The How To on How Tos: Creating Compelling Tutorials for Your Blog

Brittni Mehlhoff, Editor, Paper & Stitch

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
13 Lessons (2h 8m)
    • 1. The Key Components of a Share-Worthy Tutorial

    • 2. Coming up with an original tutorial idea

    • 3. All about styling

    • 4. Styling a tutorial (demo)

    • 5. The kinds of photos that work best for tutorials

    • 6. Creating an image for the step by step photos in Photoshop

    • 7. Editing photos + How many photos it really takes to put together a great tutorial

    • 8. Taking photos with your camera phone

    • 9. Writing copy for your tutorial (part 1)

    • 10. Writing copy for your tutorial (part 2)

    • 11. Getting your work promoted / Pitching to blogs, sites, and magazines

    • 12. Setting yourself up for press to come to you

    • 13. Finding editors (via social media) to reach out to


Project Description

Create and present your own original tutorial.

Key Components to a Share-Worthy Tutorial

  1. Identifying strengths and weaknesses

    Based on the key components listed in the video, identify your strengths and weaknesses. Then, write them down. Maybe you have a never-ending flow of ideas for projects but your photography could use some work. Or maybe you need help in the marketing / spreading the word department but you've totally nailed it in the photography/ styling department. Whatever the case may be, write it down (in detail if possible).

  2. Come up with a plan of attack

    Now that you've defined your strengths and weaknesses, as it relates to the key components of share-worthy tutorials, it's time to come up with a plan of attack. How are you going to overcome/improve those areas of weakness and use your strengths to your advantage? Write it down and keep it handy so you can go back every so often and check-in on yourself to see if you're following through.

  3. Follow through

    List the necessary steps that you need to take in order to improve in the area(s) that you marked as a weakness. And take action. So, for example, if you hate taking photos of your finished projects and photography isn't something that interests you, ask a friend with a camera if they'd be willing to help or trade their services for something you can provide. 

Coming up with an Original Tutorial Idea

  1. Experimenting with different approaches

    Experiment with the different approach methods outlined in the video from this unit and decide what method (or methords) works best for you. Feel free to share the results in the class feed section if you'd like.

  2. Decide on a project idea

    Once you've gone through the brainstorming process using one of the four approaches mentioned in the video, decide on a tutorial that you'd like to create for this class. Think back to the key components video to ensure that the project you choose to create will be a share-worthy DIY.

Styling your tutorial for photos

  1. Practice makes perfect: styling your supplies

    After going through this unit's videos and additional resources, it's time to practice some styling of your own. So, starting with the supplies shot, arrange your supplies on a backdrop of your choice (white foam core, a solid piece of fabric, paper backdrop, or some other non-distracting surface) and rearrange it three different ways. This quick exercise will help you determine how you'll want to arrange your supplies for the finished tutorial.

  2. Practice makes perfect: styling your steps

    Just as you did in project step #1, practice (simple) styling for your step by step photos. It might be helpful to go through the entire process of making the item you'll be using for your tutorial and think about how you'll show each step in photos when the time comes. 

    Here are some questions to ask yourself as you're going through the steps: How can you style the steps in a clear (simple) way but also show readers exactly how to recreate your project? Would it be helpful to include materials in some of the photos or would that just be distracting?

  3. Practice makes perfect: finished project / environmental shots

    Practice styling the finished shots for your tutorial. Think about the environment that your item would normally live in and try to recreate that environment with your styling.

    Examples: If your tutorial is for a hand painted, graphic pillow you should rest the pillow on a couch or a cool chair for photos.

    Or if your tutorial is for a leather tassel necklace, pick out an outfit that matches your necklace (and has a neckline that will compliment the length). Then scout out an area of your house with great light or a cool, colorful wall in your downtown area that would be prefect for the photos.

The Ins and Outs of Shooting Tutorials

  1. Shooting your tutorial: supplies photo

    After going through this unit's videos and additional resources, it's time to shoot it - starting with the supplies shot. Arrange your supplies on a backdrop of your choice (white foam core, a solid piece of fabric, paper backdrop, or some other non-distracting surface) and take a minimum of 3 photos so you have a variety of images to choose from.

    Use the skills you've learned (and been practicing) from Unit 3 (styling) to arrange your supplies in an interesting way. And be sure to check out the additional resources section in this unit as well, for photography tips.

  2. Shooting your tutorial: step by step photos

    On the same backdrop you used for the supplies shot, photograph the step by step process for your tutorial. You do not need to photograph every tiny step, just make sure you don't have any huge jumps from one step to another in the process (and that nothing important or complex is left out of the process shots).

  3. Shooting your tutorial: finished shots

    Use what you learned from Unit 3, styling your tutorials for photos, to create an interesting / dynamic environment for your finished tutorial to shine. Take at least 5 shots of the finished piece in a styled environment, moving the items around every couple of shots to change it up or shooting from a different angle to get different vantage points.

  4. Editing your photos

    Import your photos into a photo editor on your computer, and make any edits that you feel are necessary (changes in exposure, cropping, etc). If you will be connecting your step by step photos in Photoshop to create one large image (as shown in video 2 from this unit), do that at this time as well.

  5. Choose the final photos you will be using for your tutorial

    Narrow down the photos you have taken to the very best ones. Make final selections for the photos you would like to use in the final tutorial.

    If you will be posting this tutorial to your blog, make sure your images have been resized if necessary before drafting a blog post.

Writing your tutorial from start to finish

  1. Write the materials list and step by step instructions

    It may seem a little backwards to write the materials list and step by step instructions before the introduction, but these two parts are the easiest to write because they are information only sections. Sometimes the story takes a little longer to develop, so start with these two parts and then move on to project step 2 for this unit.

  2. Write the intro and outro

    Now it's time to add the story. How do you want to position this tutorial? Do you want to tell a personal story about how you came up with the idea / what inspired you to make xyz? Or do you prefer to get right down to business?

    Once you've decided how you want to approach it, write at least one paragraph of text for the introduction (somewhere around 3-5 sentences) and at least 1-2 sentences at the end (outro) to give readers a call to action or suggest additional ways they can tweak the tutorial to their own style, etc.

Pitching Your Tutorial

  1. Publish your tutorial

    If you have decided to post the tutorial on your own blog, add all the necessary pieces that you'ce already created (tutorial copy and photos) into a blog post and hit publish. Skip this step if you are planning to submit your tutorial to another blog, site or magazine without making the tutorial public on your own blog/site first.


  2. Pitching Your Tutorial

    Once the tutorial is published online, go ahead and promote on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest). Again, skip this step if you are planning to submit your tutorial to another blog, site or magazine without making the tutorial public on your own blog/site first.

Additional Resources

  • Behind the scenes look at the aftermath of styling larger shoots.

  • This PDF outlines the top twelve tips for better photography.

  • A pinboard with lots of photography tips & tricks: Lots of great photography tips from around the web.

  • Tips for shooting indoors : A Beautiful Mess has some great tips (with photos that help explain) for shooting indoors.

  • Inexpesive photography resources : If you are in need of technical photography help, Tristan from Besotted has a list of affordable resources.

  • Email script for pitching to blogs and magazines (also includes follow-up email script)

  • PDF version of all the slides from this class.

Student Projects

project card
Elle McCann
project card
Clemence H
project card
Rachel Smith
project card
Marlene S.
project card
project card
1 comment
project card
project card
Gwen C.
project card
Lara Hall
1 comment
project card
Lauren Dare
project card
S Davison
1 comment