Wednesday 30 October 2013

How To Write a Craft Tutorial for Your Blog: Getting Started

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be sharing some tips for writing craft tutorials. I started writing a blog post with a few quick tips and it turned out that I had so much I wanted to talk about that I've written a whole series of posts instead!

I wrote my first craft tutorial about five years ago - a "how to" for some felt flower hair pins templates. That first tutorial was very basic and didn't have any step by step photos or printable templates for the flowers, but people seemed to like it and I enjoyed writing it so I wrote some more.

Over the years I've gradually improved my tutorial-writing and have shared dozens of free tutorials here on my blog, had projects published in books and magazines and written two craft books... and I've picked up lots of tutorial-writing tips and tricks along the way. If you're just starting out writing tutorials on your blog or you've never tried writing one before I hope you'll find this series helpful. Do let me know if you have any questions :)

Some of my free craft tutorials


Why Write A Tutorial?

Posting free tutorials on your blog can be a great way to get some extra blog traffic or to get your blog noticed if you're just starting out - a big chunk of my blog's traffic comes from people searching from tutorials, or following links from Pinterest or from blogs that have featured my projects. It's also also a lovely way to share your crafting with your readers. Instead of just reading about you making something, they can make it too!

Writing a tutorial is also a fun creative challenge that can help you flex your designing and writing muscles, and hearing from someone that they've used your tutorial to make something is a really, really awesome feeling.

Before you Begin.

First of all, you need to decide what your tutorial is going to be for. If you've never written a tutorial before it's probably best to start with a simple project that doesn't involve lots of steps or complicated techniques. You can share some more ambitious projects later if you want to! 

Simple tutorials can actually end up being the most popular - people love beginner-friendly sewing projects or quick, crafty ideas that they can easily try at home. Remember: just because you know how to make something, it doesn't mean that everyone else does or that they would think of the idea.

One of my most popular tutorials at the moment is the felt Christmas tree ornament tutorial I shared last winter - it's a very simple pattern, but lots of fun to make (especially with kids who are just learning to sew). 

If you make crafty stuff to sell, you might be worried that writing a free tutorial means giving away all your trade secrets but you don't have to share a tutorial for what you sell. You could use an old design you no longer sell any more or an idea you had that didn't make financial sense as a product or that didn't fit in well with the rest of your range. If you discover you enjoy writing tutorials, your free projects can even become a "portfolio" of work you can use to try and get paid work writing craft tutorials.

Tutorial writing can also be a great way to let off some creative steam and make something that's just for fun and not for work - this is something I've always loved about my gift-wrapping tutorials, they're so different to the felt designs I've sold in my shops. Working on fun free tutorials have definitely helped me stay in love with crafting at times when I've felt a bit burned out by making the same thing over and over, or when my work schedule has been full of the boring stuff like doing my accounts.

My first tutorials were "how tos" for making things I was already making for myself and as gifts - felt flowers I wore in my hair for a fancy evening out, lavender sachets I made friends and neighbours, decorations I made to cheer up my flat at Christmas, etc. This was a great way for me to try out writing tutorials, as I was making the projects anyway!

Lavender Sachets

If you don't know what to make, try sparking some inspiration by focusing on an occasion or a season (make a Christmas decoration or something inspired by Autumn leaves), a material (make something from felt, or think of a way to re-use the packaging from something in a crafty way), or something you love that you'd like to celebrate with a pattern (your favourite flower or animal, or your favourite book).

Whatever you decide to make for your tutorial, remember that if you're interested in making it then someone else out there will be interested too. This is the brilliant thing about the internet!

Preparing to Make Your Project.

If you're writing a tutorial about something you've never made before, you might find it helpful to make a prototype. This will help you test that your templates / pattern / techniques all work how you expect they will, so you don't waste time photographing something that doesn't work out or waste the good-for-photo-taking daylight working out how to make the next part of the project.

It also doesn't hurt to have an extra item to use in your photos of the finished project - and if you make the prototype slightly different from the finished item (e.g. using slightly different fabric, or decorating it with beads instead of sequins) it's a great way to show how the project can be customised.

For your tutorial, you will be making / producing:
  • A finished item
  • A list of the materials and tools you used to make it
  • Step by step instructions, plus any special tips for working with the materials
  • Photos of the finished item
  • Step by step photos, or (if your project is very simple) several photos of the finished item so people can see how it's put together
  • And (if needed) a template or pattern that people can print out

Next time: Taking Notes

P.S. You might also like this post about How To Design a Felt Brooch


Manu said...

"...hearing from someone that they've used your tutorial to make something is a really, really awesome feeling" This is SO TRUE! :-) Lovely post, I nodded all the time while reading it! I'm sure it'll be very helpful for lots of people!

ct cucubi said...

i never try your tutoril before.. but i love to read it.. :)

bairozan said...

A very helpful post, indeed! Writing a tutorial is a responsibility we should take seriously. I have published a couple of posts with detailed steps but I realize now that I never made the list of materials and tools, which is essential! Thank you, Laura!

Bugs and Fishes said...

Manu - thanks! There really is nothing quite like that feeling, is there? It's especially awesome when people share photos too. I think it's one of the very best parts of my job :)

bairozan - no problem! Materials lists are super helpful, as you need to gather your supplies before you start (like you would when following a recipe). I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the series x

Slizzy Greensleeves said...

Hi I just wanted to say I found this a really useful article full of sound advice. I shall be following these articles with great interest. Many thanks for sharing. Best wishes from Su Senior (Slizzy Greensleeves)

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks Su! :)

Aly said...

I'e done a couple of years ago but I didn't quite pull it off.I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks Aly, I hope you'll find the series helpful! x

Apple Roses said...

Thanks so much for the brilliant and very helpful post.. I really enjoyed reading it.. Thanks again for sharing.. ;)

Bugs and Fishes said...

No problem! Thanks for your comment x