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Write an A+ Tutorial Part Two

photo by Ant Smith

Welcome to the second part of my Write an A+ Tutorial series.  In Part One, I explained how a teacher’s lesson plan parallels with the process of writing a successful tutorial and overviewed the four elements of  lesson plan: Introduction, Objective, Materials, and Procedure.  Part Two will focus on the procedure and how to write the step-by-step of your tutorial.

 

BEFORE YOU WRITE

Know Your Audience.

It is so important to remember that whenever you write a tutorial the audience is the most important element. You are writing for them, to them, and because of them. So keep those beautiful readers in mind throughout the writing process.  Keep in mind:

  • Different people learn best in different ways: by reading, from photos and graphics, or through demonstration.  The best way to accommodate a wide audience is to cater to ALL of these methods of learning.  This means including clear, concise instructions; meaningful, composed photos; and even, gasp, video tutorials.
  • Vocab! Some readers may not be familiar with all your terminology, so define any new terms when necessary.
  • How can you engage your students with the tutorial? Try to work in a nod to popular culture or current events.   If you know your readers are primarily moms, add in a cute child anecdote.   You want to try to personalize the tutorial as much as is possible when writing in a public forum.

 

Know Your Content.

To write an A+ tutorial, you have to be at least a B+ student of your content.  You don’t have to have a Master’s degree in Folk Art, but you should have a command of the processes and tools required to complete the tutorial.

  • This should go without saying, but DON’T write a tutorial for something you have never done.
  • If your tute is for a process or project you just developed, try it more than once to make sure it is repeatable.
  • Know your content well enough that you are prepared to answer questions about steps, materials, results, your outfit, etc.

 

 

TIME TO WRITE THE TUTORIAL  (FINALLY!)

Formatting makes the tutorial user-friendly.  Use formatting like bulleted points, numbered steps, or sections with subheadings, and highlight important information with bold type or caps.  Make it easy for your reader to walk away from the computer, accomplish the step you just wrote, and easily jump back into reading the tutorial.

Write in step-by-step order.  Take your readers through the project exactly how you did it, in the correct order  — without tangents.  Insert the picture of a step just above where you explain how to do it.

Break down the process into simple steps.  When in doubt, break a complicated step down into multiple parts.  I know titles like “Arranging Flowers in Three Steps” get clicks, but if those three steps are overcomplicated and incomprehensible, your tutorial has failed.  And so will your readers.

Be clear. Don’t assume your readers know what you know.  Be as absolutely clear as you can, and more information is better than less.

Borrow another set of eyes.  If you aren’t sure that your tutorial is as clear as it should be, ask a friend or colleague (preferably one who isn’t a craft expert) to give the tute a quick once over.  If there are any parts of the tutorial that are unclear to them, you can adjust.  If everything seems a-ok to them, your tutorial is set to publish!

 

I know this seems like a LOT of work in order to publish one tutorial, and it is.  But it is a process that becomes a habit very quickly.  If you work through the four parts of the lesson plan each time you write a tutorial, before you know it you will be writing A+ tutorials without even having to think about it!

Do you have any tutorial-writing tips that I missed?

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4 Responses to “Write an A+ Tutorial Part Two”

  1. These are great tips Jess! One other thing I want to mention: Have a picture of your FINISHED product FIRST. People need to be hooked immediately without having to scroll to the end of all your steps.

  2. Yvette says:

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve started putting tutorials on my blog but I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong. I haven’t had many hits but I think I’ve pretty much followed your instruction. Maybe it’s my pictures?

  3. Anna K. says:

    So, I’ve pinned both parts of this awesome article and will be using it for help in the days ahead. I’m doing my first guest post on another blog(EEK!)and it’s going to be a Christmas Goody tutorial.

    Something that I’ve noticed lately from bloggers who are adept at creating tutorials is that they include at least one photo collage of the different stages of their creation (complete with title and watermark, of course). This seems to drive lots of traffic their way via social outlets.

    Thanks for sharing and, yes, educating this blogger!
    -Anna K.

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