Information and Resources for Solopreneurs

The Most Effective Tool for Powering Your Site’s Content

Written By: SiteSell in CTPM | November 26, 2014

The Most Effective Tool for Powering Your Site’s Content

It’s one thing to tell you that your site or blog needs to have more and more content added to it. It’s an entirely different thing to come up with that content. There’s the issue of your time, of course, and coming up with ideas for more information and resources. And there’s the problem that many of us have where Some data and links may become outdated or broken.

What if I told you that there’s a tool available, for free, which can help address all of those issues, and more?

That tool is List.ly, and we’re going to review everything you can do with it and how to get started.

What Is List.ly?

List.ly (http://list.ly) is free / premium service that empowers you to create dynamic lists. Lists can be plain text items, or more rich items like images, videos or links. So you could list your favorite lines from The Matrix, or itemize your available exits. Which is nice, but not particularly helpful toward growing your online business.

We’ll get into the specific businesses uses and benefits of List.ly in a moment, but let’s first go through a quick primer.

Head over to list.ly and create a free account for yourself. You can sign in using any of the major social networks – just remember which one you use so that when you come back later, you’ll be signing into the account you’ve already started.

You can complete you profile with a headshot and bio, and that’s a great idea. On List.ly, users can follow other users and get notifications when new lists are added.

When you’re ready, start your first list by clicking on MAKE A LIST in the top toolbar.

Listly Profile

Name your list. You can name it whatever you want, but the name, like a blog post title, is the first thing other users may see, so make it good.

Choose your layout. The layout determines how your list items will be displayed. You can change this at any time, so feel free to experiment. Different kinds of lists and content may look better in different layouts. Available options include List, Magazine, Minimal and Gallery. For most of my lists, I’ve chosen “List” to best present my items.

Choose the type. The type of list helps List.ly to understand what it is you’re listing, and may adjust functionality and display. For instance, one of the great features of List.ly is that you can use it to manage your Twitter lists (http://www.thesocialmediahat.com/news/listly-unveils-smart-twitter-list-management-tool-12122013). You can list Twitter users and then subscribe to them, share them, manage them… all within List.ly. You’d therefore indicate that this is a Twitter List under type. Other options include People, Places, Apps, Resources and Media.

Add tags. You can choose to add specific labels that can be applied to the items within your new list. This may or may not apply to your list, so it’s optional. For instance, a list of great apps might have the tags iOS and Android available to add to items.

Add a description. Finally, write up a brief description of your list. This is important to include because since you can embed a List.ly list on your own site, other people may choose to embed it as well, and the description provides consistent context.

Now you’re ready to start listing items.

List.ly allows you to add text, images, video or links. Links will automatically attempt to pull in preview information from meta tags, but you can control and edit how they’re ultimately displayed, including uploading completely different thumbnail images.

List.ly allows you to add items in bulk, and even upload from a cvs file, which is fantastic for quick list building from databases or spreadsheets.

Once you’ve added all of your initial items, save the list and List.ly will build it per your instructions. In the upper right corner of the list, click on Edit and select List Settings. Here you can adjust any of the initial settings you selected. You can also click on Advanced which is where you can link to a source URL (typically the page or blog you’re going to embed the list on), as well as turn on or off features like moderation and sorting.

You see, the beauty of List.ly is that you are not solely responsible for adding items to your lists. Your friends and followers can help build your lists too!

Any time you share one of your lists, if you allow it, other people can suggest additional items for your list. Lists can be closed, so you don’t have to accept submissions. You can also choose to moderate items, which puts a level of control over what is listed (and I highly recommend turning this on).

When it comes to sorting your list items, you can choose to sort them manually or alphabetically, or let your list readers vote on your list items and rank items according to the current vote tally. This can result in some particularly fun list building, so give it a try!

So when you put together crowdsourced lists that are crowd ranked, the result can be extremely active and dynamic lists that continue to grow and grow.

Because you see, skipping ahead for a moment, once you’ve completed your list you will want to embed it on your site or blog. You aren’t just copying and pasting the list — you’re pasting in some JavaScript that will dynamically call and render the selected list. Any time someone adds an item to the list or you make a change, it’s immediately and automatically reflected on any embedded instances.

So when you’re adding items to your list, best practice according to List.ly founder Nick Kellet is to only list a few items. Just enough to prime the pump. Let your readers and followers get interested in the idea and start adding additional items for you.

