Reader Challenge Roundup: Pillar Articles

Pillar Article ChallengeIt’s amazing what a little challenge can do to help people accomplish something great.

A pillar article (for those of you who don’t know) is a particular type of blog post that can also be described as epic, monumental and comprehensive. Usually a longer tutorial-style post, a pillar article goes above and beyond to provide the best and most detailed information about how to accomplish something. This kind of post is a deadly piece of ammunition in a blogger’s arsenal because it can drive massive traffic, easily become viral and drastically raise the value and authority of the blog and its owner.

I’ve recently written about how my own pillar articles have helped my brand, and in that post I had offered the SPI readers a challenge: to publish your own brand new pillar article. I also asked you to send me the link to your pillar article so that I can list it here with all of the other submissions so we can all see what kind of killer, useful and helpful content we all come up with.

And the results were amazing!

Below, you’ll find a list of all of the pillar articles that were submitted to me (in the order received) from all different kinds of niches covering a massive variety of topics. If we estimate that on average each author spent about 4 hours writing their post (this is a generous number, as I’ll sometimes spend 8 to 10 hours putting together a pillar article), this means that below you’re looking at a total of about 200 hours of actual writing time.

A lot of effort and heart were put into these posts, so to all of the participants I say:  job well done! Many of you even emailed me thanking me for the “kick in the butt” to finally take action (you’re welcome!) and some of you even told me that because of the posts you’ve written you’ve seen more traffic and comments than ever! Now that’s what I’m talking about!

I don’t expect you to read all of the posts but scroll through and find one or two (or more) that peak your interest.

Side note: this is a perfect example of why the title of a blog post is so important. No one will read your awesome content unless you have an awesome, attention-grabbing headline to go with it.

Five Steps To Building a Kickin’ Website For Under $12

How to Promote Your Blog Article

Beer Can Chicken Recipe

Flying On A Budget

Want To Write Articles For Money? Your Results May Vary

Ready to Invest? Some Thoughts to Keep in Mind

10 Tips to Not Get Treated Like a Tourist

How to Make Money on the Internet

Ways to Get Student Loan Forgiveness

How to Research an Internet Marketing Niche: THE Ultimate Blueprint

The Blogger’s ULTIMATE Guide to All of Google’s Tools and Services

The Top 10 Work at Home Jobs for Moms, Part 1

How to Choose a Profitable Niche Topic

How to Find Your Absolutely, Positively REAL and TRUE FICO Credit Score. Seriously.

Using Coconut Flour or Gluten and Grain Free Baking – some tips

Complete Blueprint for Promoting & Profiting from Clickbank Product Launches

Beginning Sous Vide Guide

Top 10 Traits of Successful Options Traders

Passive Income GamePlan: 12 Steps to Designing Your Muse

How I Made My First Sale in Exactly 30 Days

10 Simple Steps to ‘Thought Leader’ Status in Your Niche!

How to Make Money Selling Your Own Products

The Must-Have Action List for Event Marketing…with an emphasis on social networks

How I Grew My Blog

The Great Wine Experiment (Plus: Find Out If You’re A Super Taster)

Why Your Body Is Intelligent & Doesn’t Need You!

Groceries: The Pantry Principle

Why & How To Create Your Posting Schedule 3 Weeks in Advanced

Running Multiple Blogs, Earning 6 Figures, Working Less Than 40 Hours – A How To Guide To Financial Freedom

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Church Website

Eight Ingenious (and Profitable) Niche Site Ideas

Depressed but Fighting: How to Overcome Depression

The Beginners Guide to Being Self Employed

Affiliate Marketing – Being the Best You Can Be

How Tim Ferriss Took Me to a Jets Game with Gary Vaynerchuk

Essential Wilderness Equipment

The Neutrality of Tao

6 Traits of a Great Dad

How to Build a Niche Site in 0 Hours

Campaign Sign Laws

Foam Roller Exercises – Everything You Needed to Know

Desperate’s Guide to the Airport

20 Simple Steps To Improve Your Finances Next Year

How to Recover from Addiction: Case Studies Highlight Specific Techniques that Lead to Success

The Ten Secrets of Successful Timesharing

Set Smart Goals – Or Else!

