3.5 Reasons Why I am Sick of List Posts

Lately I have been noticing a tendency on my part to skim rapidly with most blog posts. Every post looks like it has been churned out by the same machine. They all feel the same.

I wake up to an inbox full of emails that I get as a result of subscribing to many, many blogs. I scroll through the headlines to see what catches my eye, what is interesting or what seems useful. I might click through to read a few.

Although I am looking – great job, headline! – most headlines fail to deliver. Especially the list post ones.

Most of the time, the headlines scream, ” 7 ways to skyrocket your subscribers”, or “9 awesome ideas to get your world rocking with Twitter”, or my (least)  favourite, “21 steps on how to make gazillion dollars on the net working from home”.

List posts headlines work, I get it. The gullible consumer that I am , I will click to check it out – you bet I will.

Do you do the same? Hundreds and thousands of people do.

But – and there is a huge one – how many times do you remember what you read in the post after 5 seconds?  I don’t.

Did you find the information memorable? Were you able to connect with the blogger? Did you find something new? Or is it some information you could have easily found by doing a search on the web?

Yes, by writing a list post you will have many people clicking through, however how many will convert? How many will become your repeat visitors, your enthusiastic readers, or yes, let me use the S word – your subscribers.

I actually don’t read 90% of list posts anyway; I mostly just scroll through them. Here’s my thoughts on what the problem is…

1. Too Much Generic Information

I can find that sort of information anywhere. If I am reading a post – even a list one – I would like something that is a bit more than a compilation of information that even my 7 year old can put together really well.

Yes, the posts are scannable so that they are read quickly but do they have to be written so badly that it has readers skipping over the entire content? They actually go on to hurt your reputation.

Show that you have put in some effort. If you can see that the blogger has only done a half-arsed job compiling that information, are they really worth your time?

No effort, no regular readers.

2. Who Cares?

Keep the winning formula of writing posts in mind; do you know what it is?

Backstory – useful information – close. As simple as that.

Start your posts with some sort of back-story. Clue in your readers to why all of a sudden you wanted to write that post. Bring them to the same page.

Make one point per post – really hone in that point. <  Tweet this.

People will read your post quickly and enjoy sharing it as well. And who knows, your post might actually be an aha moment for somebody – its hard to accomplish that with list posts.

End with a call to action, ask them a question, ask them to share or subscribe. Its up to you.

3. I Can’t Tell Who Wrote it – Could Be a Bot

I never read posts where the blogger doesn’t make it a bit personal. If I cannot feel their personality – hear their voice, I feel like I am reading a generic article, not a blog post.

If you are blogging, you need to be putting yourself out there – you need to allow people to enter your comfort zone.

Everything that can be said, has already been said. When you write with an authentic voice, you can even make a generic piece of info sound like a revelation. Otherwise people will only be reading the headings.

You must give your reader a reason to read the text that is filling up the white space. You want text where people read it from word to word. Given the nature of blogging, it can be an impossible goal, but you need to aim high to have a chance.

Write about what you need to write about. It doesn’t have to be a list post.

3.5 It’s a Personal Thing

You might feel totally opposite on this one. Are you living to see which list post arrives next in your feed? Don’t hesistate to speak your mind.

You could even comment in the form of  “7 Reasons why I don’t agree…” 😉

(This post originally appeared on For Bloggers By Bloggers.. Thanks Danny Brown!)

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  1. Anabelle Says :
    Posted on August 1, 2012 at 2:17 am

    They’re totally annoying. Really superficial in general.

    I think that they’re often just a lazy way out. And so many of these posts get so much attention while the real, interesting, meaty content is out there.

    Oh, the curse of TL;DR…

    • marya
      Posted on August 1, 2012 at 2:20 am

      Hi Anabelle.. I agree, superficial in general. Or so it seems if you subscribe to 100 blogs. However, if you only subscribe to a handful, belonging to industry leaders really, then the list posts can be great. Most aren’t though … thanks for commenting. Marya

  2. Justin Mazza Says :
    Posted on August 1, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Hi Marya,
    I saw your link on Facebook and I was intrigued to read what you had to say. Guest posters are the worst offenders of this. It’s like they all took the same generic blogging course on how to write a post or something.

