How to Write A How To

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I'm sure somewhere in the world there are people that rely on "the help" to do things. That isn't my world and, with the economy, more and more people are joining my world--the DIY world. There are books, TV channels, stores and yes, magazines dedicated solely to DIY. Don't miss this opportunity to add a new type of article to your resume.

1. What can you do?

Before you say "Nothing" stop and think. Everyone can do something and just because you think it's easy doesn't mean everyone does. Think about these topics: home repair, arts and crafts, decorating, gardening, cooking, parenting, writing, computers, finances. Then make a list of all the "How To...." articles you can write. It doesn't have to be a complex project. I can't tell you how many times I've seen "How to Tie the Perfect Gift Bow" in a magazine's holiday issue.

2. What can your friends do?

Sometimes it's even better when you're picking a friend's brain. Because you aren't an expert you'll be certain to ask tons of questions and not make the mistake of assuming your reader knows more than he does. My husband, a contractor, has been my source for several articles on plumbing, electricity, and a very popular "Six Questions to Ask Before You Hire the Contractor".

3. Step by Step

Most how to articles are written in a numbered, step by step format. A list of tools, time needed, and approximate cost are also helpful. For a writing guide turn to your favorite cookbook. Recipes are the original how to articles.

4. Run it by a DIY newbie

If you know your subject well, you might be leaving out some information a newcomer to the DIY world needs. Have a friend read your finished article and let you know if they have any "Huh?" moments while reading the article. If the additional information interferes with the step by step flow of your article consider a sidebar of basics entitled "Tools 101" or something similiar.

5. Include photographs

Close ups of the step by step process can help your reader determine if they're on the right track. Even if they don't include your photographs, editors almost always require photographs with articles or queries.

Congratulations to pmpoetwriter who won the copy of The Love Legend given away on June 24!

Stop by Words by Webb at for more thoughts on writing from Jodi Webb.


Unknown said...

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