The How-To Blog Post Template

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The How-To Blog Post Template

A “how to” blog post does exactly what it describes: it teaches the reader how to do something by breaking down a series of steps.

Historically, this type of post performs well for most bloggers, and with good reason.

While we enjoy a good philosophical discussion or a hot debate that puts our cerebral cortex into overdrive, the fact is that we all want to learn how to get stuff done. If you can incorporate images or video to make the process visual, you'll likely see even greater success.

“How-to” type posts draw us like moths to a flame because we assume we’re going to learn how to do something faster, cheaper, or better than other people, or shave some time off a tedious, outdated process that makes us want to stick a fork in our left eye.

What can you teach your audience how to do?

Once you’ve figured that out, the template below can help you break down the process in written form.

Plan Your How-To Blog Post

Take several minutes to plan out what you want to write about so that you can stay on topic and keep your readers engaged.

Step 1: Identify Your Audience

Which buyer persona are you writing this blog post for?


Step 2: Identify Your Key Takeaway

What do you want your audience to know how to do after reading your blog post?


Step 3: Brainstorm a Few Possible Titles

You don’t have to pick the perfect title before your blog post is done, but it definitely helps to jot down a few ideas to help keep you focused during the writing process.

At HubSpot, we typically choose a working title – a title that you can "work" off of that guides your post, and helps you resist the urge to ramble off into a million different directions. Once the post is complete, we usually fine tune to ensure the title accurately reflects the post content, grabs potential readers’ attention, and is optimized for search.

For example, before finalizing the title for a blog post and downloadable presentation we put together for Halloween 2013, we brainstormed several titles before choosing a working title, and then revised further to come up with the final title:

  1. 13 Stats to Spook Your Boss Away From Traditional Advertising

  2. 13 Stats That Will Spook Your Boss into Adopting Inbound Marketing

  3. 13 Spooky Stats to Scare Your Boss Away From Ineffective Marketing Tactics (working title)

  4. 13 Spooky Stats to Scare Your Boss Into Better Marketing (published title)

Use the space below to craft a few possible blog post titles, and then choose one as your working title. Don’t worry about finalizing your title until you’re done writing.


Step 4: Create an Outline

The typical how-to blog post consists of:

  • An introduction: Sets the stage for what you plan to teach your readers how to do.

  • A body: Explains the every step involved in learning how to do that thing.

  • A conclusion: Wraps up your post with a brief statement that's reflective of what your readers just learned.

What are all the bases you need to cover to introduce your topic, explain it in detail, and remind the reader what they just learned?

Use these questions to help you create your outline below.


Fill in the How-To Blog Post Template

Step 5: Write the Introduction

When writing your introduction, you want to keep one question top of mind: How can I establish credibility and empathize with my audience to introduce my topic?

Feel free to leave the introduction for last, too. Sometimes it’s easier to introduce your post after you’ve written the real meat of it.

When you do write your intro, here’s how we recommend going about it, using a blog post on How to Easily Create a SlideShare Presentation as an example.

Steps to Writing Your Introduction

Example With Underlined And Italicized Orange Text that Can Be Swapped Out For Your Copy

  1. Write a compelling opening that empathizes with the reader on a problem or difficulty.

Please raise your hand if you've ever felt personally victimized by PowerPoint.

  1. Explain the problem in further detail.

When you open it up, you're hit with stark black Calibri font on a white background, killing any creative inkling you may have felt. It's daunting enough creating a 10-slide deck to report your monthly marketing metrics – never mind putting together a PowerPoint to be seen by the 60 million monthly unique visitors on SlideShare.

  1. Explain how you’ll fix the problem by teaching the reader how to do something.

Well, there's good news: Creating a SlideShare presentation in PowerPoint doesn't have to be that daunting. With the right template and tools at your disposal, you could easily create an engaging, visual presentation -- all without fancy design programs, huge budgets, or hiring contractors.

  1. Transition into the body where you’ll explain the how-to steps in detail.

Download the free PowerPoint template, and we'll walk through how to use it right now in this very blog post. When we're done you'll know exactly how to create a sexy SlideShare that gets features on SlideShare's Top Presentations of the Day in now time. Ready? Let's dive in.

Now it’s your turn! Start crafting an introduction in the box provided below.


Step 6: Write the Body

Remember, the body follows through on what you promised in the introduction. Your body can be written in paragraphs, with bullets, numbered lists, multiple headings, or a mix of all of these. You can make use of whichever format is easiest for you.

Just be cognizant of this question: What are all the steps I need to explain in order to avoid confusion, and can I add any visuals that will make learning any easier for my readers?

Steps to Writing Your Body

Example With Underlined And Italicized Orange Text that Can Be Swapped Out For Your Copy

  1. Write a header that will indicate to readers you’re getting into the meat of your post.

10 Steps to Creating a Killer SlideShare

  1. List out each step involved in the learning process.

  1. Outline main takeaways and crucial sub-bullets.

Before you start diving into any elements of the design, you need to get your story straight. Just like you would outline a blog post before writing, you want to establish the three or four main takeaways from your presentations, and create a section for each one. Then, you can elaborate on those sections with a few main points -- and create slides for them, too. Also, put slide placeholders for the intro, call-to-action, and conclusion slides (you don't need to elaborate on them just yet).

