Visual content is important.
 
We all know this by now. We’ve all seen the endless infographics telling us things like…
  • Content with images is viewed 94% more than content without images
  • Visuals are 40 times more likely to be shared on social than any other kind of content
  • People process visuals 600,000 times faster than text
But what if you’re just not that good at designing your own visuals?
 
What if you’re not a graphic designer, queen of tech artistry, or owner of all the rose gold props?
 
It doesn’t matter. I’m none of those things. Blog post graphics are a huge source of procrastination for me. I can never decide what looks good. I am no photographer. And I definitely (definitely) can’t cope with complicated design software.
 
That means over the years I’ve had to figure out a few ways to create visual content, despite my design challenges. Today, I’m going to share those with you.
(Disclaimer – I am sharing examples from a range of different content creators. I am in no way saying that these fabulous females are creatively challenged, I just want to show you how to take these techniques and do them WELL.)
 

Shoot your screen

If you run a predominantly online business, the humble screengrab is a super-effective, super-simple way to add a few visuals to your stuff.
 
Create a step-by-step tutorial, showcase some of your gorgeous digital products or snap a live session in progress – you have everything you need.
 
There are all sorts of tools out there to help you grab a glimpse of what’s on your screen, but I like the free “Snipping Tool” that comes with the Windows operating system. Mostly because I can choose which part of my screen I’m snapping, so you don’t see 10,000 open tabs, or the episode of Gilmore Girls I’m watching while I work.
 

See it in action:

screenshots

[Source: Melyssa Griffin]

Simple quotes

One of the most supremely shareable types of visual content is quote graphics. There’s just something about them that everybody loves – like the purple skittles.
 
Pull out soundbites from your own articles, or source relevant quotes through BrainyQuotes or Goodreads, then take them to another of my favourite (free) tools, Pablo by Buffer.
 
Pablo allows you to quickly create quote graphics using a series of simple templates, and your own background images (or one from their library of graphics). As an added bonus, you can share them directly through the app, meaning you don’t have to faff around downloading or uploading.
 

See it in action:

quote-graphics

[Source: Jody Jelas]

Welcome to the world of templates

Design templates are like gold dust for the creatively challenged. What could be better than having a professionally put-together piece of visual content, that you can quickly customise to fall in line with your brand and your topic of interest?
 
I can’t talk about templates without talking about Canva. Canva is hands-down my favourite free design tool, actually, it’s my favourite paid design tool too. Partly because it’s completely drag-and-drop and idiot-proof, partly because of all the templates.
 
Whether you’re creating blog graphics, social media posts, workbooks, cover photos, presentations (or anything else, ever), Canva has a whole range of gorgeous, easy-to-tweak templates to inspire you.
 
I also have to offer a quick hat tip to Hubspot, who have some fantastic free downloadable infographic templates.
 

See it in action:

templates

[Source: Emma Ward]

Curate, don’t create

Scared at the thought of creating your own visuals? Then collect them from other sources!
 
This isn’t about plagiarism, just to be clear, this is about collating killer visuals and always crediting the source. Repost content that inspires you on Instagram. Embed tweets or Pinterest boards in a blog post. Ask happy customers to shares photos of how they use your products. Present all those loving testimonials in a graphic way.
 
For absolutely everything you need to know about user-generated content, read this.
 

See it in action:

ugc

[Source: Gemma Went]

Memes & GIF’s

So memes and GIF’s kind of fall into the “curated” category, but I love them so much I feel like they deserve a section of their own.
 
I am a firm believer in bringing humour into your content, no matter how “serious” your business niche – GIF’s are perfect for that.
 
There’s many an app out there to help you create your own GIF’s, from your own photos, but I kind of prefer the random ones found online. Imgur is a brilliant little resource (and epic source of procrastination) if you fancy getting into the GIF game – just remember to credit your sources.
 

See it in action:

gifs

Go guerrilla

Don’t obsess over recreating some of the gorgeous photography you see on other people’s websites. You don’t need all the fancy lighting equipment or colour-coordinated stationery-based props for your own fab photos.
 
Candid, behind-the-scenes shots are way more effective, and you can take those with your smartphones. Selfies show us more of “you” that pro portraits – not everything asks for a full-on photo shoot.
 

See it in action:

selfies

[Source: Jo Gifford]

Graphs & charts

Concrete stats and figures are fantastic way to add a bit of authority to your content. And presenting these in a some sort of visual format, pretty much guarantees that people pay attention.
 
Carry out your own study, or research figures in your field – both can act as evidence for whatever point you’re trying to get across.
 
You can get as fancy as you like here, but I’ve had great results using the free online chart tool.
 

See it in action:

charts

[Source: Regina Anaejionu]

Make a movie

I’m going to briefly talk about video content. Now I, personally, do not love video, but you can’t ignore the benefits.
 
As with your photography, your videos can be homemade:
  • Repurpose your live broadcasts
  • Create a PowerPoint and narrate it
  • Use a tool like Screencast-o-matic to record your screen
  • Experiment with Adobe Spark, and create your own animations

See it in action:

video

 [Source: Amy Schmittauer]
Over to you. It’s time to take action. Pick one of these techniques, and test it out on your own site. Let me know how you get on!

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2 thoughts on “Visual content for the creatively challenged

  1. Ooh a mention on Daire Paddy, exciting! *Bookmarks tools*

    Posted on August 10, 2017 at 11:13 am
    1. You don’t need any new apps to play with, young lady.

      Posted on August 11, 2017 at 10:23 am