5 Steps to Evolve Your Visual Content

Writers have always had the challenge of helping readers visualize their stories. With the explosion of information and entertainment options, stories are now required to include an actual visual element to get the attention they deserve.

How can you improve your visual storytelling? My suggestion is to push yourself toward the next step of the visual storytelling spectrum to build on your visual strategizing skills.

The Visual Storytelling Evolution

While it is possible for good graphics to be created after final copy has been handed over to your designer, I would argue that better ones will result when the visual strategy is developed in tandem with the message, and even more so when visual strategy drives the message.

The phases of visual storytelling evolution

Progressing Through the Phases

Leaping from one end of the spectrum to the other is not the goal. You may find your visual strategy for different campaigns falls into different phases. True evolution is about benefiting from small incremental improvements.

Elevate your current skills, resources and strategic approach against your potential and keep moving the needle forward.

Stone Age: If you’re a bit behind on the visual storytelling curve, all is not lost.

  • Add images to your archive of blog posts and you immediately have new visual ways to promote your content in many social channels. For help, see my blog post “DIY Design: 7 Effective Graphics Any Marketer Can Create.”
  • Develop “freestanding” visuals such as infographics and SlideShare presentations based on ideas you’ve previously written about.

Primitive: Your images deserve to be treated as more than an afterthought.

  • Work with a designer or create your own custom visuals based on your message.
  • Allow for visual production time — make sure you begin writing well in advance of your publication deadline.
  • Remember to keep the text within word visuals — charts, lists, tables, processes — as brief as possible!

Moderate: Plan your visuals earlier in the strategy process.

  • Start thinking about the visuals after you’ve created an outline of your message, but before you pin down the exact words.
  • Share your outline with your designer and encourage her to provide visual ideas.
  • Visual feedback earlier in the process might affect the written work and require a bit more work, such as searching for a statistic or nailing down a quote.

Advanced: To create the most engaging stories, the visuals need to be defined before anything else.

  • Brainstorm your visual strategy before you write anything.
  • Discuss ideas with your designer to determine what graphics, photos or video that your target persona would value and act on.
  • Crafting dynamic visual content often takes time. By incorporating visual strategy at the start of your process, you will have the production time required.
  • For more detailed tips, check out my blog post, “Strategizing in Pictures: Next-Level Visual Storytelling

Evolution: You’re crafting amazing content, now what?

Creating great visual stories requires organization, time and resources. Make sure you’re making the most of your creative investment by promoting it. Consider distributing a multimedia news release to promote your video content and simultaneously reach journalists, influencers and potential customers through media, online and social syndication.

Formulating a visual plan earlier in the development of content campaigns not only helps to create more powerful visuals, but can also drive your strategy as a whole. Learn how to leverage an intelligent mix of storytelling tactics and promotion channels with our Buyer 2.0 Content Strategy Checklist.