This is a guest post by James Adams. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
The list post is a tried and true way to get your reader’s attention as well as generate new readership and authority for your blog. With your headline, you are giving your readers specific expectations on the contents of your post. Attract your readers through the headline, then provide solid content to back up the points promised within your headline. Here are ten tips to nail those list posts.
1. It’s all in the headline: The headline is the one part of your article that a visitor is most likely to read. Put all of your attention on the headline and think about the most exciting ways to convey your information. Make your headline something of a curiosity, something that dares your readers to take a look at what you have to say. Five ways to legally swindle the government. 15 under $5 DIY projects. Follow your great headline up with some astounding content, and your readers will be clamoring for more.
2. Short sentences: Keep the sentences within your list post short. Do not attempt to overwhelm your readers with the breadth of your information. You will have ample opportunity to elaborate on your points. After all, the single list post might lead to more list posts. When you are editing, see which sentences can be split into multiple sentences. If you must use commas, use only one comma per sentence.
3. Short paragraphs: Along the same lines as #2, shorten the paragraphs within your lists. Your readers do not want to embark on a dissertation about your subject, they want to know the fifteen reasons that you like ham. The shorter the paragraphs, the more likely they are to be read. Many of your readers are skimming the headlines rather than delving into the thorough nature of your post.
4. Use action words: Eliminate the passive voice. Remove words which are wishy washy from your lists. ‘Apparently’ or ‘it seems that’ and other statements reduce the confidence that the reader has within you. Take every opportunity to ‘trade up’ your words to focused action words. Remove the qualifiers.
5. Be honest: Honesty is always the best policy. While you are removing the qualifiers within your list, make sure that you are not removing the truth from your statements. Each one of your points needs to be absolutely true and verifiable. If there are grey areas, revise or remove the point from the list.
6. Spellcheck and grammar: Spelling and grammar are important. Take the time to read over your post before you distribute it to the world. Make sure that there is nothing awkward about your sentence structure. Examine your word usage. Search for words that are spelled correctly yet used improperly. You do not want to remove your garnered authority with tiny mistakes.
7. Be passionate: Your passion fuels better blog posts and list posts. If you are writing about a subject which inherently bores you, save that one for the time when you have absolutely nothing to say. Your passion should shine through on your lists, starting with the headline, traveling through the copy and ending with that final punctuation mark.
8. Editing is important: Self editing is essential to writing a great list post. Your writing needs to be focused and simple, especially when writing in the short bulleted format. Examine your work for words and phrases that you use all too often. Look for useless adverbs and flat writing.
9. Make it interesting and relevant: You may know the seven ways to make the perfect sandwich, but that might not be appropriate content for your blog about dog training. You want the topic to be wide enough so that others will read but narrow enough so it is relevant to the topic of your blog.
10. Be controversial: Create a list post about something which can engender debate. Don’t be controversial for the sake of the controversy, but take one side of an argument which will spur your readers to respond. Six reasons why X public figure is wrong makes a great topic of debate and can draw attention from all around the blogsphere. When you are controversial about a passion, you create great link bait.
The best list posts are concise and simple. They have been well thought and offer the slightest bit of controversy. By using action words and editing properly, your list posts will get attention.
This post was written by James Adams, a writer who spends his time covering new technology developments and reviewing hardware such as the HP Q6000A at a leading supplier of toner cartridges based in the UK.