Keep in mind that these slides should not be complex.
[screenshot to further illustrate step 1]
See, nothing fancy going on here. By keeping design out of the picture, you can actually focus on the flow of the story.

  1. Transition from one step to the other by using words like “after,” “next,” and “then.”

2) Decide on fonts and a color scheme.
After you've established your storyline, figure out which fonts and color scheme you want to use. Think of this step like you did step # -- you're establishing a design outline for the rest of your PowerPoint so that you won't have to figure it out with each additional slide.

  1. Transition into the conclusion.

Last, but certainly not least, you want to export your presentation to PDF. This way, your slides' fonts and design will be preserved when you upload it to SlideShare.

Ready to start crafting the body? Fill in the box provided below.


Step 7: Write the Conclusion

Your conclusion is where you’ll paraphrase the key takeaway you outlined earlier in the planning stages and/or prompt your reader with a question.

Steps to Writing Your Conclusion

Example With Underlined And Italicized Orange Text that Can Be Swapped Out For Your Copy

  1. Let the reader know they’ve arrived at the end of instruction.

Last, but certainly not least, you want to export your presentation to PDF. This way, your slides' fonts and design will be preserved when you upload it to SlideShare.

  1. Summarize what the reader learned or how they benefitted from reading your post.

Then, you're ready to upload your PDF to SlideShare and start raking in the leads and customers. And you know what the best part is? Next time, that blank PowerPoint template won't feel quite as daunting. :)

  1. Ask a question to encourage the reader to leave a comment or react.

Want to create your own SlideShare? Get your own SlideShare template including some of the slides and tips featured above by clicking here.

What’s your conclusion? Write it in the text box below.


Step 8: Link to Additional Resources within Your Post

Sometimes it’s hard to say everything you want to say about a single topic in one post, which is why it’s helpful to your readers to identify additional resources you can link to for additional detail or credibility.

Hyperlinking to other blog posts or pages on your site can result in increased visibility in search engines, page views, and time on site. Hyperlinking to third party content can round out your perspective and help you appear more trustworthy to your readers.

What resources can you reference to strengthen your post? Place those links in this text box.

When you place your blog post copy into your blogging platform, create hyperlinks for these resources where they fit best.


Step 9: Finalize Your Title

Revisit your working title and see if you can make it more accurate, specific, sexy, concise, and SEO-optimized.

Need help? Check out this post on writing kick-ass titles.


Additional Tips and Recommendations

High-quality how-to posts are always extremely helpful to the reader. How-to posts should be approached like user manuals – pretend you're a writer for IKEA furniture assembly manuals ... but you're about 100 times clearer, and, you know, writing about something other than furniture. A reader should be able to execute on the subject of the post with no confusion.

Here are some of the hallmarks of extremely clear, helpful how-to posts:

Provide Context

You should explain why it's important to do whatever it is you're explaining. You can use stories, data, or talk through best practices and the logic behind them. But just diving in doesn't provide a sense of urgency, and it doesn't level the playing field for readers that may not be as "in the know" as others.  

  • This is an example of a how-to post that does this very well for us at HubSpot.

Include Screenshots Accompanied by Explanatory Text

It helps people understand what they're supposed to do if they can see it. Visual confirmation they've taken the right steps is a nice motivator that they're doing the right things, and encourages the reader to keep going.  

  • This is an example of a how-to post that does this very well.

Write Out Precise Keystrokes, if Applicable

For instance, you shouldn't tell someone to "go to your account settings." Where are the account settings located? Are they really called "account settings," or are they actually called "Settings?” Be extremely clear, and provide the exact names, locations, and keystrokes for every step of the process.

  • This is an example of a how-to post that does this very well.

Anticipate Potential Questions and Roadblocks Before They Come Up

Think ahead and solve for the user. If someone might trip up somewhere, think of that for them, and explain how to avoid the problem. For instance, if the how-to post you're writing requires the reader is working in a certain browser, it's your job to anticipate that your reader might be using Firefox, and that you must instruct them to use Chrome, instead.

  • This is an example of a how-to post that does this very well – check out that first section after the introduction.

Be Comprehensive

A reader shouldn't leave a post with only half the story. If you're teaching someone how to do something, teach the whole thing. For instance, if you're teaching someone how to source new prospects using social media, you shouldn't just come up with 3 ways because it's catchy, or because that's all you have the time to write. Your post should teach them all of the legitimate, solid, helpful ways they can do that particular thing.

  • This is an example of a how-to post that does this very well.
  • And this is another.

How-To Blog Post Examples for Inspiration

  • How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow

  • How to Master the Art of Exceptional Blog Titles

  • How to Write an Introduction [Quick Tip]

  • How to Easily Create a SlideShare Presentation [+Free Template]

  • How to Add HTML Embed Codes to Your Website [Quick Tip]

  • How to Create an Animated GIF [Quick Tip]

  • Blog SEO for the Modern Marketer: How to Optimize Your Posts

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