Bloggers love to write list posts. How many times have you read a headline this week along the lines of “The 5 reasons you suck at Twitter,” “8 Tips for being a YouTube SuperStar” or “14 Reasons You Should Use Quora to Ask Any Question You’ve Ever Had?” 5 times? 10 times? More?
Why is that? What makes these posts so popular, and why do bloggers write so many of them?
- It’s easy.
It doesn’t require deep thought to write a list post. You just throw out a small introduction, write your list, give some details to each point, and then wrap up the post. It takes less time. The headline practically writes itself.
With a list post, a blogger doesn’t have to think about transitions and the overall structure of the post. Unless a blogger works very hard to incorporate a story into the list, there is no narrative or story arc. People expect however many gems of information there are and no more. The points don’t need to be connected beyond the loose theme introduced in the headline and the introduction.
Likewise, it doesn’t require extended brain power for a reader to absorb a list post. Readers look for the bullet points and quickly gobble down the information. They don’t have to dig through paragraphs to find the one nugget of information.
List posts make us stupider readers and writers. They are easy and they bring in traffic, but they sacrifice the quality and depth of our writing. True knowledge and wisdom doesn’t come in lists and bullet points, but through extended arguments and deeper thoughts. When was the last time you read a list and thought, “That was beautiful?”
You can write better. How many years did you spend in school writing? Put those to use now when you blog.
Hold yourself to a higher standard when writing. Use lists and bullet points as supplements, rather than structural elements. Will you blog like you learned how to write, or take the easy way out?