People ask me all the time: How do you do it? Really! HOW?
Just day before yesterday, the capitalised “How” was asked by my amazed and astounded wife. Turns out I had accidentally locked her inside as I went out to deal with a mess my 1.5-year-old daughter made trying to feed the dog. Wifey kept asking me “HOW” I had managed to do it, again, since this did happen before. Most husbands would prefer to lock their wives away for short periods of time but mine was an honest mistake. All four times.
She repeatedly asked, “HOW!?” with that scary combination of exclamation and question marks. I decided a heart attack was the best way to avoid answering. Unfortunately, no one around me was having a heart attack.
Which brings me back on track to people asking me “How do I do it?”
All the time.
It is a simple five-step process.
1: Select a topic
The most important step in writing a great helpful How-To article is to select the right drink to sit with. I prefer coffee because it is dark and strong yet sunny just like everyone is on Instagram. I am not a tea person the same way that I am not a cat person. These require finesse and obedience that I lack. But coffee is easy and can be made in a variety of ways. Decide how you want it. A quick fix with instant or the better, richer, more Instagramable brewed versions. Oh, and pick a topic to write on.
2: Do your research
Google is your friend here but try not to get lost. For example, that coffee you want to drink hoping to jumpstart your idea creation. How do you make it? A French press or an AeroPress are two rather inexpensive manual devices that can provide you with delicious brewed coffee that is miles better than the instant kind. You pour the right kind of ground beans, pressuring the water through it, and you get brilliant dark magic. Best part is these are mechanical so very few things can go wrong.
Also, what you write has to be factually correct. If you make them up, your readers will lose faith in you. On the other hand, you can become a TV news reporter or even better, a motivational speaker.
3: Create a tight draft
By now you are coming up with a solid plan on how to attack your readers’ minds. This is helped by making sure your coffee is made just right. The best kind of coffee is just the right amount of strong without being acidic. The more acidic, the more bitter, which only some people like because life is bitter and they are hoping the two bits of bitterness cancel out for rainbows and cream. But terrific coffee is flavourful and the cleanest, cheapest way to get it is using an AeroPress. It may look like a science project but it really is simple followed by quick cleanup.
Oh, and something-something about the article you’re writing.
4: Make it specific
How-To articles have to be thorough and to the point. Your readers need to come out of their amazed and bewildered state thinking they too can do things, great things, big things, many things. Heck, that last bit is exactly how Donald Trump thinks and speaks and look at his position now. From an occasionally bankrupt entrepreneur to holding the power to launch nuclear missiles anywhere intentionally or otherwise. That is how we want our readers to feel.
In that quest for specificity, you decide sugar or not for your coffee. I find creamer gives it a touch of smoothness but sugar dilutes the taste.
5: Revise and proof till the words become a blur
By now you are well on your way to finishing the first three cups of coffee and that should get you started on the first three words of your article.
Did you include everything? Did you cover all possible options for the reader to feel an acceptable member of society? Did you heat the water too much because then the coffee can sometimes end up burnt creating that undesirable acidic taste? Just make sure you have checked for typos because that can completely change the meaning of your articles. For example, I forgot to include a question mark to my title. It should have been “How to become rich writing how-to articles?”
It’s a question.
Seriously, tell me, because my coffee addiction is getting out of hand.
Ehsanur Raza Ronny is a confused dad, all round car guy, model car builder and cartoonist. Currently Editor of Shift (automobiles), Bytes (technology) and Next Step (career) for The Daily Star.