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The Better Blogging Formula: Think, Do, Write

Posted By Guest Blogger 23rd of March 2011 Writing Content 0 Comments

This is a guest post by Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology.

The Better Blogging Formula: Think, Do, Write

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.

*Chirp… chirp*

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:

The Better Blogging Formula: Think, Do, Write

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?

Tyler Tervooren is a thinker, doer, and writer for a team of highly skilled risk takers at his blog, Advanced Riskology. Get his newsletter for more tips on how to be interesting.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. Tyler, I really enjoyed your article about the better blogging formula. I agree it’s important to think, do and write. And not leave the “do” out of writing. Many of us think of “doing” something and don’t “do” it. We must motivate ourselves and stay on track so we can accomplish things and become successful with blogging.

    To motivate ourselves we should think of positive outcomes of writing articles for our blogs. Such as, getting new subscribers, getting more traffic to our blog and maybe even earning more money as well. We could imagine our blogs becoming more popular and traffic growing everyday. We could imagine becoming the next popular blogger out there and people loving what we write. But we must “do” and not wait.

    • That’s a good point, Kate. Your thoughts can really be self fulfilling prophesies, so if you spend all your time thinking about how bad things are, things will probably end up bad. On the other hand, if you spend your time visualizing success, then you’ll probably end up getting that instead.

      • A little tip for those that day dream about success like myself, keep a pen and paper handy at all times or jot down short notes with your smart phone.

        More often than not, it’s life experiences that lead to amazing post ideas, so being prepared to record them is always a plus.

  2. Thanks for the article and I agree that you have to add a little bit of yourself into every post that you write otherwise no-one will have the interest in what you have to say that you want them to. You have to give people that reason to listen to you rather than others otherwise they won’t stick around.

  3. This is exactly the approach I’m taking, documenting my attempt to make $6,000/month from blogging but I set up a different blog to track my successes, failures and write reports on the progress.

    It adds a level of reality and people can actually see proof if your concepts work or not. Too many times you read advice and you think “Does this person even follow these tips?” “if not then why should I”.

    It also shows that you are taking it seriously and are passionate on the topic.

  4. I would agree here, a lot of blogs offer personal advice without including themselves in the post. I always try to write from my own perspective, if I’m preaching some ideal I always include how I came to the conclusion.

    There are too many people who dole out advice and you know they aren’t taking it themselves.

    • “There are too many people who dole out advice and you know they aren’t taking it themselves.”

      It’s usually pretty obvious right? And those blogs are completely unmemorable. The story behind any piece of advice is just as important as the advice itself, I think.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t really realise it until now, but I am doing this in about half my posts and it works great. Even the simplest topics get comments as long as I’ve done it myself and put up a picture.

    And now I’m off checking your blog because I like the way you write :)

  6. I agree with you Tyler. Besides the quality of the articles will be better, I am sure it will give an idea that the things we say and talk about are actually achievable to our readers.

    So, the readers will appreciate us more and will have no problem to support us and our blog. And in case they need some guidances, we will able to give proper and valid advises, not some “copy and paste” feedbacks.

  7. Great reminders here and I love your data to support it. I have always felt so much more confident writing on a topic after the “do” aspect, but it is nice to see that a close inspection shows they yield more than just good feelings in me.

    • That’s the other BIG benefit—you write with a lot more confidence because you have the experience to back up what you’re saying. People notice that.

  8. That’s really helpful. It’s interesting how adding a few simple rules to your head makes a big progress. We’re all lazy so we need them.

  9. I think you’ve made a really important point. I actually decided last month to only write about things I actually do. This means fewer posts, but I think they’ll be more valuable in the long run.

    I’m not sure if measuring the number of comments is a good way to measure success. On my “do” articles, I usually get at least a few comments of readers who found my page via a Google search because they have an issue with getting this to work. Many don’t even bother to read the post but simply ask their question. Which in many cases is just besides the point of the post.

    The result is uninteresting comments that add no value to the discussion.

    In fact, I’m currently even thinking of removing the comments entirely and possibly replacing them with a simple contact form which mentions my consultancy rates.

    Anyway, great article, it would be nice to have a graph showing the number of visitors over time. Although, it’ll probably show very similar data.

  10. I wonder if most of the beginner bloggers do this naturally? It seems that a lot of new bloggers write out of their experience. So, maybe they are experience a do/think/write (unintentional) blogging formula.

    Thank you so much for this. I realize that I need to be more proactive in the “thinking” part of the formula.


