Spring is a great time to start new projects, whether it’s getting your garden in shape, cleaning out the garage or trying some new recipes. Blogs can be a great source of inspiration and guidance for these new endeavors, but not everyone has a background writing instruction manuals.
So if you’re looking to add a little “how to” content to your blog, here are some tips on creating plans everyone can follow:
Practice makes perfect
Before you try and tell someone else how to do something, make sure you’ve done it yourself a few times, taking notes along the way.
Tell them what they’ll need
Make sure your readers have on hand what’s required to complete the task you’re explaining BEFORE they get started. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you can’t finish up because you’re missing a tool or ingredient. And never assume they’ll have anything other than running water and electricity.
Break it down into tiny pieces
The smaller you can make each step, the easier it is to follow for the novice reader/doer. If something feels complex or is taking it too long, split it into multiple steps.
Order maintains order
Make sure your steps end up in the right order so your readers don’t end up having to do things over or wait around too long. For example, if you’re sharing a recipe, make sure “preheating the oven” comes well before “put it in the oven.”
Be action oriented
Every step should begin with a verb. The reader should be thinking about what they do every step of the way.
Whenever possible, make your instructions about “doing things” vs. “not doing things.”
Don’t be vague
Your readers may not be as well-versed in this topic as you are, so use specific, detailed language on anything questionable. Whether it’s a tool or a technique, you can’t assume your readers have the same knowledge baseline that you do.
Whenever possible, add some pictures, screen shots or illustrations to your tutorial. Even better, incorporate some annotations or arrows to point out the most important elements and reinforce your text.
Don’t be afraid to add a little color to your instructions, just don’t let the jokes and anecdotes get in the way of the task at hand.
Link and embed
Do you have a particular step that requires some technique or training? Or maybe there’s a great source for supplies you want to share with your readers? A great tutorial isn’t afraid to rely on other sources. Include links to relevant resources throughout your text, and if there’s a great video that shows off how to do something, just embed it right there in your post. You’re the authority for this project, and your readers will appreciate all of the extra goodies you can provide.
Always ask for feedback
While every blog post should ask for comments, it’s particularly important to ask for input on these types of pieces. Readers can point out any errors (so you can update things) or have their own tips and tricks to share with other fans trying things out.