Challenge: Create a ‘How to’ Post
This is 5th challenge in ProBlogger’s 7 Days to Getting Your Blogging Groove Back Challenge that we kicked off back in episode 138.
If you’re new to the challenge – this week I’m nominating a different style of content for you to create each day over the week and the challenge is to create a post within 24 hours of hearing about it and then sharing it with us in our ProBlogger Challenge Group on Facebook.
Listen to this episode in the player above or here on iTunes.
This week has been amazing so far. In the first few days we’ve done ‘list posts’ (there were something like 300 posts written), FAQ posts, Review posts and Story posts. I’m LOVING reading as many of them as I can and encourage you to keep going.
The weekend is upon us now so for some of us its about to get tough – but I encourage you to keep at it!
Good things are happening – keep it up!
Before I tell you about today’s challenge….
I also quickly want to tell you about something that is happening in a couple of days time – we’re putting virtual tickets on sale for this year’s ProBlogger event.
We hold an annual event for bloggers here in Australia each year and this year – by popular demand – we’re bringing back our virtual ticket so that those of you unable to get out to Australia can come along virtually and get all the amazing teaching we offer live attendees.
The virtual ticket will be available early next week at problogger.com/virtualticket where you can now sign up to be alerted when they go on sale.
Today your challenge is to publish a ‘How to’ post.
How to posts work well because:
- It’s one of the main reasons people go online – to learn, seek help
- As a result they tend to rank well in Search and can be really shareable
- They also tend to be evergreen in nature
- When you teach someone how to do something they tend to remember who taught them and have gratitude towards them. They also become evangelists
- They build credibility
How to content can come in any form you like:
- Written – blog posts, articles, list posts, essays
- Video – can be great for walking people and showing them how to do something rather than just telling
- Screen capture video – for something you do online
- Images – a series of good images
- Gifs – putting a series of images into a gif
- Podcast – most of my podcasts are how to
A few approaches you might like to take:
- How you do something
- How to Build an Efficient Social Media Workflow to Increase your Traffic
- How you did something
- $72,000 in E-Books in a Week – 8 Lessons I Learned
- Share it in a story
- Analysis of someone else’s technique
- Content on the result of your research
- How to Cut Out the Subject From the Background in Photoshop
- Write about a very simple concept
- How to Hold a Camera
- Write about a very advanced topic
- 6 Advanced Composition Techniques to Improve Your Photos
- It could be a very practical tangible thing
- How to Clean Your Camera Sensor and Lenses
- It could also be something less tangible
- How to Overcome Fear of Speaking, Podcasting, Live Streaming, Webinars and More
- A post on straight theory, without inserting yourself
- How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps
A few quick tips:
- Base it on a real world need
- Base it on an FAQ
- Break it down into steps
- Show as much as possible
- A Powerful Exercise inside Google Analytics to Set You Up for a Successful Year of Blogging
- Anticipate questions
- Add a call to action
- Add depth
- Create your ‘how to’ post – publish it
- Head to the ProBlogger Challenge Group on Facebook and share the link with us on this thread
- Check out some of the other ’how to content people have written. Comment, like, share
Update: Here are the rest of the Challenges in the Blogging Groove Series
- Challenge 1: Create a List Post – Listen on iTunes here – Submit to the Facebook Group Here.
- Challenge 2: Create a FAQ Post – Listen on iTunes here – Submit to the Facebook Group Here.
- Challenge 3: Create a Review Post – Listen on iTunes here – Submit to the Facebook Group Here.
- Challenge 4: Create a Story Post – Listen on iTunes here – Submit to the Facebook Group Here.
- Challenge 5: Create a ‘How to’ Post – Listen on iTunes here – Submit to the Facebook Group Here.
- Challenge 6: Create a Discussion Starter Post – Listen on iTunes here – Submit to the Facebook Group Here.
- Challenge 7: Create a Link Post – Listen on iTunes here – Submit to the Facebook Group Here.
Hey there, this is Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to challenge five of my Seven Days to Getting Your Blogging Groove Back challenge where everyday for a week I’m nominating a different style of blog post for you to write within 24 hours of you hearing my challenge and then sharing it over in our ProBlogger Challenge Group in Facebook.
