How to Document a Task
Information that you will need:
- All information related to the task such as URLs and login credentials
- Additional instructions, if any. Don’t be afraid to ask
- Access to the Task Library (to add your guide)
Tools that you will need:
- Google Doc (login required)
- Image editor (Windows and iOS have such a tool built-in)
- A screen recorder (Descript, Loom, Camtasia, etc.)
- WordPress (login required)
Important things to do and consider
You won’t be personally one-on-one-teaching somebody, but instead, you're writing down your instructions on how to do a particular task so that others can simply read your instructions and be able to do the task without confusion. You’ll want to make it so easy to understand and straightforward by using a step-by-step format so that anyone with zero experience should be able to follow your directions to achieve the same result. We think of it like a recipe or a cookbook, so if someone has the right ingredients and you show them how to mix these things together, put the mix in the oven, and bake it at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, they’re going to get delicious chocolate chip cookies because you explained it so well.
While doing the task, you need to do these:
- Identify steps and take down notes documenting each step. Divide the task into granular steps to make the process easier to follow.
- Take note of the online tools that you used to complete the task as well and document their URLs as well.
- Take screenshots of every step. You don’t have to limit screenshots to just one per step. You can add more if it will help the reader understand better what you're trying to explain. Add highlights to important parts of a screenshot. You can use a simple tool such as the Windows Paint program to add these highlights.
I want you to document how you're doing it as you're doing the task. Don't wait till the very end. Don't think, "I'm going to wait until I've done it many times before documenting it," because you're going to forget the little details along the way. Trust me, you will. Don’t procrastinate. Take those notes down, and take screenshots along the way.
Another thing that you need to consider, as you are writing instructions, is to never make assumptions about things that you might take for granted. What you might consider basic may not be basic for others. For example, there are a lot of acronyms that people are not going to know or understand. How do you get access to a particular tool? How do you get access to someone's website or their PPC account?
Try to recall how you felt when you did the task for the first time. Try to remember the difficulties you encountered. How did you solve the problem? Think, as you're doing something, what are some really helpful tips that you can share? Don't just take screenshots and submit them. Think, what are the pro tips that you picked up along the way that people need to know? It’s not a bad idea to approach this with a beginner’s mindset. Think like a beginner, but explain it like a pro.
Think about all the possibilities where someone could commit an error and focus there. That's where you're going to put in the most effort, because the higher the probability that someone's going to trip, the higher the chances that they're going to make a mistake. That's in proportion to where you're going to put in the most effort. Don’t be afraid to be very detailed in your documentation. The better it is explained, the easier it will be understood and digested.
For example, you can suggest having a good microphone so that the audio will be easy to hear if they're recording a screen share video. Suggest alternative ways that they can do the task or any step in the process if they're doing link-building and SEO. Teach them how to use a particular tool. You may write, “I always choose two categories when I'm selecting categories for a blog post." Share your personal techniques because that's really where the expertise will shine.
Here are some tips to help you create an awesome guide:
- You should provide a reference in the guide to teach the reader how to create an eBook when you're explaining a process like "How to Publish Guides as Free eBooks" for example. Provide a link somewhere in the guide where it makes sense. You can't teach a student driver how to park without teaching him how to drive first.
- You should always show the successful outcome of a task. Show the reader what it's supposed to look like. For example, if the task is about uploading an eBook, include an image showing the eBook on the site, successfully uploaded. It is always helpful to provide a visual reference for beginners.
- Include tips that will help people accomplish the task. For example, eBooks that don't include a bulleted list are always rejected. Inform them to help them save time by doing it right the first time.
Creating the guide
When you’re ready to document all the steps in the process, you need to do the following:
- List down each step and explain in detail what happens at each step. Explain what the expected output is at the end of each step.
- Add tools that can make the job easier and explain how to use them. Don’t forget to include links, so they’ll know where to go to access those tools. Think about the tools that they will need, and explain how they can access the tools.
- Add the screenshots that you saved while you were doing the task and documenting the steps. Remember to add highlights and labels when necessary.
