Nine Luscious List Post Tips

List posts remind me of dark chocolate. They’re so sweet and tasty it’s hard to believe they can be good for a blog, but when used in moderation, they’re a healthy treat for both readers and bloggers.

Readers love list posts because they’re easy on the eyes yet packed with helpful information. Bloggers love them because they’re quick, easy, and fun to write. Adding to the deliciousness, list posts are also favorites for sharing on social media and bookmarking sites.

Here are some tips for creating totally luscious list posts for your blog:

  1. Pick a number. There are no rules on this, but more than five and less than 20 seems to be pretty standard for most blog posts.
  2. Craft a tantalizing headline. Alert readers to the list-post goodness that awaits by using your best headline writing skills. The ideal list post headline has a number, a keyword or two, and the promise of something your target audience craves.
  3. Write a short intro. There are times when it’s appropriate to launch straight into your list with no intro, but most times, opening the post with a few introductory sentences sets the stage and heightens reader anticipation.
  4. Brainstorm for list points. Mindmapping, as discussed in this Problogger post, is a favorite brainstorming method for many bloggers.
  5. Select the winners. Evaluate your points with your readers in mind. What ideas will be most helpful or entertaining? Do all of your ideas fit well together? If you have more good ideas than you can use, save them for a future post.
  6. Create order. Move your items around as appropriate if they need to be ranked, alphabetized, or put in a step-by-step order. If your items don’t require ordering, place your strongest ideas at the top of the list.
  7. Be consistent. Be mindful of your tone as you flesh out and revise your list. For example, if you started out using humor, make sure it’s sprinkled throughout your post. Also evaluate your text for general consistency in the number of lines contained in each point.
  8. Do a final quality check. Does the number of items presented in your list match up with the number in the headline? Do a final read-through to make sure your post delivers on all the sweet stuff you promised your readers.
  9. Wrap it up. Close out your list post with a few summary sentences, and invite readers to take action by leaving a comment or sharing your post on a social networking site.

Your turn. Do you use list posts on your blog? Have more list post tips or thoughts to share? Leave a comment!

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14 Responses to Nine Luscious List Post Tips

  1. Mars Dorian April 8, 2010 at 12:43 am #

    Heck yeah I use them, although in a different style:
    I tend to have no more than 7 points (my secret magic number), and I personalize each one of them.
    In fact, I write them first – before I even write the intro – because it helps me with the overall structure.

  2. virginbloggernotes April 8, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    Mars, how could anything you do not have a little magic involved? I loved your video, by the way!

  3. GetYourBizSavvy April 8, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    tantalizing…I love that word. Lists are so fun to do and everyone enjoys them, Great list about how to make a great list!

  4. virginbloggernotes April 8, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    They really are fun. Which reminds me, I've been meaning to make a list of all the things I'd like to write a list post about :)

  5. philjpjohnson April 12, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    Great info. I've found that since I started adding the odd list posting here and there that my traffic see's a fairly big surge, so that technique definately works. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. philjpjohnson April 12, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    Great info. I've found that since I started adding the odd list posting here and there that my traffic see's a fairly big surge, so that technique definately works. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. virginbloggernotes April 13, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    It's pretty cool that one of the easiest types of posts to write tends to draw the most traffic. Thanks for stopping by, Phil.

  8. Madeleine April 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Jean, Good post. I agree, I've read that an odd number works better than an even one. I don't know why, but I tend to use an odd number myself. Mars' suggestion to write the list first and then go back to do the introduction is excellent. I've often seen advice to write speeches that way, first the body, then an attention-grabbing introduction, and finally a clear, concise conclusion.

    P.S. I just subscribed to your blog.

  9. virginbloggernotes April 20, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    Welcome, Madeleine! Let me know if there are any special topics you'd like to see covered. I use an editorial calendar, but am always open to making changes based on reader requests. I heard somewhere (David Risley, I think?) that odd numbers make readers more likely to jump in and add more items to the list in a comment, and round numbers like 10, 20, etc., sound more authoritative. No matter how they're done, list posts are just plain fun :)

  10. angartemis April 22, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    Hi Jean,
    I came over from the A List Blogger's club to visit your site. I think it's fabulous.

    I love your topic as I'm working on a list as my next post! How timely.

    I'm going to subscribe and I look forward to more wonderful content.
    Most Sincerely,
    Angela Artemis

  11. virginbloggernotes April 23, 2010 at 12:29 am #

    Thanks for stopping by, Angela, and I'm glad to have you as a subscriber. Please let me know if there's anything you'd like to see covered here. I just started poking around the A-List site and think we can all be a great source of help and support to each other over there.

  12. social bookmarking service May 15, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    Thanks a lot for the awesome tips and advice. I want to give it a try.

  13. virginbloggernotes May 15, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    List posts really do well at attracting interest. Which reminds me that I haven't written one in awhile, so I'd better do something about that :) Thanks for stopping by!

  14. clara January 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    I’m very new to blogging and am having a real learning curve which I have been writing about. I also found you from Alist and wanted to stop by. Thanks on your post. As I’m just learning it was a good one to know that readers like lists.
    clara recently posted..The View From My Chair

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