One of the most popular types of blog posts are list posts. These are the posts with catchy titles like “Top 21 Ways to Make Money From Home”, or “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Brussels Sprouts”. They work well for blogs because they are highly scannable and easy for readers to digest while surfing the web.
Many bloggers fall into the trap of writing the standard boring “Top 10” lists. Ten is a nice round number that is not too big, so it’s easy to write these kinds of posts quickly. The problem is, everyone is doing “Top 10” lists. They simply don’t grab readers’ attention anymore.
A 2013 study of Buzzfeed posts found that lists of 25 do particularly well in terms of garnering page views. Other numbers that do well are 15, 24, and 33.
I like to think of lists in terms of time, not numbers. When readers look at lists corresponding to time, they associate the items with taking action to produce certain results over time. For example, if you make a list of 31 recipes to try, readers will automatically associate the list with a month. Upon making that association, they might decide to make a goal of trying each of your recipes over the next month. If you can write a list that people decide to base an entire month of their lives off of, then you have created something extremely valuable for your readers.
So don’t make lists of 10. Make lists of 7, 12, 30, 31, 365, or any other number associated with how we think about time. Tailor your number based on how you suggest readers take action on your list. If each list item can be accomplished in a day, make it a list of 7, 30, 31, 365, or any number we associate with a number of days. If it can be accomplished in a month, make a list of 12, or perhaps 6. People will find more value in the lists, and they will see more opportunities to take action based on them.