If you don’t know how to create an infographic and the many different ways you can leverage data visualization, you are leaving money on the table.
That’s why infographics are a key component of any content marketing strategy.
They’re the ultimate accompaniment to any piece of long-form content, like a blog post or news article, because they’re like visual candy–bite-sized and easily digestible.
While most content marketers I speak to these days recognize the value of infographics in digital marketing, most don’t have the time (or the budget) to get them professionally designed. And when they try to make them themselves, they have no idea where to start.
So today I’d like to give you the low-down on the two key steps for creating a successful infographic from a blog post:
- Summarizing a blog post for an infographic
- Transforming a summary into an infographic
To make sure you have all the tools you need to create your own infographic, I’ll walk you through a case study–together we’ll turn a real-life long-form article into an irresistible infographic.
Plus, I’ll share some infographic design trade secrets along the way.
How to create an infographic summary from a blog post
I work with content creators all the time, helping them develop engaging infographics to go alongside blog posts or other long-form content.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they try to make their own infographics?
They try to copy and paste way too much text into an infographic template that’s much too small, which completely defeats the purpose of an infographic.
An infographic should be more like the CliffsNotes version of your content… It should help your audience get the gist of your ideas at a glance.
So the first step to creating a great infographic for a blog post is to summarize your long-form content into something much more concise. Regardless of the length of the original article, the summary for your infographic should be no more than 300 words.
To cut a long-form article down to less than 300 words, I like to use the 3S Framework:
- Select the essential ideas
- Split up those ideas into separate bullet points
- Sequence those points to tell a story
1. Select the essential ideas
The first (and most important) step is to read through the article and select the most important bits of information.
These should be the pieces of content that are bringing your readers to your site – the snippets of content gold that provide the most value to your readers.
I find it helpful to bold or highlight these ideas as I go along.
Our case study is an article about the flu, so let’s highlight everything related to flu risk factors, flu symptoms, and flu treatments:
Next comes the fun part: eliminating text.
Strikeout anything that isn’t strictly necessary for understanding the main takeaways of the article. Anything that doesn’t directly support the core ideas.
Ta-da! The bulk of the summarizing is already done!
If you do this step properly, you should be able to get rid of about 80% of your copy in this first step.
2. Split up the copy into bullet points
Key ideas identified, we can focus on restructuring our copy so that it will work well in an infographic.
That means organizing everything into sections, each section with its own header and body copy.
I find the most efficient way to do this is to first splice the existing copy into standalone bullet points before attempting to reorganize anything. Then, sort each point into what will become the major sections of the infographic.
Since you should have already identified the key components of your article in the “select” step, this step should be a breeze! In our case study, our section headers will be risk factors, symptoms, and treatments:
Now it’s time to start thinking about the flow of your summary. Does each section flow logically into the next? Would a different order make more sense? How can you arrange each piece of information to tell a story?
3. Sequence the points to tell a story
Everything we’ve done up to this point is pretty standard summarizing practice, but this final bit is infographic-specific. It’s all about finding relationships within our text that will help us create a concise visual summary that tells a story.
For each bullet point I ask myself a question:
How does this piece of information relate to other ideas in this section? What are the key takeaways?
Basically, I want to know whether I can group any points together, ideally in lists or tables. I also want figure out about whether there’s any inherent order to my points, and what I should try to emphasize in my final infographic.
Formatting and ordering content in lists and tables help make the final product extra skimmable by introducing some hierarchy and removing any redundant text. Take a look at how much it’s clarified our (already brief) summary:
We’re almost done. The very last step is to add a bit of text to tie everything together since the final infographic needs to tell a cohesive story.
Don’t add too much extra text here–just make section headers a bit more descriptive and add basic introductions to each section if necessary:
And that’s it! We’ve got all of the components we need to make a great infographic – minimal text presented in well-defined sections, organized into simple lists, tables, and bullet points.
How to transform a summary into an infographic
At this point, your summary may be extremely informative, but it’s far from engaging. This is where style and design come into play.
When I talk to marketers about infographics, many get turned off when I use the word “design”, which is totally understandable. The world of graphic design can definitely be intimidating.
But the truth is that it’s not actually that difficult create a good infographic design. There are some very basic steps that you can follow to build a beautiful, effective infographic from scratch.
And guess what–we’ve already done the hard part. Since we’ve already put a bunch of work into summarizing and organizing our content, these final design steps will be pretty straightforward.
1. Layout copy
Start by simply laying out your text in an infographic design tool like Venngage. No bells and whistles here–just get your copy on the page.
I recommend centering all of your text at this stage. You’ll find it a lot easier to make things look appealing this way because humans have an inborn preference for symmetry. Plus, Venngage has really handy guides that will help you keep things center-aligned by snapping your elements into place:
Really the only thing to remember in this first step is to create clear distinctions between your title (which should be biggest), your section headings, and your body copy (which should be smallest).
2. Add basic shapes to reinforce relationships
Now it’s time for some real design work. The idea here is that you want to use basic shapes (like borders and lines) to reinforce and clarify the relationships within your text.
Start by using boxes or borders to group related elements or to distinguish between unrelated elements:
Using lines to imply connections among a sequence of elements:
And using arrows to suggest a particular succession or reading order:
Let’s see what that might look like in the case of our infographic. We can add boxes to create distinctions between each of our three sections, a timeline to clarify “who is most at risk”, and more boxes to contrast the “normal flu” from “serious illness”:
3. Add attention-grabbing elements
Next design tip: add attention-grabbing icons, symbols, or illustrations to make important points impossible to overlook.
Simple icons and symbols like check-marks and x’s are more universally understood than text and can be key for making your infographic easy to understand at a glance.
4. Add style and finesse with fonts and colors
The final step is to make the infographic more unique and eye-catching by playing with fonts and colors.
It’s best to stick with a maximum of 2-3 colors and 2-3 fonts per infographic.
For fonts: Feel free to go bold and stylized for the main title and section headers, but keep it simple with a plain, easy-to-read font for body copy.
For color: use bright, warm colors to draw extra attention to important information (in this case, I’ve used a bright red to emphasize information about serious illness over the regular flu):
That’s really all there is to it. Regardless of your style choices, just make sure you’ve used consistent styling throughout your infographic.
Creating a feature infographic to boost engagement for a blog post is standard practice in content marketing strategy these days, and it doesn’t have to be hard. Creating a successful infographic from a long-form article can be as simple as:
- Summarizing your blog post with the 3S Framework
- Adding simple design elements like shapes, symbols, icons, and colors for style and visual interest
I hope you’ll work an infographic into your next blog post – feel free to post a link before as you do so that we can check it out. Good luck, and happy designing!