One of the ways crafters and artists promote themselves and boost visibility is by sharing their skills in tutorials. It's a great idea to post tutorials on your own blog.
Your tutorial might break down a simple creative technique for beginners, explain an advanced project for peers in your niche, or detail a social media or business process that's worked for you. Meylah's own Byte-Syze Learning tutorials are a great example – they range from how to make memorable product tags and thank-you notes, to how to customize your Twitter profile. Anything that could help or solve a problem for others!
But writing a tutorial is a bit like writing a good recipe. You want people to end up feeling great about learning something new, rather than wasting time on a half-baked project. Tutorials should be clear, well-illustrated and tested. So, here are 8 great tips to writing tutorials!
1. Determine the Audience and Skill Level
Think about who you're targeting with the tutorial – are they beginners, intermediates or experts? Can anyone do this, or is there a technique they need to be familiar with before trying it? Write an introduction that welcomes the audience and tells them what they'll get out of the tutorial. If this is a more advanced project, refer the reader to resources for learning the prerequisite techniques or skills involved.
2. Provide a Roadmap
One great way to do this is to provide a photo of the finished product at the top of your tutorial (like the one of these product tags above). This will help get readers excited about the project. Depending on the kind of project you're teaching, you may want to give people some idea of the time and cost involved. In terms of time, letting people know whether this is a five-minute, 2-hour or 2-day task is a great idea. Similarly, in terms of cost, it's nice to give some indication of whether the materials amount to $10 or $50. And if the tutorial relies on stuff that people generally have around the house, it's good to highlight that!
3. Show or List the Materials Needed
Gathering your tutorial "ingredients" together for a group shot, like the one in Dionne's Byte-Syze Learning tutorial on product tags, will really help the reader get an idea of what's involved. A list of materials and tools is also necessary – just as it is when you're following a recipe. Also, be specific about the materials, in terms of sizes, brands and where to get, rent, borrow or substitute them. Anything you can do to make it more user-friendly will help.
4. Eliminate Obstacles, like Jargon
If you want your tutorial to be as inclusive and easy-to-follow as possible, explain or eliminate jargon associated with the craft or artistic discipline. Is your reader the type of person who will know what "gauge" refers to, or what "grosgrain" ribbon is? It's also a great idea to hyperlink these words to explanations, so that readers can quickly get answers to their questions.
5. Illustrate, Illustrate, Illustrate
Illustrating each step saves work for you and the reader. Posting photos easily communicates each instruction (which can be difficult to express in words), and reassures the reader that they're on the right track. Images also help break up text, and will make the tutorial more visually appealing.
Dionne Christiansen, who has written many of Meylah's Byte Syze Learning tutorials, advises thinking through the steps of the tutorial and planning what you'll photograph. She also suggests taking photos in natural light, and cropping the finished product to focus on what's relevant. The photo above comes from Dionne's tutorial on product tags.
If you're illustrating a technical process, you can use screenshots (Wait! There's some jargon!) to help guide readers through it. Screenshots are images that capture what's on your computer screen. Here is a video tutorial on how to capture and use screenshots.
6. Break Down Steps and Keep Sentences Short
Keep each step simple and consumable. Name each step with a number and bolded phrase, and leave a space after each step. This will help the reader move through the information more easily.
7. Find a Guinea Pig to Test It
Once you've finished the tutorial, ask someone to test it or, at the very least, to read it. You'll get a better idea of whether someone can follow it. You should also read it over yourself, making sure all the materials you've listed are referred to in the instructions, and checking whether you've forgotten any steps.
8. Title and Post It
The tutorial should ideally have a title that contains the keywords that help people find it, as well as a little pizzazz. So, a tutorial on basket-weaving could be 'How To Weave a Basket in 10 Steps' or 'How To Weave a Basket While Watching TV.' Both titles contain the keywords, as well as a phrase that markets the simplicity of the tutorial. Once you've got a title, post it to your blog!
Main image and image of guinea pig courtesy of Shutterstock.com