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 top ten 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.

Writing Tip: Top ten lists make great blog posts. These tips will help you write the perfect numbered list post.

How To Write The Perfect Top Ten Lists

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.

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+.
How to Blog Using Link Posts
#SITS31DBBB: Join a Forum and Start Participating

Comments

  1. says

    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! :-)

  2. says

    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.

  3. says

    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 :)

  4. says

    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!!!

  5. says

    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!

  6. says

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

  7. says

    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!

  8. says

    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.

  9. says

    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.

  10. says

    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!

  11. says

    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!!

  12. says

    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!

  13. says

    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! =)

  14. says

    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}

  15. says

    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.

  16. says

    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.

  17. says

    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. 😉

  18. says

    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!

  19. says

    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!

  20. says

    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!

  21. says

    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.

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