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If you’re wondering how to write a tutorial that your readers will enjoy while still delivering value, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn about the crucial elements of a good tutorial and how to craft one yourself.
Effective tutorials tend to follow a specific framework. They take the reader by the hand and lead them through strategic steps, which can be categorized as follows:
- “This is why you’re here”
- “This is what you’re going to learn”
- “This is how to do it”
- “This is what you just learned”
Number three will be the core step of your tutorial, as it includes the actual information that the reader came to your site for. The way that you connect those four elements will determine the quality of your tutorial and how valuable it will be to your readers.
With the above structure in mind, you can now begin planning your tutorial. There are some important elements to keep in mind.
Be in tune with the reader’s expectations
Your readers expect a certain outcome from your tutorial. Usually, they want to be able to perform a specific task in a certain way.
This means that you cannot afford to get off topic and cover things that are only loosely related to it. Visitors aren’t interested in that; they want a straightforward solution to whatever their problem is, and they need it fast!
For example, if someone is searching for “how to record a podcast,” then this is exactly what they want to learn. They don’t need recommendations for which microphone to use; you can assume they already addressed that issue, and so on.
Before you write a tutorial, put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Imagine the scenario they’re in and what they want to learn, as opposed to just creating content based on what you’d prefer to teach them.
Get to the core of the problem
When educating others, address the most crucial aspects of the problem as quickly as possible.
People look for tutorials when they’re stuck on a particular step of a process. Their struggles with difficult tasks drove them to seek help in the first place.
Identify what their specific issues are, and cover them in depth. After all, the urgency that drove them to your tutorial is the same urgency that may take them away from it if they can’t quickly find the information they’re looking for.
A good tutorial can appear very different from a typical article or blog post.
- Use short paragraphs. The shorter, the better.
The reader is likely switching back and forth between reading your tutorial and taking action on your advice — the longer your paragraphs are, the tougher this is going to be for them.
- Use lists wherever applicable.
- Be direct with specific commands (“press the right-facing arrow, then click ‘go'”).
- Illustrate the process.
These three elements should overlap when you select a topic:
- Something that is useful to your readers
- Something that you have expertise in or can research effectively
- Something related to your business or website
At the end of the day, you’re helping out the reader, but you’re also building authority in your niche.
Start by identifying individual issues and challenges that your readers likely struggle with.
Then, check to see if there are existing resources on these topics by running them through a search engine. Read the top three existing tutorials. Can you create a better one? If so, start with that and go through the process described above.