14 Secret Traits That All Successful Listicles Possess

33f1a34Scientific studies would show, if they studied this sort of thing, that what you read on the internet is really important. Wait, maybe they do study that. I think I read an article on some Spirit / Science website that the things you read on the internet make you a good person if you’re reading things about spirit and science and if you use your mind to do quantum mechanics, but only in a positive way.

Since we understand how very important reading is to using everything from Buzzfeed to your favorite Instagram hashtags, it’s crucial to understand the best way to read online – the listicle.

The listicle has plenty of advantages that make it the best way for you to read. First, the whole thing is numbered, so you don’t get confused about which paragraph you’re on while you’re jumping word-to-word from left to right. Second, they’re easy to understand because of the number thing. So maybe there’s only one advantage.

Anyway, if you’re going to read listicles at a high level, you’re going to need to know what makes a successful listicle so successful. Then maybe you can implement those success factors into your own listicles or even your relationships.

1. Remove Negative People

This is one of the most important listicle items ever, appearing in what Forbes calls “98% of all internet listicles.” To be able to spot a negative person all you need to know is whether or not that person agrees with you. If they do, they can be in your listicle or pilates class. If they disagree with you, they are “negative” and they will only cause you to question yourself and your beliefs, and you might find out you’re not doing something right and that will ruin your listicle or pot luck dinner. Seriously, kill everyone you know who isn’t named Pollyanna.

2. Be Vague

Most listicles don’t realize how important it is to say really general, non-specific things. This is “negative” like people are. If you say specific things, chances are people will stop paying attention or maybe disagree with you and then you, my dear listicle, will be forced to remove those people (see #1). By being extremely vague and not insightful at all, you can make people agree with you, according to Time Magazine.

3. Say “Look At Me”

This may sound simple. I mean, all you have to do is write “look at me”. I just did it twice. Trust me. It works. If you’re worried that it won’t work, try “hey, look at me,” so you know you have their attention first.

4. Be SO Headlines

If you don’t know what this means already, you’re probably a terrible listicle and shouldn’t have any friends to go to the movies with. You need to start your headline with a number, and this is one time you don’t want to be vague. You should be very specific about what your number is. It’s best to use the amount of items in your listicle, but this isn’t crucial because no one will check. What is crucial is that it’s an exact number. No confusing fractions. No big numbers. Also, no ugly numbers like 10. 10 looks like a skinny person next to a fat person and that will only make people feel pity or shame, and they won’t want to read your listicle items or take you to prom. Also, it’s important to use your headline to make them think they’re about to be stunned or amazed or have their lives changed or that they will “win the internet” with you.  That’s how you get and keep a man.

5. Use Three Big Words to Sound “Legit”

One of the best ways for people to know you’re a smart listicle is for them to see exactly three big words somewhere in your listicle. This will let them know that a truly prophetic writer is among them (that’s one – prophetic – hope you’re paying attention). If you use more than three big words people will mistake you for a book or an essay or an article for “normals” and then you will lose them as readers or people to build sandcastles with.

6. Make People Feel Good Without Effort

Now that we’re in the meat and potatoes of our adventure, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s called “manipulation”. Don’t tell, or else people will think you’re “negative” and burn you with a cattle brand. Manipulating people is totally okay if you do it for the right reasons. People generally, according to internal Monsanto studies, don’t mind being manipulated if you make them feel good, sooooo… make them feel good! One way to do this is by telling them they’ll achieve great things by doing exactly what they’re already doing and thinking what they’re already thinking. This is where we remember #2. Make points like “all successful people eat meals” or “the greatest artists of all time agree that you should have some amount of ‘me’ time, no matter how much”.

7. Make People Feel Superior Without Effort

This is the second step in the manipulation of readers or of fellow Starbucks line inhabitants. Make them feel better than other people even when you know they’re not and they know they’re not and everyone else knows it too. Good ways to do this are to A.) be vague and B.) set up a “second class” of citizens who are the “bad people” i.e. the people who aren’t doing the good things your listicle tells you, whether or not you know anyone like that. Say things like, “you’ve raised your standards” or “you have empathy for your common man”. It doesn’t matter if everyone believes they have these traits. In fact, that’s better! That means everyone will feel superior to everyone else, completing a perfect circle and sending you to sit at the right hand of the father, while everyone else gets snuffed out like a Red Wedding style massacre.

Have at you, Gluten!

Have at you, Gluten!

8. Use ‘Game of Thrones’ References

Self-explanatory. Don’t be dense.

9. Be All Affirmations

The best way to get people to read you / like you / want you to be the one the arrow lands on when you’re playing Spin the Bottle is to give them positive affirmations all the time. This is the last step of the manipulations. You might ask, “why wasn’t this grouped with the other manipulations at #8?” and the answer is simple. I only just now thought about the Game of Thrones thing and realized how important that was and ALSO now you’re distracted from the fact that this is basically the same as #6. It’s important to realize that all truly happy people need to tell themselves over and over that they’re happy. Otherwise they would forget that they’re happy while they’re doing other things besides reminding themselves and then they might feel bad while reading your listicle and then we’re back to #1 and you have no one to play catch with.

10. Cite Sources

It’s important that people believe you have a mastery of the subject matter and the best way to do this is referring to other people who had the idea first. It actually doesn’t matter whether or not it’s a good source or a bad source. The fact that it is a source will let people know that you’ve done your research and then they will trust you. Good sources to cite are ones that you know will fulfill all the rest of the items on this listicle. At all costs, do not make people go to another site where they might feel bad or have their views challenged or you will end up with no one in your wedding party.

11. Write One Incredibly Smart Entry in the List

If you write one AND ONLY ONE smart thing if your listicle, you may be able to trick 50%+ of the ‘educated’ population to share a listicle on social media that they wouldn’t share otherwise, this according to the good people at lawofattraction.com. One smart and insightful thing will get that precious share and then you’ll have even intelligent people wasting their day reading the rest of the listicle items. Make sure to write it well. It’s probably best that one of the three big words be in this entry. Again, be sure not to have more than one smart entry or else people might have their views and opinions challenged and then you will have no readers and people will steal your waterskis.

Unknown12. Use Pictures of Awesome Things

When people share your listicle on Facebook, a picture will come up. If that picture is of Jennifer Lawrence or a weird castle built into a cliff, you will attract more readers and then you’ll have someone to hold your soda while you use the restroom. Celebrities are great to use, especially if you can “manipulate” your reader to think that they might be as successful or good-looking as that person. Then they will share your listicle and maybe let you get to 3rd base on the second date.


This is the most important thing I have to say. That is why I put it last. A big finish is important, says Reader’s Digest. Plus, you know that readers of listicles always make it to the end. These people have exceptional attention spans. That’s why making sure you have an exact, whole number in the headline is important (see #4).

Every listicle is the same and you don’t want to be different. SO BE THE SAME. I can’t stress this enough. Every listicle is the same list of items, just with a different headline. That’s why it’s important to be SOOOOO headlines. Just look at the hero of all the internet, Elite Daily. That site hasn’t had a new word on it in 12 years. They just shuffle the headlines between articles and WHAM-O, new content. If only every listicle could have realized that groundbreaking technological breakthrough at the same time, the internet would be skinner and they wouldn’t have to have birth limits in China. So make sure your listicle is the same as every other one if you want it to get a real job.

Understand, the joy of reading listicles is that you’ve already read that listicle! Why waste time reading for new information? Your old information is good enough, especially when it looks like new information. The other joy is not having to notice different paragraphs. Oh, shit. No one will read this.