This week has been an amazing week so far, some of you I know are exhausted by this stage. We’ve done four days previously of challenges and some of you have done all four and that’s fantastic, others of you are taking your time a little bit more and that’s totally fine as well. Others of you are probably hearing about this challenge for the first time today and it’s totally fine for you to join in any time. You might want to go back to Episode 138 to hear what the challenge is all about and then 139 to hear the first challenge and work your way through them in that way.
On the first day, we talked about list posts. I asked you to write a list post whether that be on video, blog post, Instagram, all kinds of posts. Over 300 of them submitted in the Facebook group. Then, we did frequently asked question post where you had to write a piece of content based on a question. Then, we did review posts, story posts, and we have had hundreds and by the time this goes live, probably thousands of posts submitted already. I’m really loving seeing so many of them.
The weekend is upon us, this episode goes live on Saturday night Australian time, Saturday morning for the rest of the world. It’s about to get tough for some of you. I want to encourage you to keep at it, push through the pain. Good things happen when we do that. One of the things I love about this type of challenge is that it shows us what we are capable of. We many types approach this type of challenge, seven days of writing a piece of content everyday. That can seem overwhelming, it can seem impossible. Sometimes, life does get in the way but sometimes we can achieve more than we think we can.
I want to encourage you whilst you might be feeling the pain at the moment to push through it. You don’t have to write a long post today, there are a few ways that you can do today’s one in a fairly short way which I’ll give you some examples of in a moment.
Before I tell you what today’s challenge is, I want to quickly tell you about something that is happening in a couple of days time. We are putting virtual tickets on sale for this year’s ProBlogger event. Many of you know about the ProBlogger event because we’ve featured some of our speakers in past episodes but we do hold an annual event for bloggers here in Australia every year. This year by popular demand, we’re bringing back our virtual tickets. Those of you who are unable to get to Australia can come along virtually and get all the amazing teaching that we offer our live attendees.
The virtual ticket will be available next week so Monday. We will give you more information on that in the episodes that come up but I want to let you know that you can go to problogger.com/virtualticket where there will be a little bit more information and there’s an opportunity for you to add your email just so we can notify you when those tickets go on sale. I’ll tell you a little bit more about the virtual ticket in upcoming episodes but I want to put it on your radar so you can begin to consider whether that might be for you.
Let me tell you about today’s challenge. Today, your challenge is to publish a piece of content that is how to in nature, a how to whatever it is that you write about. How to posts are pretty much what I’ve spent most of my last 13 years writing. How to posts, teaching posts, tip posts. You can really interpret these in a number of different ways but this sort of teaching type content is incredibly powerful. I know some of you already know this because it’s all you do and you’re going to find today easy.
Some of you have resisted this sort of how to content and probably for good reason because it may not suit your niche but I think there are some ways that you can probably tackle this one today. I’m going to suggest a few in a moment.
First, how to posts work really well for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s one of the main reasons that people go online. You think about the problems that you’ve had, you might have. The other day for example, our washing machine stopped working. We kind of thought that maybe something was in one of the filters and I could not get the thing open, the area where this filter was.
What did I do? I went online and I found a piece of how to content on YouTube where a very kind gentleman walked me through how to open the filter on my particular model of washing machine. Amazingly, even though that was a very niche-video, it was just a one model of washing machine. It had been watched over 300,000 times, that one very simple piece of content where this guy walked us through this how to.
How to content is one of the main reasons that people go online. Anytime they’ve got a problem, they want to learn something, they need help with something, they need advice, they go to Google, they go to social media. As a result, how to content can be a great source of traffic for you. They tend to rank well in search, they can be very shareable and they can be evergreen in nature. That video had been live for two or three years already, it must have been an old washing machine.
When you teach someone something, it also has a really big impact upon them if you teach them well. People tend to remember who taught them things, they tend to have gratitude towards those people. They tend to share the word about those types of people particularly if you teach them a number of things. Many of the emails that I get on ProBlogger from people who’ve been reading along since 2004, 2005, the early days, are incredibly great for the number of things that I’ve been able to teach them and some of our writers have been able to teach them. When people come up to me at conferences, it’s amazing how much gratitude they sometimes show.
