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Write a List Post [Day 2 – 31DBBB]

Posted By Darren Rowse 7th of April 2009 Featured Posts, Writing Content 0 Comments

Today your challenge in the 31 Day project that we’re running here at Problogger is focused around writing a post and is to write a ‘list post’.


Today’s Teaching:

Using ‘lists’ has always been a popular and effective technique among bloggers wanting to write content that gets spread from one person to the next. Just look at pages like the front page of Digg, TweetMeme and Delicious and you’ll see that many of the ‘hottest’ content on the web at any given time are written in this style.

Check out this screen shot of Delicious from yesterday:


You can see there that every post in the most popular page of Delcious at this point was a list of some type.

8 Reasons Why List Posts are Powerful for Bloggers

‘List posts’ are popular because:

1. Lists are Scannable – online readers are notoriously lazy and tend to scan content rather than read it word for word. A list helps communicate a number of points quickly and easily and helps readers to know if a post contains information that interests them and which they should actually read more of.

2. Lists keep posts succinct
– there is something about a list that keeps you as a blogger from rambling. Each point has a start and end whereas with an essay style of writing points often bleed into one another.

3. Lists look ‘neat’
– I don’t know about you but when I surf onto a site that is full of messily formatted text – I don’t tend to stick around for too long. Lists on the other hand can be quite visually pleasing and more likely to stimulate someone to start reading.

4. Lists can be comprehensive
– while some might argue that lists ‘dumb down’ ideas and concepts – when written well they can actually be just as comprehensive as any other style of writing.

5. Lists are persuasive
– if you want to mount a case for something quickly presenting numerous arguments in a list can be quite convincing. Again – it’s about identifiable points that together go to forming a convincing argument.

6. Lists can add to the ease of writing
– I like writing in lists because they break down my thoughts into bite sized pieces which is good not only for readers but me as a writer as I consider how to express myself.

7. Lists go Viral – lists can start epidemics of ideas. For the above reasons (and others – bloggers and those on social media seem to love sharing lists and as a result they have the ability to spread quickly through out the web (and beyond)

8. Lists break down the complicated – one reason I find list posts to be powerful is that they can be great for breaking down complex ideas or tasks. I know on my photography blog that many of our photoshop tutorials work best when our authors present their instructions as ‘steps’ – meaning a procedure that can at first seem overwhelming becomes a list of bite sized tasks.

Warning: don’t go over the top with ‘list posts’. They can be incredibly powerful but on many blogs readers can become frustrated with them if that is all you do.

Your Task for Today – Write a List Post:

Today your task is to write a ‘list post’ on your blog. You may not choose to publish it today if you already have something lined up – but aim to publish it in the next day or two if you can.

3 Types of ‘List Posts’

There are a variety of ways of incorporating lists into your blog. Depending upon the topic and style of blog you’re building some of these options might be appropriate for you:

  • The post as a list – in this case there’s nothing in the post except for the list. The title of your post introduces the topic and then the list speaks for itself. The list can be quite barebones – short and to the point. However readers often like them because of their bluntness and the way that they tell it like it is. Example: 21 Ways to Write Posts that are Guarantees to Grow Your Blog.
  • Extended lists – this is how I generally approach ‘list posts’. I’ll show you a couple of examples below but in a sense this type of post is not dissimilar to an essay or article but the main points are broken down into a numbered list format. Generally there is a heading for each section (highlighted in bold or heading tags) with a paragraph or two under each one. Example: 10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits.
  • Lists Within Posts – the post you’re reading right now probably illustrates this type well. In this post there are two lists that present ideas in the midst of other content. In a sense the list becomes a way of breaking up your text. I find that often these posts do quite well as other bloggers looking for a quote to share with their readers will many times grab your list.

Some bloggers do at times get a little ‘anti list’ and suggest it is an overused technique and a lazy way to write – but this need not always be the case. There’s nothing to stop a blogger developing a list post that is in depth and on topic for almost any blog.

List posts will not suit everyone’s style and probably are harder to use with some blog topics than others but they are a useful style of post to have in your tool belt for when the opportunity arises.

Highly Recommended Reading: If you’re after a little extra reading on the topic of writing list posts check out this excellent and practical guest post from late last year on ProBlogger with 10 steps to writing the perfect list post.

Examples of List Posts

I know some of our participants will find today’s task easier than others. Some of you have successfully written a lot of list posts while others have not. Some have topics where these types of posts ‘fit’ better than others. I hope that in the following examples (both from my blogs and others) that you’ll find a little inspiration that might help you to discover a type of post that might work with your blog.

