The Content Marketers are coming, and they have infographics.

Can you create great visual content on a budget?

“Articles with images get 94% more views than those without. And posts with videos attract 3x more inbound links than plain text posts. A study by 3M showed that 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.”

-Michael Brenner, The Rise of Visual Storytelling

So we’ve established that, as marketers, we need to be creating and sharing more visual content. Can we say that’s settled already? That’s settled.

Now let’s have some real talk for just a second.

I’m a one-person content marketing team, and at tons of companies, that’s the reality. I’m the content strategist, content marketer and content producer, which I wouldn’t trade for the world, but a designer or videographer, I’m not. (Not yet anyways, but clearly, I’ll have to learn.)

So what are you supposed to do if you’re the content person at your company, but you have no idea how to get around Photoshop — or even the budget to buy it? While I can’t recommend learning it enough, there are luckily heaps of tools that can help you get around this.

As with most things, marketers asked and the internet delivered. We’ve got the tools available, and there are even services like Unsplash to help us find royalty-free, beautiful images to work with.

There’s still one thing missing from most of the advice out there.

Best infographic ever!
Oh no wait.

(Well, they might stop you after seeing something like that. But you get where I’m going with it.)

You might need some guidance on how not to be a visual content disaster.

Aiming even higher, you likely want to build a consistent, appealing brand for your company, and you want the content you produce to be in line with that. If you’re at an established company, there’s also probably some existing brand materials you’ll have to line up with.

However, at a small company, you might not have a comprehensive brand book to guide you through examples of how to stay on-brand for every type of visual content, from videos to quotation images to infographics. Not sure you need one?

Look at how awful that “infographic” I made looks. Seriously. I’ll wait.

That happened because all of the advice and do-it-yourself content right now — at least the stuff I’m seeing — is aimed at content marketers like me. Some of them might have design backgrounds, but I certainly don’t, and I’m betting that the ones who do aren’t reading these how-to posts either. So let’s be really clear about this.

You can easily create your own visual content. But you need some brand guidelines to go along with it.

At a bare minimum, you at least need some structure and ground rules. There are plenty of affordable courses if you need to do-it-yourself (I hear Ash Ambridge’s Brandgasm is fantastic) but my best advice would be to find a freelance designer who can help put your current brand into a set of easy-to-follow guidelines for each content type you want to create. They can help guide you towards fonts, colours and tools that fit your current skillset, and don’t look entirely out of place on your website.

From there, you can scale up, test different kinds of content, learn Photoshop, try your hand at video production, and experiment to your heart’s content — all while creating on-brand, valuable content that best communicates your message.

Because you are leading with the message, not the format, right?

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