The 10 Step Process to Writing the Perfect List Post
Are you struggling to write list posts without turning them into cheesy lists tainted with sparse content? Don’t you find the value in them as a result?
While many websites create large lists with very little content for each item, their methods are not of a uniform style.
In this post, we’ll cover 10 simple changes you can apply to your list posts to make them more engaging and shareable.
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10 steps to writing better list posts
1. Choose the topics carefully
Every step you take with your business should have a purpose, right down to the content you post on your blog. List posts are no different.
They are designed to drive traffic to your website with catchy headlines and easy-to-consume postal structures, both of which are insanely shareable.
Approach brainstorming sessions for these types of posts the same way you should when creating topics for blog posts, e-books, and courses: find out what your audience is struggling with or most concerned about cares and develop list post ideas revolve around those pain points.
You can do this by asking your audience directly what they’re struggling with the most, doing keyword research, and seeing what works for your competitors.
The latter method can prove to be of the greatest help in brainstorming topic ideas. All you have to do is make a list of your competitors’ favorite list posts, study them, and beat them with your own.
2. Find a problem to be solved
This is piggybacking on the first step, but it applies more to the individual list items you select in your post. Think of your topic idea as a problem and curate your list so that every element you can come up with is a solution to that problem.
This can be a game changer when it comes to the brainstorming and research phase of creating the perfect list post. For example, instead of making a list of the “best WordPress hosts,” consider your topic in relation to your target audience. Using our example, this could be “best WordPress hosts for bloggers” or “best WordPress hosts for e-commerce shops”.
Each list item should then be chosen based on how suitable it is for bloggers or ecommerce websites, not just WordPress hosts in general.
3. Train your audience
You probably have a list of criteria that every element that you want to include in your post must have. For example, a WordPress host suitable for bloggers should offer WordPress pre-installed (or at least have a simple installation process) as these types of customers are likely to have limited technical knowledge of the content management system (CMS) and coding in general.
Since you will be including these criteria in every description of your post anyway, you can go a few steps further for your reader by explaining why they are important. Teach them what to look for. It’s a simple rule of copywriting: every feature you describe must have an advantage. Don’t just tell your reader that a WordPress host on your list will install the CMS for them. Tell them why this is beneficial.
You can do this in two ways. The first is a section at the beginning of your post where you let your reader know about the things to look for. For example, a section titled “What to Look For in a WordPress Host”.
The second is in your first list items. Rather than devoting an entire section to them, explain the key features that you think would be of most use to your reader, as they appear in the descriptions of your post. This can help you shorten the length of your post if you are concerned about filling it with too much content at the beginning.
4. Focus on quality, not quantity
As you build your list, you might be tempted to keep making it for as long as possible in order to outperform your competition. It’s not a bad strategy, especially when every other post is well-written on the topic you have chosen. However, if your only concern is the number of list items you can create, you will be faced with a long, hollow post that is unable to beat your competitors’ views on the matter.
Focus on making a list that compliments the effort you put in. In other words, don’t write a post titled “73 Tips For New DSLR Camera Owners” if you only want to write two sentences per list item.
Unfortunately, there is no magic number that we can give you. All you need to do is reduce your list to a number that you think is manageable enough to be thorough about each item.
By being more selective with your list, you can grow your audience by building trust between the two of you. Leaving out low-quality products and generic tips can subtly establish yourself as an authority by only including valuable articles.
Focus more on building an audience than attracting one. Overall, customer loyalty costs less than the integration of new customers.
5. Pay special attention to the order of your list
This article is about the final point where extra attention is paid to quality in order to establish trust between you and your reader. Plus, most visitors won’t make it to the end of your list. Some don’t even make it halfway. These are just two of the reasons you should pay special attention to the order in which you list your articles.
Don’t just list the articles in the order you created them or by the products and services that you think would generate the most affiliate revenue.
Take the original problem you came up with and arrange your articles in the order in which you think they offer the best or most appropriate solutions. You can of course specify other criteria if they are too similar.
6. Write thorough descriptions
This step repeats step 4, only this step focuses on your list as a whole while this one is more concerned with the descriptions you write for each item.
Most blogs don’t write detailed descriptions in their list posts. You can really stand out by researching each item well enough to come up with in-depth descriptions that go beyond a short paragraph or a small handful of bullet points.
This article from Startup Bonsai is a good example:
Writing this way will improve your website for search engine optimization by allowing you to create rich content and include keywords in a variety of ways.
7. Highlight important information
If you were to choose written descriptions instead of bullet points, does that mean you should avoid including bullet lists in your descriptions? Not at all. Bullet points are a great opportunity for you to highlight important information about each item in the list.
With a product-based list post, you can isolate certain information or features into a short bulleted list so that specifications and other important features can be easily accessed.
For other types of list posts, use bullets to reiterate why each list item is important.
8. Add high quality images
This is a good rule of thumb for blogging in general, not just list posts. Walls of text – lots of paragraphs stacked on top of each other – are intimidating as the attention span decreases and creators post more content to compete with. Inserting a few pictures here and there is a great way to get readers to stick with them, and it can even make your post easier to share.
Use screenshots, self-captured product images, or company-owned images for products and services. Some companies even have press kits available for download on their website, but you can also contact them directly.
For other types of posts, use websites that offer high-quality, royalty-free images for free. You can also use services like Canva and Piktochart to create your own images if a graphic designer is not on your budget.
9. Help your reader choose
At the end of the post, share your suggestions on how to choose between the products and services you have listed. In other words, repeat your tips on what to look for. Then tell your reader which product is best for each tip: “This WordPress host is the cheapest, while this one has support specifically for WordPress websites.”
For other types of list posts, make a summary of what you think are the most important list items and tips on how your reader can reach them.
10. Use a catchy, attention-grabbing headline
You likely feel like this one is high on the list, or at least sometime before the final death. In reality, your article can go through some transformations between the time you got the idea and you’re ready to upload it to your CMS and hit publish. The original title you created may no longer match the post you created.
Either way, make sure to use a numeric symbol for the number in your title above the word that is actually written. More will jump out when internet users see your post on search engines and social media.
Also, think back to the original problem that you wanted to solve. If you design your title to promote a solution, you will hit a nerve in your reader.
This is how “10 Tips for Writing List Post” becomes “10 Steps to Writing the Perfect List Post”.
Writing list posts is a great way to attract more readers and improve your SEO ranking. Unfortunately, you have to go beyond these days to compete with all of the other posts that already exist in your niche.
First, think of your topic idea as a problem that your audience needs to solve. When building your list and writing it from this perspective, you need to create a more thorough post that outshines your competition without resorting to thin descriptions and keyword stuffing.
If you really want to add list posts to your marketing game, include affiliate links for quality products and services that you trust. You should also create separate posts devoted to reviews for such products and then link those in your post.