Lesson 3: Writing an Instructable and Adding Photos

Introduction: Lesson 3: Writing an Instructable and Adding Photos

About: I'm a community manager here at instructables! I turn into a stitch witch at night. You can find me on Instagram @jessyratfink and Twitter at @makingjiggy ^_^

Now that we’ve taken our photos and have some notes about what we made, let’s put it into the Instructables Editor and start composing our Instructable. In this lesson, I'll show you the creation of my sugar cookie instructable.

We'll look at titling an instructable, breaking a project down into steps, and editing and adding photos.

Step 1: Using the Instructables Editor

The first thing you'll want to do is get acquainted with the Instructables Editor if you've never used it before.

Click this link or the image above to read an instructable that will walk you through all of its features!

The Instructables Editor is how every instructable is written. It's very easy to use, and has loads of features. Since I won't be covering all of them while writing my instructable, the instructable above will give you a more comprehensive view of it.

Step 2: Choosing a Title

The first thing to do when you make an instructable is title it!

The easiest way to do this is to ask yourself "How would someone Google for this?"

For my sugar cookie recipe, here is my short list of ideas:

  • easy sugar cookie recipe
  • no chill sugar cookie recipe
  • easy shaped sugar cookies

I would like to focus on the fact that these involve little to no chilling, so I'm going to go with the "no chill sugar cookie recipe" title! It sets it apart from other sugar cookie recipes. It doesn’t matter if there’s already a project with the same title as yours, since there’s no wrong way to write an instructable.

For more information about titling instructables, please check out "How to Choose a Title and Keywords for Your Instructable" - it'll help answer all your questions!

P.S. As soon as you title your instructable, an upload box for photos will pop up. Close out of that and we'll come back to it later!

Step 3: Writing the Introduction

Now it's time to write the introduction for the instructable. The introduction is just as important as the main image and title - this is your “hook” that will get people to keep reading.

The introduction should tell the reader what the project is, why you made it, and how you made it. While this is often obvious from the title and photo, some projects need a little more explaining and this is the right place to do that. This is your story, so share all the details!

Since there are lots of sugar cookie recipes online, I want my introduction to convince the readers that THIS is the sugar cookie recipe they'll want to try.

Below is a screenshot of the introduction I wrote.

2020 UPDATE:

Now you can add a quick list of supplies to the introduction of the instructable! You can also choose to make your supply list its own step. If you don't enter text into the "Supplies" box, this module will not show up in the published instructable.

Step 4: Breaking the Project Into Steps

Once the introduction is written, it's time to think about how many steps the instructable needs. I often reference my notes for this, but it can be as simple as breaking it down into processes.

To add additional steps, click the "Add" dropdown and then click "Step":

For my sugar cookie recipe, this is my step layout:

  1. Introduction
  2. Ingredients + Tools
  3. Measuring the Flour
  4. Creaming the Butter, Sugar and Salt
  5. Adding Egg and Vanilla
  6. Mixing the Wet and Dry Ingredients
  7. Forming the Dough and Rolling It Out
  8. Cutting out Shapes
  9. Baking
  10. Cooling + Decorating

On Instructables, the Introduction step is almost always followed by a "Supplies/Materials/Tools/Ingredients" step. Beyond that, feel free to break it up in whatever way makes the most sense to you! I like to add all of the steps and title them before I get to writing - it helps keep me organized. :)

Step 5: Formatting the "Ingredients + Tools" Step

I feel it's important to give your readers a comprehensive list of the things you used to make your project. That way they'll have a greater chance of success when replicating your instructable!

I like to use use bulleted lists for easy readability!

Try to be as specific as you can! It is also very helpful to link to websites where your tools and materials can be bought - not just for easy access, but also so your readers can figure out exactly what they need. :)

Step 6: Finding a Writing Style

Once you have a title, introduction, and steps - it's time to fill them in with directions!

Every person has to decide how much information about themselves they want to put into their writing. You can make your writing very personal, you can go for puns and comedy, or you can keep it straight-laced as a technical manual.

It's all up to you! The more instructables you author, the more you'll find a writing routine that works for you.

Personally, I write like I talk.

Don't feel obligated to include photos of yourself into your projects. Do what makes you feel comfortable. The reason I've stayed with Instructables so long is that it is not about who you are, but about what you make!

Step 7: Finding the Right Photos for Each Step

On nearly all of my steps, I like to have before and after shots of the processes happening.

To find the right shots for each step I take the photos from my camera and upload them to my computer.

To make my photos look their best I use a photo editor. You can use any program you are comfortable with, from free online programs like Pixlr to prosumer programs.

I go through my photos and choose photos for each step, deleting duplicates, blurry messes, and any photo I don't need.

Try to narrow down your photos as much as possible - it'll make editing and uploading them much much easier. :)

In this case, I started with 143 photos and ended up with 38 after getting rid of all the duplicates.

Step 8: Editing Photos

I edit every photo I put on Instructables.

I typically up the exposure, reduce the shadows, mess with the color balance, crop, and increase vibrance or saturation if needed. :)

While it's not necessary, it can really improve your photos with very little effort!

I use Adobe Lightroom to do my editing, but there are also many free options available for both computer and smart phones.

Above is a good example of before and after editing a photo. The day I documented the making of these cookies, the sun kept disappearing behind the clouds while it snowed, giving some of my photos a blue-ish cast. But with a little editing, I made them nice and bright. :D

To learn more about photo editing, please check out my "Basic Photo Editing" instructable!

Step 9: Uploading Photos

Now that I've chosen my photos and edited them, it's time to put them into the instructable!

I tend to upload photos step-by-step, but you can also upload them all at once and drag them onto the steps they belong to.

You can also click the “Add” dropdown to insert photos while editing the Instructable, and drag them around to different steps if you need to.

Put at least one photo on each step - more if you need to!

Step 10: Now It's Time to Publish!

Woohoo! We are almost done. Now it's time to publish!

In the next lesson, I'll show you how to publish an instructable, choose a main image, and add keywords.

>>Click HERE to go to Lesson 4: Publishing an Instructable<<

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