Also: also check out this long list of ‘list posts’ written in a group writing project by readers of ProBlogger. This list of posts has hundreds of examples (some good and some not so good) on hundreds of topics. Hopefully some of them will give a little inspiration).

Share Your New List Posts

It’s time to go away and write your list post. Once you’ve done it – do come back here and leave the link and title in comments below. My hope in this is that participants will get a little traffic but also that you’ll inspire one another with your posts and give a much more comprehensive list than I’ve come up with above of great list posts. I’m looking forward with what you come up with!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

Update: You can also join the discussion over at the forum, and see what others have done for this task! Day 2 – Write a List Post

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I like writing list posts because I like reading them myself because they are easy to follow.

    Here’s a link to my latest list post: http://thefabulouswebsitechick.com/internet-marketing-tips/how-to-find-out-who-is-publishing-your-articles/

  2. Finally I’ve got round to publishing my “list” post. Phew. I’m also glad to see that some other people are starting a bit late like me! I’m really new at this so this is my first real post of any substance. I guess I’m going to have to speed up. This course is a great guide though and is pointing me in the right direction.

    Anyway here is my post http://bestben10toys.co.uk/blog/toy-tips/unwanted-toys-16-ideas-for-what-to-do-with-them/

    Hopefully someone will find something of use in it!

  3. This 31DBBB posts series is the most inspiring thing ive crossed in the past months, it has actualy moved me into working on my blog, and im very pleased with the results !!
    my list is: 13 books and magazines for linux sysadmins
    and the link to it is:

    thanks !!!

  4. I’m getting a very late start, but here’s my list post on themed website collections:


  5. I would add a few more details for each point below.

    Top ten ways to build an MLM list from scratch:

    1) Build Relationships: Let people get to know you trough social networking sites. Hobbies, common interests.
    2) Create a tag line, or subject line that creates “knee-jerk” reactions. Saturday Night’s alright for…one Mississippi, two Mississippi…
    3) Invite people in: Create an invitation: Fill in the blank, win a prize.
    4) Be short, friendly & quick: People will read your post for a few seconds. Get to the point.
    5) Do not push: Offer value, keep the relationship, people will buy if you offer quality.
    6) Mentor: Call, e-mail, guide people. It may take 7-13 times before they buy.
    7) Attitude: Be positive, upbeat, and share your enthusiasm.
    8) Why? Answer the “so what” and “what’s in it for me!”
    9) Keep in contact: Be friendly and keep checking in;
    10) Value: What separates you from the riff raff?

  6. Hi Darren,

    Great info here, thank you. Here is my list post. One thing I noticed in reading through these – Those post titles that were specific (niched tightly) and included numbers (10 ways to xxx – etc) were of greater interest to me. Good lesson to remember!


  7. My list is up and it was one I had already started working on due to our circumstances! I hope you all enjoy. :)

    Fun with Broken Arms

  8. I’m wayyyy behind due to being on vacation but here’s my list post..I couldn’t really think of a really long list so I decided to go in depth on each point on the list.


  9. I decided to create a better list post by listing the 7 plugins that I use the most


  10. I wrote a blog post geared towards friends of mine who are new to twitter. It aims to help people find new people to follow who share their interests.


  11. My blog post is about how to combat the jitters on the interview. We all experience them, so hopefully this will help someone out!


  12. I wrote a post about how authors can help their publisher promote their books.

    If anyone would like to provide feedback I’d certainly welcome your suggestions. I’m new to marketing this way and feel a bit overwhelmed…


  13. Starting a bit late, but my stream of consciousness list is here.

  14. I wrote a post on 6 best ways to make money online with your blog.


  15. This is great, thanks for the tutorials, loving it, and looking forward to the next one, haven’t had any time to do it until now so I’m planning on playing catch up today.


  16. I quite like how my list post turned out!

    It’s titled “7 Surefire Ways to Turn Your Failures into Opportunities”


  17. Here is mine let me know what you think by leaving a cooment on my blog. I redid my frist blog entry into a list.


  18. As instructed I have now put up a list post….

    Top Five Samurai Sword Websites.


    I would appreciate any comments.

  19. Hot off the press – my list post, Secret life of a list-maker.


    Can’t wait to check out everyone else’s list.

  20. Here is the link to the list post I started to write originally but life happened.
    I also thank Darren for the time and patience and effort he spared over the last month for all of us.
    I have saved the daily posts we have received so far and will refer to them often.

  21. Outstanding post! I have been blogging for a while but have yet to develop a list.

    Inventors and dreamers of the world, check out 5 Sweet and Simple inventions that will rock your world!


