I have a love/hate relationship with list posts. On the one hand, those ’10 Steps to Launching a Business Blog’ or ‘5 Ways to Improve Your Blogging Today’ posts are always popular. I know, cause I’ve written plenty of them. And even though a lot of bloggers don’t like them, they do help bloggers get started tackling their problems.
And that’s where the hate part of my relationship kicks in. I hate that too many bloggers follow ‘list’ posts to the letter, and that’s it. Those list posts work great if you view them as a starting point and an example of how you could improve. They aren’t the end-all-be-all of the blogging experience.
The only way to truly improve as a blogger is by blogging. At some point you have to stop looking for everyone else to give you the answers, and you have to go out and break stuff. I can tell you what has worked for me, and I have good insights into what will likely work for you. But I can’t guarantee anything, and neither can you.
For example, about a week ago I posted here about whether or not blog posts should have dates on them. There was plenty of support for both sides of the issue. I made the point at the time that the only way each of us would know for sure how adding or removing dates from our posts affected our blog was to do it. So I added dates back to the posts here, and started tracking changes in my search and referral traffic from Twitter. I told everyone I’d do that through the rest of the month. So far, traffic from both sources is down, and if this continues I will take dates back off at the end of the month.
But the key thing is, now I know. I didn’t just read what other bloggers were writing on the topic and accept their experiences as my own. I am testing it on my blog.
This is a big reason why we were so passionate about structuring BlogHOT as a learning environment. We didn’t want to just create a conference where attendees were lectured at all day then went home. We wanted them to be doing stuff and interacting with each other and learning how to do this blogging stuff for themselves.
Because when it comes to blogging, you learn by doing, not by listening.
Im picking up what you’re putting down Mack. I think lists posts are great for new bloggers to get their “sea legs” and to build up some initial traffic but there has to be a point where a blogger discovers his or her own voice. List posts, in my mind, should feed new readers into all the other great content on your site.
Mack Collier says
Jordan I agree. Here’s how I view list posts: If I were reading one on ‘Ten Steps to Solving This Blogging Problem I Have’, I would read it, follow say the first 3 steps, then go and try to figure it out myself. I don’t want you to give me the entire roadmap, just tell me how to get started and tell me where I end up. I can find the way there myself.
I think that’s how more bloggers should approach list posts. As a starting point, not as the entire roadmap.
Stephen Loudermilk says
I think you can equally weigh both sides of the argument “listening versus doing.” I learn alot from “list” blogs and other blogs because they provide points of view and perspective. But I also believe in the act of doing. For me, it’s all about writing and keeping your blog updated without being bogged down with excuses.
Mack Collier says
Stephen I agree, there is definite value in those list posts. But I just worry that some bloggers give them too much weight, and follow them to the letter, without thinking about how their unique situation is…unique. I think the list posts are best served as being treated as guidelines rather than absolutes.