You’re a blogger, so hopefully you feel confident working with words.
But words alone aren’t enough.
Even if you haven’t been blogging for long (or are yet to start), you’ve probably noticed numbers coming up a lot in other people’s posts.
You often find numbers in post titles such as:
Even if they don’t appear in the post’s title of the post, numbers can be used to order a sequence of steps, when listing a series of tips, or when quoting statistics.
Why Do Numbers Matter So Much?
By using numbers in your post, you’ll come across as a more authoritative source of information.
Numbers also intrigue readers. If you mention “Ten ways”, they’ll want to know what they are. If you tell them you made $2,671 from your first product launch, they’ll want to know how.
Here are four ways you can use numbers in your blog posts.
- When sharing your results (or someone else’s), whether it’s traffic, fans, income or anything else you might track.
- When providing a statistic. It could be a well-known one, or something quite obscure.
- When listing a number of steps to follow. Those steps could be your entire post, or just a part of it.
- When sharing several tips or ideas, usually in the form of a list post.
Here’s how they might work for you.
#1: Sharing Your Results (or Someone Else’s)
Blog posts that share real-life results are often popular because they show that someone else has succeeded, and give the reader hope that they can too. In the post titles I shared earlier, numbers such as “3,241 Facebook Fans” and “$453k” can help the reader trust your information. It sounds like it must be helpful because it’s so specific.
Tip: Sometimes it’s appropriate to round off numbers (e.g. “My newsletter has more than 20,000 subscribers”). But if you’re sharing your results in a post, specific numbers make it clear the results are accurate.
#2: Providing a Statistic
It’s easy to give advice on your blog without necessarily backing it up. You may know your niche very well, and therefore know that your advice is accurate. But readers won’t necessarily believe you without evidence. Here’s an example from Copyblogger’s classic post Writing Headlines That Get Results:
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.
The statistics make it clear this information is authoritative and grounded in fact, rather than just someone’s opinion about whether or not headlines are important.
Tip: Of course, your statistics need to be accurate and true. Try to find the original source, or an authoritative source such as a government or university website. It’s often a good idea to link to the source as well.
#3: Listing a Number of Steps to Follow
If your post teaches the reader how to do something, or has steps they need to follow in order, it makes sense to number those steps. The reader may well be going back and forth between your post and the task they’re trying to complete, so you should make it easy for them to remember which step they’re up to.
In this type of post, including the number in the title often works well. For instance, instead of “How to Register a Domain Name” you might have “How to Register a Domain Name in Six Easy Steps”.
Tip: Try not to have too many steps. Having 20 or 30 steps may overwhelm the reader, even if each step can be completed relatively quickly. Instead, try to group each action into five to ten separate steps.
#4: Sharing Several Tips or Ideas
This is different to the step-by-step approach in that each tip or idea in your post will probably stand on its own. The reader can tackle them in any order, and may only try one or two of them.
It’s still a good idea to number each one. Not only will it help orient the reader within your post, it will also prove you’ve delivered what you promised (if you used numbers in your title).
Tip: Big numbers can work well in these types of posts. While “100 Steps to Build the Perfect Website” sounds very daunting, “100 Different Ways to Make Your Website Stand Out” sounds like a comprehensive source readers can dip into.
Using numbers in your post (and particularly in your title) may take a few minutes of extra work. But it could result in a much more popular and effective post.
Do you already use numbers in your posts? Or is it something you want to focus on a little more? If you’ve got any good tips for using numbers, share them with us in the comments.
This post was originally published 12 December 2017 and updated 28 July 2022