So you’re trying to make money blogging? Want to be a pro blogger? Here are five great reasons why you should write all of your blog posts as lists.
Let’s assume that you’ve done your research and you know a lot about your topic. My high school English teacher wanted us to write research papers by writing each fact we learned an a 3×5 card. Then, we could experiment with arranging the facts in different ways. The hardest part, of course, was writing the transitions and synthesizing all those facts into an interesting, cohesive narrative.
Let’s face it, organizing information into a coherent 500 word essay is hard work, and most of us couldn’t even do it in high school. Now you’re competing with every literate person in the developed world, and the five paragraph form you learned never really worked in the first place. So why bother with synthesis and transitions? Just dump all the facts you’ve learned into a numbered list and let your readers put it together!
2. Nobody Reads Anyway
The average American reads at an 8th grade level, so all your fancy prose is lost on the proles anyway. Readers are so distracted and overloaded with information these days, no one wants to commit to even the most beautifully written wall of text. I’ve checked twitter three times already while I was writing this.
Most people will scan through the bold headings in your article, pick out a few words from the body, and decide whether or not to share it. Using the list format gives your article a natural set of headings that should stand on their own. For bonus link-bait, follow the lead of major news organizations: write misleading headlines that grab attention but don’t accurately describe the content.
3. Numbers Conveniently Label Content for Sharing
Paragraphs aren’t clear on websites, especially when the text is flowed around images or pull quotes. Counting paragraphs manually is a pain, and you look like an elitist prick pointing out a paragraph by number. Dave Winer uses custom blog software that creates a hyperlink for each paragraph, but, since no one has stolen the idea, I don’t think anyone understands or uses them.
By writing list items, you’re giving your readers clear labels to point out different sections of text. When they share your blog post, your readers will be able to point out exactly what they liked by saying, “OMG #4 is LOLZ!!1!” Classy.
4. Mix N’ Match
Since you’re not wasting time analyzing and synthesizing your ideas, each list item can probably stand on its own without much context. This is your opportunity to work smarter (not harder!) by reusing items from old lists to create new ones. So you wrote the barn burner, “7 Killer Trout Flies,” and you crushed it with, “5 Secret Fly Fishing Techniques.” Now just pick out the ten best items, and bam! You’ve got, “10 Tips for Trout Fly Fishing!”
Reusing content is a classic trick of pro bloggers, but you have to be careful about overdoing it. Search engines have developed algorithms to punish content that is copied to too many pages, so pros have come up with techniques to create syntactically distinct articles while retaining the semantic meaning. There is even a whole market of tools they use to “spin” articles, which mainly consists of replacing common adjectives with synonyms.
5. Brainstorm to Blog in One Easy Step!
To make money writing a blog you have to post a lot, and each post has to be long enough and have the right keywords to rank well. Coming up with all those ideas and writing all that content is hard work, even with a template.
Using lists can cut down some of that work. If you have an idea for a topic you want to write about, start by making a list of everything that comes to mind about the topic. Pick out the most compelling, punchiest items in your list and expand on them. Add an introduction, some links and images, and you’re done!