Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writing How-To Articles

Posted by Linda

How-To articles can open a door to your first publication.

When my friend from California visited this past weekend, I showed her the scarves I am currently knitting for a craft group. I taught her, but, she still insisted on written directions to take home.

How-To articles are always in demand – how to make, build, or be. Read the Table of Contents of most magazines and you are sure to find How-To articles. My first and only sale to Family Circle consisted of 350 words on how to create a successful church craft fund raiser. Teach others a basic skill you take for granted, use your expertise, write what you know, and sell the same idea over and over.

From that first sale of a How-To article use the same information for related pieces. An article on how to gold leaf a picture frame can be slanted to upscale, middle income, and senior magazines. Begin each with a different lead and write with the dissimilar audiences in mind.  

Types of How-To vary. The “hands on” teaches things like crafts, sewing, roofing, while the psychological or self-help gives information like fund-raising, packing light, or how to mix and match to get the most from your wardrobe.   

Each How-To article needs the following:

1.      Where to buy materials, how much to buy, and an estimated cost, i.e. under $10 or $20.
2.      Clear step-by-step instructions.
3.      Illustrations or photos.
4.      Checked and rechecked instructions.
5.      The fun and sense of accomplishment from doing it yourself.

Consider yourself a teacher, only you have no students to ask questions for clarity. So, be sure you check your steps.

On looking back over my sales records, I discover I’ve sold many How-To articles. Try it – you’ll like it.


Stephanie Hillberry said...

This is a great suggestion! How-to articles seem to be gaining in popularity, and they are simple to write (meaning No Excuses!). I also like how you mentioned that we should take advantage of what we know simply by sharing it, which is sterling advice. As a final step, you could even consider making your how-to articles into short pdf tutorials and selling them. I've had success doing this and love the process--

Thanks for sharing this!

Linda Osmundson said...

Thanks for the new idea, Stephanie. I'll have to check into that possibility.

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