How-To articles will always be some of the most popular posts on your blog. Some will maintain a steady stream of visitors for years to come. So it’s important to learn to craft a killer how-to post. Do it right and you look like a rock star. Do it wrong and, well, you know…
Step 1: Pick A Good Topic
I’d love to be able to tell my readers how to code a WordPress theme because I know there are some out there who want this information. But I don’t know how to do it myself and I haven’t the time or the desire to learn. Of course, I could just rewrite some other blogger’s post, but what if he left out a step or two? I’d never know it, but my readers would when they tried to follow my directions and then I’d look like an idiot.
Choose a topic you’re familiar with, one you know inside and out and can easily explain to your readers. Remember, they must be able to follow your directions and complete the task successfully. Otherwise, you lose credibility.
Step 2: List The Steps
Jot down every single step. It might seem like common sense to you, but you’ve done it a few times – your readers haven’t. Don’t worry about explaining the steps yet, just make sure you’ve got them all on the list. Then, go over your list and make sure the steps are all in the proper order.
Step 3: Craft A Great Opening Paragraph
Use your opening paragraph to let your readers know you understand their problem. “Wouldn’t it be great if you could change the oil in your car yourself? You wouldn’t have to find a repair shop, you wouldn’t have to make an appointment, and you could save a ton of money. I’m going to show you step-by-step how you can change your own oil in 20 minutes with just a few household tools.”
Step 4: Provide Details For Each Step
Now, go back to each step to provide all the necessary details. However, be careful here. If you provide too many details your reader may be confused.
For example, it’s not necessary to explain the difference between 40-weight and 30-weight oil, but you do need to tell your reader how to determine which type of oil their car uses. If you want to give them that additional information, put it in a separate post and link to it.
Step 5: Craft A Closing Paragraph With A Call To Action
How-To articles are great lead-ins for a call to action to subscribe to your list. “If you liked this helpful How-To, subscribe to my newsletter for weekly DIY tips.” You could also tell your readers to tell you about their results in the comments, or remind them to share your article. The list is endless.
Step 6: Create An Attention-Grabbing Title
When you’re finished, go back and put a great title on your article. “How to change the oil in your car” is nice and it certainly tells the reader exactly what he’ll learn, but it doesn’t necessarily grab your attention. “How to change your own oil: 7 Simple steps to save you time and money” tells the reader not only what they’ll learn, but how they’ll benefit from the information.
Step 7: Preview And Edit
The key to writing killer how-to articles is to make sure your reader can really complete the task. Too many bloggers leave out a step – either inadvertently because they think it’s trivial or intentionally because they want the reader to buy their ebook to get the “rest of the story.” If necessary, write your article and then follow the steps yourself to make sure you didn’t leave anything out.