Providing your audience with great value = successful results is the Number One “Trick” for crafting craft tutorials that make your audience come back for more. Although a “nice” production with clear photos, good audio quality for videos, and a cover image that stands out are certainly helpful, to your audience the successful completion of a project is far more important!
Read here: 5 tips that already will dramatically increase the value of an average tutorial while saving you time and effort:
- Chose a desirable project
- Keep the tutorial focused, simple and well-structured
- Be concise = short and to the point
- Include expressive and informative visuals
- Encourage action
What makes a great craft tutorial?
The value of a tutorial lies in empowering your audience to create a specific item or to learn a new skill. If you present a project that does both, you are providing double value, even if your audience is not consciously aware of this.
The perceived value of a project, that is how desireable it is, depends on how close you get to giving your audience the results they are looking for.
Creating compelling tutorials starts with chosing a desirable project. What is “desirable” depends mostly on your core audience, for instance:
- Parents of children age 3 to 6 > want projects that are quick, fun, safe…and easy to clean up 😉
- Parents of children age 6 to 10 > want projects that are easy, fun, educational, and require little help apart from supervision and initial demonstration
- Teenagers > want eye-catching projects that are not too complicated but attract approval from their peers
- Homemakers > want projects that add beauty and style to their home, save them money, or help them with household tasks like staying organised
- Beginning crafters > want projects that are easy to do but look great
- Passionate, advanced crafters > want projects that challenge them and help them develop their skills
If you’re not “one of them”, get into the heads of your audience to find out what matters to them and which considerations go into chosing their next project. Make a list of your audience’s main desires.
2. Keep the tutorial focused, simple and well-structured
I don’t know about you, but when I’m really excited about sharing a project how-to, I inevitably suffer from idea spread. My mind is all over the place as I want to share all my knowledge at once, include all those helpful tips, show all those great project variations and more, resulting in…no, not greater value. Audience overwhelm.
Here are some tips for dealing with idea spread and avoiding audience overwhelm. Once again: Get into the heads of your audience.
- For them, what is the most important aspect of this project? What is the essence of what they want, what needs or wants go beyond the project itself? Refer to the List of Desires.
- What skills or knowledge are essential must-haves for the successful completion of this specific project, and what is “nice-to know”? Write the nice-to-know bits down as a separate part. Once you finished the tutorial, you can choose one or two that would be most helpful. Keep the rest for including in similar project tutorials, or for a collection of “Great Tips”, or for short blog posts, for newsletters,…you get the gist.
- As for project variations, include only those that are very closely related and of which you’ve already got a photo, and don’t include more than two. Too much information or a great variety of choices cause confusion. It’s a lot better to create separate tutorials for the variations and refer to the related ones.
- The same applies to large, complex, or time-consuming projects. Break them up into parts or even a series. This allows your audience to digest one chunk at a time.
- For structure, stay with the natural progression of the project: Introduction (including materials & tools, preparation, and perhaps reference to previous tutorials) > Steps > Summary and perhaps follow-ups or a couple of related projects. What I mean is, for instance, don’t tell your audience in the middle of Step 3 that they need to prepare something, or how great a certain tool is, or which alternative materials they can use.
3. Be concise = short and to the point
This point can be summed up in two sentences: 1. Cut out the fluff. 2. Don’t interrupt your audience’s train of thought.
Do start by connecting with your audience, do create interest through telling your personal project story, and do end with engaging your audience in a personal manner…but once you started the tutorial itself, put your Clarity & Brevity Hat on.
- For small projects or each part of the larger projects, create a step-by-step outline of the process. Focus on the essential steps only and write the instructions for each step in one or two simple sentences.
- Then check and see whether you can narrow down the steps (for instance combine two) or whether you need to expand them to fill logical gaps (add a step).
- When you feel compelled to explain something, ask yourself whether a) this explanation is essential or nice-to-know and b) whether this is the right moment for it. If both answers are “yes”, include it; else the introduction or summary might be better places.
- Read the instructions in context and aloud, perhaps even to someone else. Are they easy to follow? If not, edit for clarity.
4. Include expressive and informative visuals
Tutorials can come in a variety of formats like text, illustrated text, video, audio, or worksheets. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into details or compare pros and cons. The “best” format or combination of formats depends also on the expectations of your audience (aka what they’re used to) and the project itself.
There are two things however that most great tutorials have in common: They include both expressive and informative visuals.
Expressive visuals are for instance photos or graphics that show the project in context or in use. They connect your audience with their unspoken desires.
Ideas for expressive visuals:
- Before & after (great for DIY makeover projects!)
- The project in its “natural habitat” (a quilt on a couch, a painted flower pot on a windowsill, a handcrafted card with a pen and a cup of tea,…)
- Someone using or wearing the project (works with any project that is more than just decorative)
- Someone enjoying the result or getting attention (for instance laughing kids all covered in colourful slime, or a teenager showing off her or his tie-dyed galaxy T-shirt)
- How the project saves time, money or effort (include price or time comparisons in the visual)
The main purpose of informative visuals is to illustrate and illuminate, that is to provide clear information quickly = “at a glance” and on a more subconscious level: Show, don’t tell.
They help your audience to relate both the project and the process to their personal experiences, preferences, and existing knowledge and skills without having to think much about it. Another benefit is that people who find it difficult to follow written instructions – or people who don’t speak your language at all – can still follow the process to a certain extent.
Naturally, the informative visuals that first come to mind are images: photos, infographics, sketches, diagrams, gifs, or videos. But well-structured, well-formatted texts (headings and subheadings, bullet points, sparingly used emphasis of important aspects, insertions of text blocks with a different format or background, tables) are also visual aids. Not only do they save your audience time with taking in the content, they also help them to stay focused while seeing the bigger picture as well.
5. Encourage action
The main purposes for encouraging your audience to take action are a) making them feel welcome and appreciated, b) facilitating or nurturing their success, and c) collecting feedback.
How you’re going to engage your audience depends on where or how you share your tutorial (blog, YouTube, other social media, learning platforms, per email). Here just a few ideas for what you could ask them to do:
- Leave a comment or ask questions (right there or then, or via email or a contact form)
- Ask for follow-ups or alternative projects which they’d like to see
- Post or share a photo of their completed project or Work in Progress
- Download a template, worksheet, checklist, mini series…
- Sign up for a mailing list (either a general newsletter or a specific list)
- Complete a survey
Occasional or regular challenges and events are great fun, too!
By the way: Only few of all your readers will actually take the time to give you feedback – that’s normal, so don’t let lack of it disturb you.
Of course there’s a lot more to consider when creating arts & crafts tutorials, but even just implementing these 5 tips will already make your tutorials stand out.
- Give greater value by chosing projects that align with your audience’s desires.
- Avoid idea spread and audience overwhelm by distinguishing between “essential” and “good-to-know” information.
- Cut out the fluff and don’t interrupt your audience’s train of thought.
- For compelling, clear, and informative tutorials, include both expressive and informative visuals.
- Encourage action to engage your audience, to further their success, and to gain feedback.
…over to you:
Do you have any tips for creating tutorials? What works for you?
Or do you have questions regarding tutorials that you’d like me to answer?
Please share here in the comments or contact me privately!
Image: Light bulbs