DIY Infographics, Animations and other Cool Tools for Bloggers
It is no secret that the attention span of your typical reader is getting shorter and shorter.
However, content marketing is king, and if one of the methods you use to provide information to users is the humble blog, how do you keep your users’ attention on your post? The short answer: create visual interest.
Whether these enticing visuals are static images, videos, or something in between (hello, GIFs!), it can be difficult to produce sufficient content to power your posts. Not only do you have to come up with the clever, creative ideas, but you also have to put in the work to bring your vision to reality. While we can do only a bit to help you with the idea generation process, there are many tools that can help you create eye-catching visuals. In this article, we will cover some of the apps and tools that we think you will find helpful for creating powerful visuals that will have your visitors coming back for more.
Infographics & Data Visualizations
Infographics are a great way to combine written content with visual graphics in a linear, guided format. This is especially true if your writing contains a lot of statistics and other facts. Such content could be difficult to read when written in paragraph form, but when you convert it to an infographic, it is easier for your visitors to read and digest. Furthermore, infographics are a great way to marry text and visuals in an interesting, non-linear way. Make no mistake, however: infographics are hard to create. In addition to the writing and the image creation (both of which are difficult tasks in and of themselves), you now have to consider the layout of your information. If you are interested in creating infographics, there are many tools out there that can help you. The following are some good options to get you started.
Easelly is a tool for “creating and sharing visual ideas.” What makes this product stand out from its peers are the templates you can use to create your own infographics.
As we stated above, one of the reasons infographics are difficult to do is that they require a good grasp of design and layout principles. With Easelly, you can minimize the amount of work you have to do in this area and simply focus on the content itself. You just pick a template and populate the predetermined spots with your images and written text.
Easelly offers free templates that you can use, but if you do not see anything that would fit your needs, you can upgrade to gain access to the premium templates.
Another option for creating data-driven visuals is Infogram. In addition to infographics, Infogram allows you to create things like:
- -Social Media Visuals
To create infographics in Infogram, you can use the included drag-and-drop editor. There are templates that you can use, but you have the flexibility to change as much (or as little) as you would like. If you do not have enough content to populate your infographics, your Infogram subscription includes access to a large library of stock images and icons.
When you are done, you have many different options for exporting your work:
- Sharing to your favorite cloud services
- Integrating with the APIs of your choice
- Downloading your files in PNG, GIF, JPEG, HTML, or PDF format
Generally speaking, we think that Infogram has a steeper learning curve that Easelly, but if you are looking for something that offers infinite flexibility and powerful functionality, you cannot go wrong with Infogram. It may take some time for you to get up to speed with Infogram, but once you do, you will be able to create pretty much anything you would like.
Finally, we wanted to mention Piktochart, which we see as a middle ground between Easelly and Infogram.
Piktochart’s feature set is closer to Infogram’s, but it is easier to use a la Easelly.
If you are interested in creating more than just infographics, but you find the learning curve of Infogram too steep, try Piktochart.
First up is PicMonkey, which is a great option that allows you to do things like:
- Edit and touch-up your photos
- Design images, such as cover art
- Create collages
PicMonkey also comes with a robust community and in-depth documentation, so if you are new to working with images, there are lots of helpful resources available to you. You could go through a tutorial or see what others have done to get inspiration for your next project.
If you are working in multiple environments, PicMonkey offers solutions for desktop/laptop computers and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
If PicMonkey is not the option for you, check out Pic Stitch (which is available for iOS and Android users).
Pic Stitch is more limited feature-wise than PicMonkey, but the upside to this is that there are fewer options to bog you down.
Pic Stich gives you creative layout options. You can also add video and music to your collage.
Pic Stitch offers (in addition to the basic photo editing tools you would expect):
- Photo filters
- Collage creation functionality
- Integrations with many other apps and services so you can move your content around with ease
- The ability to edit one or many pictures simultaneously
Remember, images do not have to be pictures — if you have written content that you want to be emphasized, you can easily turn your quotations into images.
If you are looking for something that is supremely easy to use and comes with no hassle, check out Quozio.
You simply provide your quote and its attribution, and Quozio will take care of the rest. The background is not fancy, but it is still an image that you can use on your website.
Old school: Just type a quote in and select a background. Done.
Recite is another web-based tool that lets you turn your quotations into images. It is a step above Quozio in that you have to choose a background image in addition to providing your quotation.
