In case you have run out of ideas to write online, one of the best topics you could develop is how to teach your readers to do things. By doing so, you hit two birds with one stone. Besides teaching others the skills on doing certain tasks, you also improve your own expertise in doing the very same tasks you are teaching them. The best way to learn something is to teach it.
The important points you have to remember in coming up with To-Do articles is the clarity of instructions, the proper sequence in the performance of the task, and the ease of reading the whole article. The following steps will help you write an informative and really useful online To-Do topic:
• Choose the right topic. No use writing about home improvements if you could not differentiate a nut from a bolt. Touch on a topic which, although you may not be an expert in, at least you have the personal interest and overall knowledge about it.
• Give a gist of your article. Do not leave your readers guessing or they will just move to the next site. The first line or two of your topic should immediately give your readers a clear idea of what to expect from your article. A long introduction is a “no-no” for an article meant to instruct.Treat it as an emergency manual since your readers are most probably browsing the net to get instant information on how to solve their problem at hand.
• Ask your readers to get ready with tools and/or ingredients to be used. This will prevent stressing your readers as they frantically search for tools or ingredients in the middle of the task.
• Make your online instructions for easy reading. Remember that unlike the traditional printed instruction manual, an online version should be skimmable. Readers using your To-Do manual should be able to understand and remember your instructions as quickly as possible in a single reading. Do not make them re-read the steps in order to get the instructions clearly and correctly. Therefore, try to present every step in just as few words as possible without skipping details. If a certain step appears too long, make it more convenient to read by breaking it up into sub-steps.
• Be concise. Make sure you use the exact terms. For example, in writing about cooking, be precise in describing the process such as blanching, sautéing, barding (tying some type of fats like bacon or fatback around what you are cooking to prevent drying out while roasting), basting (spooning, brushing, or squirting a liquid on food while it cooks to prevent drying and to add flavour), braising (a slow method of cooking where meat or vegetable are first browned in butter), etc. or the exact name of ingredient such as “broth” which is a flavourful liquid used for preparing soups or sauces. It is also known as “stock” or “bouillon”.
• Present the steps in proper sequence. Nothing could be more frustrating to readers than to be made to follow haphazardly written instructions. You must guide your readers by the hands, moving from one step to the next, without skipping a beat. This is important especially when proper sequencing is vital in completing a task such as tightening the correct bolt in place before the next part could be put in place; or in cooking, braising the vegetable before it could be simmered; etc. Do not place the cart before the horse or you can ruin the entire journey.
• Warn your readers for possible problems that may arise and offer alternative steps or substitute ingredients if necessary. Again, this should be done to avoid stress and panic while doing the tasks.
• Avoid confusions. Phrases such as “go back to Step 4”. Instead, repeat the instruction in Step 4 and label it as a separate step. This will avoid confusions and mix-ups in following the instructions. Also, this can break up the flow on instructions if the readers keep going back and forth on the page.
1. Write in the active voice. “You do this” or “you do that” is better understood and give a sense of urgency in doing the task rather than the passive form.
2. Make sure the opening sentence of each step immediately summarizes the entire step. This makes for quicker action and would help them understand the basics actions of the how-to.
3. To make your article more informative, make sure you mention both the imperial and metric measurements for sizes and weights such as centimetre and inch, pounds and grams, dry and liquid measurements, kilometre and mile, etc.
4. It is also recommended to use general phrases such as “Call emergency services” instead of “Call 911.” Remember that some of your readers may have different terms for these services in their own locality or country.
5. For professionalism sake, refrain from specifying brand names as this will make your article a subtle advertisement and make it lose its credibility. However, this can be done in cases where there are no generic names for the product to be used.
6. Although it is not required to mention sources or citations in your articles, this can lend credibility to your article. Also, giving your readers the option to research further if they want or need to will impress them of your trustworthiness and improve your relationship with them.
With this guide in writing To-Do topics, you can easily find subjects to write about on those days when ideas dry up. Good luck and happy writing!