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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.