3 Ways to NEVER use the “3 Ways” crutch ever, ever, again

How to be a good blogger? Rely on content not crutches!

Last week I was having a phone conversation (yes, an actual situation where one picks up the object on one’s desk and speaks through it) with one of my social media maharajas and he said something to me that has resonated so deeply it has taken me a couple days to really get my head around it.

His question to me was this: when did bloggers decide that making lists of a subject constituted good blogging (or strong Whuffie for that matter)?

I know, intense right?

You see it every day, right?

Just go to your Twitter feed — yes now — how many Blog titles say Top 3 ways to (insert subject here), or 5 Ways to avoid (subject there)?  Too many!

Now, mea culpa I have done this as well.  I did so because I wanted a quick way to get an idea across, too afraid that a narrative — like you’re reading now — would be too boring for most readers.

How dumb of me!  How incredibly short sighted and unfortunate of me.  Why?  Because I was afraid readers would have short attention spans.

No, what they have is an inability to put up with poo and they shouldn’t.   Therefore, here is my last last official list of 3 ways to avoid being a lazy blogger:

1.  Blogs are about content and respecting your audience.

You don’t need a list to do this.  When was the last time you read a NON Real Estate related article that had a list in it?  Exactly.  It doesn’t happen.  So, respect us enough to read your words and discern for ourselves the quality of your content.

2.  I didn’t go to law school.  I don’t need an outlined version of whatever you have to say.  Just tell me.

3.  Stop worrying about being cute or trying to be famous.

Blogs, Twitter and any other medium have a way of taking care of people who respect their content.  If you continue to not appreciate your followers they will drop you like third period french (or CE).  Just write.  The rest all takes care of itself.

SO, next time you are convinced the only way to get your message across is through a list remember, who are you writing for…you or someone else?

I hope it’s the latter.  If you decide it is – come on over, it’s warm and very calming.


The VERY, VERY, VERY  recently reformed Blogger of little consequence


  1. I agree with this in theory, and I tend to take this approach with my own blogging. And most thoughtful, intelligent bloggers agree with you on this.

    But blogging is not a one size fits all thing. The fact of the matter is lists draw traffic, links, and exposure for sites — all of which are important building blocks to a successful blog. Many internet readers don’t have the attention span for anything more than a list – I know this from analytics and personal experience leaving bouncing on blog posts that looked too long to read at that given moment. There is a reason companies like Zillow (where I used to work) produce lists on a regular basis. The data proves it works. Trust me, they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

    So, while I don’t really categorize “lists” as good blogging, I don’t think there is anything wrong with using them to build your blog from time to time.

    • Hey Drew: I think you have a really good point. I just think that at some point List blogging is becoming the US Magazine of our Industry. And truthfully, I’m just trying to avoid that.

  2. Thanks for posting this Darrin, I think this is great stuff to share. To Drew’s point, the answer may indeed lie in the data, but data insights are not the only real source of a post’s quality, and the idea that lists are ‘all that people are able to handle’ is not something to perpetuate by simply continuing to do what everyone else does.

    Howard Stern was talking about this same thing yesterday in relation to radio countdown shows – it’s not real radio, to just count backwards and play one song after the other. It’s formulaic, uncreative, and simply tired.

    If attention span is the issue, how about something shorter, but much more insightful, unique and genuinely helpful? I understand the concept of building a blog’s audience using a proven list-driven method can be helpful, but at the end of the day I believe it’s more effective to create your own formula, your own templates, your own approach, and as a result, your own unique voice.

    Think of what you’d consider to be great writing (which is really what a blog primarily consists of) as it exists online. Take the NYTimes – how many times to they do lists? Hardly ever – they are smarter and better than that.

    I understand that lists are a place to start, but they’re lazy, and they’re not blogging. Raise the bar.

    • Matthew — You are so dead on. Just another reason I idolize you. Raising the bar is what we need to do across the board. From every level of our industry we need to be smarter and better than how things used to be done. Until we do that, we will merely be pandering. And that gets us no where.

  3. A-ha, the “list” debate!! Thank you Matthew for pointing me to this blog post!

    I agree that there are far too many list-type blog posts – to the point where it is overkill.

    However, I don’t just see this in real estate. I follow other industry blogs (I think we can learn so much when we go outside the real estate industry), and I see list-type blog posts everywhere.

    I do agree that on one-hand it can be lazy – but I think it comes down to who is writing the blog. I have seen a number of very well-written posts that were lists and I have seen a lot of poorly written blog lists. Ultimately it comes down to the talent of the writer.

    I also agree with Drew’s point that like it or not, lists drive traffic. Lists are easy to digest and have a proven higher open rate than non list posts. Not only that, but list-type posts have a higher “share” rate in the social media world.

    Also, for many, the list-type blog posts reflects someone’s style. For me, when teaching someone Facebook or Twitter, I find it much more digestible to write it in list format – but again, that is just personal preference. Also, Matthew mentioned, having other types of posts intermingled in is a great strategy and something we do at FOREM.

    I don’t think it’s right to just cast off all bloggers who write in lists to be lazy. Just my 2 cents.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking blog post!


  4. I feel the same way about list blogs as I do about list presentations at conferences. I’m not a fan, but the crowds seem to like them.

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