Perhaps there’s no greater evidence that we truly live in the information age than this: you can learn how to do anything online, even from scratch. The internet has truly enabled the rise of the DIY movement. Whether you’re getting started in a new hobby or attempting to repair something around the house, chances are someone has done it and posted an online guide to boot.
In fact, the problem most DIY information-seekers now face is the same one suffered by most internet users everywhere. We have too much knowledge at our fingertips. How do you sort through all those results?
Image by Markus Winkler
Know what you’re looking for
Try searching for all but the most niche of terms, and you’ll probably return thousands if not millions of hits. Less than 10% of users even venture past the first page. To complicate matters, top search rankings are highly influenced by SEO strategies. This may make certain pages relevant to a wide audience, but not necessarily to your specific needs.
The first step towards effectively filtering through these results is clarifying what you’re after. Will a generic tutorial suffice? Or do you need to find content featuring the same procedures and materials you’ll be attempting to work with? What are the features you’d consider essential to an effective tutorial in the first place?
Not all DIY content creators produce material like a business. That means they don’t always have a specific audience in mind or invest in extensive ways to promote themselves. The more specific your needs, the more you have to be prepared to make an effort to find what you’re looking for.
Stepping up the search
However, that doesn’t have to entail clicking through dozens of pages and loading several hours’ worth of video. Armed with some search engine know-how, you can still ensure that relevant results come up on the first page, maybe even in the top five hits.
Enclosing keywords in quotation marks will force the search to return pages that include those specific words. It eliminates stemmed variations. For instance, adding “for beginners” to a search for DIY log cabin tutorials will be more likely to yield helpful results for a complete newbie. Replace that with an “advanced guide,” and you’re going to see more results aimed at intermediate or skilled users.
Visual searches are an alternative that can prove especially helpful if you’re not sure of the exact terms involved. You can upload an image to Google, for instance, and find relevant matches. Or you can browse Pinterest boards for visual inspiration.
Seeking trust and community
Most people today are familiar with the term ‘fake news.’ It has highlighted the need for a greater collective effort to vet information sources and establish credibility. There are similar difficulties you may encounter when searching for good sources in the DIY realm.
The DIY movement originated from a desire among enthusiasts to build a community, freely share information, and connect with like-minded people worldwide. Ever since Internet 2.0 in the early 2000s, that community has been growing.
You can search for credibility by using social media networks, for instance. If a creator’s account has real interactions with their followers, they are more likely to be engaged in the community and helping others get better at their craft. Their content will probably reflect greater investment in curation, presentation, and thoughtfulness towards user accessibility.
And if your needs are particular, you might be best served by joining a community and asking for assistance on the relevant forums. Trust that others will be generous and help you out with their expertise in a similar endeavor.