Monday, April 21, 2008

26 Secrets to Publishing a List Everybody Wants to Read, Download and Link To

1. Start off by giving yourself an idea quotient. The bigger the better.

2. Don’t think. Just write.

3. Find a really important item on your list and repeat it a few times. At first, people will think you made a mistake; but eventually they’ll get the point.

4. Make your title absurdly LOOOOOOOOOOOONG.

5. Make your title ridiculously generic.

6. Make your title totally hilarious.

7. Make your title completely unarguable (see the title of this list as an example)

8. REMEMBER: The more items you have on your list, the more often you can throw one random item in just for the hell of it. (Kind of like this!)

9. Make your list long, but make your sentences short.

10. Double-space your list if the sentences are long.

11. Single-space your list if the sentences are short.

12. In the title of your list, use unexpected numbers like 31, 87 and 62. It sounds cooler, more credible and more human. (As if all lists magically ended up with 50 items every time.) Bah!

13. Find a really important item on your list and repeat it a few times. At first, people will think you made a mistake; but eventually they’ll get the point.

14. Do a Consecutive Repeated Item with more emphasis on the second example.

15. Do a Consecutive Repeated Item with more emphasis on the second example. SERIOUSLY. I’m not going to say it again. Gosh!

16. Dance with language. Screw grammar, punctuation, “rules of writing” and all of that other 11th grade literary bullshit. It’s just a list, man. It ain’t gonna win a Pulitzer. Let it go.http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

17. Make yourself – as the writer – disappear. Write conversationally so readers forget that they’re reading.

18. Read lists written by some of the great list makers: Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Jeffrey Gitomer.

19. Don’t force it. No need to get the entire list done in one sitting. Add a few items here, a few items there. Save your unfinished lists in a folder and publish them when they feel ready.

20. Alphabetizing your lists has several advantages. First, it’s easy for readers to pace. Second, it leaves the distribution of list items up to chance, which, often times, comes out better. Thirdly, it makes those anal, OCD folks (like yours truly) quite happy.

21. Shorter sentences win. They get read. They get remembered. That’s it.

22. Links are a good idea, just not too many. A confused mind never buys.

23. Make your list an open loop. Encourage readers to add their thoughts, thereby expanding and enhancing your list. REMEMBER: Just because you post it on your blog, doesn’t mean it’s done. In fact, a good list is never done.

24. Find a really important item on your list and repeat it a few times. At first, people will think you made a mistake; but eventually they’ll get the point.

25. Although the number of items on your list is (usually) irrelevant, numbers like 99, 100 and 101 seem to work really well.

26. Spice it up. If your list item is rather long, use a bold, italicized, underlined or ALL CAPS subheading to make the architecture more digestible. See, your writing needs to B-R-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-A-T-H-E more. Like a Norah Jones vocal melody or a Tom Morello guitar solo.

Got it?

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What are the characteristics of a killer list?

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If you'd like (yet another) list called "43 Reasons to Organize Your Content with Lists," you know the drill. Send an email to scott@hellomynameisscott.com and I'll deliver the goodies.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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