This is a guest post by Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology.
Have you ever gotten an amazing idea for a blog post, spent hours putting it together, and then released your work of art to the world … only for it to fall flat on its face? No comments, no re-tweets, no interest whatsoever—just crickets chirping.
No worries if the answer is “yes.” It’s happened to me dozens of times. Maybe more. It’s so darn frustrating because you pour your heart and soul into your work, and get seemingly nothing in return for it.
I still suffer form this phenomenon occasionally, but it doesn’t happen often any more, because I’ve learned over the last two years (from some incredible bloggers like Darren, Jonathan Mead, Adam Baker, and Tammy Strobel) a blogging formula that practically guarantees success for any blogger who puts it to use.
It’s simple to understand, but actually using it proves challenging for writers working on deadlines and trying to balance life, work, blogging, and a million other things. But it pays off big for those who adopt it.
The think/do/write formula for blogging success
A big mistake that a lot of bloggers make, and I made for a long time, is that their whole writing process consists of only two steps:
- Think of a great topic.
- Write it, and hope for the best.
What’s missing from that process?
An authentic experience, that’s what—a story that, as a reader, makes me care that you were the one who wrote it. In this approach, there’s no story telling me why I shouldn’t just read one of the million other bloggers who could have written the same thing from the same information that you gathered.
By actually doing the things you want to write about, and reporting on the results, you add a whole new level of proprietary information that brings your blog post to life.
When you do this, all the humdrum theory is replaced by a real experience that shows people you have the authority to write on your topic. All of a sudden, people want to listen to you.
- Think of a great topic.
- Actually do something related to the topic.
- Write about the results from your own experience.
Last night, I went through all the articles of my nine-month-old blog and separated them into ones that were simple “think/write” posts, and the ones where I actually used the “think/do/write” formula. Then I compared the number of comments each one received. Look at the results:
I expected the think/do/write articles to fare better, but I didn’t realize that they’d average almost 100% better. That’s pretty telling, isn’t it?
If you blog about business or money, quit writing about how to make a million dollars online until you’ve actually done it. If you want to make a million dollars online, but haven’t yet, go make $10 and then report back on how you did it. Build up from there.
If you’re a travel blogger, write about the unique experiences you’ve actually had, rather than about the places you want to go but haven’t gotten to yet.
When Darren writes, he doesn’t publish posts about how he’d like to grow ProBlogger, or how he’d like to try an experiment on Digital Photography School. He goes and actually does it. Then, he comes back and shows you how he did it—and talks about why it did or didn’t work.
Think, do, write.
Doing the do
So, how do you actually do this process, when life is filled with so many balls to juggle? Here’s the process I use to make sure I’m not just doing stuff and writing about it, but doing important stuff that people will want to read about.
Create a personal goal
Why do you blog? It probably has to do with a lot more than just getting attention, right? You set out on a journey to inform the world about something, didn’t you?
In my case, I want to show the world all the benefits of risk taking. That means I set out on a regular basis to do things that most people think are too risky. The challenges are what keep me going, and keep things interesting on the blog.
You probably have some big goals for your blog, like getting to a certain number of subscribers or a particular amount of page views per month, but those are arbitrary goals. Unless you write specifically about blogging, no one really wants to read about those.
What challenges are you taking on that are related to your niche and would inspire your readers to do something similar?
Set a deadline
We lead busy lives, and the famous Parkinson’s Law says that however much time you allow yourself for a task—that’s how much time it will take to do it.
Let’s face it: if there’s no deadline, I’m probably not going to do it at all. If I give myself plenty of time, I’ll eventually get bored and probably give up. Or, the deadline will be so far away that the goal isn’t really compelling.
But what if I give myself a really short deadline that I’ll have to work my tail off to meet? Not only do I stay engaged, it’s a much better story for readers as well. Even if I fail, the story is fun to follow and people learn something.
Document the process
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done something I thought would be worth writing about only to realize that I never recorded any of the details. I end up struggling to make any sense out of it when I sit down at the keyboard.
Nowadays, I carry a small video camera almost everywhere I go, because who knows when the opportunity to capture something compelling will come along?
Don’t just write about what you’re doing. Find ways to incorporate video, audio, pictures, or other media into your story. Not everyone learns or makes connections by reading even though most of us, as bloggers, probably do.
Using mixed media in your blog posts gives readers a more complete picture and creates a deeper connection between you and them.
Edit the useless details
The age of reality TV and airing your life unedited is an interesting concept, and if every second of your life is like a soap opera, maybe that’s the best way to present yourself. But, for most of us, we’re just not that interesting 24 hours a day.
Focus on the most important aspects of your goal and what people really need to see/hear in order to:
- learn something, and
- make a connection with you.
Be useful and tell a good story, but don’t bore people with every little detail. Do your audience a favor and edit out all but the essential points.
Hype the important
If all that’s left is the most important pieces of the story, don’t hesitate to add dramatic effect. That’s part of being a good storyteller.
Sometimes, I have a hard time doing this myself because, when I look back on a story I’m telling, I’m seeing it from a new perspective—one of experience—that my readers don’t have access to yet. That makes me want to downplay interesting parts of the story because I now see it as routine. But, to someone living the experience for the first time through your words, they’re seeing it from a whole different angle.
Play it up, make it fun and don’t cheat them of the experience.
That’s my think/do/write formula for blogging success, but I’m just one person. How do you accomplish this with your own blog? Even more importantly, what you doing?