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How to Write a Listicle

Let’s take a look at how to write a listicle. A listicle you ask? Why yes, a listicle. A listicle is is a blog post or article found on the web which is outlined in a bullet point or numbered fashion. Listicles have become all the rage and entire websites have surfaced which dedicated themselves to nothing other than creating high quality listicles. As you can see by the heart in the graphic to the left, people just love listicles! Like anything else, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when writing this type of blog article. We’ll take a closer look at how to write a listicle in this blog post now.

1. Number Each Listicle Item

Your listicle can be about any topic you like. Choose something you are super interested in! When you are genuinely interested in the topic, you will actually have a lot of fun writing the listicle since you will also be doing research along with your writing. As you come across bullet points, or defined sections, for your article, use a number for each item. So why number your blog post? Well, for one, it makes it easy for the reader to summarize and consume the information you are trying to present. Neatness and organization count, and having a neatly presented and numbered list is being nice to your visitor and making it easier for them.

2. Use An Odd Number In The Listicle Title

With numbers you have many choices. They can be single digit, double digit, odd, or even. At this point let’s just look at the difference between even and odd numbers. The number you choose for your list makes a difference. Based on the data, research has shown that odd numbers perform better than even numbers for these types of posts. Check out this article where we learn the following:

Instruction specialist, Abreena Tompkins, recently conducted meta analysis on more than 300 articles about online learning and concluded that grouping information in parcels of three or five can help people absorb information better.

Your goal as a writer should be to try and convey information in the most easy to absorb manner possible, and if an odd number helps with this goal, then you should do it!

3. Use A Prime Number In the Listicle Title

What is a prime number? It is a number which is greater than 1 which has no divisors other than the number 1 and itself. Here are some prime numbers to consider for your list posts: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83, 89, 97, 101, 103, 107, 109, 113, 127, 131, 137, 139, 149, 151, 157, 163, 167, 173, 179, 181, 191, 193, 197, and so on. Sometimes just a quick small numbered post will do the trick. Other times, you may be feeling brave, or completely amped on caffeine and ready to tackle a 5000 word 197 point listicle. The choice is yours, but as a rule, go with the prime numbers. Why? They work. Math Geeks dig them.

4. There Is A Perfect Number. It Is 29.

With all of this talk about numbers in figuring out how to write a listicle type blog post, this does beg the question, “Is there a perfect number for a Listicle Blog Title?” The answer would be yes, and according to number crunching big data scientist Gilad Lotan – that number is 29. You may be skeptical of course, but the proof is in the pudding – or in this case, the numbers. The data doesn’t lie.

5. Go Big or Go Home

If you’re going to write a listicle, you might as well swing for the fences. Look, these suckers are going to take a lot of time, effort, and willingness to research the topic at hand – but the pain will be worth the gain when you’re ready to publish. For this tactic, you are going to combine the power of a list, with the power of long form content. Long form content would be referred to as an article that is a minimum of 1,000 words in length up to 10,000 words in length. Industry leader Moz did an exhaustive study of what type of content is able to generate links back and social shares. What they found is fascinating.

Long form content consistently receives more shares and links than shorter-form content

Articles that were less than 1,000 words in length performed the worst while articles that dug in and provided over 2,000 words of quality content did best. Is there a perfect length? Serp IQ did a study, and places the number right around 2,450 words.

In addition to this, the type of post that attracted the most shares and links was you guessed it, the List Post. List Posts beat out Why posts, How to posts, Video posts, Infographic posts, and quiz posts for shares and links.

6. Put A List In Your List

People love lists, in fact you are reading one right now! What could be better in your list, than more lists of course! Here is an example of more information on how to write a listicle.

  1. Write A Listicle With Wikihow
  2. How To Write A List Post
  3. You Can Write The Perfect Listicle
  4. 9 Ways To Write A Listicle
  5. The Listicle as Literary Form

7. Number Each Item In The Post

If you’re going to keep to the point of number 5 above, that is to go big or go home, then this point is going to be crucial for you. When you set out to create long form content, you run into the danger of ending up with one massive, undigestible, mass of words. By placing a number before the heading of each list item within the post, you are able to break the large blog into digestible chunks that are consistent, scannable, and easy to breeze through.