    I don’t have a style to my writing, I just try to make it interesting and useful to read.

    • marya
      Posted on August 1, 2012 at 2:36 am

      I TOTALLY know what you mean. Infact, that might have been the reason why I wrote this in the first place.

      Good to see you again, Justin. And gotta love Facebook!

  3. David K. Says :
    Posted on August 1, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Hi Marya. Yes, a list post with too much generic information is a big let down for me too. I think lists are great — but only if they actually provide value and are not just fluff. This is a refreshing reminder of what to look out for when crafting list posts. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    • marya
      Posted on August 1, 2012 at 3:12 am

      Can’t argue with that David. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Cheers

  4. Jennifer Brown Banks Says :
    Posted on August 1, 2012 at 2:47 am

    I would have to disagree here. List posts are very popular, in that they are easy to read and practical. It’s why so many magazine covers you’ll find use this same technique for their feature pieces.

    Bad writing is bad writing—whether it’s a list type of post, a story, or a how-to.
    I think that writing styles differ, and that each has an advantage and an audience.

    • marya
      Posted on August 1, 2012 at 3:14 am

      You make a valid point here Jennifer. I am arguing that most list posts are badly written, hence they are no fun to read. You’d have to agree that they are the easiest form of blog posts to write and like Justin said, most guest bloggers think of them as taking the easy way out. I have nothing against them, it’s just that I feel the vast majority of them disappoint.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂 Marya

  5. Mustafa Khundmiri Says :
    Posted on August 1, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Good read Marya.

    The problem with list posts is that even though they can get annoying, you find them everywhere. And the reason for that is – they still work.

    But sadly the content of MOST list posts is like you said “generic” in nature. Something that only adds to the noise in the blogosphere.

    What every blogger needs to realize about list posts is they’re a great way to pass on some genuine information in an easy to read format.

    But if we keep seeing junk lists everywhere, it’s going to become harder to keep up with the quality ones that get lost in between.

    • marya
      Posted on August 1, 2012 at 10:15 am

      I hear you Mustafa. People do click on them, so in that aspect they do work. But how well really? Do they bring in new subscribers? Leads? Sales? \Or just a few shares. I think they have the potential to be extremely effective if they are well thought out. Guess, we agree then .. cheers and welcome! 🙂


  6. Sandra Madeira Says :
    Posted on August 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Great post. You are so right. If it’s just a list there is possibly no feeling to it. I will be looking out for these from now on. Thanks Sandra

    • marya
      Posted on August 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Thank you Sandra!

  7. Susan C. Forsythe Says :
    Posted on August 1, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    3.5 Reasons Why I Love Your Blog

    1. your point of view is refreshing
    2. your topics are varied and interesting
    3. your very likable personality shines through
    .5 because

    • marya
      Posted on August 1, 2012 at 11:18 pm

      Aww… now I am blushing. Logged in and saw this beautiful comment – first thing in the morning. Set the tone for the rest of the day! Thanks Susan. Have a great day, you too. Cheers

  8. Vishnu Says :
    Posted on August 2, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Thanks for this article Marya. I’m guilty of doing all these things you mention on list posts but list posts are addictive to write – they are easy to conceptualize, break down your thoughts for you by giving you a number of items to come up with and even fun. But!! they are probably not helping the reader as much as they could be. I’ll have to consider that as well when writing future guest posts – giving more value and making it easier for the reader to digest and use.

    Again, love how you made this post questioning list posts into a list post!! haha

    • marya
      Posted on August 3, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Yes, they are easy to write hence they are so widely abused. Glad you found this useful.

      Your last point cracked me up. This was a tongue-in-cheek title. Glad you enjoyed it. Cheers, Marya

  9. Tabitha
    Posted on August 4, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Found you through Carol Tice. While I’ve written all my life, the business part is new. Glad to have ‘found’ you! I just set up a Twitter account for JUST my writing biz–I’m following you! I know I’ll be reading lots of great stuff here–I look forward to learning more from you!