When you are done, you can choose to:
- Post to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, or StumbleUpon
- Download your image
- Copy and save the link to the image you have just created
- Email your image to the address(es) you provide
People love videos; if there is anything people love more than pictures, it is videos.
However, creating videos, especially those that run a bit longer, can be difficult. Luckily, there are many tools out there that can be used to help you create and edit your video files.
When it comes to video creation, RenderForest is one of the most popular tools around. It is a flexible, full-featured, cloud-based tool that allows you to create videos both short and long (in addition to other visuals, such as infographics and presentations).
The biggest perk to using RenderForest is the templates — while you are ultimately responsible for providing content, you can use the templates to help guide you in creating your videos. Furthermore, RenderForest comes with stock slides and the like to help you fill in gaps (such as during transition periods).
For a light-weight alternative to RenderForest, consider Ripl.
Ripl is an app for iOS and Android devices used for creating videos specifically for social media (though there is nothing stopping you from also using this content on your blogs or websites). Ripl’s product is aimed at small business owners, but we think that more than just business people will find Riple useful.
Rather than having you film your videos, you provide a series of pictures, which Ripl then stitches together to create a video. The entire creation process takes places in three steps:
- Add photos and text to include in your final product
- Choose a design for your video and customize the style
- Write a caption, add hashtags, and share your video
Currently, you can export your Ripl creations to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you need your content elsewhere, many tools, apps, and services offer support for YouTube videos.
We mentioned above that you can turn text into images, but you might also consider turning text into videos. One easy way to do this is with Lumen5.
What’s really cool about Lumen5 is the automation feature — you provide a blog post or an RSS feed, and the Lumen5 AI system helps you:
- Summarize your content
- Match each scene with related videos, photos, and music
If you do not have enough content as is, your subscription gets you access to Lumen5’s media, which contains millions of free-to-use media files.
The Instagram Family
If you have not been living under a rock, you know that Instagram is a popular Facebook-owned app that allows its users to share pictures and videos (either publicly or privately to a list of pre-approved viewers).
In addition to being useful as a stand-alone tool, Instagram allows you to do a lot of cool things to your photos and videos, and with the appropriate social media integrations, you can use the content you create on Instagram elsewhere.
There are many features built into the Instagram app itself, including its famous filters, but to help you create even more cool content, the company has released three stand-alone apps you might find useful:
Used correctly, these apps help you create content that offers a user experience more engaging than a single, still photo.
Boomerang lets you take photos that are then consolidated into a short, one-second-long video that plays in a back-and-forth loop. (Available in the Apple iStore and Google Play)
Hyperlapse allows you to create shots that track the subject and are then used to create time-lapse videos. (Available in iOS only.)
An example of a Layout image.
The Instagram app allows you to post multiple pictures as a single post, but if you want multiple pictures to display on the same image, you can use Layout to create a photo collage. (Available in iOS only.)
Other Apps of Interest
These apps do not fall into any of the above categories, but we think you will find them useful when it comes to creating engaging pieces.
Are you tired of memorizing lines or doing retakes because you’ve stumbled over something you were planning to say?
BIGVU’s Teleprompter feature means that you can turn your smartphone into a tiny teleprompter for easy video making. Simply look at the camera on your phone and read the lines that scroll up on your screen for a natural-looking reading of your script!
BIGVU also comes with editing features that allow you to change the background or add captions.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but getting great photos is only part of the battle — you will need a great caption to provide context and clarity to your images.
A caption-less visual is a lost opportunity to hook your readers further.
However, writing captivating captions for your pictures and videos can be exhausting (have we mentioned how difficult it can be to be witty and clever all the time?), so you might consider going to Captiona for help.
Captiona is a search engine for social media captions. You can enter keywords relevant to your photo or video, such as “studying,” “on vacation,” or “family,” and Captiona returns with options you can either use as-is or modify to fit your needs better.
If you see something you do not want to use now (but could find useful later), you can swipe left on the caption to save it for later use.
Creating posts with visual impact — whether via images, videos, or something in between — is essential when it comes to capturing and keeping your visitors’ attention on your content.
Creating such content, however, is not easy, so in this article, we have rounded up a set of apps, tools, and solutions you can use to make your content creation processes faster and easier. Have a favorite tool or app we’re missing from this list? Leave a comment and let us know.