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Never Freak Out About Writing a Newsletter Again
Why List Posts are the Easiest Posts for Artists to Write and How To Create One in 5 Simple Steps
By Thea Fiore Bloom, PhD
What if I told you, you could create an excellent blog post just by writing a list?
It’s called a list post.
And here are the two biggest reasons you want to learn how to whip up a list post if you’re an artist:
- First, list posts are the easiest type of blog posts for artists to write.
- And second, readers click on list posts, benefit from them, love them, and share them.
That’s why list posts and list articles (aka listicles) are everywhere. And I’ll tell you how to spot one.
The giveaway that something is a listicle is this: the title of the piece has a number in it.
So for example; cheesy, celeb gossip-type magazine listicles have titles like:
“3 Ways To Get Him To Marry You by Monday.”
“6 Brazilian Butt Lifts You Can’t Do Without!”
But your list posts won’t be like those cheesy check-out stand articles.
Yours will be classy and edifying.
Because your list posts will be about art and your take on some aspect of it.
Here are Some List Post Examples Artists Might Write
- 3 Lies That Can Block Your Creative Practice by Hali Karla.
- 7 Things I Bet You Don’t Know About Frida Kahlo by Thea Fiore Bloom.
- The 5 Weirdest Things in my Plein Air Paint Box I Can’t Do Without
Ok, now you know what a list post is, I want to quadruple the chances of you writing one.
So before I give you the winning formula on how to create one in under an hour, I’m going to briefly share why list posts are the easiest kind of post to write and why readers love them.
3 Reasons Why List Posts Are Easy To Write
1. List Posts Won’t Let You Complicate the Hell Out of Everything
Artists have a lot of great ideas.
In fact, we often have a planet-sized fruit bowl of tips and topics we could cover on any given day.
But we often shoot ourselves in the foot when writing because we try to cram 1056 topics into what should be a one-topic post.
The cool thing about a list post is that it forces you to pick one topic and just say three to ten relevant things about it and then shut up.
In this way, list posts love us and prevent us from getting stressed out and overwhelmed while writing.
How do list posts keep things so simple?
2. List Posts Come Pre-Loaded With an Outline
All lists come with a built-in outline.
Do you break out in boils if someone tells you to write an outline?
That’s cause we’re artists, not computer programmers.
Conservative types excel at outlines.
The majority of artists don’t.
As artists, we usually are what’s called “discovery writers.” (For more on this watch video below).
That means we discover what we want to say as we go.
This can make for highly creative and highly disorganized content.
But here’s the good news.
List posts come with a fun built-in outline based on your creative idea.
The list itself is the outline!
Bliss for artists.
And here’s the third reason artists should write list posts.
3. List Posts Help You Keep it Short
Many artists I coach tell me they have a hard time keeping their posts short.
But short is easy in list post-land.
List posts allow you to write something that will quickly please your reader so you can get back in the studio.
But how do list posts please readers so quickly?
Why are posts based on lists so popular?
Why Readers Love List Posts
List posts are usually brief.
List posts are scannable.
And list posts offer a quick win for the reader.
The quick win is spelled out in the title.
For example, if you click on my list post, 3 Gorgeous Guided Meditations for Writers: Reduce Fear, Ignite Creativity, you do so in part because you are only committing to pop over and scan through 3 meditation choices.
You are not committing to reading War and Peace.
So let’s teach you how to put one of these babies together.
My Super Easy Recipe For Writing a List Post in Under an Hour
Make List Post Magic
Step One: Think of a Problem and Write a List
Think of a small problem someone in your audience has that you know how to solve.
Like…how you get oil paint to dry faster.
Or how to drink more water every day.
Or how to lessen your exposure to toxic chemicals in the studio.
Now write a list of the tips you want to include.
What are your four favorite solutions you have come up with for that problem?
Or what are the five steps you need to take to do that project?
Write a list.
Imagine you are writing the list to your best friend.
This should take 15 minutes max.
Make List Post Magic
Step 2 Flesh Out Your List Items
Now write two or three sentences (max) under each tip explaining a little about how to accomplish that step.
Have fun with this.