  22. Here’s my 2nd list about the 5 most important tools for your business process: http://www.jahooda.org/?p=1517

  23. Just started this series a couple days ago… thought id share my link anyways :)


  24. Here is my list of “26 Places for Fiction on Twitter (And Related Sites)”


  25. This was the longest time I’ve ever spent writing a post – I put a lot of thought into it and I hope it shows.


    Things I Have Learned In My (University) Life So Far.

  26. Hi Darren, cheers for this most excellent series so far its been really informative, I’m a bit behind but i’ve just finished my List post and as others have I thought I’d post it here too :)


  27. I have done a couple at http://www.travelandtheworld.com – Let me know what you all think!

  28. I am a little late on joining the 31 days but I plan on going through each step over the next month. Thanks for posting them. My list post for the day is:

    10 Steps to Getting Your Financial Boat Back on Course


  29. I wrote “Ten Things I Know as a Person with ADD.” It’s here:


    Had some technical difficulties, though. Wanted to put the photos to the left of each item on the list, sort of like bullets. But the spacing kept getting messed up. If anyone has suggestions for doing this in the future, I’d love to hear. (I’m on TypePad.)

    Thanks for this series! Looking forward to working through it (although will take more than 31 days)!

  30. finally was able to do task #2!!!

    here is the link: http://www.mommyjourney.com/2009/05/kids-art-what-next.html please do check it out!


  31. 7 Recession Busting Tips!

    * Share a link to your List Post


    * How did you find writing it?

    Great – I’ve wanted to write this specific post for a while now and this meant I pushed myself to get it down and published. Discpline is a great thing and this 31 days to a better blog course is certainly VERY motivating.

    * What tips would you give to others writing lists?

    Just do it. The Nike catch phrase holds true. You may revise review revise review over and over but you’ll get it right and be happy with it – promise!

    * How did readers respond to your post?

    I have only just posted it and am a new blogger so traffic is still building at the moment.

    * Do you use lists posts on your blog regularly? Will you?

    Yes and Yes!

  32. I find the posts on the blog I run: http://guruzaz.com are more suitable in a small essay format.

    A list breaks up a discussion on an abstract topic (such as self-realisation) unnaturally.

    But check this out for a decent attempt: Six Steps to use Astrology to Improve your Personality and Relationships:


  33. I had a great time writing my list and it’s given me more ideas for posts on my blog. Thanks and here’s my list:

    10 Must Have Accessories for my DSLR

  34. Good tip, one I’ll definitely keep in mind. Funnily enough, although our blog is young — only 10 posts so far, 3 of them include lists — e.g., groups of people you know that can be part of your network during your job search.

  35. Heaven scent

    15 food scents as exciting as any perfume.

  36. I know I’m running behind, but I want to play, too! I was in the middle of final exams (graduated from college May 9th) during the official 31 days, so I’m trying to catch up now.

    Here’s my list post:

    5 Reasons why you should hire a professional writer:

    Let me know what you think!

    Rhi B.
    The Word Trade
    We help small businesses use words wisely.

  37. I was meaning to write a list post anyway as a response to a challenge set by another blogger after a some people took exception to a local newspaper article.

    So anyway here is my “10 things I love about Korea”

    Feel free to take a look and I would love to see any comments anyone has.


  38. Ok, this is a dumb question. But does having numbering next to each point matter? Supposed that’s for easy referencing? Here’s mine… cheers!


  39. Darren I have been enjoying following your tips to creating a better blog. You have given me a little of good ideas to grow my blog which I will be implementing along the way.

    Here is my attempt at an extended link post
    5 Easy Ways to Make Money from Blogger

    Thanks heaps

  40. Darren I have been enjoying reading along to your many helpful hints on how to grow a successful blog. Thanks so much for this inspiration.

    Here is my attempt at an extended list
    5 Easy Ways to Make Money from Blogger

  41. I found this quite disappointing for the second day. What was it you said above – put your strongest items in first, second and last position…?

    I realise that there is a lot of mileage in making lists and getting traffic. But, surely there is more to blogging than making a list of the last 10 websites you’ve visited (which seems to be the basis of most posts in my field) and giving it a title like “10 websites that have changed the web”. There are too many of these posts around and they are pretty pointless (on the whole). For someone starting out blogging, it isn’t really suitable because it’s important to establish your authority first.

    For these reasons, my ‘list’ post will take a slightly different approach and will give an overview to the stages of the project management process Redcentaur uses to design and develop websites. It will, eventually become a series which will delve down into these stages and hopefully will give an insight into project management for my clients and maybe to other designers who look at it from an different angle. I will publish this post tomorrow or the day after.

    I understand that list posts are a powerful marketing ploy, I’m just not sure that it is the best first writing challenge.

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