Why Top Ten Lists Work For Bloggers

One of the most effective ways to break up a long paragraphs of text is to create a list.  Using lists has always been a popular and effective technique to grab a reader’s attention and hold onto it.  List blog posts are also notoriously easier to write, when compared to a long, essay-style post.

top ten lists

And while we all may be familiar with what a list post is and how to write one, as Ali Hale wrote in her guest post on Problogger back in 2008, there are a number of ways to make your next list post as effective as possible.

1. Choose Your Numbers Wisely

When putting together a list post, always consider your reader’s perspective.  Will they want to read a post on your top 100 movies of all time?  Probably not.  Readers typically have a short attention span.  For posts such as “X ways to…” or “X reasons why…”, listing between 5 and 15 points usually works well.

2. Order Your List Logically

A structured, well-organized list post is always going to be more successful when compared to a list that is put together based on the order someone came up with their ideas.

The way you order a list will depend on what you’re writing about.  Here are a few ways to structure your list:

  • From most to least popular
  • From least to most popular
  • Alphabetical order: This works well for lists of resources, especially glossaries or jargon definitions. (You could also try a spin on the list post and write the “A-Z of…” a topic.)
  • Chronological order
  • Step-by-step, especially if you are focusing on how to do something.

Be aware that when ordering your list, you should put your strongest items first, second and last. If you start with the most obvious or bland ideas, readers will immediately lose interest.  Ending your post well also strikes the perfect jumping off point to encourage comments and new subscribers.

3. Consider Publishing Your List as a Series

Sometimes, your ideas are strong enough that using them all in one post is a waste. If you have a long list of items to cover, then it’s worth considering turning the post into a series. Doing so also allows you to create a reason for readers to come back to your blog for more than a single post.

4. Always Number Your Items

Un-numbered lists are difficult to follow.  When readers see a title that promises 10 Common Mistakes that Readers Make When Moving from Blogger to WordPress, then they want to see all 10 reasons.

Usually, items in a list are ordered numerically, e.g., 1, 2, 3, etc.  However, consider getting creative and counting backwards too!

5. Invite Readers to Participate

List posts provide a great (and natural) way to call your readers to action and get them to leave comments.  Use the final few sentences of your post to ask a question or invite opinions.

Here are two examples:

“So – what do you think? How have you increased the level of comments on your blog?” from 10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog on Problogger.

“What about you, did you come across any crazy registered domains in the past?” from Who Spent $10 For These Domain Names? on Daily Bits.

Ending with a question or asking your readers to contribute more items to the list is a great way to encourage comments, get readers engaged and involved, and even help you find ideas for future blog posts.

6. Choose a Title That Gets Noticed

Post titles matter in blogland.  Choosing a catchy title can go a long way in ensuring that your list post is something that people want to read.

Be careful, though!  Over-hyping your post is never a good idea.  Be sure that your post can live up to what the title promises.  Choosing something like, “10 Ways To Make $1,000,000 Dollars From Blogging” probably won’t be able to guarantee that everyone can retire a few months after starting a blog.

Now it’s your turn.  If you’ve created a list post for today’s activity, then link up!  We’d love to see how you put these tips to work on your blog.

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About Francesca

One of two behind The SITS Girls and Bloggy Boot Camp. Believer that this community is a movement, and not just a website. Currently on a quest for unending free WiFi & stronger caffeine. I'd love to get to know you better: Find me on Twitter @FranBanducci and on Google+.

Comments

  1. I am trying to get caught up on 31DBBB so sorry I am a little late!!! Here is a list post that I did a while ago called 10 Tips For Stress-Free Bill Paying: http://www.renewyourspace.org/2010/02/10-tips-for-stress-free-bill-paying.html Not the most interesting – but helpful ;)

  2. I love list posts, I should do them more often.

  3. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written a list post and I am drawing a blank for a post. I’ve just joined in on the 31DBBB so I want to get it and I’ll definitely come back with a link. Wish me luck! :-)

  4. Late to the party I may be.
    But I hope you will check out my list…
    It’s tips on commenting effectively… for bloggers AND non-bloggers :)

  5. Not a new post, but one I liked – http://doozeedad.blogspot.com/2011/02/on-blogging.html

    Also, not a new post BUT it does promise to be a countdown – http://doozeedad.blogspot.com/2011/02/20-moxi-licious-things.html

  6. This is a great idea to go through the problogger series together! I just started my blog this week so I will be keeping an eye out for more tips on getting more traffic to my site!
    P.S. anyone who wants to check out my latest craftiness check out http://www.ladyofwhimsy.blogspot.com

  7. I’ve had the book for a while and every time I read the assignments I learn something new. I’ll be cooking up a list to post soon.

  8. Thank-you for this aritcle – it was a great help to me. I redid my only top 10 list I had – about scheduling. I hope I learned a lot, but my title really leaves something to be desired :)

  9. I was a day late but I posted my top 10! Love this!

  10. Well! That’s done — and took a heckuva long time to post! I’m thinking that I like dial-up better. :)

    Now I’m going to go browse!!!

