I thought the tutorial writing world needed to know really how to write those bad tutorials, and how to do it properly. I can’t get enough of bad tutorials and love it when I see 40 “tutorials” in a row rejected from the same website. Here’s to you old pals…
1. Always start with ‘This is my first ever tutorial” or “I just learned this yesterday”
An opening paragraph can be the maker or breaker of a tutorial, and for me to read that you’re new to whatever subject you’re trying to teach or that you’re new to writing tutorials doesn’t really fill me with confidence. Use your opening paragraph to outline your tutorial and what you will teach, not to persuade users not to read on.
2. M15pe1 eev3ry w0rD wr0ng
Yes you’re ‘l33t’, but we have the power to call your mother and tell her you’ve been a bad boy. Eat that with your cereal before school.
3. Make ads more important than the tutorial/content itself
Simply put, when a reader is actually reading the tutorial you’ve written, they actually want to read the tutorial… not ads about Viagra and fetish websites. Advertisement are all right to support the tutorial but don’t let it get in the way.
4. Save all your images poorly
The fuzzy feeling should be inside us when we read your tutorial, not all over the image we are trying to view.
5. Go one step further and host them on a free image host
It comforts us to know you’ve gone through all the effort of paying $10 a month for a host… it really does. It means that you’ll be around longer than the refresh of a page.
6. Always use pixel text and fonts below 9px in size
“Whats all those white lines going across the content area all about?”
7. If you’re going to use dark text, make sure you use a dark background or if you’re going to use light text, make sure you use a light background
Honestly… who can read light red on light blue?
8. If you’re going to use syntax highlighting, make sure it’s impossible to read
The colours are meant for a white background, if you’re not using a white background… customise the colours properly. If you’re using syntax highlighting on something as silly as a dark grey background then how are people supposed to see the code in the first place?
9. Keep it short and sweet
“Is that it?” You don’t want to be told that in bed and you sure as hell don’t want to hear it from somebody reading your tutorial. Now do what you did to solve the bedroom problem and put some effort and work into those tutorials.
10. Make sure you tell the user “we are going to use this, if you don’t know it, go and learn” at least once during the tutorial
If a teacher told you to go and learn wouldn’t you tell him to teach you in the first place? I sure would.
11. Promote your friends’ sites consistently
We only read tutorials to get more useless sites to look at and your friends’ tutorial sites let us know just which sites to avoid in the future.
12. Skip steps
“So we start with this and end with this, tutorial done”… Everyone is psychic nowadays so why teach them what they’ve come to learn?
13. Host it on a forum full of 500kb “animated” sigs that are the size of desktop wallpapers
Those sigs just bring life to the page and really shine through your professional side. In truth, if you showed anything close to a “signature file” in a professional interview they would send you back to your local grocery store for extra training.
14. ALWAYS give your tutorial a name that has nothing to do with the tutorial itself
Readers will hate you for giving them Britney Spears when they are looking for Oasis.
15. Finally, always complain to a tutorial listing administrator that your tutorial was declined at
Yes you thought it was a good tutorial, but we didn’t. Rejection is harsh but so is your site being labelled as ‘ran by that crazy guy’.
To end, I hope people writing all these bad tutorials see my point, and really start to actually listen to the complaints constantly left on their tutorials.