The Definitive Guide to Mobile SEO

How to Blog with your Smartphone

How to Wake Up Early with Enthusiasm

The Ultimate Non-Designers Guide to Branding

The Definitive Guide to Staying Productive and Motivated

All of the articles are great, however there are a few true gems that really go above and beyond the call of duty here. I’ll let the commenters share which ones they feel are worth a second look.

I was going to have you vote on your favorite and choose a “winner”, but I don’t think it would be fair because of the different niches and the general attraction of my readers toward blogging, make money online and webmaster type articles. So instead, I have randomly selected an author of one of the articles as a winner of a $50.00 Gift Card, on me.

Congratulations to Brad from!

The Next Reader Challenge

I loved the results of this challenge so much that I plan to make this an ongoing thing on the blog to keep “kicking you in the butt” and getting you to take action (and hopefully see some results too).

Every “roundup” post like this one will contain the next reader challenge, and here it is:

You have until the end of February to write a list post.

A list post is a simple. It’s a post that lists a number of something. For example:

List posts are wildly popular in the blogosphere, and for good reason. As bloggers, they are fun and easy to write. As readers, they are easy to read and memorable. On several top blogs, you’ll see that many of the most popular posts are indeed list posts.

I recommend scanning through 10 Steps to the Perfect List Post first. After you publish your post, send me a link and I’ll publish it here on SPI sometime in March. Again, a lucky random contributor will win a $50.00 Gift Card from me.

I’m hoping to get at least 100 submissions this time around, so think about your post and take action!

Thanks again to all participants, and please feel free to leave any comments about which of the pillar articles listed above deserve some extra attention.


  • Howie

    Hey Pat,

    If anyone wants to see great execution of list posts, with a bit of humorous twist, they should head on over to One of my goals, in 2011, is to be published there.

    As for your challenge…it’s on! :)

  • Azzam

    Definitely up for the challenge, I am game.

  • Stephanie Treasure

    I’m in! Missed the last challenge, so I am looking forward to this one. Stay tuned.

  • Jason Young

    Yikes! These guys aren’t playing around! It may take me forever every to check all of these out!


  • Onibalusi Bamidele

    Awesome posts Pat,

    There are a lot of great titles above and I’ll be giving some great posts a read. I also love that this will be an ongoing challenge :)

    Keep up the great work,

  • Stuart

    This is a great challenge, very inspirational as well! I’ve been on a few of these websites, and you can tell they put in the dedication and effort.

    Thanks for the challenge, genius idea! :-)

  • Lye Kuek Hin

    Hi Pat,

    What an awesome collection of great post by the others! I probably can’t read all. As you say the title really plays a part in attracting readers to explore deeper into the post. I am sure i will enjoy the post. The most important thing is i have a huge number of blogs which i never visit. This gives me the chance to network with more bloggers. Thanks.

  • Samuel

    Awesome post Pat! Great list! Haha. I will check out some of them. Thanks for sharing. Have fun.

  • Son Koral

    Than you for posting all these great pillar articles.
    Everyone did a really nice job with their posts.

    Looking forward to this next challenge!

  • Keith

    Awesome list of submissions here, Tristan’s ultimate list of google products was a great read.

    I love that there are so many different topics in the list; food, wine, niche marketing, outdoors, travel, campaigning, etc… I was beginning to think everyone only started make money online sites LOL.

  • Son Koral

    Sorry for the double… Pat, have you noticed when you do a list post, are there any numbers that are considered” Magic?” That is, are shorter lists, in general better, do you think?

  • Will Blears

    That challenge sounds good to me :)

    Great list by the way!

  • Rory Mullen

    List are very important when it comes to blogging. I have had multiple list post and always they have been big on the search and viewer rankings. I will create 10 list Pat and show you how they can be a profitable part of your blog.

