How to Win at Tutorials

November 24, 2020

We’ve seen it before: Your tech is great, your messaging is polished, but you’re struggling to build out your user base. You know your product brings value, but you haven’t quite shown how.


People need a reason to convert. And depending on the novelty and complexity of your product, that can require more of a sustained effort than a single announcement. Potential users need a clear picture of how this product will fit into their workflow. For companies with unlimited resources, education programs are a great way to go. But if your staff is small and your budget is low, there are still solutions. We’re here to talk about one of our favorites – the tutorial.


Basic Anatomy

The tutorial’s structure is simple. First, the writer starts with a brief intro paragraph, where they might talk about themselves, their vision, and the tools they plan to use to get there. From there, they walk through a series of steps, often starting with planning and moving through the different software and techniques. Some tutorials are 4 steps long, others are 18. You’ll want to choose what’s right for you based on the complexity of your scene.


Choosing your person

Unlike general articles, tutorials are often done by artists rather than journalists. Your options are pretty open here. Think about partners, evangelists, beta testers, anyone! Maybe there’s an artist you’ve seen on social media that uses your product (or may be open to trying it out). Shoot them a message and try to set something up. If none of that pans out, you may be able to use an artist on your staff – just know that the publication may be wary of a sales pitch. And keep in mind, artists aren’t necessarily writers. Be sure someone on your PR team gives the story a final proof.


Choosing your subject

You can have a lot of fun here. Think about what would catch your eye if you were flipping through a magazine. What would grab your attention and make you say “I want to do that”? Beyond the eye-catching cool factor, you also want to choose something that specifically showcases your software. Does your product help with caustics? Consider a table scene with refractive glassware. Does it help populate busy scenes? Consider a forest with lots of trees, a venue with chairs, or another setting where you could really show the value of your product. Work with your artist to find a subject that will have impact.


Showcasing your product

Depending on where your tutorial might appear, you can expect your readers to have some background knowledge. But you don’t want to assume too much and skip steps that could aid in their understanding. Go slow, be clear, and meet people where they’re at.


If your product links into a larger pipeline, think about how you can show your product fitting seamlessly with others. People gravitate toward simplicity and familiarity. The better you contextualize your product in software the user is already familiar with, the more you erode that barrier to adoption. Ultimately, you don’t want to be seen as making a workflow more complicated. The goal is to show how your product lifts some burden in the creative process.


Don’t forget images

The final image isn’t the only one that matters. As your tutorial moves from one step to the next, it can be immensely helpful to have screenshots of what you’re doing. It may not be necessary to have a picture for every single step, but you’ll definitely want clear imagery to go with your more complex actions. Remember that lots of people (especially artists!) are visual learners.


A final word

If your product is great, education is one of the strongest sales tools you have, and tutorials are one of the best ways to do it. Whether you time it with a product launch, or use it to keep momentum going between updates, tutorials are well worth your consideration. And if you’re ready to give it a go, we’re here to help.