February 3, 2015
Infographics have re-energized the way content is created and distributed on the Internet. Not only do these visual representations of data have the power to educate and entertain, but they also can boost shares and likes while significantly decreasing bounce rates. However, for marketers and other business professionals without a design background, the idea of making an infographic can seem daunting.
There’s good news, though: Plenty of websites are offering ways for the average Jane or Joe to create an infographic without paying a dime. Of course, you can’t just jump to the design phase immediately. Instead, it’s recommended you follow a proven path to getting an infographic from concept to reader-readiness.
Step One: Come Up With an Awesome Idea
An infographic is only as strong as its topic area, so this first step is an important one.
If you already have an idea in mind for your infographic, you can start to flesh it out. But if you need a little assistance, there are numerous topic discovery tools out there such as Buzzsumo and Google Trends. You might also want to consider mind mapping free software like Coggle and Freemind to assist with rapid brainstorming.
Key points about developing ideas for infographics:
- Simple ideas are fine. In fact, the more targeted your infographic idea, the better it can appeal to your specific audience. Not every infographic has to be a masterpiece. As long as you have something interesting to say, your infographic will shine.
- Your infographic must be interesting. Ask yourself if anyone will really care about what you’re saying. An infographic that’s boring will go nowhere fast.
Step Two: Set Up the Wireframing
Before you get nervous at the sight of the word “wireframing,” take a step back and breathe. You don’t need an actual wireframe, unless you want to explore some free tools for making one. You just need to know exactly what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it.
Take out a piece of paper and do a rough sketch of how you envision laying out the data you collected in step one. For instance, you can answer these questions to help you get an understanding of the basic framework of the infographic:
- Will your infographic be typography-based? Photography-based?
- Will you be using vector illustrations?
- What do you anticipate the dimensions of your infographic will be?
Step Three: Start Designing Your Infographic
Now that you have a general idea of how you want your infographic to appear, and you have the right data (e.g., stats, images, poll responses, quotes), you’ll want to start designing. This is made much easier thanks to the plentiful free infographic design platforms and tools available online. Give them all a thorough tire-kicking and see what works best for you. For example, one of the most beginner-friendly, Canva, includes a lot of free illustration-style vectors that lend themselves to creating smashing infographics that shine.
Just make sure you keep in mind:
- Your infographic should be logically designed.
- Your infographic should be free of clutter.
- Your infographic should include your company’s name as well as the name of any sources you used for the information.
- Your infographic should use appealing colors and type styles.
- Your infographic should be easy for anyone to read and understand. (Have honest friends, colleagues and family members give you feedback.)
Step Four: Start Socially Promoting Your Infographic
After you are satisfied with your infographic, it’s time to start promoting it via social media. The first place you’ll want to go is Reddit. In fact, there’s even a sub-Reddit that’s only for infographic submissions. Of course, if you think your infographic is completely solid, and you’re comfortable with Reddit, you can try to submit it to one of the more popular sub-Reddits.
After Reddit, it’s a good idea to try group promotion services such as Triberr or Viral Content Buzz. They’ll help you get the word out, and you won’t have to spend any money.
If you’re prepared to put some cash behind your promotion, you can invest in ads on StumbleUpon. These ads will allow you to pay people to visit the site and look at the infographic. If they like it, they’ll give it a thumbs up, so other people will see it for free. Yes, it will cost roughly 12 to 14 cents per paid viewer, but if your infographic is appealing, it could get “sticky” fast.
Step Five: Engage in Individualized Outreach
Every marketer or business pro has a niche. Keep yours in mind and begin formulating a list of target sites you think might be interested in posting or sharing your infographic. Make this list a running doc that you can update. Send an e-mail to your contacts and tell them about your infographic. If they don’t respond to you within a week, follow up with another e-mail. At this point, stop following up because they probably aren’t interested.
Even if you only get a few takers during this stage of your one-on-one promotion of the infographic, you’ll still be ahead of the game. Plus, it still hasn’t required that you write a check to anyone. In other words, it’s grassroots at its finest.
Step Six: Analyze What You Did, and Then Repeat the Steps
The first infographic is always the most challenging, and you’ll no doubt get savvier along the way. Make sure you keep track of all the lessons you learned by evaluating Google Analytics and social share counters’ feedback. This will help you see what really worked and what fell flat. Then, when you produce your next infographic, you can keep these tidbits in mind.
Don’t worry if you don’t hit it out of the ballpark the first, or even fifth, time you create an infographic. The trick is to keep moving and trying new things. All you need is one infographic to set the cyber world talking!
Now it’s your turn: What free infographic tools and innovative strategies do you recommend?
Adrienne Erin writes weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses succeed. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to get in touch, or visit Design Roast to see more of her work.