How Do You Do A How To #Blogtacular Chat

How to and tutorial posts are popular for readers and writers a like, but as anyone who has attempted one knows, they are a lot of work to pull together. Our Blogtacular chat on the 26th of February covered how to create great tutorials and how to make them easier.

You can read the full chat on our Storify.

Our chatters started out by talking about what makes a great How To:

  • Clean design, simple instructions and a good balance of images and text. @Moreaboutcat
  • Something different and unique. There are many How to posts that are common sense/used. @Corinne
  • Break it down to teeny-tiny foolproof steps. @CorinnaGB
  • A desirable finished project @AndiSatt

Overwhelmingly, bloggers felt that clear photos were the key to a great tutorial.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 11.18.27Video tutorials received a bit more of a split with some people loving them and others finding them difficult to follow.  However, those who did like them felt that the keys to good videos were:

  • I get put off if the video is too long and there is lots of faffing. @LovingOurPics
  • I’d probably say 5 minutes max for me. @MoreAboutCat
Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 11.27.45

Great writing can be hard for tutorials, but some of the top tips:

  • I break it all down step by step…a short explanation without too much faff. @ElistonButton
  • I like throwing in some personality, otherwise they can get boring. @onetenzeroseven
  • Trial it out before posting. @jessicaasims
  • Break it down to bullet points or paragraphs – no long sentences- and read it aloud for a sense check. @CarieMayMakes
  • Address the reader directly and use colloquial language. Don’t be like a harsh teacher. @itwasweekend
  • Get someone who doesn’t normally craft/cook/tech and it will show up any weaknesses. @Blogtcaular
  • Know your audience! Will they know technical terms or will you have to describe the technique. @AndiSatt
  • Edit, edit and edit. Its amazing how many mistakes get through. @randomly_happy

What are the pitfalls to watch out for in written instructions?

  • Don’t assume the writer knows what you are talking about. Explain everything in detail. @randomly_happy
  • Relying on telepathy to fill the gaps because you are too close to the project. @CarieMayMakes
  • Forgetting a vital step. I see it happening a lot. @Littlegreenshed
  • Typos can really throw people off in How Tos more than they can in other posts. @Katgold
  • Taking time is more important than knocking out lots of content. @randomly_happy
  • Referring to something you don’t link to. @CapturebyLucy

With photos being so important, what makes for great tutorial photos?

  • Clarity is key. Styling can come in product shots. I use plain white background + natural light. Boring byt effective. @randomly_happy
  • Clear uncluttered photos, not overwhelmed by the styling. @CarieMayMakes
  • Showing the process for any complex steps, not just the result of the steps. @AndiSatt
  • When the project isn’t too big to make it cost prohibitive, I’ll work up each step separately. That lets me shoot the whole thing in one go, but it also lets me do the crafty bit at night. @AndiSatt

How do you transition from blog tutorials to selling tutorials and patterns?

  • Have more value in the paid version, eg more patterns, extra useful stuff. @LovingOurPics
  • Make products you sell for a more complex project or a more advanced crafter. This will entice people to pay.  @AndiSatt
  • Ravelry and Etsy are natural steps for crafters to start selling their How Tos. . @Katgold

What are your top tips for getting How Tos to market themselves?

  • Clear and well-styled photo of the finished product + simple and engaging text overlay. @randomly_happy
  • Also and engaging blog title that translates well to Pinterest, like “8 Easy Steps to X” @randomly_happy

Love blogging? Check out our #blogtacular twitter chat every Wednesday night at 9pm.