  11. I completely agree, but I was really surprised to see that much of a difference between the two writing styles!

  12. Very Awesome, Tyler!

    I’d love to see some examples of the two from your blog. Anyway you could pick a couple that exemplify this effect and post links for us?

  13. Exactly…Bingo!!!
    This is what I do almost-always. With my own experience, I can assure you that this strategy works best for blogs with tutorials in it….be it blogging/photography/cooking …anything. If you write your articles/tutorials after doing them yourself…you can answer almost any query/issue related to it, as you would have most probably faced it/tried to avoid it. And this is what helps you build an authority in your niche m/

  14. I usually just scan through these posts, but this was particularly useful. Doing the do, I like that, otherwise everything else you present is really just mental theory, and hasn’t been applied in the real world. I think it’s tangible in someone’s writing when they’ve actually gone the process or experience they’re writing about — I could just never put my finger on what. Turns out it’s the ones who take action who produce the best content. Good stuff.

  15. This article make you different from other blogger you write every thing new and every post touch the heart. Give inpireation to do something. Great post.

  16. I just wrote a blog today about how to start a vegetable garden. This will be my third planting season, so I have some experiences to talk about.

  17. Hmm, I think the problem most blog owners have then is that they don’t DO anything. They want to just sit around and talk hypothetically and get a ton of visitors from it. But those blogs are a dime a dozen and don’t stand out at all. Great little equation there. This would make any blog a lot more interesting to read because we all love case studies and seeing someone else who did something before we try it ourselves.

  18. I truly enjoy this article and can relate to my blogging skills *the chirp-chirp portion”.. Hahaha… Truly agree that an idea works better with personal experience added to it :)

  19. Interesting idea about ‘doing the do’, I’ll need to give that a try with my writing.

  20. A memorable formula, Tyler. You made me look at my posts and put them into five “do” categories in terms of frequency:
    1) Have done — the majority of my posts. Recaps, rants, passionate and funny
    2) Am doing — a close second. These are the “come along on my journey” posts
    3) Did not have anything to do with doing — a red flag for me; will now think twice about this type of purely musing posts
    4) Won’t do — I laid out what I won’t blog about and why (I won’t blog about food and I won’t give advice)
    5) How to/future “do’s” — I should probably increase the frequency of posts in this category

    One thing I noted is that comments and retweets are not my only gauge of blog success. We have lots of lurkers who benefit from our posts but who may never let us know. If I only went by which of my posts got the most comments, I’d be dashing off a lot of superfluous posts that, at the end of the day, would be about as fulfilling as the many speeches I ghostwrote over the course of my career. Blech.

  21. Thanks for the great advice, Tyler! I just realized what I’ve been doing wrong and will definitely try out the “think, do, write” formula!

  22. Thinking the Recipe, You gave me a new way of thinking

  23. What annoys me is when one of my quick, superficial posts becomes more popular than something I spent hours and hours working on. But that’s life, I suppose.

  24. This is the first ProBlogger article that’s grabbed me in a while. I like to think I’m doing the DO part, but I’m realizing I need to crush it more and write more about that part. Thanks, Tyler!

  25. Well I agree, DIY posts fetch more views, comments & thereby more exposure.

  26. I got an idea, I will use MS Project and Mind Maps for my posts.

    Thanks for the inspiring post.

  27. Think, do, write. I like this approach. Although it seems basic I know it is huge for me. I need to engage my readers more and have been trying to find ways of doing so.



  28. Great post! Posts where the author completely neglects to draw on personal experience can be so disengaging. For me as a reader it is the main thing that distinguishes a good blog post from just a page in a textbook or a Wikipedia article. And where the author is presenting themselves as an expert in that field it is especially unforgivable.

  29. I agree that the DO is the important thing, and since my blog is almost entirely how-to information for my niche (cooking on a sailboat or other boat), I like to think that yes, I’ve done what I write about. And I have, but . . .

    My best posts are the ones where I went through the DO again just before writing, taking photos and making notes of the little stuff to tell someone. It’s even better if I help a friend DO it — I can see where they have questions. Or if I’m recommending a product, not just knowing what I bought or used, but going back, looking on the web and acting like a purchaser but with the knowledge I now have — what features are important, what things sound important but in real life turned out not to be, what little things really pleased me or annoyed me?

    The important thing is to put yourself in your readers’ shoes (OK, most of my readers prefer bare feet . . .): what would you want to know? If you were trying to follow my “how-to,” what questions would you have?

    Thanks for making me think more about it — I guess I’d realized the importance of DO subconsciously, but your posts made me think more explicitly about how I approach my articles.