When you change someone’s life by teaching them something, it can have a massive impact upon them and also builds your credibility. There’s a whole heap of reasons why how to content can be a very good thing to focus upon. It’s for all of those reasons that I’ve been pretty much focusing most of my attention on how to content, whether it would be blogs in this podcast and in other forms as well.
How to content come in many forms, I’ve already talked about video that I found the other day, video content is great for walking people through anything where you need a bit of visual help. It’s really helpful to see where exactly to open up that filter, how to do it, and how much pressure to apply. That would’ve been something that would’ve been more difficult to write about. Of course, written content can be very useful in a number of forms—whether it would be a blog post, an article, a list post, something written or in an essay form. Short form, long form, it doesn’t really matter.
Screen capture video can be really good if you are wanting to teach someone something that you want to do on your computer. A series of images can work really well. You can put those images together into a GIF. You could produce a slideshow and put it up on Slide Share, you can do it in a podcast, you can create an infographic, all of these things are possible in terms of teaching people how to do something. You can choose any of those today, I really don’t mind.
I’m loving seeing some of the best pieces of content in the last few days people have been doing on Instagram. I saw in the list post, one person just put up five bullet points on their Instagram account and that Instagram photo got a whole heap of likes. That maybe what you want to do today; teach someone something very simple on Instagram.
Feel free to be as creative as you like. A few approaches that you might like to take—some of you already know what you’re going to write about. You’re probably going to pause this podcast and just go and do it. If you are struggling with that, how am I going to do this, I don’t usually write this type of content, let me give you a few ideas on different types of how to content that you might want to do. I’ll give you some examples as well from my two blogs and I think I’ve got a couple of examples from Vanessa’s blog as well. These will all be linked to in the show notes.
First thing, you might like to do a post that is how you do something that you regularly do. What I found over the years is many of the things that I do everyday that I take for granted, I do this every single day, I don’t even think about what I’m doing. Many of those things actually are really interesting to other people. Maybe the way you process your email is something that could teach other people, “I probably need to learn how to do that, I’m hopeless at email.” You may have a system in place where you could actually teach me how to process my email and get my inbox down to zero.
An example of this over on ProBlogger a year or so ago now, I did a post How to Build an Efficient Social Media Workflow to Increase Your Traffic. I walk people through in Screen Flow and in Screen Cast where I capture the process on my screen, me talking about what I was doing. The process that I show there is something that I take for granted. I’ve been doing it now for five or six years and whilst the process has evolved a little over the years and my tools have changed a little bit, what I do there is actually really useful to other people who are just starting out.
Maybe it’s something that you do everyday. I remember Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids, the planning queen talked about how she makes lunches for her five children every week. I’m sure that’s something that she takes for granted but it’s something that other people who are overwhelmed by that process would find very useful. Maybe it’s something that you do regularly or maybe it’s something you did once off, a big event that happened in your life. Maybe you just had a 30th birthday party, how did you put that party together? That can be useful for other people who are going through that process.
Over on ProBlogger, another example. Many years ago now, I wrote a post, $72,000 in Ebooks in a Week, Eight Lessons I Learned. Basically, that post was the story of how I launched my first ebook and some of the lessons I learned along the way. That post is written more in a story form with a few lessons that I learned but it’s still a teaching post.
Another example of this is one that Vanessa wrote on her blog recently, How to Travel to Bali with Young Kids. It tells a story of us going to Bali and how we did it. She talked about accommodation, how to eat, where to shop, those types of things which was really more about what we did but it’s amazing how many people have saved that post and used that as the basis for their own trip to Bali with young kids.
If you don’t usually do teaching content and you don’t think your readers are really going to respond well to a how to do this type post, maybe share a story. Tell the story of how you did something, how you achieved something, or how you failed at something and how you’ll do it differently. Those are still teaching posts. People can apply the lessons that you learned or the things that you did to their own situation. Maybe that will help you in that.
Another approach you might want to take is to write about how someone else does something. How does Seth Gordon build his blog or create great content? Lessons that you can learn from another person. You might want to interview that person and involve them in the creation of your content, or you might just write about your observations of what this other person does or what other people do and use a variety of different examples to teach how to do that.
