Lists bring order to chaos, help us remember things, relieve stress, and focus the mind.
“People are attracted to lists because we live in an era of overstimulation, especially in terms of information.”
David Wallechinsky, an American historian
We love lists. Many writers use lists in their posts. For example, some examples of a numbered list article are 10 things to do today, 7 life lessons you should learn, or 5 people skills you must master.
“List, list, O, list!” —William Shakespeare, an English playwright, poet and actor, in his play Hamlet
How to write a better list blog post
We love lists because we know what we get with the blog post. We don’t like missing out on things. Lists feel less taxing on our stressed-out minds.
“Nearly everyone loves reading top 10 lists. Whether it’s listing the most beautiful celebrities, the world’s richest people, important features you need to know about a new product, or even cats that look like Miley Cyrus, a top 10 list is a winning format.”Amanda DiSilvestro, an author
We remember numbers and are mesmerized by them
When we see a number in a headline, we are likelier to act, such as clicking on the headline and reading the entire article. We prefer numbered list headlines to any other type of headline. Research has found that women prefer list posts more than men do.
Many of the most popular articles I have written contain numbers in the headline. They are:
- Easy to read and write.
- An excellent way to organize and structure your thoughts.
- Capture the attention of your readers.
List blog posts, also called listicles, are here to stay if you write them correctly. To take advantage of our love of numbered lists, here are five simple yet powerful tips to help you write a better blog post.
1. List Posts Work When You Use the Right Numbers
Patterns can help us remember things. They can also help us process information more quickly. We remember things longer that have patterns.
The smallest number needed to make a pattern is three. If you think about it, the number three is everywhere.
The Three Musketeers. The Three Little Pigs. Three Blind Mice. Snap, Crackle, and Pop. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Faster, Lighter, and Thinner. The Three Stooges. The Three Amigos. You get the point.
You can also find the power of three in stories because they have a beginning, middle, and end. Comedians use three stages to get a laugh (set the stage, anticipation, and punchline). Great conversationalists use the three-question rule to ensure the other person is heard.
If you are going to create a list, make sure the list is more than three. If you use numbers, use 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 50, 100. Those numbers are the best for lists. Also, use the numeral, not the word (in other words, “10” is better than “ten”).
2. List Posts Must Be Useful
The best content is useful. It’s the cornerstone of what makes content helpful. A list blog post is inherently practical.
Your list blog post must be useful and interesting. To make it enjoyable, you must have a strong writing voice. To make this happen, speak the reader’s language and avoid buzzwords. Don’t try to sound clever; it’s a big turn-off. Also, use shorter sentences and try not to write paragraphs longer than three sentences.
Concentrate on ensuring the list is worth your audience’s time and attention. Make it as helpful as possible and weave in storytelling to make it memorable.
When your list blog post is useful, it helps others, makes a difference, and adds value to someone else’s life.
3. List Posts Must Solve Problems
Good content solves a reader’s problem. The best list posts understand what trouble the reader is having and solve it for them with a list of solutions.
Humans have tons of problems to solve
If you are looking for ideas for a list post, create a list of your reader’s problems. Answer those problems with your list blog post.
You must understand what makes your audience tick, what is bothering them, what is worrying them, and what is exciting for them. You should also know what they are fearful of, cherish, and don’t want to lose.
Listen to problems in your daily life and how you solved them. Research for better ways to solve those problems and share that knowledge with your readers.
4. List Posts Must Be Scannable and Readable
Your list blog post must be scannable and readable. There’s no guarantee that anyone will read your entire list post. Research shows that only 16% of people read all the words of an article.
Therefore, you must understand how your readers consume your content. Most readers will pick out individual sentences, such as a paragraph’s first and last sentences. Make sure you add sub-headers and include one idea per paragraph. Also, highlight, bold, or italicize crucial words, phrases, and sentences.
Ensure your list blog post has whitespace, so your readers have time to breathe while consuming your content. Pay attention to formatting for both scanners and readers. That goes a long way in ensuring your content is enjoyable to read.
Present your blog post in a way that is appealing and compelling. Make sure you can satisfy the scanners with your lists and serve the readers who want to go deeper into a topic.
5. List Posts Must Have a Strong Call to Action
You must understand what happens after your list of possible solutions to a problem in your blog post. What should the reader do next? It would help if you thought through what you want your reader to do next.
Before you publish and promote your list post, determine the next step for your readers
The best and strongest call to action for most blog posts is to have them binge on more content — whether reading another blog article, subscribing to an email newsletter, or watching a video. Your call to action may be different depending on the content.
The best call to action is clear, concise, and compelling. There should be no doubt in the reader’s mind what they must do next after reading your list post blog. For example, it could be subscribing to your email newsletter, reading another list post, or downloading an eBook.
Bringing It All Together
To write better list posts worth reading, you must follow five simple yet powerful tips. Remember that list posts work when you use the right numbers, are useful, solve problems, are scannable and readable, and have a strong call to action.
Lists are an excellent way to convey information to your readers in a digestible manner that’s recognizable. Numbered lists help you present your ideas clearly and concisely. You can’t go wrong with a format that has been proven to work.
“Love them or hate them, informational posts presented in list format are easily digestible, and allow for an efficient transfer of your value proposition to the reader.”Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger