One of the least-romantic (yet most-published) articles out there is the listicle.
“’6 Amazing Ski Tours Around the World” – Outside Magazine
“100 Best Albums of All Time” — Rolling Stone
“100 American towns founded before the Revolution” — USA Today
Listicles are basically a list of people, places, and things held together by an introduction and loosely passed off as a travel article.
Just about every publication wants them.
As much as those of us who love to write narrative stories are dismayed to see that most publications rely on these and other formats, the listicle is here to stay. And it could be your easiest “in” to travel writing.
So here’s how to write a listicle:
Embrace the trend.
Writing a listicle is significantly easier and takes far less time than writing a long, winding travel narrative. Once you get the format down, it can be a quick way to sell a story and get that clip, so that you can then work with the editor on the style you’d prefer to write.
Recognize that the listicle is really about SEO.
Short for search engine optimization, SEO is what determines where a story turns up in a search on Google or other search engines. So, for instance, if your story on Disney attractions has good SEO, then it will be on the first page in a search for “Disney attractions.”
Lists are famously among the most easily-searched and thus SEO-friendly stories out there.
And because readers love them—they’re easily digested, usually offer solid information, and tend to be light and fun—they’re frequently looked at online, which serves to exponentially increase their SEO.
Few publications are print-only these days, so the listicle tends to appear in both the print and web versions, thereby driving traffic (and thus ad money) to the publication.
Keep writing narratives, too.
My general rule of thumb is that for every listicle I do, I try to craft a related narrative-style piece, as well. That way, I capitalize on a trip by offering a variety of stories to send out, and I am often far more delighted with the latter.
And, truth be told, a happy writer usually makes for a better writer.