How To Write Great Tutorials – 5 Key Points To Include


How To Write Great Tutorials – 5 Key Points To Include

Tutorials are fantastic types of content to publish on your site.  People are always looking for information on how to do something, so if you can provide that information in an interesting, helpful and, more importantly, easy to follow way, then you can attract quite a bit of traffic.  But how do you write great tutorials?  Well we will show you.

What Makes A Great Tutorial?

Like I say, tutorials need (ideally) 3 things;

  1. Be helpful,
  2. Be interesting,
  3. Be easy to follow.

It may sound simple, but actually creating a tutorial that is all of these things is quite difficult.

Tutorials Need To Be Helpful

Your tutorial needs to be on a subject that people want.  It has to help them do something; otherwise they won’t stick around for long.

Whatever niche you have built your site around, think about what things people want to learn about.  Always think from the perspective of a complete novice, what would someone totally new to the subject want to learn about.

Take OnlineIncomeTeacher for example.  People who are totally new to blogging or who have just setup their very first site have lots of questions that they want answering.  They would want to know;

You will (hopefully) know your industry, but others may not.  Use that knowledge and experience to create a tutorial that will help people.

Tutorials Need To Be Interesting

Just because your tutorial is “helpful”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that people will stick around and read it.  You have to make them interesting to people and encourage them to read more.

Now a lot of this comes down to how you structure your posts (more on that below), but you also have to write it from the readers perspective.  Instead of simply going through each step (Step A > Step B > Step C…), you need to explain “why” you are doing it.  Your readers will get a lot more out of your tutorial if you can explain “why” it is they are doing each step.  Remember, just because you know, it doesn’t mean they will.

Think about the questions they may have at each step that you talk about.

  • Why do I do it like that?
  • What is the benefit of doing it this way?
  • What other methods can I use?

If you can answer each question they may have as you go along, you will keep your readers interested.  If on the other hand they want to know more, or get lost, they will simply go elsewhere for the answers.

Tutorials Need To Be Easy To Follow

Your tutorial needs to be super easy to follow.  This links in closely with answering people’s questions as you go along, but you also need to write it out in clear stages.

Always start from the beginning for complete novices, or at the very least link to your other existing posts that explain more.  If you can work your way through each step (1, 2, 3, 4, 5,) people will find it much easier to follow.

If on the other hand (and I see it happen a lot) you jump stages (1, 2, 6, 7, 10) then it is very easy for people to get lost and confused.  Make people feel like that and they won’t stick around for long.

For people who know how to do certain stages, they will be able to skim through your tutorial to find what they are looking for and learn more about that.  Much better to include more information than less – you don’t know what level people are at, so assume that they are all novices.

How To Structure Your Tutorials

Now that you know about the 3 things that make a good tutorial, how do you go about structuring and writing it out?

First-things-first, list out what questions/stages you want to go through.  Arrange these in the order that they naturally flow in (1, 2, 3, 4…).  By doing this at the beginning you can see straight away how your tutorial will flow.

Quick Tip: Actually include the questions people may have.  These can make great subheadings and encourage people to keep reading your tutorial, as naturally they may have the same questions.  Use them within your writing and try to answer them for people.  If you notice, I have tried to do the same thing within this very post.

Now, the best posts online aren’t simply written, they will also include lots of images and/or video to help.

Include Images

A picture says a thousand words

Whilst you can explain something in great detail with simple words, adding images can dramatically help people to understand what you are talking about.

Let’s say you were writing a tutorial on WordPress and you wanted to show them where something was.  A screenshot would really help someone who isn’t familiar with the layout, so it would be a good idea to include one.  This is even more useful when you can add arrows or other visual indicators to help explain to readers what you are talking about.

Tutorial image example

Depending on the tutorial, I find that the more images you include, the better the tutorial is.  Don’t just include anything though; try to add images that relate to what you are saying.  Include images for key steps that you are talking about to make it easier to understand.

  • Screenshots,
  • Graphs & Charts,
  • Slideshows
  • Visual aids, etc.

The more you include, the better it is for your readers!

Include Video

What is better than images? Video of course!

Instead of simply talking through each stage of a tutorial, why not create a video tutorial where you can show exactly how to do something.  If given the chance, people will more likely choose to watch how to do something than read how to do something.  What’s better is that you can upload your video to YouTube and get traffic through that.

Here is an example of one of my videos.

Best Of Both Worlds

You may be reading this thinking “What’s the point of writing a tutorial then if I can simply make a video tutorial?

The whole aim of your site is to attract traffic, whether that is to get people to buy your product, click on your ads, signup to your list, etc.  THE single best way to get traffic is via search engines, and search engines find your content by crawling your site.

If you published a post/page with a single video (no written content), then search engines would have a pretty hard time assessing what your content was about.  They only have your post/page title to go on, so you are missing out on other on-page SEO factors.

If on the other hand you include a video WITH your written content, you increase your chances of people fining your article.

So, though it may be more work, written tutorials that include videos (preferably with the same title) are much better than ones without.  This goes for any multimedia content types though, not just videos.

Go Write Great Tutorials Yourself!

So, make sure your tutorials are;

  1. Helpful,
  2. Interesting,
  3. Easy to follow,
  4. Include lots of images,
  5. And includes a video (if possible).

Tutorials can take a bit of work to put together, but they are a great type of evergreen content that will bring in traffic over a long period.

What do you think makes a good tutorial?  What things do you like to add to your tutorials?  Please let us know your views in the comment section below.

About Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the founder and editor of OnlineIncomeTeacher. He is a Professional Blogger, SEO Consultant & Web Developer, running a number of sites from the UK. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • Clair Trebes

    Great stuff matt! Love a good easy to follow tutorial, sometimes video works, sometimes written works. It’s great to repurpose content to fit both needs too – and your doubling your learning library too at the same time!

    I think a lot of people get scared when having to do a tutorial thinking “what if its rubbish” (I know I used too) – do it on something easy, that you understand, and once you realise its easy and you can do it that gives you the confidence to tackle others 🙂

    • Hi Clair,

      Totally agree! Was exactly the same myself when I first started. Probably am still a bit like that with video, but the more you do it, the more confidence you get.

      Tutorials are pretty easy to create really. As long as you cover everything step-by-step and explain things to total newbies, the rest is simply writing it up.