A guest post by Laura Pazzaglia
Infographics are taking the web by storm. They can be read and understood in a flash and shared, shared and shared. The best infographics tell a story (albeit very short) and convey useful information in a fun way.
I’d always wanted to make an infographic but didn’t think I had the tools or design skills to do so. Then I saw two posts from a marketing blog that promised I could make an infographic in an hour with Microsoft PowerPoint, using their templates. I was hooked, but it took much longer than an hour! Here are the posts that got me started:
- The Marketer’s Simple Guide to Creating Infographics in PowerPoint [+Templates] )
- How to Create an Infographic in an Hour or Less [5 Free PPT Templates]
I’ve made three of my own infographics so far and have plans for a fourth. It took me several days to perfect the first one. The second and third one took much less time, about four hours each. Here are five tips for how to make yours:
1. Tell a story. Look back at your most information factoid-y like post or articles for inspiration. I looked at the Will Write For Food archives and found 7 Common Recipe Writing Errors. I’ve actually used these tips to improve my online recipes. Dianne could write the worst recipe ever (say in a script-like font), and then make little balloons pointing to the mistakes. Then, she’d write the perfect recipe with little balloons pointing out what was done right. Add some color, save as an image and she’d be done!
Here’s more inspiration and information for coming up with your own infographic:
- Pinterest Board of Food Infographics
- 8 Types of Infographics and How to Use Them. You can also combine these types into a single infographic. There are no set rules.
2. Make facts and figures come alive with PowerPoint. I use PowerPoint to make charts and graphs, since I’m already familiar with the software. PowerPoint’s Smart Art gives you big design bang for very little effort. The major design element of my Bye Bye Rice Cooker” Infographic uses SmartArt from its “list” category. For the Pressure Cooker Trouble-Shooter Infographic, I created the flowchart using Smart Art from the “process” category and inserted tables for trouble-shooting. Here’s how to do it:
- How to insert a chart in Microsoft PowerPoint
- How to insert SmartArt in PowerPoint
- Working with tables in PowerPoint.
3. Add pictures for maximum effect. Use your own photos, PowerPoint’s clip art, or get art from free image sources (be sure to follow their instructions for citations). If you’ve partnered with a brand, manufacturer, store or product, ask for permission to use their art (which is what I did for my pressure cooker infographics). Sometimes the permission comes with strings attached. I was asked not to modify the pressure cooker photo, for example, so I just made the background transparent. Here’s how use photos:
- Insert Pictures and Clip Art with Power Point Part 1
- Removing the background from pictures in Power Point
- Look for free images on Creative Commons. Check the citation requirement for each image you use.
It might be nearly impossible to find the right collection of line art for your infographic without having your very own graphic designer. My Pressure Cooker Benefits infographic contains line art that I made by cartoonify-ing photos. Most photo editing tools have this option, and so does PowerPoint, under the Format tab, called Artistic Effects. I used a free website that lets you tweak all kinds of options to personalize the cartoon, under the “comic” setting.
4. Modify your infographic for social media. Now that you’ve made your infographic, post it on your website or blog and let your readers know. For Twitter, Facebook and Google+, if you upload the whole infographic it looks terrible, like a long illegible skinny bar. Crop the top portion of your infographic into a square and upload that (it’s also a great teaser) and then link to the full-size infographic on your website. For Pinterest, upload the full-size infographic and link it back to where it lives on your website.
5. Find new ways to promote it. Your infographic can be a fantastic marketing tool. Here are some additional places to display it:
- Send it to any of the aforementioned partners, and ask them to share it on social media or their website
- If you’ve already published a book, ask your publisher to post the image on their social media or website
- Add it to your media kit. It gives the media more tools to promote you
- Upload it to an infographic repository or blog. Here’s a good list: Top 20 Free Infographic Directories and Submission Tips.
Infographics are a valuable marketing tool for your book, blog and website. They are highly shareable, fun and easy to make. I hope you will try one. If you have already made an infographic, let’s take a look. Post a link below.
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Laura D.A. Pazzaglia is a pressure cooker and small appliance expert. She is the founder of Hip Pressure Cooking, a website of pressure cooker recipes, reviews and tips. A former IT project director in Silicon Valley, she now lives in Rome with her husband and two children. She moved from computer to kitchen technology after her first child was born, and needed a way to make healthier meals in less time. Her first book, Hip Pressure Cooking: Fast, Fresh and Flavorful will be released on Sept. 2, 2014.