Infographics are great! But just like any other form of content, the depth and value it provides will ultimately determine whether or not it will win or fail. Although infographics aren’t new, now, more than ever, people are realising how great they are for attracting links. As a result, the art of the infographic has fallen in danger of becoming more saturated than a dubstep wobble.
So how do you make yours work?
We often produce infographics for our clients in order to gain a link from an authoritative domain (often an editorially driven site). Furthermore, there’s the added strategy of trying to produce an idea that will generate a social buzz and new links, naturally, via a number of methods. The general process we follow at the Gadgetplex looks a little something like this:
Justin Briggs covered the infographic process in great detail back in March, but I wanted the chance to touch up on a few of my own experiences.
Everything starts with the idea
There’s no right or wrong way to come up with a solid idea for an infographic, but first and foremost; keep the brief simple. Get your team together for a group brainstorm. It’s easy to come up with an idea and think it’s the best thing since Angry Birds, but how do you know everyone else shares the same enthusiasm for your vision?
You should also consider an idea that will appeal across a broad range of niche sites. For example, a graphic about the “Evolution of the Electric Car” could appeal, not only to the motoring industry, but also the tech and green community. Tad Chef provided a good insight on how you should be mindful of where you want to gain links from with your link bait.
If you’re stuck for ideas, you can try looking at what content has worked for you in the past. Where on the web is there an incredibly long piece of old content that’s dying to be reborn into a graphic (thanks Will). Aside from blog posts, forums and PDF’s are also great ways of finding huge streams of content to work with.
While it can be argued that all good infographics should tell a story with data, you can easily have success with graphics that are less data heavy and, say, simply illustrate a funny idea.
Now you have a solid idea. But before you get all excited and go designing something, you need to be sure that someone is actually interested in your concept.
Do the outreach before you even think about the design
You wouldn’t bet on a racehorse unless you knew beforehand that it had a strong chance of winning. So why would you invest in designing an infographic that no one has yet expressed an interest in? Getting approval for just your idea from a site owner, or editor, prior to starting the design process works on a number of levels:
You know whether your idea is good or not
Based on the replies you get, you’ll have a good idea of whether the project is going to work, or whether you need to go back to the drawing board.
You can tailor the content for the site
Editors love exclusivity and they know your tailoring the infographic for them especially, then that elevates your chance of getting the finished product published
You can establish a communication with the editor/site owner
During this time you should take advantage of building a good working relationship with your contact. Keep them updated with the progress of the project, and send over drafts so they have a hand in the creative process. A solid level of communication will keep you prominent in their mind and you’re likelier to be higher on their priority list.
Furthermore, considering you’re in talks with an authoritative publication; the relationship you develop with the editor or site owner can open doors for future content placement.
Tip: Use a noticeable subject field like [Infographic] “Title of amazing idea” – the infographic stamp ensures that this isn’t just another article proposal.
Be clear with what you want from your designer
During the design stage of my first infographic project, the research I sent over consisted of rough notes, links to resources and some ideas for how I wanted the graphic to be presented. I thought this would be enough for them to develop a story and design from. The first draft included all the wording exactly how I’d written it and, as a result, cost me more time than was necessary. Ultimately the redesigns amounted to a higher charge than what was originally agreed.
To avoid this problem with future projects, I got one of our copywriters to take care of the research, and put it all into a clear, concise format that the designer could just copy and paste from. Sure the costs add up but it makes for a smoother process in the long run.
The amount of money you spend on an infographic project should be based on what you feel the value of the link is worth to your business or client. Let’s say you work with an average budget of:
£100 for research and copy
£500 for infographic design
When working with designers and, if necessary, researchers, you need to make sure you get a few things clear from the offset:
What’s the fee, and what is it based on?
Will the designer take care of research and copy?
How many revisions are included with the fee?
How long is the turnaround?
The fee can range from time taken to the amount of effort that’s required. While this essentially falls under the same category, be clear about how designers and researchers charge for their work. The last thing you want when sending the work back for revision is to be faced with a larger cost.
If, on the other hand, you don’t even know of any designers yet, then check out Dribbble. There’s a plethora of infographics designers just waiting to be hired.
Tip: Include authoritative sites in your credits section. When briefing in your researcher, provide them with authoritative sites to use as research. Having these resources listed in the credits section of your infographic will give you some nice ego bait to work with.
Don’t rely on your own opinion when revising drafts
When you’re at the stage of receiving revising drafts don’t rely on your opinion alone, as you can easily oversee important things. Get some input from your team, or client. And, as I said before, see what your editor thinks about the initial design. Imagine sending the final draft off to the editor, only for them to turn around and request for a list of changes to be made.
Don’t forget to include the link before publication
When delivering the finished product to the editor, you can hand it over in one of two ways. Upload the infographic to your own server and give it to them as an embeddable code (complete with a link back to your site).
Realistically, however, most authoritative sites would rather be given the raw file. If this is the case then be sure to include a byline (complete with link, of course) when sending over the raw file. That will ensure that your link gets scraped along with the infographic when it goes live. Booyah!
Whatever route you go down just make sure the link is there when the infographic is published, otherwise it won’t be included in scraped copies of the content.
Now it’s published, this is just the beginning
So your graphic has been published. It’s generating some healthy discussion, getting plenty of social shares, been scraped and now you can relax. Not so fast tiger.
Chase up scraped and uniquely republished links
If your infographic really cuts it then there’s a chance that other reputable blogs are republishing it. When this happens, you’re owning the internet. The only miniscule issue is that they’re probably writing their own unique copy, making it harder to locate.
Some easy ways around this are to simply search using “infographic title” followed by ‘infographic’. Alternatively, make use of Google Image search, by copy and pasting in the image URL. Searching with the image URL arguably provides you with a more concise number of how many times your graphic has been scraped or republished.
As great as this is though, these sites only tend to cite the original source of the infographic and overlook the additional author credit.
This problem can be fixed with a few polite emails to the webmaster. As long as you’ve been accredited accordingly in the original source, you are entitled to that link.
Publish on your own blog
If you have your own blog then why not try seeing how much traffic and links you can gain by publishing the graphic on your site.
Be sure to create an embeddable code for the graphic to encourage further publication. If you’re blog only has a small readership then this would be a great opportunity to take advantage of paid Stumbles or promoted Tweets.
Submit to infographics sites
There’s also a few sites whose sole purpose is to showcase infographics, such as Cool Infographics, Infographics Showcase, Infographic Site and Visually. Of the aforementioned sites, Visual.ly has to be my personal favourite, due to the fact that it operates as a social network platform, rather than a blog.
Use your PR team
Do you, or your client, have your own PR team? They’re likely to have contact with some very authoritative and reputable publications, so make use of them and your amazing content.
Tap up old contacts
As previously mentioned, a great infographic will ideally build links by itself. However, there’s nothing wrong with hitting up some of your old contacts whose editorial style fits in with the content of your work.
Contact your list of credits?
Do you have a list of credits/resources displayed on your graphic? Why not reach out to those sites and let them know about what the valuable resources they provided. Even if they just Tweet you, it’s still reaching out to a potentially untapped audience.
Create a #hashtag
Push it further on Twitter by creating a #hashtag that relates to the subject or title of your graphic. Generate some discussion and buzz, and track who’s talking about your work.
While the title suggests this post is relevant to just infographics, many of the prior guidelines can be applied to any viral project that is being created for third party sites. If you have any of your own tips, advice or general brilliance on the infographic process then share them in the comments.
To coincide with this blog post I did a presentation for the rest of the team at SEOgadget on best practices for the infographics process. Feel free to have a watch.