Those new to the surveying industry most always need a little know-how and in efforts to support this need, LSU provides the absolute best and simple platform for publishing such How-To discussions and articles. So today let's talk about what an effective How-To tutorial contains. A 'How-To' tutorial is by far one of the most common post types used by almost every blogger, writer or expert online. Why? Because people search for answers when they don't have them already. Inherently, 'How-To' posts create limitless opportunities to not only bring tons of surveyors to the network, but ultimately they will live forever online and continue to help other surveyors til the end of time. A typical 'How-To' tutorial almost always promises to deliver a solution for the reader-but for the surveyor, it can also demonstrate the commonly overlooked "know-why." Let's see how to create an attractive and supportive 'How-To' post that has the potential to enlighten and perhaps even change something in the industry as a whole on some level.
Create Problem-Solver Article Which Will Withstand the Tests of Time
Ideally, every surveying related 'How-To' tutorial should be a problem-solver article, providing unique solution to some of the most common questions of those new to the industry. Anticipating readers' expectations and capitalizing on it will make you an ideal solution provider. Land surveyors want quick and easy solutions to their problems. Identifying your readers' grievances and providing the right answer to their questions in the form of 'How-To' posts can make your article a big hit in no time. This means more credibility for you as a professional and could be the beginnings of a terrific following. Just think..you could have surveyors all over the world utilizing your special techniques in the field.
Craft Eye-Catching Headline
The title of a 'How-To' post carries the weight of the whole article. You claim a solution, a promise in your post headline that tempts a visitor to read it. Headlines of such posts are like honey pots crafted to perfection to attract the audience. Having said that, one must keep in mind the negative implications of not fulfilling the promise done in the headline. The more eye-catching is your headline, the more responsibility is on your shoulders to match that headline with equally good content. Try not to bite off more than you can chew. When in doubt, break the tutorial into parts and indicate Part 1, Part 2, Part 3-when doing so, always finish what you started as leaving your readers hanging may destroy your good intentions you began with.
Take Step-by-Step Approach
Divide the path towards the solution into clear steps and move ahead by taking one step (no overlapping) at a time. Sometimes, newbies are not able to pick up the right progress thread and mix different stages of solution at one place leading to confusion and frustration for the reader.
Use the power of bullet lists, sub-headlines and short paragraphs to make the tutorial clear enough to be grasped easily by anyone.
Use The 'KISS' Principle
Surveyors love the KISS Principle. Remember, the solution provided by you is going to be read by intellects as well as by those who are completely ignorant of the subject discussed in the tutorial. Use the KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) principle to make it readable for every class of readers. The more simple and plain is your 'How-To' tutorial language, the more it will be popular. Avoid use of rich complex terms that may confuse some of the readers.
Spice Up With Illustrations
Illustrations are an essential part of any 'How-To' post. They add visual appeal and make the tutorial more readable and easier to understand. If there is scope, use them liberally to make your readers better understand the solution. You can always upload the images into Land Surveyors United and then use them in your post. TIP: When going this route, place a link to your tutorial in the description of the photo, so in the case a fellow surveyor finds the photo first, they can easily find what it relates to. Also remember that a How-To article related to doing something a certain way in one part of the world may be entirely different for surveyors in another location. So always remember to mention somewhere that 'this is how its done where you live.'
Provide Supporting Resources
If your 'How-To' post has the scope of providing demos or downloads, nothing can be better than that. For example, let's assume you are writing a 'How-To' tutorial about mapping a set of coordinates from a spreadsheet. Showing an example or even a couple of examples of the final result will do wonders for your readership. Package the code in a zip file and provide this download to your readers. They will simply love it and may spread the word about it among their contacts giving you more and more traffic.
Be Ready To Answer
No matter how well you package your solution, you are bound to be bombarded by readers questions in the form of comments and emails. Be mentally prepared and create some common FAQ's drafts to speed up your response. Sometimes, an average 'How-To' tutorial goes viral simply because you are answering every question of the readers. It may also happen that one of your readers provides a better solution then yours. Acknowledge the solution provided by your reader thanking him for adding his valuable input.
Promise To Deliver Again
In the end of your post, do not forget to indicate your readers about delivering similar kind of stuff in the future. If you have any relevant semi-prepared drafts in your dashboard, do not hesitate to tell about them to your readers. This will help in capturing more attention from your fellow surveyors.
Some Possible Ideas to get You Rolling
-How to fix a prism in the field so that it lasts until you return to the office
-How to choose the best color flagging for the job
-How to plumb a rod using a doorway
-How to remap your data collector's keyboard keys
-How to sync your data between the field and the office from the field
-How to protect your equipment during horrible weather
-How to build a surveyor's emergency field kit
-How to protect yourself in the field from snakes
- How to turn angles on the side of a volcano
-How to close a level loop
-How to properly document property line discrepencies
-How to make a How To Tutorial from the field using your cellphone
Over to You...
What types of How-To articles would you like to see on Land Surveyors United?