How To Really Write About Stuff That Matters

Do Something That Matters

Mediocre Blogging Advice

Write about stuff that matters.

That piece of “blogging advice” has been going around for the last few months and unfortunately, like most blogging advice, it’s repeated, retweeted and passed on and on by twitter drones without much thought other than “I liked it because it was written by someone I think I should like.”

If you haven’t heard what I’m talking about, the advice goes something like this, “Write about stuff that matters, gain an audience, profit.”

It’s not terrible advice, but all it is doing is advocating more talking and if there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s more talking. There’s an endless supply of talking [especially in the blogosphere], but the number of people actually doing something significant is a lot smaller and there’s a very good reason for that. Writing, talking and planning are easy. Doing is hard.

A Novel Idea

What if instead of just writing about “stuff that matters”, you actually did something that mattered? The first time I ever met Chris Guillebeau, I almost peed my pants. After I realized he was a normal human being, we talked and afterward I sent him an email with the concept for the blog, my plans and what I had in mind. I wanted to stretch my boundaries, push my limits and do the impossible and I wanted to see what he thought of it. He responded in usual Chris Guillebeau fashion by being supportive and answering my questions, but it was the last piece of encouragement he wrote that had the most impact on me.

Onwards and updwards – keep doing impossible (or at least meaningful) things.  All best. – cg

Stuff That Matters

When’s the last time you’ve done something that matters? Something that’s meaningful? Chris is doing something meaningful. He’s traveling the world, but he’s also building wells for people in Africa who don’t have clean water. Last week he raised over $24,000 in 3 days for the AONC Charity Water project. That’s 5 wells and clean water for over 1,000 people [significant tip of the hat Karol & Adam for organizing the project].

I have a lot of things on my impossible list. Since Chris sent me that email back in April, I’ve been intentional about not only doing impossible things, but meaningful things. Whether that’s lending on kiva, or helping people doing stuff that matters by saying yes when I can, I intentionally seek out those opportunities.

Are you doing meaningful things? It’s a good question to ask yourself frequently. When’s the last time you:

If you just write about “stuff that matters”, but never actually do anything meaningful, what’s the point?

Do Something

I’ve done a lot of free marketing consulting lately for some friends doing some awesome things. One is starting an awesome non-profit movement and one is creating a business model completely different from anything you’ve ever seen before.

Here’s a not-so-secret secret: I hate doing free consulting. It’s not because I don’t make any money on it [money isn’t an issue for me], but most of the time people just don’t care about something they haven’t monetarily invested in. There’s no buy-in. They talk all day, but they don’t do actually do anything.

So why do I have I been helping these guys out even though there’s nothing in it for me? Simple. These guys are doers and they’re doing stuff that matters.

  • My friend starting the non-profit movement is doing stuff that matters. He’s tackling an issue that literally affects millions of Americans and countless non-Americans as well and he’s tackling it in a brand new way.
  • My friend creating a brand new business model is doing stuff that matters. He’s designing his business to actually benefit other people and help them apply information, rather than just consume it, do nothing and line his wallet with cash.

They’re doing stuff that matters. What they’re doing is going to help people. These guys aren’t just talking, they’re doing. That’s why I offered help to them out.

Stop applying mediocre “blogging advice” and only writing about “stuff that matters” because you think it does. There’s enough people out there writing, writing and writing some more about “stuff that matters” and it’s all just empty words. If you want to do something exceptional, take some life advice and start doing stuff that matters AND THEN write about it. It’ll make your blog [and your life] a lot more interesting.

If you need help with some meaningful work you’re working on, take me up on my yes policy, I’d be glad to see what I can do.

If this post helps you do something that matters, I’d love for you to share it with your friends wherever they happen to hang out. The world needs more people willing to do stuff that matters. As always, you can always sign up for updates via RSS [awesome] or join the gang of impossible doers on the best email newsletter in the universe and get updates direct to your inbox [even more awesome].

[Special Thanks To Hugh]

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  1. says

    Joel, you are absolutely one of my favorite people online. Having had extensive conversations with you (even one in person), I know that what you write about is really what you think and feel.

    I’m glad to see someone call out the currently accepted advice. It’s NOT good advice just because a bunch of people say it. In fact, anyone wanting to REALLY start a business or movement (or just plain do anything) needs to strongly reconsider the advice they have been taking as law from most of the internet gurus and A-Listers.

    I’m tired of blog zombies eating my brains (or at least what comes out of them) without doing anything themselves!!

    • says

      It’s NOT good advice just because a bunch of people say it.

      I think the lesson here is question everything (even the things coming from people who are questioning everything). Keep doing stuff that matters David =)

  2. Stephanie M at Together In Food says

    Couldn’t agree more! The times I am most inspired to write–and when it comes easiest–are when I have done something I loved or that I learned from that I want to share with others in case it energizes them too. Like taking a cooking class in Italy (one of my bucket list items), going to a food heroes event by myself and getting invited to tour an organic orchard as a result, learning to can the first time by diving into putting up 30 lbs of tomatoes, and taking steps toward growing 80% of the produce we eat at home (all stories here on my blog for anyone interested: Thanks for this reminder, Joel!

    • says

      Thanks Stephanie. It’s pretty hard to sit down and try to divine something into writing. Writing gets a lot easier when you’ve gone out, done something and then talk about what you did and what you learned from it and share it with others.

  3. says

    Love it Joel,

    Although when I read this part: “If you haven’t heard what I’m talking about, the advice goes something like this, “Write about stuff that matters, gain an audience, profit.””

    All I could think about was the underpants gnomes from South Park.

    Phase 1, collect underpants.
    Phase 2, ????
    Phase 3, profit!

  4. Frank says


    Consistently putting our powerful stuff, great article.

    “Life is too short not to do something that matters.” I would add something to the end of that …”something that matters, TO YOU.”

    • says

      Thanks Frank. I always hope people are doing stuff because they want to do it, not because they think they should. You’re right, things tend to be more meaningful that way.

  5. says

    I think that if you do work that is meaningful to you… that the money will come eventually in some shape or form. If you do something in order to profit or because you want to make a quick buck, I think the work suffers as does the business.

    • says

      Doing work that is meaningful to you is great, but you also need customers so you need work that is also meaningful to them as well.

      If you’re looking to just do something you love, doing what you is meaningful to you can be very fulfilling, but if you want to build a business you’re going to also have to find some way for others to pay you. The key is to find the overlap where you can do meaningful work and others can get value out of it as well.

  6. says

    I love this article! it’s really hard for me to take the leap and do more with my blog because I feel like I’ll just be part of the noise, instead of the few that actually offers something meaningful. I want to do and lead by example, in my own quiet way (me a leader? It was never my personality type.) I love how socially conscious you are.. I think more people should be that way! I have lots of ideas but they’re often disjointed so I’m not sure how to take the first steps!

  7. says

    Hey dude, this is great – sorry it took me so long to come over. (Stops #49-53 of the tour took a lot out of me.)

    I agree that doing epic shit is superior to writing about it. If someone can do both, that’s nice… but if they have to choose one, get to the doing!

    Speaking of that, it seems like you’re doing great with both things. Keep it up…

    Yours in World Domination,



  1. […] Do something you’re passionate about and help someone else do something they’re passionate about. Take an action everyday towards  your goals and multiply yourself. Then stand back and prepare yourself to be amazed at what type of change is really possible. […]

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