This is where your list posts will take your credibility

This is going to sound like sacrilege. But list posts are killing your credibility.

Those of you who write three or more list posts a month aren’t going to like this, so I suggest you skip to the end and leave a few bullet points explaining why I’m talking out of my backside. But if you’re worried about providing great content, building a solid reputation, or just not coming across as a fool, you need to read on.

Four Reasons That List Posts Are Killing Your Credibility

Right. That should’ve separated the wheat from the chaff. So if you’re still here, I can assume you’re ready to open your mind and discover just why list posts are killing your credibility.

So let’s begin.

1) You’re Writing Shopping Lists, Not Recipes

If you’re writing a list post, the chances are that each point is summed up in around sixty words. Probably even less. You introduce a concept, and explain why you think it’s important. What you don’t do is explain why.  So what you produce is something a little like this:

  • Pasta
  • Meat
  • Tomatoes
  • Onion

Right. I can see you’re making a meal. But what are you cooking? Spaghetti bolognese? A pasta bake? Without the recipe, your list post is useless. It’s the same when you post “30 Things to Do To Succeed” and lead off with “1) Write well; 2) Promote Properly.”

You’re just listing ingredients. You’re not telling us how to cook them or what the finished dish should look like. If you want to be a credible blogger, you need to flesh out those ideas.

It’s easier to flesh out ideas when you’re not limited by the short, sharp list format, so stop and think. If you leave too much unsaid, you’re damaging your credibility.

2) You’re Lost In The Morass of Meaningless Numbers

I’ve just opened up my RSS feed. Here’s a selection of titles that I can see.

Does this really arouse you?

7 Headlines
6 Free…
5 Movies…
4 Ways…
3 Things…
2 Turtle Doves…

Yawn. Everyone knows that in the fast moving world of RSS, Twitter and social bookmarking, your title has to hook in a reader instantly. Yet whenever you scan a list of blog posts, you’re confronted with a sea of numbers. So which one hooks you in?

Are you a seven sorta guy, or the kind of girl who won’t click for any less than twelve? Guess what. You’re neither. Because numbers are boring, not attention-grabbing. That’s why you’re reading a blog, and not a phone book.

Here’s a few interesting ways to grab a reader’s attention. How! Why! What! When! Who! Where! Seventeen!

Notice how the last one’s only interesting because it’s red?

If you’re going to be credible, you need to attract attention. So don’t let the format hold you back. If you must use the list post layout, don’t use the standard list post headline.

3) Trying… To Avoid… Clichés

Why do you write list posts?

Here’s why. Because it’s easy. Because putting information into a list format is far less challenging and demanding than writing a consistent narrative and making your point that way. And if that’s not why you write list posts, it’s sure as hell why the content farm rent-a-bloggers do it.

So many poor quality writers, scrapers and churners have leapt aboard the list post bandwagon that it’s become bogged down in the sucking swamp of clichédom. And that makes me so mad that I’m mixing my metaphors.


Because most of them could do so much better.

If you’re writing a list post just because you’re stuck for ideas, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Don’t just churn posts out. Think about them. If they’re not ready, give them more time and attention – not just a quick and cheap gimmick.

4) Because List Posts Aren’t Working Any More

Six months ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt of writing this post. Because six months ago, list posts were absolutely magic. Hell, back in 2009 I was recommending you used the list post format.

But times change. People move on. Bloggers move on. We move on.

Why? Because list posts don’t work. They don’t provide enough relevant, detailed and helpful information. They no longer stand out from the crowd. They’re a byword for a lack of imagination. And I don’t know about you, but that isn’t a winning combination in my book.

Sure, there’ll be the odd amazing list post here and there, and the odd curmudgeon might even use a list post to proclaim the death of list posts, but they should no longer be your go-to format.

So if you want to save your credibility, try something new once in a while. Don’t be penned in by a format that you think is a quick and easy way to success.

The world just doesn’t work like that.

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