How to Create List Posts

List posts are a tried-and-true blog post format that flat out gets results. However, that doesn’t mean you can create a post with a list of 100 random items and expect to get results. In this video I’ll show you how to properly research, create and promote a list post that readers love to read and other bloggers love to share.

Video Transcript

Hey there what’s up everybody? It’s Brian Dean from Quick Sprout, and in this video I’m going to show you to create list posts that grow your blog’s traffic.

So first of all why do you want to create list posts? Well in general, when done right they tend to perform very well. As you can see here, Neil published a post called a ” 101 Motivational Business Quotes” and it’s performed exceptionally well on social media. It has over 700 Facebook likes, and almost 400 tweets. And if you head over to ahrefs you can see that the post has more than 90 backlinks, and if you search for the very competitive high volume keyword “Business Quotes” you can see that Quick Sprout is ranking number two.

Now how can you do the same thing for your blog? Well, your first step is to come up with a topic for your list post. Now if you’re in the let’s say baking ,you wouldn’t want to create something like this ” Baking Tips” because in general list posts that are tightly focused tend to perform better than broad list posts. So if you’re in the baking niche you would want to do something like ” Cookie Baking Tips,” because that’s more tightly focused, and that for some reason tends to get a lot more attention.

So you’re next step once you’ve come up with your topic is determine how many items you want in your list, and this may sound kind of trivial, but it’s actually really important, because people perceive numbers in very different ways. In general if you’re just going to have a list of tips, you want it to  be an odd number. So like seven, 25, 77, something like that.

Now if you’re ranking them, if you’re coming up with like the top whatever, then you would want to use even numbers like 10,100,things like that, and you’ll notice that if you ever look at magazines whenever, they rank like the best, Rap albums of all time, it’s always like a top 50, or 100, and then if you look at fashion magazines when they give tips, it’s always like four, you know makeup tips, and those are odd numbers. That’s one important thing to keep in mind.

Once you determine what type of list post you’re going to make, you want to see what’s already out there, so put in a keyword that either you’re targeting, or it’s related to your niche, or your list into Google, and see what’s in the top ten. As you can see here we have ” Top Ten Tips,” Top Ten Tips,”  ” Top Twenty.” Okay, so in general you want to beat what’s already out there.

You don’t want to come up with another top five, or top ten, you’d want to beat them by coming up with let’s say top 25. You could also go up to 50, or 100 or 55 depending on how you want to approach the list post, and depending on how badly you want to beat your competition with  your list post.

Once you’ve done that and you have 25 tips, or you want to do 50, or whatever number you decide, it’s time to brainstorm topic ideas. In this case I just put a little list here, brainstorm ideas, and you’d want to add your own. So just come up with as many as you can off the top of your head from your personal experience from baking cookies.

Now another place to get really good  ideas for list posts is Topsy dot com which is basically a search engine for content that has been shared on social media. What you want to do is put in a keyword related to your list like baking cookies, or cookie baking, and click the orange magnifying glass button, and this will show you content that has performed well on Twitter, and other social media sites. What you can do, is you can either keep the default setting which is the past five days, or you can just click all time, and what that will do is show you like the all time most shared content in Topsy related to your niche.

You can also go back to the top 10 in Google, and just look at what your competition has already come up with. You obviously don’t want to just copy their list, but it can be a great way to get to get ideas. What I like to do is look at the top 10, so for example we have this post in the top 10, ” 20 Tips For Making and Baking Great Cookies.” You want to look here, and maybe, you know you don’t want to copy one of the items from the list, but it may give you an idea, and help you remember something you did once that worked well for baking cookies.

Now, I like to keep everything organized for list posts, so it’s not a bad idea to keep a little spreadsheet like this, and put your tips, and where you found them, and how to reach out to that person. For the tips that you brainstormed, the ones that are like this, you obviously don’t have to include these in the spreadsheet, but if you’re doing a lot of research, so if you don’t know the topic well, and you got most of your  information from other sources, it’s not a bad idea to put the tips here, and then the source and the content info. That way when you actually write the post, you know who to cite, and then you can reach out to them, and let them know about the post, and then they may share on social media.

Now once you have a number of items in your brainstorm list, you may also want to add categories to them. Not everyone does this, but I actually like to do this for most posts, especially long ones. You want to break them down into categories. So as you can see here, I have one about finding recipes, another one about ingredients, and then  some advanced tips at the end. That’s just a simple trick to make your list post a little more shareable, and a little more readable especially if you have more than let’s say 25 items on the list.

Your next step is to format the list post in an attractive way. Now, there’ no magical way to do this, but in general the most important thing is to keep everything consistent, Okay? That’s the most important thing.

So if you have lists like this where you highlight the item, and then have a little description, you know ” Read the recipe” that’s not in bold you want to keep that consistent throughout the entire list post.

Now also, let’s say that you wanted to number them. You’d want to number them the same way throughout, Okay? That’s really important, and in general you’d want to number the items in your list post. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does make the list post a little more readable, and believe it or not when people see 25 tips in the headlines, and they actually read the article, and there’s no numbers, they feel like there may not be 25 tips. So  they kind of want to see proof. So if you number them it adds kind of evidence that you’ve actually fulfilled the promise of the headline, and added the number  of tips that you promised. Sounds trivial, sounds kind of stupid, but it’s actually true. You definitely want to number them.

Next, you also want to make sure you have everything. Now that it looks all formatted nice, however you want to do it, your next step is to add media. Okay? So you want to add media. A lot of people think that because they create a list post they can kind of get away with not adding images, and videos, and screenshots, and things like that, but I’ve found that you can add a lot of value to a list post by adding media.

So what you do is click add media in WordPress, and then upload a file. I have one about recipes that I thought looked nice in the post, as you can see here. So you’d want to include this wherever you want inside your list post, and add as many screenshots, just like you would with a normal blog post.

If you’re in internet marketing, or something like that use screen shots. If you’re in baking you want to include pictures of food. So whatever works best with your niche, but don’t skimp on the multimedia on the list post, because it’s one way you can help your list post stand out.

Now finally once you have all your list together, you have multimedia, it’s numbered, it looks nice, your last thing to do is to encourage people to add to the list. This is really important. I see a lot of people who publish list posts make this mistake. The great thing about list posts is that they seem kind of accessible, and easy to make. So you can easily encourage people to leave comments. To leave their tips to the list. So you put something like, ” One more thing, are there any cookie baking tips you think I missed? If so, leave a comment below to let me know what it is.” That way someone reads that, they read the whole list post, and they say ” Hey I have one” and they leave a comment. A lot of times if you don’t include this at the bottom, people won’t participate nearly as much.

So that’s all there is to creating a list post. You definitely want to create a tightly focused topic. The tighter the better, Okay? So don’t create a general list post, and then you want to breakdown the list into categories if you are creating a long list post. Brainstorm the idea and then look for what’s already out there, and then beat that competition, and maybe incorporate something’s that other sites have come up with, and link to them as a reference, and reach out to them once you’ve published the post to  let them know that they’ve been referenced, so they can share your posts.

So, that’s it. Thanks for watching this video, and I’ll see you in the next one.