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Are you ready to get started writing about Web Design?
A few months back, I wrote an article called “Secrets of Learning Web Design and Getting Paid While Doing So”, where I introduced how writing about web design can improve your knowledge and at the same time make yourself some money.
It was a real success judging by the response it got. Many of you wanted to take on the challenge. Today I am going to take the first step by revealing the secrets of writing top quality tutorials.
Writing is an art which needs to be mastered through practice. So let’s take the first step of a long journey as a web design writer.
Keep in mind that we have two major goals. Learning web design and use that knowledge to generate a good income. We have chosen writing as the path which takes us towards our goals.
I received hundreds of suggestions, questions and concerns when we published my article (linked above). It wasn’t a surprise to see that all of you that wanted to follow this path had two major questions:
Nothing can be achieved instantly. So I’ll start with answering the first question throughout this article. Once you establish yourself as a good writer, we can see how to get paid for writing.
As a beginner, your ultimate goal should be to get as much feedback as possible, regardless of whether or not it’s all positive, from your readers.
Positive feedback means that:
Negative feedback means that:
Don’t try to produce content just to get negative feedback and learn from it. Instead try to be controversial.
The definition of controversial is: giving rise, or likely to give rise, to public disagreement.
When you write about controversial topics, always make sure to state that what you’re writing is your opinion. Don’t ever state that your opinion is right or the best way of doing things, but that it is the way you prefer to do things.
Responsive design might be a good topic for sharing controversial opinions. Everyone is saying that RWD is the future of web design. You could mention that RWD isn’t yet the right solution by talking about the layout issues in fluid grids or bandwidth issues on mobile devices.
Before starting to write for web design blogs, you should be familiar with what makes the best content. The following infographic illustrates the crucial aspects of what makes the best content.
Now let’s pick some topics to write.
Every tutorial is unique in its nature of expressing ideas even though they make get different results from readers. You will always have ups and downs with each new tutorial. Picking the right type of tutorials will help you to stay on top. Certain types of tutorials are preferred by users and it’s wise to learn about them to make it success. Following is a list of top trending tutorials to get more results as writers.
A screencast is a video recording of your computer screen while you explain how to do something. These are one of the most popular type of tutorials, as readers can see how it is actually designed in real time. In order to do screencast tutorials you will need a quality microphone, screen recording software, and a lot of practice to get it right.
Now let’s look at some general guidelines for creating quality video tutorials.
Creating a video tutorial is an extremely entertaining task compared to writing tutorials. Also readers also seem to prefer video tutorials. So here at 1WD we decided to create some awesome video tutorials for web design beginners. As a beginner tutorial writer, these resources will help you to master the art of screencasts.
Here are some of the top screencasts for you to learn,
Even though screencasts are popular, there are not many video tutorial resources online compared to those for written tutorials. Therefore the next most popular type of tutorial are step by step design tutorials.
In these tutorials, you have to create a complete design or part of a design from scratch. Most of these tutorials have a demonstration of the design and code files for the readers to download. Hence the final output will be a working design ready to be used by your readers.
As a beginner, you should be mainly focusing on these type of tutorials as it doesn’t require you to be as experienced. You can design whatever you want and teach readers how to be more creative with the given design.
So let’s take a look at some cool examples for step by step design tutorials.
Writing these type of tutorials is not difficult as long as you have some creativity and knowledge of the expectations of your readers. Here are some guidelines I recommend following for step by step design tutorials.
This is another popular type of tutorial since every designer and developer wants to stay up to date with the latest techniques. Even though I refer to is as trendy, we can also consider the latest versions of a popular library or service for these type of tutorials.
Responsive web design is the most popular trending topic currently. Also the new features of the latest WordPress version is another popular topic.
Success of these tutorials depend on how early you publish them. You will get more results when you publish a tutorial just after a new version has been released or new concept has been introduced.
This list contains some tutorials on current trends for your reference.
Now you have the knowledge of choosing the right type of tutorial to be a successful tutorial writer. The next most important step is to know how to structure your posts to get more attention from readers.
There is no point in writing tutorials unless people read and use them. So getting visitors to see your tutorials is important for writers and website owners. The most important thing is the first impression on your article.
There are hundreds of websites that have tutorials on web design and most of the regular readers will be looking at their favorite sites on a consistent basis. They definitely they don’t have enough time to read all those articles. So how do you get them to read yours?
“Time is what we want most,but what we use worst.”
