6 steps to making your infographic work

by on 24th November 2011

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.

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:


for research and copy


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, 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.

6 Steps to Making Your Infographic Work


  1. Absolutely love your blog posts Oli! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Really nice post Sir. It has had its effect already as I have shared it :)

  3. Oli thanks for your blog post, its a great little overview of infographic design and promotion.

    One method that i have used successfully is to offer the infographic as an exclusive to a major link powerhouse such as mashable, fast, gizmodo..etc).

    By giving them a few days before you promote to the rest of the web you improve your chances of getting their attention. It also helps to pave the way towards a long term relationship – which should be your eventual goal.

  4. Nice post, with some useful bits of info I hadn’t thought about. :)

    Would love to see a follow up on how the process should be revised for interactive infographics…

  5. I’m going to be using and referring back to this whenever we create infographics (or contract for them) at Moz. Nice work Oli!

  6. Hey Oli,

    Great post. Think everyone creating infographics should read this line over and over until it sinks in: “the depth and value it provides will ultimately determine whether or not it will win or fail”.

    I think infographics are really popular because people have heard they can create lots of links, but I wonder how many actually pull it off. The internet is full of really poor examples. But that spells opportunity for those who do it right.

    I’d love to know more detail about the content of your outreach emails prior to creation.

    With regards to gathering other people’s opinions (great point btw), wherever possible, it can be good to get an expert on the subject, and a complete novice to examine it and see what they make of it. Is it interesting? Is it easy to follow?

    Nice work – look forward to future posts.

    • Personally I feel that it’s rarely pulled off – at least when you compare to the quality of infographics a few years back. The old ones tended to do an amazing job of visualizing data in a simplistic way, whereas many today can be very text heavy.

      I really like your last point by the way. Often I can look at those complicated graphics and be won over because I assume it means something :)

  7. Nice post Oli! Do you have any references of succesful cases?

  8. Great post Oli – lot’s of useful tips here

    I also like the reference to the rinsed out dubstep wobble at the start ;)

  9. There are some good tips in here Oli! I’d never thought of creating a hashtag to support the buzz around an infographic and its topic. Thanks for that one.

  10. Very useful tips thank you!

    Seems like infographics are getting quite common, I see them everywhere, and I like them.

  11. Thank you for sharing this valuable information on Infographics. I was aware that they were becoming popular, but you have really opened my eyes to how far they have come and where they can go.

  12. Thanks for the information. We have tried with few info graphics & personally believe that it helps us a lot in traffic from social bookmarking websites like digg & stumbleupon & to get genuine back links from other bloggers to…

  13. What a great information about infographics and its power in link building. I may try designing my own infographics on the topic that I have enough ideas to spare.

  14. Thanks Oli!

    Great information! Its will help all those who want to make there website popular (including branding, inbound quality links etc). A step by step guide from start to end! Thanks a lot!

  15. Really awesome post Oli. Just finished up a round of infographic link building for a client where we scored 9 super links from high authority domains. It’s a ton of work doing it this way (one at a time) so it’s nice to know that I’m absolutely on the right track with my procedures :)

  16. Very useful notes. Keeping a track of the budget, sending the right amount of information to the designers (they won’t edit your stuff) and post-live follow ups are absolutely the key for a successful infographic campaign.

  17. Love the article, perfect for developers and SEO!

  18. We are just about to create our first infographics, so this is a highly useful guide, thanks!

  19. Excellent reference for infographics. First time to the blog. This will become a regular read for me. Thanks!

  20. VERY useful information. I’ve bookmarked this guide for future reference, thanks!

  21. Great post. Now that I know what to do with it. I just need the “idea” to create it. The link to alone was worth the read.

  22. Hi Richard,

    You told me you were hiring some smart guys. You weren’t kidding.

    Great post Oli.

  23. Thanks so much for the kind words all! [insert cheesy Oscar style acceptance speech here]

    Look forward to writing more, although by the responses I think I’ve raised the bar on myself.

  24. Really great information for developing an infographic and for ways to promote it. I am about to start my first one and will follow this process.

    I’ve always been a big fan of data visualization and am really happy to see so many awesome examples of on the web. I find infographics beautiful, informative and fun to read. I will check out dribble for inspiration. No wonder they are great to share.

    Thank you for the article and I will read the rest of your series.

  25. Thanks for scripting this incredible post..Liked your articles. Make sure you do maintain writing

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