  30. Now that you say it, this post actually covers one of the reasons why I started my own food blog. When looking around on the web there were a whole lot of people publishing recipes in the think / write category. While their recipes were ok, they just seemed to lack credibility.

    This led me to start and continue to following a few people in the think / do /write category. It was these people that inspired me to have a go at it myself.

  31. Wow, that’s a great article! Thanks! I seem to have some things left to work on ;)

    Visit our blog for comments on social media marketing!

  32. Checking out Freevlog right now. Thanks for sharing the great tips.

  33. I can’t believe this, the chart really helped me understand just what you are getting at. We are so in a world of think do think do think throw it together that this would have never dawned on me. Instead of putting content out just to put it out, I’m going to make sure it’s quality over quantity. I so appreciate this and I live on this blog trying to catch up on all the articles–trying to keep up with several blogs of my own. THANK YOU

  34. This is a GREAT post! Very inspirational =) I love the chart that you included on your posts as well. I can’t wait to start using this. Thanks for writing!

  35. What would you suggest a news writer to make some bucks from news blogs? I’ve been a contributor to a news blog where my earning potential is related to the monthly revenue of the blog- Wanna increase it right….

  36. Timely, very timely. I know there’s an ingredient that’s missing in my writing. Didn’t know it was as simple as that.

    Thank you Tyler for making it so clear to me now.

  37. The thing that separates the information readers can find elsewhere from the information they can take away our sites is the personal flavor. There’s a ton of stuff out there about living authentically and risk taking, but it’s our personal journeys that people want.

    Story has been used for years to teach others. It helps to learn directly from someone who’s been there, done that, and is willing to give a realistic picture of the process. All of my blog topics originate from my life–conversations I’ve had, things I’ve tried, failures and victories. Anything else is painful, slow writing that results in painful, boring reading.

    I advise my students to tell the truth and tell it well, and the truth only comes from what we’ve lived. Everything else is a hypothesis.

  38. Great perspective Tyler. It is so easy to get caught up in keywords and miss the opportunity of sharing something to is truely unique. I try to do this with my blogs. When I write articles I will sometimes pick subjects that I am interested in and learn about this subject as I write. This article compels me to go back and review these articles, and add my perspective to the subjects and how I applied them in my life. Thanks for the insight.

  39. This process is a success because in order to know enough about what you are writing to actually make your post(s) have value, you need to have experienced your subject first-hand.

    It seems so obvious, but I know plenty of other blogger that will write about whatever they think will draw eyes to their page. It ends up being a waste of time and effort for both the blogger and their visitors.

  40. Neat! Making money blogging is an interesting way to make money online, you get to earn while enjoying the freedom to express your thoughts to the rest of the world. The only limit to making money with writing is your imagination.

  41. Thanks, That’s the secret to make own blog special

  42. Thanks for the nicely written post, great source of knowledge.

  43. I’ve been reading about blogging for almost 7 months now, which easily equals to hundreds of posts about blogging success.

    I just want you to know that this post is THE MOST VALUABLE post about blogging I’ve ever read so far.

    You rock…thank you!

  44. Nice article buddy, I have recently started blogging and after reading your articles I am improving day by day.
    thanks for sharing this. hopefully someday I would be as good as you If not better :)

  45. your concept and idea gave me a paradigm shift ! on blogging i thought Darren taught me every thing :P

  46. Thanks Tyler – I think everyone here is facing the same thing and your details explanation will help a lot of new readers that come to this page and your website.

    Specially when writers describe what they did and got success or failure after a topic is a key to improve each time.


  47. Thanks for the cool idea. I’ll find a way of including it in my blog on reading children’s books!

    It is all about “do” (reading aloud) anyway!

    Read Aloud Dad

  48. Another way to think of the Think, Do, Write method — it’s an article that is unique to YOU, because YOU can actually contribute to it in a meaningful way. AND, Google likes unique content as much as our readers . . .

  49. This post was so practically helpful. I have negotiated why some posts I feel more passionate about get such little comment response yet the ones I tell a story, (concisely with the humor that’s called my life) get more responses.

    Story telling from the “do” is where it’s at – THANKS!

  50. Excellent Post!!

    I have always liked the articles where the writer has DONE that thing and actually got good results. “Walk the talk” thing works for others.

    I liked this formula THINK DO WRITE. It might take some time to DO the thing and then write. But the impact is huge and positive and people instantly connect to you , and yes, only one article using this formula can do wonders for you.

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