it now – thank you! :-)

        “Wait and see” is an interesting approach, but you’d have to have a big enough blog for people to actually notice ;-)

        Cheers,

        Tom

  5. Carrie Smith says:

    After reading Tom’s post and list of amazing resources, I started writing my own epic resources list for my blog. As proven here by your mention and blog post – it’s a great way for newer/less known bloggers to promote their content. I will definitely be applying your tips here before publishing my list. Awesome stuff!

  6. Nick Thacker says:

    Great post, Darren! I’ve got a good Resources page set up, but your idea to ask readers for their input is awesome; I’ll have to implement that soon!

    Thanks again!
    Nick

  7. Irfan says:

    Yeah! Quality is necessary, I am also planing a Resource List for my new blog, these post are powerful and more attractive to the readers.
    I also found that this type of lists are also very successful on social media and Google organics.

  8. Great post, our whole website revolves around the list, it’s working really well but monetizing it is a lot harder, which I think is down to the type of visitor. What are your thoughts on this?

  9. Wow, that list is certainly awesomely useful. (Although I’ve browsed through many sites that made the cut, there are still so many other listed unknown gems to paw through.) What a wonderful and comprehensive resource for both newer bloggers and those returning to the blogging sphere.

    ;;bookmarking;;

  10. Kacey says:

    What perfect timing. I was planning to work on a resource post this week. You’ve given me so many more great ideas to use. I’m pretty pumped up about writing it now. How cool!

  11. Alexis Grant says:

    Great post! And a great reminder of how much readers LOVE resource lists — even if they’re a lot of work to put together.

    At Brazen, we created 20 Brazen Young Professionals to Watch in 2012 — similar to your Bloggers to Watch list. It took a lot of research, but readers seemed to appreciate it.

    http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2011/12/19/20-brazen-young-professionals-to-watch-in-2012/

  12. Cameron says:

    Great list and this was very nice, so I appreciate you for writing this. This has given me many ideas and many suggestions of what I want to do, and maybe I can write a post about resource lists for my own site but I don’t think I know enough yet. Still, and amazing post and I thank you for taking the time to write it.

  13. This reminds me that I haven’t made a list recently. I’m due another go. Another way to make your list popular is to tell people you’ve included them on your list, or leave a comment on their facebook page saying you’ve added them to a resource.

    This works, but only for some sites. Big sites don’t want to know and may never contact you – even to say thank you. This has happened to me many times before.

  14. Lee says:

    @ Tom Ewer

    Can I ask – how did you make the table sortable?

  15. cory J says:

    Thank you Darren for this post. This is just a reminder for all of us to not loose our site in a good resource list. As a junior writer for a SEO company (www.digitalmoz.com), we sometimes lose our focus with regards to our resource list; our aim is to just be in the top ranks. I guess, this post is a reminder for all of us to re evaluate our resource list.

  16. Monisima says:

    Congrats on ranking No. 2. I will also try to conceive of a resource list that will be helpful to others, at the same time generate readership.

  17. Jon Rhodes says:

    This is a great idea, thanks for sharing. I will have a long think about what resources would best be of use for affiliate marketers.

  18. Darren, thanks for the heads up about Tom’s mammoth list post. Just went there and bookmarked it.

    What Tom built is a whopper as you mentioned. It is going to keep me busy for a while to visit all the blogs that aren’t in my reading list.

    Thanks Tom Ewer

  19. Justin says:

    Hey Darren,

    Tom’s list of 100 blogs is fantastic. It made a big splash the first time around and it’s even better now as he was able to build on all the comments and additions he was introduced to the last time around. I’m a huge fan of Tom and LeavingWorkBehind…definitely a blog to follow.