Who says articles need bulleted lists?

Bulleted lists make for sexy article titles, but I’m discovering they’re like little cocktail weenies: yummy but short on nutrition.

What I’m talking about here are article titles that start with a pithy keyword-rich phrase, followed by a colon and the promise of a certain number of informative points. For instance, this article you are now reading could be entitled Effective Article Writing: # Tips to Use Articles to Market Your Business.

Such articles look like they’re going to reveal something useful, but in practice, it’s the same old. Because each point is treated so briefly, it’s rare for readers to learn something they don’t already know.

Here’s an example:

Four tips to establish a successful home business:

1. Decide what kind of business you want to start.
2. Adopt a positive mindset.
3. Study what works for other businesses.
4. Stick with it. Don’t give up!

This outline is typically expanded with 100 words or less on each tip. Are you as geared up to take action with confidence as I am?

Early in my online career, I read these articles (and signed up for longer-but-similar giveaway reports) expecting to learn something new . . . . and sometimes I did.

Later on, as I learned more about internet marketing and related topics, I’d guess at the “five secrets” or “seven tips” before scanning the article to see if I was right. I often was right.

And now I try to divert many of these emails / articles from my Outlook inbox to another file automatically and often delete them later without reading them.

I’m not saying this format is bad. It provides lots of white space within the copy for an easy read, and article banks, newsletters and similar applications welcome this approach.

However, this format also lends itself to very shallow treatments of topics that could benefit from fewer points covered in more detail.

So here goes. This is my attempt at a non-numbered, non-bulleted article.

What do you think?

I’ve learned a lot about how to land great freelance and consulting clients and I continue to explore new ideas, which I share on this page and in my newsletter. Please sign up for the free newsletter—you will also receive Three Secrets to Freelance and Consulting Success: Start Making Great Money as a Freelancer or Consultant for High-Paying Corporate Clients. (Cancellations fully honored. Email addresses managed with complete integrity.)

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One comment on “Who says articles need bulleted lists?
  1. Betty says:

    Good article Diana. I agree the tips article format has been overdone. I noticed that I tend to use a numbered list over bullets and my list text is usually only about a third of the article. But I agree that article writers need to deliver some original thought or research to their audience to keep them interested. We keep hearing that readers only scan on the internet but they do read interesting original content too.

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