Three Dangerous Myths About List Posts Busted

By Ali Luke

How do you feel about list posts?

Some bloggers like them; others hate them.

We’ve all seen guest posts that are badly done — perhaps with lots of “fluff” items that don’t add value, or with poor formatting and construction that makes them hard to read.

But like it or not, lists work. Putting a number in a headline is a sure-fire way to get readers to pay attention. (Look at the cover of any magazine, and there’s a very good chance you’ll spot some numbers. These editors know what they’re doing.)

So let’s bust some silly myths:

Myth #1: “List Posts Are Just for Lazy Writers”

Sure, some lazy writers slap together a few bullet points and call it a post … but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same.

A great list post can take just as much craft as any other post. In fact, spending time and energy creating a strong list post is a great way to develop your writing skills.

Myth #2: “List Posts Aren’t Right for My Style/Niche”

Some bloggers are convinced that, while list posts work, they don’t work for them. Perhaps they think it’s a “dumbed down” format.

When I started my blog Aliventures, I was determined not to use list posts. But I tried just one list post after several months — and readers loved it. The content I wrote was just as in-depth as any other post on my blog, but it was delivered in a format that worked well for my audience.

Myth #3: “List Posts Have to be Really Long”

Although big numbers do tend to get attention on social media, that doesn’t mean that every list post you write needs to have 100 points. A list can be just three items.

In fact, huge long lists tend to get bookmarked and tweeted, not read. If you want to draw people through a list in order to get to a powerful call to action, keep the list to around 7 – 12 points.

The list format is simple and classic. It’s never going to go out of fashion. It suits every niche and topic. And it forces your post into a clear structure that’s great for your readers.

Try out a list post today — and let us know how you get on.

Bio: Ali Luke writes a regular column for Daily Writing Tips. If you’d like more blogging tips and tricks from her, check out her three info-packed Blogger’s Guide ebooks.



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12 Responses to “Three Dangerous Myths About List Posts Busted”

  • Kevin Martin

    Over on my blog, list posts are my bread and butter. It gets the readers going.

  • Ali Luke

    Great comments everyone, thanks! Looks like I’m not the only person who’s felt annoyed by fluff list posts too…

    @Samuel — Good point about not overdoing the list posts, and using them as part of a thought-out content strategy. There are plenty of other great post formats.

    @Daniel — I agree with you that a lot of the “rules” of blogging definitely aren’t set in stone! Hmm, maybe there’s a post in that… 🙂

  • Movie Film Cool :)

    Well, List Posts help me a lot when I have a number of points and the description is hard.

    I used them while writing technology&science related articles. 🙂

  • Rosemary Jayne

    As you say Ali, it’s all about the quality of the list! I’m working on a few list posts at the moment but it’s taking longer than a regular post would, that said I want to deliver a good post – not just acceptable or average so I’m sure the extra work’s worth it!

    I have published a few list posts before on various blogs and when I took my time with them they were always well received which is great 🙂

  • jeff

    Great list never hurts.

    And although I have been devouring so many lists online, I still fall in love with reading a list.

    No wonder I also have lists on my site.

  • yarijik

    I hate them!!!
    Especially when you get 20 of those on friday night and all you have is links and images with absolutely no content to read – that alone drives me crazy.

  • Nick

    I was originally in the same situation. I thought lost posts were lame and detracted from my well-thought out posts. Eventually from the recommendation by a friend, I wrote my first and became one of my most shared articles. Now half of my popular posts on the sidebar are lists.

    I see the value now and how the format appeals to people. I write the same content just styled differently. Often they’re harder to write than tradition posts by trying to keep things so concise.

  • Samuel

    List posts are definitely not going away, and generate lots of clicks/bookmarks/shares on their own, but it’s important not to overuse them and think of them in context with the blog’s overall strategy and content base.

    It’s likely that someone finds a blog via one of its list posts, but that person is way more likely to subscribe and/or keep checking for updates if their rest of your blog’s entries vary in format and content, but all focus around an area of interest and add value.

  • Daniel

    List posts was one of the so called ” must do’s from the Bloggers rule book’ a little while back. Okay, if they are done well, though, not overdone, they would probably do quite well.

    For me personally, now having the advantage of time/ experience regarding the so called “rules of Blogging” I take many of these as a grain of salt. So many of “the ways” bloggers are expected to follow, especially what they are told to (not do) to avoid Google’s wrath, often turn out to be no more than hot air. Or, the total opposite.

    This comes from experience/ application of many said “rules”.

  • Sac

    True, I completely agree with you…I had in the past list posts with 5 lists at most and many of those were successful on social site…

  • Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    I use list posts on my blog on a fairly regular basis. I think they work well. My readers are busy people and a list post keeps things concise.

    One of my pet peeves is reading a list post that promises certain things and then delivers a bunch of fluff. I get to the end of the article and think, “Duh. That was a waste of time.” I never want any of my articles to be like that. I want my readers to feel that every post is useful information.

  • Slavko@ Lifestyle Updated

    List post make it easy to navigate, and therefore make getting the information you went after in the first place more reachable. And with the fact that nowadays people value their time a lot it makes a lot of sense making a list post.
    Also one can consider adding some list paragraphs within a post that is not originally intended to be a list post. That way those list post stereotypes are less likely to be ignited, and you still get the benefits of making lists.

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