Remember, we did a post on ProBlogger in the last year where we analyzed some of the best Facebook pages and we talked about what we were seeing happen on those Facebook pages and the types of posts that they were producing and why they did well. That too was a teaching post. We didn’t ask any of those people what they were doing, we just observed it. Maybe there’s something you can teach based upon what you observed someone else doing.
In a similar way, you may choose to do some research on a particular how to topic. You might do some research and find five other articles that people have written on a topic and make your post more of this is what other people’s approach to this issue is or you might even find a piece of embeddable content that someone else has produced that teaches.
For example, one of the best posts that we’ve done on Digital Photography School in the last year I think has been was a post that we published called How to Cut Out The Subject from the Background in Photoshop. It’s a bit of a technical post in some ways. If you go and check out this post, you’ll see there that Darleen, our editor, basically found two great videos that she found on YouTube. She took the embed code that is on pretty much every video on YouTube and put it into a blog post. And then, she introduced the topic with an introduction, added a bit of her own content as well.
The bulk of what is taught in that particular blog post is actually curated content. You don’t even need to write all the content. If you can find some content that is available to be embedded, maybe that can be just as powerful. Why do you have to write a whole post when someone else might be teaching it just as well? That post actually drove thousands and thousands of visitors to our site because they were great videos and she added some valuable stuff as well.
You may actually if you don’t have time today get onto YouTube or Slide Share or one of these other sources of great embeddable content and use some of that type of content. Of course, you want to acknowledge the source, you want to link back and give some love back to the content creator, but this can be a really great way of teaching your readers something. They’ll thank you for it but also delivering some useful content in a way that perhaps isn’t too onerous being a Saturday and all.
Your post could be a simple post. Again, one of my best performing posts over the years has been a post How to Hold a Digital Camera. These things that we take for granted. Or, it could be a really advanced topic. We published a post on Digital Photography School, Six Advanced Composition Techniques To Improve Your Photos. The simple posts will have wider appeal, you may have if they work well, if you do manage to rank in Google for them, they can send you a lot of traffic. The advanced post can do really well for you as well because there may be less competition, there may be less posts online about those topics. It might be easier to rank higher as well.
Whether it’s beginner, whether it’s advanced, it doesn’t really matter. Your post could be on a very practical, tangible thing. Something that’s very physical. For example, How To Clean Your Camera’s Sensors And Lenses was a post that we wrote. Or, it might be something less tangible, it might be more about a feeling or an internal problem that people have. For example of ProBlogger, I wrote a post How to Overcome Fear of Speaking, Podcasting, and Live Streaming. That didn’t teach how to make anything or how to do anything, it was more about how to overcome something. It was an internal problem that a lot of people have, the problem of fear.
It might just be a straight theory post. For example on ProBlogger, our How to Start a Blog post. It’s just a process that people want to know about.
I hope somewhere in those ideas, there’s some ideas forming in your mind about the type of content that you want to create. If you are struggling to come out with a topic today, head over to the Facebook group and ask in the thread that I’ve got for today’s topic, you can share your post once it’s live. But also if you’re struggling there, you might also just want to say hey everyone, I don’t know what to write about today. This is my topic, this is my niche, this is what I normally write about. Maybe someone else can give you some ideas as well, I’ve seen a few people doing that.
Some few tips on creating your content. Firstly, base it on a real need that you see people having, a pain that they have or a gain that they want. There’s a great episode, Episode 105 of this podcast where I talk about an exercise for coming out with the pains and the gains that your readers have and the gains that they want to have. Include that pain or that gain in the introduction. You want to give people a reason to read your blog post or watch your video or interact with your content. Really pay attention to that need, the objective that your content is going to meet and the way that it will help people, include that benefit right up front. That gives people a reason to really engage with that content. Really focus upon that need.
You may choose to choose a topic that’s based on a frequently asked question. One question you might want to ask is what do people frequently ask you about how you did something. For Vanessa of that post on How to Travel to Bali with Small Kids, she got a lot of questions while we’re in Bali from her friends on Facebook saying how did you do that, how did you get your three year old to Bali? Pay attention to those types of questions about how you do things.