    • marya
      Posted on August 4, 2012 at 4:17 am

      Welcome Tabitha. Great to have you over and looking forward to hearing your thoughts on my upcoming posts. Best of luck for your business! 🙂


  10. Tabitha Says :
    Posted on August 4, 2012 at 12:32 am

    P.S. Great post, by the way! I agree–the list has been done. I love your tips. The blog I run for my image consulting business, I try to keep it personal and I try to connect with people and let them into my world. Love it!

    • marya
      Posted on August 4, 2012 at 4:17 am

      Thank you!

  11. lenin Says :
    Posted on August 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Lists are great if they have value in my opinion, not just an excuse to get another post out, something that is fun to read or touches my heart wins everytime for me, but I guess they write the list posts when they have writers block maybe!

  12. Vikas Sindher Says :
    Posted on September 2, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Even me too don’t like list posts. But not all list posts are equally useless. There are authors who put efforts in delivering the best.

  13. Jennifer Bourn Says :
    Posted on September 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    You know which list posts I am SO SICK OF, the “X Top People to Follow on Twitter.” 99% of all of these posts are created by the author for the author.

    They SHOULD take the time to research who to include (followers, following, number of tweets, types of followers, number of RTs and mentions, etc.), and list people who actively engage with others, participate in conversation, and provide value on the platform.

    But instead, the lists are usually made up of friends or people they want to impress just to get others to share the link to their post.

    I am sick of the promo tweets, “I’m featured as one of X top people to follow on Twitter.” What I want to know is WHY. What made you the top? Why should be pay attention to you?

    But I get sucked in. I click the link to see who’s on the list – I’ll click over to check the listed on Twitter … and I am never surprised when I see that their follower counts are bloated with spam accounts and avatars of half naked girls, when I see them following 11 people, or when they’ve only tweeted 16 times.

    • marya
      Posted on September 7, 2012 at 2:30 am

      I hear you Jennifer. Some people do take self pomotion to a whole new level. Deeply annoying. But I keep hoping .. like I said one can’t help but click on the headlines .. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Why Lists of Top People to Follow on Twitter Stinks | Bourn Creative « Website Planning Says :
    Posted on September 19, 2012 at 4:00 am

    […] This post was inspired by a blog post I read recently: 3.5 Reasons Why I am Sick of List Posts […]

  15. Philippa Willitts Says :
    Posted on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I really agree. I get intrigued and I always click on them, then I get annoyed with myself because they are rarely memorable or valuable enough to have been worth it.

    The odd one, of course, is pure gold, so I guess I will keep on clicking, on the offchance!

  16. Luana Spinetti @ Writer's Mind Says :
    Posted on October 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Good reminder for the importance of quality over quantity. Are list posts easy to write? Yep! Does that mean you can get lazy with your research and advice? No way! List posts are valuable only when they go in-depth with each item: if I want to give my readers a list of useful online resources for writers, I won’t just make it a simple list, but I would add Tips & Tricks and sample uses for each item!

    Also, a nice anecdote in the introduction won’t hurt. 🙂 It actually makes it all more interesting.

    When I read a list post I want to smile, because pleasant emotions will make remembering items easier. The same way, I want people to smile when they read my piece, so they can make a better use of it.

    ~ Luana

  17. Praveen Rajarao Says :
    Posted on December 5, 2012 at 2:25 am

    Marya – Your title was very intriguing and made me wonder what that final 1/2 of the reason might be…made me come over and read it entirely.

    Yes, most of the bloggers (including me sometimes) tend to write list posts…i find some of the lists useful and some really opens up my eyes and mind as to what I should concentrate on (like this one).

    I did start out writing pillar posts like top 10 or 5 best tips…then i realized it is what everyone is doing around here, got bored of them.

    Nice article, loved reading through it.

    • marya
      Posted on December 6, 2012 at 2:36 am

      Thanks Praveen. I still think list posts can be wonderful, they just have to be done right. 🙂