  • dino Dogan

    Thnx for doing the heavy lifting on this one…I’ll put few of these on my to-read list.

  • Eric | My 4-Hour Workweek

    Thanks for including my article, Pat, I really appreciate it!

    It looks like this is truly an awesome list of pillar articles, so I’m going to need to set a bunch of time aside to get through them…

  • Richard

    Thanks for this challenge and for putting my article on the list. This was a great learning experience and a lot of fun! Looks like you got tons of great articles here for us!

  • Yuri


    You’ve managed to collect their best work from many of your readers to share it with all the others. It’s a win-win for everyone, I wish even more people have participated :)

  • Brad

    Thanks for the gift card Pat. It was totally unexpected! Thanks for all you do and best wishes for a successful 2011!


  • Christina Crowe

    Pat – I’m one of those people who can claim that this challenge has helped me and my blog ENORMOUSLY. It’s seriously amazing – since creating the pillar article, I’ve seen a spike in newsletter subscriptions, Twitter followers, RSS subscribers, comments, emails, AND link backs. A few people even emailed me saying that they enjoyed reading the pillar article and that they were going to try to take my advice on waking up early.

    Actually writing the article took over 6 hours – but it was definitely worth it to the minute. And if it wasn’t for your challenge, Pat, I probably wouldn’t have wrote the pillar article – and so I wouldn’t know the powerful and awesome results I would have received.

    So, for this and everything you’ve done for me along the way, THANK YOU! You’ve done more than push me outside of my comfort zone and taste a bit of what success actually means, but you’ve been an inspiration – you’ve motivated me to keep going and you’re always there to help. You’re a true role model – and I will be forever grateful.

    With that said, thanks for including my article in the list. :)

    And congrats Brad for the job well done! You should be proud – we all should be proud – for the hard work and effort put into this challenge.

    Now moving onto the next challenge – make a killer list post. 😉 Though I’ve written list posts in the past, I haven’t really dabbled with them much – so I’m pretty excited to get started. :)

    As always, looking forward to seeing what other people come up with for this month’s challenge – and I’ll definitely be going through the many awesome articles listed here.


  • Cara

    Thanks for including my article too! I like list posts, they’re fun to write. And I’m right in the middle of launching my first product right now, in a big part thanks to you! I don’t know that I would have ever actually produced a product if it hadn’t been for your podcast. Thank you :)

  • Jen

    Thanks for this! I missed the last challenge, but I fully plan on participating in this one. Thanks for the kick in the butt!

  • Hector Cuevas

    Holy Cow Pat.. that’s a lot of submission. You’re really helping people take massive action. Thanks for doing this and I’m looking forward to participation in the next challenge.

    I’m putting this in my schedule right now..
    talk soon


  • Dustin Baier

    Cool idea. Sad I missed the last one. Will definitely give this a go.

  • Trent Dyrsmid

    Hey Pat,

    Thanks for the mention!


  • Ben

    FYI, your link to 10 Steps to a Perfect List Post” goes to your recent autoresponder post instead of Problogger, which is what I assume you intended.

    • Pat

      Whoa – I have no idea how that happened. Maybe an auto-fill type thing.

      Thanks – it has been replaced!

  • Clayton

    Good challenge. My blog needs a little TLC after being neglected for too long…

  • Nate

    Hi Pat! Thanks for including my post. I guess I got lucky that I was just starting that post when I saw you post this original challenge since I was able to be the first one in and was listed first! This is great motivation to do a couple of posts I have already been planning.

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  • Ryan

    What an awesome idea for reader involvement but even more moving us to put our learning into action! Thanks for these opportunities.

  • Marc and Angel Hack Life

    No doubt list posts are king. Over the years it has been my experience (blogging in personal development niche) that educational, inspiring list posts go viral far more often than any other form of post. Actually, my last few list posts have been fairly decent proof of that.

    Keep up the great work, Pat. We love your ideas and your passion.