Once you’ve added all of the items you want to list initially, consider adding a cover image. Since the image will be displayed above the list even when it’s embedded, this may or may not suit your style of implementation. Now you’re ready to grab the embed code. Click on Embed List above your first list item. You can select the format for your embedded list, as well as try out some of the premium features, like picking and choosing which components to embed. When you’re happy with how the list looks, click on Get Code. Copy and paste the appropriate code into your site.

Note, if you have a WordPress site, you can install the List.ly plugin which helps facilitate embedding of lists by using shortcode instead of JavaScript.

Uses of List.ly

What’s the number one style of blog post? Top Ten lists. While a Top Ten list would have a very defined number of items and would therefore need to be closed, List.ly’s functionality can spruce up a boring bullet list of links with great-looking previews. And you can still crowd rank the items by allowing voting and comments on each listed item.

But wait, there’s more.

Why stop at ten? As an online business, we’re always sharing resources with our readers to help them with their own lives and businesses (kinda like this post), but the more comprehensive lists of resources can take a serious amount of time to put together. With List.ly, businesses can get their readers to help each other out by crowdsourcing links to similar resources. For instance, if I wanted to create a list of blog image creation tools and resources, I might start with this:

And now others can add to it as they see fit.

Ready to kick it up a notch?

Let’s talk about Influencer Marketing then. With today’s social environment, businesses can find a lot of success approaching influencers in their industry or niche and creating a relationship with those individuals.

Start by determining who are the influencers in your niche, and try not to rely on your own opinions. You can use tools like BuzzSumo or Followerwonk to get some data. Once you’ve identified them, follow them and begin to engage with them. Retweet some of their posts and jump into discussions they’ve started.

Then, create a list of these influencers, or multiple lists for different categories, and embed that list in a blog post. Let your readers know who these influencers are and why they should be following. When sharing the post to social media, ping these influencers to make sure they see it. As the influencers respond, that will create opportunities for you to continue the conversation and continue to build the relationship. And as a result, your social media engagement and blog traffic will rise.

And these are just a few suggestions. What ideas do you have for your next list?

Benefits of List.ly Recap

To review, by using List.ly to create embeddable lists for your site or blog, you can create opportunities for your readers and followers to really engage with you and help add more content to your site. Lists are popular, digestible and shareable, and the List.ly interface encourages sharing and embedding of your branded lists.

You can use lists to promote specific tools and resources, more easily manage the content within those lists, and even use lists to build relationships with influencers. Rather than static, stale text posts, your blog can become alive with dynamic, active lists.

I’m trying to free your content. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it. Give List.ly a try.

If you haven’t yet started your website or blog, consider the SiteSell suite of products, which can help you take your business from idea to reality, learn more here.

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  • Like you Mike, I’ve been using and a Big fan of List.ly for quite awhile. I’ve read where the optimal list SIZE is 10 entries. Does that jibe with your research too?

    • Thanks Neil! I confess I haven’t done any research personally on list size. Traditional research suggests two approaches: that people like the “Top Ten” approach, and that odd numbered lists stand out more, like “7 Ways…”

      However, traditional approaches don’t apply to List.ly lists that are intended to grow. Nick Kellet probably has a far better idea for the ideal list length for a List.ly list which you hope to get engagement and participation in. When speaking with him a year or two ago, he suggested 3 – 5 items, but that may have changed. And of course it will depend on the content of your list and your audience.

      • I’d say start with 3 items. I really recommend leaving gap and omitting really obvious content. People then feel they can contribute. The first 5 people to help are the hardest to acquire, but once your get them others will feel happier about contributing.

        The other thing is that it’s valuable explain that people can embed your lists – don’t assume they know what Listly can do.

        I also recommending going niche. Target your list to a specific segment – don’t copy or follow someone else’s list – get specific, get local, get opinionated. That’s what connects and speaks to people.

        Nick

        • That’s great advice Nick, thanks! Particularly the point about omitting some of the “obvious” candidates for a list.

  • I always want to try listly but just didn’t give in time for it. Guess I got to try it tomorrow when I wakes up.

    Thanks for sharing man!
    ~Reginald

  • Hi Mike,

    I see immense power in List.ly, and I dig Nick’s advice too. Easy does it. Slow and steady wins this race every time. Add that content at a slow pace to prime the pump and to get a feel for the network, and also, to let your followers soak up your content.

    Thanks for the share Mike!

    Ryan

  • These are some great tips and I love the idea of injecting one’s personality into their writing.

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