#31WBGB: Make List Posts Work for Your Genealogy Blog

#31WGBGWelcome to Week 2 of 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog! If you are just joining us, you can read the kick-off post here.

For week 2, we are focusing on list posts.  You are probably familiar with list posts; they have been a part of successful blog-writing for a long time.

4 Reasons Why List Posts Work (and a caution)

  1. Lists are easy to read – It’s well-known that online readers tend to scan content, rather than reading word for word. Lists make it easy for readers to scan and determine if the post contains information they want to read more thoroughly.
  2. Lists break up long posts – Some people refuse to read long posts. If you are like me, and simply can’t write short posts, lists are a good way to break up the content. If readers see organized chunks, instead of long blocks of narrative, they may be more likely to stay.
  3. Lists are persuasive – Putting identifiable points together helps to create a convincing argument. This could be useful for genealogy case studies, product reviews, etc.
  4. Lists break down the complicated –If an idea or story is complex, it can be helpful to break it down into chunks or steps. This would be useful for tutorials, or for sorting out those complicated family connections we find.
  5. Caution – Be careful about writing too many list posts. Readers may become annoyed if this is all you do (this advice is true for any kind of post – variety, people).

3 Types of List Posts

  1. The post as a list – in this case, there is nothing but the title and the list. I think this is best used if you have a lot of points. For example, a topic might be “21 Technology Tools No Genealogist Should Be Without.” Then you would just list the 21 tools and maybe have links to them.
  2. Extended lists – in this type of post, the main points are broken down into a list format, with a paragraph or two for each item. Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist, wrote a great post in this style for Father’s Day.
  3. Lists within posts – in this post-type, the list (or lists) is a way of breaking up the text. There may be some narrative in paragraph format, then a list, then another paragraph, etc.

5 Tips for Writing List Posts

  1. Choose your numbers wisely – Unless you are doing a straight list post (see # 1 in the previous section), you should limit your list to 5 to 15 points. Readers probably won’t stick around to read “101 Best Genealogy Sites,” if there is a lot of information about each one. Unless. . .
  2. Consider writing a series – If you do have a lot of points for a list, why not break it up into several posts? Organize that list of “101 Best Genealogy Sites” into categories, and you could write numerous shorter posts.
  3. Order your list logically – Brainstorm your list first, then put it into a logical format. Depending on the post, this could be chronological, step-by-step, alphabetical, by popularity, etc.
  4. Position your strongest points – Another way to organize a list is to position your strongest points first, second, and last. If you start strong, people will continue to read, and if you finish strong, they may be encouraged to comment, subscribe, or share your post.
  5. Choose a catchy title – A good title makes people want to read the post, especially if they are reading from an RSS feed that has 898 items in it or it goes by in their twitter stream. Make your post stand out from the crowd.

Action Items

  • You guessed it. . .write a list post!
  • After you publish the post, leave a link below in the comments section, so we can stop by and check out your list.


The giveaway this week is a 20% discount off an entire order* at shopfamilytree.com.   To enter, leave a comment below with a link to your list post. One winner will be selected randomly. Giveaway ends at 11:59 Eastern time on Saturday, July 16, 2011.

*The coupon has a couple of caveats – no subscriptions and no items shipped directly from the manufacturer.

Series Navigation<< #31WBGB: My Elevator Pitch#31WBGB: Promote a Blog Post >>

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  1. says

    Twitter: Lindagartz
    I’m a little late to your Better Genealogy Blog Party, but here I am! What a great idea. Re Lists: I used the list post idea (breaking up a single topic into 4 posts). I wanted to write on my Travel Tuesday blog about a World War I Memorial on which my grandmother’s younger brother was one of the honored dead. I had a lot of cool information — including later letters I’d translated that indicated how my grandparents, 5000 miles distant from Romania, helped make the memorial possible. So I introduced the topic on May 3, and posted three parts on May 10, 17, and 24th respectively at http://www.familyarchaeologist.com.

    Keeping the posts short and easy to read is critical to keeping readers coming back. No one has time for a tome on a blog. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Tonia Kendrick says

      Hi Linda, glad to have you with us! This is an interesting take on the “list post” idea.

      One thing you might consider (and this will actually be a “31 weeks” topic next month): adding links within each post to the other posts in the series. That way if visitors happen across one of the posts, it will be easy for them to click through to the others.

  2. Tonia Kendrick says

    Congratulations to Ruth Stephens of Ruth’s Genealogy , who won the 20% discount to shopfamilytree.com.

    Thanks to everyone who participated this week. I have so enjoyed reading all your posts.


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