  • Andrew @ Blogging Guide

    This is a great “kick in the butt” for everyone. You always have awesome ideas! Happy 2011!

  • Daniel Sumner

    Hey Pat,

    I would just like to thank you for the opportunity to take part in the last challenge, I really enjoyed it. It was not the writing for me, more the structure of the post and getting the layout right. I tend to write what I think then re-edit after.

    I look forward to the next challenge. I have my subject in mind already :-)



  • Angela Artemis

    What a fabulous response you got to this challenge! There are so many great pillar articles here – I’m going to need a day to read them all.

    Thanks for including my pillar article: Why Your Body is Intelligent and Doesn’t Need You – here. I’m always trying to educate through my blog so the PA is one of my staples. I hope I’m doing them right though.

    I’ve only done one list post because I personally find long list posts overwhelming. To be perfectly honest when I see a list post longer than about 15 – maybe 20, or 25 long my eyes glaze over. I simply cannot absorb all that information from a list. I need a story, or anecdote to engage me.

    I honestly wonder – we all “say” we love list posts, but are we as writers/bloggers saying that because we find it’s easier, so we prefer to write a list? (although I really stretched when I wrote my list of 25 tips to increasing your intuition) Or, because we really, really, as readers, “love” reading these lists?

    I tend to think that after about 50 tips max – they can get a bit silly. You know – run out in the street and pour a bucket of aqua paint over your head – then hop on one foot?

    I sort of feel as if everyone claps and says, “Yay!!!!” But really it’s more like “The Emperor has no clothes!” kind of thing. Are we all saying, “YAY” because we love it or because we think we’re supposed too?

    I’d love to know what other readers think. I’ve seen lists as long as 200 tips and, frankly, I was so overwhelmed after about 50 I never read the rest of them.

    Love to hear your thoughts.

  • David

    LOL! This post should be a list post claiming the best pillar posts. Great stuff!

  • Caroline Mukisa

    What a great idea Pat, especially at the start of the year when everyone is feeling revved up for the year ahead! I love a challenge – I published my list post today and have forwarded you the link.

  • Gavin

    Awesome list of articles there Pat. Thanks so much for motivating me to start my blog and write some pillar articles.

  • Paul Wolfe

    Good challenge – List Post has gone on the To-Do list.

  • Dave Grimes II

    Tremendous Pat! These posts (the challenges, that is) are a great idea, and surely a wonderful way to keep readers engaged. It’s ironic how you’re aiming to keep your readers from enjoying your blog and podcasts passively. (Get it?!?!) Anyhow, great stuff, keep ’em coming!

  • Karo

    Hello Pat,

    This is a great initiative you’ve started. Apart from motivating readers into taking action and bringing the best out of them, you’re helping them learn what works by trying it themselves.

    I hadn’t found your blog when you did the first challenge but it sounds almost funny to me because I wasn’t expecting people to plan to write pillar articles, I thought it was a usual thing (what should be expected).

    I believe at least 80% of my site content are pillar articles.

    My goal when I write articles for my site is to provide complete information as I know it on any topic I write on not to give highlights. My usual steps to writing an article for my site are:

    Choose a keyword: I plan my content in other to write step by step. So say I pick the keyword “link building” to write on. I complete all the sub-topics under link building in that I know works effectively in different articles before moving forward.

    SPend an hour or two to do a research on the keyword: I research on any topic I want to write on first. This is to see whether there is anything new that I don’t know of being said about the topic (to ensure I provide up-to-date information). If there is I follow it up and see what others are saying about it and then I would either add it to the article if it something relevant and that I understand. If not I link to the site what well explains it.

    I then decide on how to present the content and start typing. This is why writing a single article usually take several hours from me and usually run more than 1000 words. But I like writing articles that serve as a complete guide. Moreover that’s what to expect from a theme-based site.

    I know some people have the opinion that readers don’t take the time to read long articles, but I believe that a reader who doesn’t take the time to read a full article, doesn’t need the information in that article or doesn’t find something new about it because I know that if an article interests me, I don’t only take the time to read the full article but also the comments to see if there’s an add value that I can benefit from.

