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The Internet is awash with tutorials for various programming languages and software tools. Some receive thousands of hits every day. Tutorials are a great way to drive traffic to your website and to give something back to the community. One of the best ways to do this is to submit your tutorials to tutorial directories. However, there is a bit more to tutorial writing that putting your ideas onto a web page and then submitting it to a website. This article give you ten hints on the tutorial writing process from the actual writing through to submitting them to tutorial directories:

Study the competition

How much originality is there in your tutorial? Has it been done a thousand times before? It’s easy to find out – search the Internet. There’s no point writing what a numerous people have covered already. Look at the tutorials that seem to have had a lot of traffic – what is it about their tutorial that is so good? Conversely, look at the unpopular ones – why might they be receiving less attention?

Use correct spelling and grammar

This is an obvious point but important one. Poor grammar and punctuation gives off an unprofessional image; a well-written, articulate article on the other hand is much easier to work through. Some visitors may not speak the language the tutorial is written in as their first language so they may be confused by slang and abbreviations. If you struggle with spelling and grammar ask a friend to proofread your tutorial or run a spell check in some Word Processing software.

Let them know what they’re in for

Give the user as much information about the tutorial as possible. Clearly explain any prerequisites to the tutorial such as any third party files the user may need, platform versions the tutorial is compatible with and software versions it is will work with. Additionally, try to attach a difficulty rating to the tutorial and give them an estimated time as to how long the tutorial will take.

Encourage feedback

It’s very important that you get feedback on your tutorials. Even if you think your tutorial is great it is academic if no one else does. If possible allow users to post comments on your tutorial without needing to sign into an account. If you are unable to do this direct them to a contact form or provide an email link – a commenting system is preferable as users will be more inclined to use it. Feedback from users is useful for future versions of the tutorial and for other tutorials you write. Take the comments with a pinch of salt though – a handful of negative comments do not necessarily mean your tutorial is not very good. You may be targeting the wrong people; sometimes users even post criticism out of jealously! Voting systems are also useful but only to compliment your primary channel of contact (voting systems are easy to manipulate).

Write step-by-step

Step-by-step doesn’t mean you have to detail every mouse click, it means the process must be properly documented. If you are targeting beginners then hold their hand and walk them through it. On the other hand if you are targeting the experienced take them through the fundamentals. If your tutorial is lengthy break it down into pages as well as steps.

Include plenty of non-text elements

A page full of text can be boring and very difficult to get through. Include anything you can to make the page more pleasing to the eye and easier to follow: code excerpts, diagrams, screen shots. The types of elements you include depend largely on the subject matter of your tutorial.

Describe your tutorial properly

Be as specific as you can when naming your tutorial. For example “Good Effect in Photoshop” doesn’t tell the user anything about your tutorial. It’s especially pointless if they find it in a Photoshop directory and in the Effects section! Remember the words in the title of your tutorial are the ones that the search engines and tutorial directories will use to identify it when people search for it. Ask yourself the question: if I were searching for a tutorial like this what would I enter into the search engine? If the tutorial has a graphical element and requires a thumbnail ensure the image you choose encapsulates the tutorial sufficiently. Finally, ensure you choose the right category.

Linking not hosting

Try to avoid websites that host your tutorial rather than linking to it. You want to make a good name for your website and drive traffic to your site. It is also important to note that most search engines do not like to see exactly the same content served from multiple domains so you may end up with a duplicate content penalty for serving your own tutorial!

Submit to as many directories as possible

Prioritise those with high rankings (go to the site, search for similar tutorials and see what kind of traffic they get) but submit to as many as you can – even if they don’t seem to be getting much traffic. Tutorial directories are visited by other tutorial directory owners and are often networked through affiliate schemes. In the long-term this can build a good name for your site. It’s not uncommon to get webmasters emailing you asking you to add to their site.

Keep a submission diary

A submission diary is a list of tutorial directories that details which of your tutorials you have submitted to which websites. The best way to do this is with a spreadsheet – keep your sites down the side and the tutorials directories across the top. Check off which tutorials have gone where. This diary helps you keep track of your progress and also serves as a directory of directories. You may think you can remember but you’ll find you soon forget. This is important as some directories will reject a tutorial if it is submitted twice regardless of how good it is.

Tim Bennett is a Leeds-based web designer from Yorkshire. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.