8. Top, Best, Most

When people are looking for information, they are looking for the best of the best. You want your listicle to surface the top, best, or most important pieces of information about the topic at hand. Some ideas of this concept might be as follows.

  • 11 Top Reasons Why It Rocks To Design Web Sites.
  • 21 Mistakes Most Bloggers Make.
  • 13 Best Birthday Gifts For Photographers.
  • 31 Top Bloggers To Follow.

9. Mention Famous People In Your Listicle

As bizarre as that sounds, mentioning famous people in your Listicle can draw more attention and traffic to it! How might this work? We can think about it like this. If you want to write an article about the best way to throw a football, you might consider something like this: 10 Reasons Tom Brady Can Throw Better Than You. Now, you can go and Google 10 things about Tom Brady, write your awesome list, and you’re good to go. You don’t need permission to write about Tom Brady, but you do get the benefit of associating his name with your blog and what that means to the information it contains. As a Monday morning quarterback, no one is going to want to hear your opinion on how to throw a football. If you research the blueprint of how to do it right according to Tom Brady however, you have a shot at getting noticed.

10. Write A Great Title

Writing a Great title for your listicle or blog post is crucial to it’s success. This doesn’t mean to create the most click bait worthy piece of text you can come up with. People are so sick of click bait, services exist to save you a click. (You need to follow this guy btw!!) Use a title that most accurately describes the content on the page, not one filled with a string of ridiculous adjectives in a sales pitch. Super blogger Amit Agarwal has some great tips about this in his post on how to write a successful blog.

11. Motivate, Teach, and Inspire.

Writing a post that makes people exited and want to take action is a motivational type post. It turns out, blog posts that motivate people are the best performing and most valuable type of content you can create. Many people have the skills they need to make great things happen, but lack the motivation. Help them with this by writing a great motivational listicle. In addition to getting motivated, people have a love for and thirst for learning. What are you good at? Share it with the world in your blog. Finally, inspirational articles also tend to perform well in listicle format.

12. Systems Perform Better Than Goals.

Goals are a great thing to have. You get to imagine losing 20 pounds, or winning a softball championship, or making a six figure income, or making a million dollar income. It doesn’t really matter what your goal is, but the reality is that simply having a goal will not make that goal a reality. Systems are where it is at. Unfortunately systems are generally boring, repetitive, data driven, black and white things. It pays to keep the following things in mind with regard to systems and goals.

  1. Commit to a process (or system) not a goal
  2. Blogging is a system, not a goal
  3. Something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run
  4. Never make a loan to someone who is following his passion

This quote from Scott Adams really hits home as to what a system is, something that is boring, and looks good on a spreadsheet:

My boss, who had been a commercial lender for over 30 years, said that the best loan customer is someone who has no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good on a spreadsheet. Maybe the loan customer wants to start a dry-cleaning store or invest in a fast-food franchise—boring stuff. That’s the person you bet on. You want the grinder, not the guy who loves his job.

13. Short Titles Rock

Short and sweet is where it’s at when it comes to title length. Why do you think Twitter has become so popular? The attention span of the average internet surfer is 7.5 seconds (made up), but truly, avoid excessively verbose titles that dilute the message and distract from the point of your listicle.

14. Get Controversial

Listicles that have a hint of controversy often times do get a bit more attention. You can latch on to a controversial topic and lure your audience in to get them emotionally attached and discussing your site. Just think of the controversy this would cause: “10 Reasons Diversity Doesn’t Matter On Project Greenlight”. On the other hand, just be careful what you wish for, you may end up generating lots of attention for your listicle but it might be in the form of a backlash.

The Listicle Conclusion

The truth is, Listicles are here to stay because they work. Like Mike says in this article Lists organize our brains, help to break information down, save time, makes article shareable, and is conversational in nature.

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