If you have a case of creator’s block, sometimes the best thing is to sit back and consume a little content, instead of creating it. Trying to force the creation process can be frustrating and end up generating less-than-authentic results.
4 Powerful Ways to Jumpstart Your Creativity for Visual Content Creation
- Context Clues
- Template Temptations
- Breezy Browsing
- Quality Q&A
Visual content is very obviously necessary, but coming up with ideas about what visual content to produce can leave many of us feeling stumped. Photos and video but not just any – photos and video for marketing purposes. The kind of content that generates conversions and revenue.
While reviewing a list of all the forms visual content can take is helpful, the goal here isn’t to tell you what format to use.
Instead, we want to spark ideas of what to put into visual format. After all, bland and uninteresting visuals don’t help conversions, where value-laden visuals drive revenue.
Whatever form your visual content takes, it will be created around an idea you want to express in visual form. So, where do those ideas come from?
One fruitful option is to take a look at the written content first. Text-based content will always have an important role in content marketing, but visuals will be the thing that gets an article in front of the audience.
Case in point: articles with images get an average of 94% more views than articles that don’t.
Take a look at the point a paragraph is trying to make, and consider what you can do it help it drive that point home. A picture demonstrating the idea, an image containing the text of a quotable part of the writing, or even a relevant meme placed with the text are all possible options.
For example, when trying to make a point about stock images for products versus branded images for the same product, we can write about the statistics, we can cite industry leaders, and we can use a lot of adjectives about how stock images just don’t capture the imagination of buyers.
And, to underscore all those valid, important points, we can include an actual side-by-side comparison of a stock image and a branded image. Nothing will drive the point home than seeing the difference between the images.
How often should you use images in your writing? Generally, it’s recommended to include a visual after about 150 words.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but an overarching guideline. Your writing needs as many images as it needs. And you can certainly include an image after 50 words, or after 250 words – wherever it actually makes sense and complements the content.
The point here is that your written content needs visuals, so take a look at the writing and start thinking about what kind of visual would help your audience understand faster and more effectively – which happens to be the ultimate goal of any marketing effort.
Go ahead and give into them. Templates aren’t bad, just as long as you use them for inspiration, and not as a copy-paste-publish method for content creation.
Templates can be incredibly helpful when you aren’t sure how to communicate an idea, or you just feel uninspired.
Take the activity of growing crystals, for example. For those unfamiliar with the science (you really should try doing it sometime), one of the fastest ways to grow a crystal is to have a seed crystal.
This seed directs the growth, instead of relying on the slow, randomness of nature. Seed crystals actually drive industry because they can make material faster than just mixing the right chemicals together and then sitting around waiting for ages.
So, the point of this tangent is that a template can provide you with a creativity seed crystal.
A quick search on Google for a template for a social media post, an infographic, a video montage, and even the tools for creating visual content all appear at the click of a button.
For example, years ago I was trying think of a way to convey 5 steps to creating a brand. I had written the content, and I knew I wanted an infographic to help my audience understand each step a little faster. But beyond that, I had no idea how to shape the infographic.
I went to my favorite visual content creation tool, Canva, and started looking through the templates they have for infographics. I stumbled upon one for, of all things, the wine-making process. It happened to be a 5-step process. I liked the layout, and the increasing darkness of the primary color.
So, I opened it, changed the colors and fonts to match brand, entered my own written excerpts from the article, jazzed it up with relevant icons, and then I was done!
I even added an analogy about branding being a lot like wine-making, and that each step helped deepen and expand the personality of a company into something that their audience would love to consume over and over again.
Creativity is a critical component of good visual content marketing, because you need to take something in a text format, and re-create it in a visual format that your audience will find interesting.
It’s that small qualification that really uses the creative juices: visual content that your audience finds interesting and not just any visual content.
To jumpstart creativity means getting an increase in your alpha and theta brainwaves. One way to do this is to get into the “mind-wandering” state associated with relaxing, such as meditation or taking a long shower. It’s a great thing to incorporate into your daily routine to keep creativity high, but when you are trying to get an idea for a visual, you tend to need a little more direction than truly “zoning out.”
In comes unstructured but targeted browsing. Looking at visuals while holding the general idea of your written content in mind can help create connections between the two formats.
When you aren’t “on the hunt” for an image or video and instead are just consuming visuals, you’re more open to suggestion about what to create.
Try scrolling visually-beautiful Instagram feeds, like these:
Or, head on over to a website dedicated to providing appealing images without a particular focus like Jay Mantri. The site is run by the artist and isn’t searchable, so it’s perfect for unstructured browsing because you can’t “hunt” inside of the portfolio.
The bonus here is that these images are provided for free, and can be used by anyone. So, if during your browsing you find something really fantastic, you can actually go ahead and use it in your marketing.
I also love browsing New Old Stock, Library of Congress, and Public Domain Archive because the content is so random and unexpected. It’s neat to see what people felt like taking pictures of when it was rather expensive to take photographs, as well as looking at the marketing efforts of people from a hundred years ago.
Disconnect from the search and just enjoy looking at some great content. Let your mind make the connections between what you’re seeing and your ultimate goal of creating something amazing for your audience.
Marcus Sheridan put it best in his best-selling book, They Ask You Answer.
Take a look at what your audience is asking about, and consider how you can answer their questions visually.
How do you know what your potential consumers are asking? There are actually a lot of resources for this information.
First, take your existing clients. What questions did they ask you before they bought? If you aren’t sure, consider sending a survey to gather ideas about what concerns they had before they started working with you.
Second, the internet is full of people asking questions, and other people (some with dubious credibility) answer those questions.
Forum sites like Quora, Reddit, and others all have engaged audiences in specific niches that post and discuss ideas, questions, and advice.
These questions probably immediately bring to mind how you would answer them. From there, you can start brainstorming how to create a way to answer that question and use visuals. The next step is creating an article, blog post, webinar, vodcast, a demo video, etc.
Keep in mind that it’s not just about answering those questions; it’s about answering them clearly, helpfully, and using visuals while you do it.
4 Powerful Ways to Jumpstart Your Creativity for Visual Content Creation
Creating fresh and innovative approaches to visual content marketing is critical for any business or brand right now. It’s really the only way to stand out in the noise. And like any creation process, we get blocks. Breaking through the slumps is necessary to keep things moving forward, and there are excellent options to get the creative process underway.
Don’t feel like you have to create in a vacuum. Look at the context where you need visuals, and let them inspire your thoughts. Make good use of templates and borrow someone else’s creativity to seed your own. Be sure to relax your mind and let it make the creative connections, and listen to your audience. They will tell you what they need, and give you direction you can work with.