By the time someone reads a how-to guide, he or she is probably frustrated, annoyed, and at the end of his or her rope. Your job is to make the how-to guide the last and best source of help for the reader. To do that, you want your readers to obtain all the answers they are looking for within the guide you create for them.
How should you write a how-to-guide? What factors should you consider?
1. Identify the topic
What topic do you intend to tackle within your how-to guide? Are you familiar with the topic? Is the topic specific enough?
When people search online for a guide, they want very specific answers. Your article should provide that answer in the most detailed way possible. Being familiar with the topic you write about is also important. You cannot teach someone to do what you do not know.
For example, a guide on “how to knit” is simply not good enough. One can practically knit anything. A better topic would be “how to knit a bag.” The latter is specific enough to eliminate everyone else looking to learn how to knit other items, like booties, sweaters, and such.
2. Identify your audience
You must identify your audience very early on. Whom do you intend to help? What kind of knowledge should your audience have?
Some guides are technical. These may be intended for people with background knowledge on a certain topic. Other people may just want something simple that is written in non-technical terms.
For example, if you intend to write for an audience that has very little knowledge in knitting, your guide should have appropriate content. Your “how to knit a bag” guide should define and explain the very basic stitches in knitting, such as the “knit and purl stitches.”
3. Write your content logically
A how-to guide must be logical. The first thing you need to write is your chosen topic of course. The order that comes after that will depend solely on the kind of guide that you intend to write.
Regardless of what you choose to write about, remember:
· Your content should follow a logical course. In a knitting guide for example, choosing the right wool threads should come before knitting techniques. Casting your stitches should also come before the actual knitting. Every instruction must have its place.
· Consider using numbered sub topics and bulleted instructions arranged in the right order. Your readers must be able to follow each instruction to its conclusion systematically to avoid confusion.
· Be specific when writing each instruction; use a specific term every time instead of a general term. For example telling your readers to cast “many” stitches is a very bad idea. Instead tell them to cast say, “200” stitches.
· Provide additional tips for clarification. You want people to gain an understanding of what they are doing.
· Proofread and edit your how-to guide after you have finished. A frustrated reader does not want to have to decipher what your instructions are. Errors are a huge turn off.
4. Use Visual Aids
In order for your readers to know if what they are doing is correct, they need visual aids. You should therefore provide as many images as possible for each major instruction to clearly show them what needs to be done.
5. Test Your Guide
When your guide is done, have someone follow it systematically to ensure that every instruction is clear. You can even do the trial on your own if there is no one to help you out. Refine what you have written and retest it until you have the required results.
When your how-to guide provides a specific solution to a problem, your readers will come to view you as trustworthy. This form of content marketing is therefore one that can help you attract a very loyal following.