    A true example is when I read your article on list building and how to set up an account at aweber (by the way, that was a good job you did!). At that time I was looking for some help on list building which was why I did a research and found your site from Google. I read through all comments after reading the article and found a really helpful information. Some commentators mentioned that they use Mailchimp, that it was free for first 500 suscribers and very good. I visited the site to realize it is actually free for first 1000 subscribers, which is great. Now I use Mailchimp for follow-up on those who download the free trial version of my book.

    This is how I judge my readers. I know I may be wrong but if someone visits my site and found a detailed article on a given subject but scans through it and closes the page, then the article wasn’t met for him or her.

    I write for those who really want to be properly guided, which is another thing. You must know the audience you write for, you can’t win everyone.

    Just by the way, pillar articles works well for social bookmarking.

    So if I was aware of your challenge it may have been difficult to choose which of my pillar articles to submit.

    Anyway, this page for me is a great resource as I have found from the articles submitted some topics of interest to me. So I have bookmarked this page, from time to time I will come to it to read the articles that interest me.

    As for your next challenge, I’ll love to join IF I can come up with a good list to do. I am not into list posts at all, I believe in all my site content I have just one list post which I even doubt will pass for a list post as each item mentioned where followed with a detailed explaination. That’s just how I am. You can tell from this comment that I like providing explanation ensuring the next person gets all the details. This makes list posts less appealing to me even with all the benefits people claim it has.

    Easy to scan, going viral and so on. Most list posts don’t offer much value. They just list and not tell the reader how to go about the item listed or point made. Like writing ‘100 ways to build links to your blog fast’ It will just be an article with listed items and no guide. Like which of those 100 ways are more rewarding and the reader should put more efforts in. Or the proper way to go about each of them (that can’t be in one article obviously).

    My point about list posts is that you don’t know who is reading it. It could be a complete beginner that would have appreciated more help. And some are completely misleading. I once read something similar to the post title example above and most of the sources the writer mentioned where either nofollow or out of date. And I could tell because I had some experience, what if I didn’t? This could be said to be responsible for why many fail online – so much half-baked information.

    So as we strive to increase backlinks to our site and traffic, let’s not forget to offer value and consider the different people reading your content. Contrary to what many think that list post go viral, I for one is always fast to move on what I read some of them.

    Having said that, it will be nice to see how this challenge turns out. I will brainstorm to see if I can create a list post that offers value. If not I’ll just wait and see what others submit and read the ones that interests me.

    Keep up the good work Pat.

  • Alex Neill

    Hey Pat

    Wow that is one GIANT list of pillar posts, I have not even written one yet I dont think, but you have gave me some really great tips, so I best get my thinking cap on.

    Too many posts for me to read right now, but I have bookmarked the page, so I can read at least one of the post each day and learn as much as I can about blogging from you.

    Thanks Pat, you rock!


  • Lee Cole

    Hi Pat! Very timely post. I started a new blog, which is more of an authority blog as opposed to a small niche blog. I was just about to start writing some good pillar content when I read this post. Thanks!

  • Jenny

    Sweet. Glad to be part of the challenge. :)

    Rock on.

  • Kevin

    Submitted by article, and waiting patiently to read others!

  • Ryan Renfrew @LifestyleDesign

    What uuuuuuup Pat,

    I love number posts.

    Whats your favourite number?


  • Facemot

    I Like your post about How To Make Money :)

  • Nicolas

    Great post Pat!
    And thanks for including me in your list.

  • Paul Kirtley

    Hey Pat

    What a great list of pillar articles. There’s so much knowledge out there. I’m proud to have been a part of it.

    I’m looking forward to submitting something in the next challenge!



  • Matthew Needham

    Hi Pat, really enjoyed this post, although I didn’t take part in the challenge. I think you’re right, the title is so important. I’m putting a lot more effort into those in 2011.