As you’re creating your content, really try to break it down if you can into steps. Most things that you’ll teach can be broken down into stages, steps, the parts of a process. It’s really useful to identify those things before you start writing. It really helps you to write the content but it’s also really helpful for people wanting to consume that content and to enact and take action upon the advise that you have. Really emphasize that step by step, the stages that you need to go through.
I know the video that I watched on how to get that filter open, it really broke it down very clearly. He actually in the video just said there’s three things you need to do, number one do this. And then, he actually paused in the video and said you might actually want to pause this video and do that. Number two, do this, and he really walked me through it. For someone who is challenged in that particular area of opening filters on washing machines, that was really helpful. He obviously thought about structuring his content in a way that I could actually do it while I was watching it and take action in that way.
Show as much as possible if you can. That’s why video works so well, but images can work as well. An example that I’ll link to in today’s show notes is a post that I wrote on how an exercise in using Google Analytics that I walked readers through. If you go and check out that particular post, you’ll see there’s probably twenty or so screenshots and I really get very detailed on how to do each step along the way and how I got to the particular part of Google Analytics. I said click this, click this, and click this and then showed an image of it. Really getting into the detail of how to do it, a lot of people really appreciated that.
Another question and thing that you might want to consider is as you’re writing your content, be anticipating the questions that someone might be asking. As I was writing that exercise and using Google Analytics, I knew in the back of my mind that people would be saying how do I get to that part of Google Analytics? That’s why I really went into detail there.
As you’re writing, ask yourself what would a beginner be asking at this point in the article? Then, try to build those answers into the article itself. You might want to do that by just adding more detail into your post but you might also have a frequently asked questions at the end of your post or anticipating the objections that your readers might be having along the way and talking about those.
I think it’s sometimes really important to add a call to action at the end of these types of posts as well. Encourage your readers to give what it is that you’ve taught them a go and maybe give them a first step in how to do that. You might want to call them to show you or tell you how they went with it. On Digital Photography School, we often at the end of the week do a challenge for our readers based upon one of the tutorials that we did earlier in the week. If we’ve taught someone how to use long shutter speeds, we might do a challenge at the end of the week where we point back to that tutorial and say hey, what about giving this tutorial a go and showing us the images that you take as a result of that?
You might want to invite people to leave a comment and tell you how they went with the process. That can really help you to not only get people to take action but also it will start to reveal how you can improve that content as well. If they all seemed to have a problem with one step, maybe you can address that and update your post.
The last thing I’ll say, this is really a place to all posts. As you’re about to publish that blog post or video, ask yourself how could I add a bit of depth and how could I polish this? Really pay attention to the formatting of your post, the visuals in your post, but also give people some further reading whether that be archived post that you’ve got on your blog or whether it’s a further reading that they can read on someone else’s blog as well. Readers will really value the extra effort that you go through in making your post look good but also become even more useful.
There are my tips, today is a bit longer, sorry for that. I really look forward to seeing what you come up with today. Remember, your challenge today, you’ve got 24 hours if you can do it in 24 hours—take longer if you need it. Within 24 hours, I challenge you to create a post that has a how to element to it. Teach something to someone. It doesn’t have to be a long one, it doesn’t have to be a mega post if you haven’t got time for it, it could be as simple as an Instagram post. The key with this whole week is to get into the rhythm of creating content in some way.
Create your post, publish it, and then head over to the ProBlogger Challenge Group in Facebook. Share the link to your content in the thread that I will have there for you. I ask you please don’t start a new thread just with your content, look for the fifth day in this challenge. There will be a pinned post if you’re coming within 24 hours. If you can’t see that, look in the about section on the page and there’s a link in that section to all of the five days so far. Look forward to seeing what you share there with us.
Lastly, the last part of this challenge, some of you have been doing this just brilliantly is check out some of the other posts that people are submitting there. It really is encouraging for people when they can see that there’s a bit of extra traffic coming along. Leave a comment, like their post, and consider sharing it as well. I think it’s really great to share the love if you can find a post in there that relates to your audience.
Look forward to seeing what you come up with today in your how to content. Chat with you tomorrow with the sixth challenge in this week’s challenge.
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