Give it only twenty minutes, and set a timer with soothing music.
OMG, you now have the main body of your post and a flawed yet fine first draft!
It’s normal at this point to look at your list and beat yourself up by saying, “Who’ll want to read my “little” ideas.”
Women often knee cap ourselves when we use the word “little.”
You know that “little” thing you want to talk about?
That “little” thing you have years of experience doing like setting up a kiln or finding the right glue for the traveling altars you make and sell?
That “little” thing will be big for someone out there who needs to read it, hear it, and do it.
“Often what’s obvious to you is amazing to others, “
— Derek Sivers
On to easy step three.
Make List Post Magic
Step Three: Create a Super Easy Intro
Now just write two or three sentences on how vexing this problem was for you until you did the things on your list:
- what you used to do before you found the following four solutions
- or until you did the following 3-step process
- or until you had found out the following five things.
This will clearly lay out the benefit of reading the post to the reader.
Cut and paste those two or three sentences up above your list.
Give yourself 5 minutes for this.
Check you out.
You now have your main body and your introduction.
Make List Post Magic
Step 4: Slap on a Title
You’re almost home.
Now slap on a great title.
Give this 5 minutes initially. You may change it later.
(Some folks like to have the title before they write, some decide on it after, or during, it’s up to you.)
Great titles trigger curiosity in a reader.
Ask yourself, “If I read my title would I want to click on it?’
For beginning help with titles check out my post, How Can I Turn My Art Website Into an Attraction Magnet? 9 Authentic Ways (That Don’t Involve Social Media).
Now on to the final step.
Last Step to Make List Post Magic
Step 5: Format and Refine
Give each tip on your list a subheading.
Subheadings are the mini-titles in bold that pop up throughout your newsletter or post.
For example, Step 5: Format and Refine (two sentences above) is a subheading.
Subheadings break up blocks of text.
They improve your Google ranking.
They make a post so much more classy looking and readable.
Artists hardly ever use them. Be the one that does.
It will only take 5 minutes to do this.
Here’s a quick video on how to do subheadings.
After you put in your subheadings you may need to tinker around with the order of the items to improve the flow.
You might want to add a one-sentence conclusion or a CTA (call to action.)
Your first draft is done!
Let it Sit
Print it out on paper.
Now, let it sit for a few days with a big honking crystal on top of it to keep it company.
Let your head clear.
Tinker and Refine It
Then pick up it fresh and read it again out loud.
If you like the voice but the text is confusing read this immediately, Improve Your Art Writing Overnight by Forbidding Yourself To Do 2 Things.
Keep an ear out for what sounds natural and what sounds like you are speaking in an overly formal way.
So many artists get scared when they write and slip into the robotic voice of say…the president of Johnson & Johnson at a board meeting.
Rewrite it, give this at least twenty minutes.
It’s okay to be you. You the artist. You the human.
People will love it.
As Oscar Wilde said:
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” — Oscar Wilde
Don’t forget to spell-check your list post.
Use a free program like Grammarly to edit it and check for typos.
You are done, done, done!
And done in just 60 minutes spaced out over the course of a few days.
Seriously consider dancing around in your underwear like Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
“But Thea,” you say, “No dancing for me, because my list post is far from perfect.”
How To Beat Down Perfectionism
It’s not perfect.
Your first list post won’t be the Mona Lisa, but it will be a great step in the direction of future smooth sailing in blogging land.
Eventually, you’ll loosen up and get bolder.
You’ll get speedier too.
Need help on this?
Listen to my podcast How Do I Let Go of Approval? A Story for Artists (That Involves Underwear.)
Or read my post: How Vulnerability Can Make Your Art Writing Shine.
Or see if I have an opening for writing coaching and work with me one-on-one.
The secret is to not let perfectionism sit on top of you like a school bully and stop you from writing more.
Don’t let perfectionism keep you from getting up and bumping awkwardly around in the dark for a bit.
If you do list posts you will do less bumping about each time.
Trust me on this.
You will write more, you will post more often.
And your readers will be more and more grateful for you and your articles!
Now go try it. If you got a question leave a comment, I answer every one of them.
Or reach out to me, I’m right here.