Think creating long epic list posts is the way of the future?

I’m going to make a radical suggestion. Maybe it’s time to stop.

You’ve probably seen these blog posts all over the web: 101 ways to do this, 125 reasons to do that.

These are called “epic list posts”.

Why should we stop creating them?

I’ll give an exception to this rule in just a second but the main reason I believe is that they overwhelm our readers.

Now, from an SEO perspective, these posts are highly valued. That’s because in today’s day and age, a list post with 107 “must-do” things will attract more readers than a post with offering a list of only 99.

The basic tenet is that “more is better”. And as we’ve seen in other areas of life (ie. food, exercise, etc…) that doesn’t usually end well.

But my question is:

When is it going to stop? Are we going to end up with posts that have 1,297 reasons to do this, that, or the other thing?

I believe, at some point, people will be looking for simpler, to-the-point solutions, and more condensed information.

As a LEADER, people come to you to simplify their lives and give them a clear path to their desired outcome.

But when it comes to these long list posts, it would be like me giving 101 routes from NYC to LA when all you want is the quickest one.

Instead of giving you a clear-cut answer, I’ve just complicated the heck out of your life.

The Only Time You Should Create an Epic List Post

Ironically (and even hypocritically), as I write this, on my health blog lists posts are staple form of content for us. But we do our very best to provide lists in a way that motivate and build desire instead of leading to overwhelm. More on that in a second.

As I alluded to earlier, I’m going to offer an exception to this “no list” rule. And here it is – it really depends on the type of list post you’re creating.

If it’s a list of reasons, things to know about, or specific actionable swipe-file ideas, then a list post is great such as:

  • 93 of the Best Subject Lines for your Emails – sure, put that in a list. I can just copy those and put them in my email messages, no problem. No thinking required.
  • 101 Reasons Why Sugar is Bad for You – yes, for sure. The more reasons I see, the more I’m motivated not to eat sugar. Awesome, keep doing that. Here are 2 examples:

why sugar is bad

But if you’re going to give me a list of things I have to do – like, Here are 101 Ways to Build your Email List – I’m done.

Because that implies I’ve got to start implementing (or doing) all 101 of those things. That’s overwhelming. It’s too much.

Here are a few examples:

how to build email list

I would be much more compelled and enticed by a post telling me the #1 way to build my email list. A post that told me, don’t do anything else, just do this one thing. Wouldn’t you agree?

Keep it Simple for Your Readers

I was at a conference recently and the lead magnet that they gave to all of the attendees was a business assessment checklist.

The headline was something like,

“There are 72 ways to grow your business online. Which ones are you using?”

It was a checklist of things like Twitter, Twitter ads, Facebook, Facebook ads, YouTube, YouTube ads, SEO, totalling 72 different items!

The conferences’ attendees were checking off things they were doing. Then, the company offered this lead magnet with the goal of getting people on a call so they could discuss how to use more of the strategies in their business.

As if business owners are not overwhelmed enough as is it, here are 72 more ways to grow your business. No thank you!

I’ll tell you from personal experience that…

Overwhelming readers (and customers) is the quickest way to increase refunds and to NOT have people comply with your suggestions.

Delivering Clear-Cut Answers is Delivering TRUE Value

As much as possible, guide your followers. Hold their hand and say,

“Listen, if you’re driving from New York to LA there are many different ways you can go, but I’m going to show you the fastest, most scenic and most pleasurable road that you can possibly take.”

That’s how you deliver value in the marketplace.

You are the expert – the trusted guide – who will lead people from where they are to where they want to be. And you’ll do it in the simplest, most streamlined fashion so that they’re not overwhelmed, they’re not confused, and instead they’ve got clarity and confidence.

And isn’t that your goal for your content – and your readers – in the first place?

Keep it simple, offer straightforward advice, and be their go-to for valuable information that they can actually use.

As you can probably tell, this post is much shorter than most of my posts. It’s less than 850 words. That’s I’ve said what I needed to say. No need for 10,000 words here. I rest my case.