- Inform the reader that the guide you created is available in the Task Library. Don’t forget to add a link to it, so that people have a way of getting to the library from the guide.
There should be an easy way to verify if the task was done appropriately at the end, especially if someone else is going to follow your guide. A verification checklist, in this case, can be very helpful. The checklist will serve as a reminder of things that they should have done. They can look at this checklist first before submitting their work to make sure that they didn’t miss a thing.
For example, when someone submits a blog post, we want to know if they remembered to include important things such as the title, images/screenshots, a link to the Task Library at the end, etc. Do they have at least two or three links in the guide? Did they include a link to the homepage of a major site? These are things that we're looking for, so if someone else, who's an external reviewer, looks at this verification checklist, he can say, it looks like Rebecca did all of these things. She did all these things, but, oh, we missed this one thing because they did this one thing or they forgot to do this one thing.
An example of a complete guide
To give you an example of what a well-documented how-to looks like, please check this guide on How to Inventory a YouTube Channel. It documents all the steps required to inventory a YouTube channel. Here, the VA took the granular approach to explain the process. He included every single step and added a lot of screenshots to explain each step. You can see here that he included all the important elements that make a guide truly helpful.
He began the page with a checklist to give the reader a view of what is involved right from the start. This includes the steps, suggested tools, and a few reminders. This is a simple task, but as you can see, there are many steps involved. Add as many steps as necessary, but don’t overdo it.
Making a demo
Learn how to use WordPress
I'd love for you to learn how to create a webpage using WordPress and put that guide in there for that particular task that you've learned how to do. You're going to make a new page for that or enhance an existing webpage that we already have for that task because we want lots and lots of examples of doing these tasks over and over again. Each of these tasks is going to link back to our Task Library, which is where we catalog all tasks. That way, things don't get out of control, and it will be easier to determine which of the tasks may fit together in a bundle, like a package.
For example, the task of building a website might be composed of all kinds of additional tasks such as graphic design, blogging, analytics, etc. These bundles are going to end up as a combination of tasks, like a value meal, if you will. When we're putting tasks together, remember that tasks don't just live by themselves. They live together in a particular bundle, so as you are learning how to document something, you can pass that off or just publish it and then take on new tasks, or maybe, you want to keep doing certain tasks that you like. That's awesome too.
Whether you're from Fancy Hands, Fiverr, an agency, or the Philippines, the idea of being able to level up in your career, to be able to make more money, is key because you're showing that you can get more and more tasks done. We live by the Learn-Do-Teach framework where you're learning how to do the task from someone who's documented how they're doing it. You're doing it yourself and also trying to enhance our documentation because as you're doing it, maybe there are certain parts of the documentation that are not clear to you, or maybe, the screens have changed.
We go into these different tools, and they move things around. We have to change the screenshots or remove certain features that aren't there anymore. The bottom line is that we need to make it easy to understand and follow. We're documenting everything as we're doing it. We're taking notes and teaching others how to do it as well. We are recording short little videos or screen shares to enhance the training so that other people can follow our instructions.
For all of us, in the end, we are not only earning money and having a living as a Digital Marketer, but we're helping other people earn a living as well.
Adding it to the Task Library
That's it. Now, let's see you create your own guide.
The documented task must meet the following criteria:
#1. The guide includes a checklist at the beginning of the page.
#2. The checklist includes the tools, tips, URLs, and login information that are needed to help complete the task.
#3. The process is broken down into a sufficient number of steps to make the process easier to understand and follow.
#4. The guide includes an abundance of screenshots (with highlights) to provide a visual reference.
#5. All the anchored text (clickable text) leads to the intended pages or documents.
#6. The guide includes links to BlitzMetrics pages and other related media available in our collection.
#7. There is a reference to the Task Library with a clickable link at the bottom section of the guide.
#8. There is a verification checklist at the end of the guide.
#9. You have checked the document for errors in spelling, grammar, formatting, and consistency.
#10. The title has been checked for proper capitalization.