    You’ve also given me a great idea for my own weekly round up post – a call to action and reader challenge. Maybe not weekly, but at least monthly.

    Thanks, as ever, for the inspiration.

  • Colin Harrison

    Another top post Pat well done.

    I’m a direct marketer by trade, and whenever I tested direct mail with list of facts or benefits, odd numbers always got better response – our theory was that, for example, 5 sounds a little contrived, whereas, say, 6 sounds more natural. Whether that’s the case online is another matter……


  • John

    I just created a post about ’10 blogging babes to keep an eye out for in 2011′. I did that off the back of listening to one of your podcasts with Corbett Barr. That really got me to take some action and listening to you both really made my 9-5 job less dull. Taking headphones to work is a must!!

  • Trever Clark | Axis of Awesome Blog

    I’ve already written a few list posts, and they always seem to be my most popular ones. I had one post that got me 500 unique visits in one day, which was a hell of a lot for my blog. I missed the last challenge, but I’m definitely up for this one. It’s on!

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  • E L

    I like the comment above about using an odd (unusual) number for your lists- like 11 or 22. I will use that.

  • Faith

    Hi Pat,

    I’m wondering where we send submissions for the new contest? And do they have to be new lists or can they be “older?”

    Pillar articles and Lists are definitely where it’s at when giving great value for free and gaining trust online!


  • Shayla Ebsen

    Hi Pat,
    I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful information you provide here and in your podcast episodes. I recently discovered your podcast and was ecstatic to finally receive the information and motivation I’ve been searching for to get started in website creation.

    Thanks again!

  • Mario

    Pat: Would you accept post written in Spanish?

    • Pat

      Sure, of course Mario! Thanks for asking :)

  • John McNally

    I’m up for the challenge Pat. I like list posts, both reading AND writing them. Here are 3 reasons I like list posts.

    1)They’re easy.
    2)They’re interesting.
    3) Anything can be made into a list.

    Leamington Spa, England

  • Spencer Corzine


    We just stared our website and decided to breakup our FOUR Pillars into four separate items of content to offer people when they become subscribers. I can’t tell you how much valuable information we garner from you site. Thank you for the wonderful information you provide.

  • Bryan @ Free At Home Jobs

    Hey Pat – Just wanted to say thanks for including my post! Definitely quite the list, but all look like great articles. There are a few that I’m on my way to check out now. Maybe I’ll find a few more valuable blogs to add to my “follow” list?

  • Art of Podcasting

    Hey Pat,

    It’s no wonder your blog is one of my favorite places to stalk! Looks like there is plenty of time for the next challenge….I’ll batten down the hatches in the man cave for the next five weeks. That should be just enough time for me to read every single book, internet article, and blog post that has ever been written. EVER…. Hopefully I can take this research and produce a noteworthy entry for your next reader challenge!

    Fasting starts today….

    Count me in!!

    Cheers – Quin

  • garry

    OK Pat,
    I’m now ready for one.
    Put me as a contender.

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  • lailah

    this is a fantastic post, for a beginner like me I could use all the tips said here. Hope you share more and help people like me.

  • Dwight anthony

    Great list of pillar articles Pat, I plan to read a few of these as I have some time.

    Dwight Anthony
    Financially Elite Blog dot Com

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  • Brett

    I wrote some programming tutorials in 2005. It’s been cool to see the way they’ve acquired dozens of natural backlinks over the years (and got in the top 3 search results pretty much by themselves).

  • Kyle

    It’s been fun to find good rankings with some of the music posts I’ve done on smaller, localized bands. That’s organic traffic at it’s finest: covering bands that start small and end big, creating traffic to my work :)

    My latest endeavor is in the passive income niche. I see your blog benefiting my efforts immensely. Thanks for everything you do, Pat!


  • Steven

    Hey pat,
    Amazing post you got here, I did pillar articles for some of my posts and my traffic increased by a good amount! Thank you so much for always helping me =)


    • BA pass

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