― William Penn
It’s a must to grab their attention instantly within the first few sections of a tutorial. A catchy heading is one way of grabbing attention. Once you have their attention it’s important to keep them interested through the first few sections of the article. So let’s see how to structure posts properly to keep users interested and make it easy on the eyes to read.
Before we get started, let’s take a look at the structure and design of 1stWebDesigner tutorials for a perfect illustration of making it easy on the eye.
You can see that the post is structured in a way that is easy for readers to go through the tutorial without any distractions.
Writing tutorials with long and continuous paragraphs is the easiest way of demotivating the reader. I tend to stay away from this kind of a tutorial as a reader since I cannot figure out whether the tutorial provides what I want.
I feel tutorials are well structured if the reader can trace the most important contents and get a summary of the tutorial just by looking at the post without reading much. Obviously it means that the tutorial should contain different sections, so that we can track the sections separately.
Let’s explore the different types of content to create well structured tutorials.
Now having completed the guide on structuring tutorials, I bet you would like to have a look at a complete example of a well structured article. Learn Web Design The Right Way: Quit College And Start Sucking Blood by James Richman is a great example that illustrates the power of structuring.
Learn how the article is structured and include demo’s and code to create amazing tutorials with awesome content to catch the eye of your readers.
The scope of a tutorial plays a vital role in its success. In my opinion it is the first, and the most important, factor to be taken into consideration.
What is Scope?
According to dictionary.com, Scope is the extent of the area or subject matter that something deals with or to which it is relevant.Basically this means the amount of range we are going to cover in a specific topic.
So why am I telling you to minimize the scope of your tutorials?
Every writer wants to cover extensive topics such as “Responsive Web Design”, “WordPress Theme Design”, “CSS Preprocessors” etc. Now the problem is these topics are very broad and experts in the field have already published tutorials on them. As beginners, our tutorials on similar topics will go unnoticed due to the high percentage of quality tutorials already available on those topics.
Our goal is to find topics which are:
In order to meet both of the criteria’s mentioned above, we need to minimize the scope until we find something unique to write.
Let’s consider a practical example for identifying the importance of scope.
Assume that you have been asked to write an article related to Responsive Web Design. Usually your first choice will be something like “How to Design Responsive Web Pages” or “What is Responsive Design?” Even though both of these sound good, there are dozens of articles and tutorials already available. It doesn’t mean that you can’t get good results, just that there will be an awful lot of competition.
Now you have to look for a topic with narrow scope to be successful. We can consider titles such as “How to Handle Fonts in Responsive Design” and “Responsive Design for Large Screen Resolutions” as good choices in this situation.
Fonts are vital for to a good design, but not many tutorials will explain how to use fonts and sizes in RWD. In RWD we talk about adjusting the design to suit mobile based devices which have smaller dimensions. No one talks about how to handle responsive design in monitors with large screen resolutions.
Here fonts and large screens is a very small part of the design. What you have to do is explain and discuss these small areas in detail using examples.
“It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.”
― Nathan W. Morris
So basically we have to choose a very narrow scope in a topic with a very large scope and try to write a complete tutorial explaining it all in detail. Success is guaranteed since your tutorial will be unique among other competitive web sites.
This article itself is a pretty good example for understanding scope. Here my title covers a wide range and shouldn’t be chosen in normal circumstances. Even though there are a lot of articles about writing tutorials, none of them talks specifically about writing on web design. Hence this topic seems good, even it covers a wide range.
An ideal topic to focus on from this article might be something like “How to Choose the Right Scope for Tutorials” or “Use of Source Codes in Design Based Tutorials”.
How Do You Choose the Right Scope?
There is no defined way of selecting the right scope. I’ll share the method I am using to find the topics with right scope.
You might have a good understanding on how to write tutorials on web design now. Next will be putting the theories into practice. For that you need to read lot of quality tutorials and write your own at the same time.
I hope you remember our main goal of “Learn and Earn”. We have covered the learning part through tutorial writing. At this stage you shouldn’t be focusing on the earning part.Once you become expert in design, money will come automatically through various kinds of ways.
Write tutorials and get ready to be a paid writer. Jamal will be covering how to earn money writing in one of his future articles.
Until then let me know your concerns and what else you expect from me to boost your web design career as a writer.
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Rakhitha Nimesh is a software engineer and writer from Sri Lanka. He likes to develop applications and write on latest technologies. He is available for freelance writing and WordPress development. You can read his latest book on WordPress Web Application Development. He is a regular contributor to 1stWebDesigner, Tuts+ network and Sitepoint network. Make sure to contact him at www.innovativephp.com or follow him on Twitter and Google+