  11. So many great posts to look at! I love this challenge!

  12. this was too much fun .)

  13. Great post! The website where I do my main online writing just had a top ten contest. It gernerates a lot of traffic if you pick the right topic!

  14. Great post and tips! I can’t wait to read the posts each day during the challenge.

    Posted about this on my blog, following you via Twitter, Email & spreading the word about your post on my blog.

    Christy M.
    https://twitter.com/#!/VisByChristy
    http://visualizedbychristy.blogspot.com/

  15. Okay, these are so great! So many awesome lists on here. I am getting lost in bloggyland…so very easy to do!

  16. Normally I like writing lists but I found this really hard because I had nothing buzzing around my head. I’ll try it again when my brain is working properly hehe!

  17. Top ten lists are always superb, readers love focusing on numbers.

    Another tip is to build each tip upon one another to create one stable whole. Not all lists posts can fit into this, mind you, but when it does….it truly does rock.

  18. I used to do a top ten every week last summer, it was great when I was busy and couldn’t really think in paragraphs! It was also a lot of fun thinking up different topics, thanks for the reminder I may try doing a few more of these this summer too.

  19. Wow I was very inspired by all the great posts here. In trying to keep my post solid, I trimmed it down from 10 items to 5. So I hope you enjoy it and as always your thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

    Cheers!

  20. Had a lot of fun with today’s assignment. Looking forward to reading some of the posts here.

  21. Loved today’s assignment and loved everyone linking up here as opposed to trying to follow it all on the forum. I haven’t even had a chance to go there today…but yesterday was overwhelming there! ;o)

    Now, off to visit more blogs! Everyone is writing such great list posts!!

  22. what a great idea and easy

    Everyday Life

  23. thanks guys – I have a list coming up for next week’s post and made sure it hewed to all your recommendations, appreciate the good information as always!

  24. I really don’t write lists all that often, but I’m going to try to start. It seems easier somehow.

  25. How embarrassing! didn’t mean to post three times

  26. I love list posts! Oh let me count the ways! LOL

  27. I love list posts! Yay for Day 2!

  28. Hmm, I’ve been focusing on short, sweet audio tips. I’ll need to spend some time thinking about 10 of anything. LOL

    It’s time to visit my fellow SITSahs for some inspiration! =)

  29. What a great idea for a link up!!!

  30. I had to post an oldie but goodie. Looking forward to reading other lists!

  31. Thanks for the post! A lot of my recipe posts look like lists, so maybe emphasize that from now on.. I’m putting together some list posts now!

    {myra}

  32. I haven’t done a list post yet. # 1 on my notes to self list…I Must do a list post…

  33. I am an organized freak, so I love lists anywhere, anytime! Great tips! I am currently working on a new list post of things to see in Berlin (I was just there over the weekend), but I linked up a post from a few weeks back about things I love about Holland.

  34. Here is my stab at a top 10 post :)
    Pardon the sawdust on the site I’m building up new content from scratch on a new blog as apart of this challenge!

    Top 5 Buttons Your Blog Needs Right Now
    http://cirquedumot.com/top-5-blog-buttons/

  35. I almost always write in a list format. I find that is the best way to get my thoughts across. And actually I personally prefer list posts.

  36. I write lists weekly on both of my blogs. In some ways I find them a bit harder to write because every blogger I know does them. It stretches my creativity to put my own spin on it.

    I linked up a post from my food blog that has my 10 favorite recipes from my blog and from my lifestyle blog I linked up the 10 TV shows watched most often by my household.

  37. Great tips!

  38. This was an easy day for me, because most of my posts have lists in them somewhere, but I changed it up anyway, and I got it up. Fun!
    I love List Post blogging when I can’t think of other things to write. ;)

  39. I’m cheating and linking up a list post from 2 months ago! In between, I’ve written some list posts without numbers, and have one going up next week too!

  40. I’m so glad today was a list post so I can post this vital information! Thanks.

  41. I was planning a list post for today so this advice is REALLY timely! Thanks!

  42. That was a really great instructional post! Very helpful.

    Good morning SITStahs, hope everyone is having a great day! Stop by my blog to read about my caffeinated pants!

  43. I keep coming across this advice but now I need to come up with ideas for a Top 10…

  44. I didn’t number my list. Doh!

  45. I did a post a week ago that uses a lot of these tips. I got the tips from Bloggy Boot Camp! Yay!
    I’ll add it to the linky and hopefull you all can give me some feedback so I can improve for next time! :-) Thanks for all the awesome help!

  46. Looks like it’s that time of year again. The ProBlogger series is great. Just did a post with what not to say to the recent college graduate. I did break the cardinal rule of not numbering but in this case I think it might be okay.

  47. This is great stuff! I really love the idea of listing the best ones 1st, 2nd and last.

  48. Gracias por vuestros post tan interesantes. Have a nice day!

Trackbacks

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