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It’s Time to Get Graphic
By: Elaine Reed
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Whether it’s because of the massive amounts of data and content that are developed every day, or just that people really like USA Today’s approach, graphic representations are popping up everywhere. In fact, the latest social media darling, Pinterest, proves it daily.

But we don’t have to look to modern media to see that graphics capture attention. They've been with us as long as we’ve been able to draw pictures. So what do you do if you’re not an artist, you have something to share, and you want to do it visually? There are many approaches to take. Here are a few:
  • Stick people or doodles. Yes, it is rudimentary. Yes, it is difficult to pull off. No, you cannot take yourself too seriously if you do this. But stick people are okay. I once sat through a webinar from Chris Brogan and all of his slides were handwritten and included doodles. It was awesome. The content was great and his doodles enhanced his key points and often got a chuckle. Oatmeal is another popular site that proves that doodles, stick figures, and really elementary art are the new black.
  • Photo Apps. Most people aren’t pro photographers. In fact, most of us aren’t even amateur photographers. But anyone with a smartphone can download a photo app and add some zing to even the most mundane images. If you don’t want to figure out an app, that’s ok. Make sure your image is clear, in focus, and related to the point you’re trying to make.
  • Charts. Spreadsheet programs have made creating charts a snap. They’re usually pretty straightforward to read, and if you’re comparing data sets, like poll results, they get to the point pretty quickly. Best of all, the program does all of the heavy lifting for you. Just enter your data points, tell the program whether you want a pie chart or a bar chart, and voila! it’s drawn for you.
  • Stock Photography. Stock photography has come a long way in the last few years. Now you can purchase a professional photo for a few dollars, rather than hundreds or even thousands. Before you purchase an image, make sure you know how you are allowed to use it. If you’re going to use the image to create a logo or otherwise generate income for yourself there are usually additional rules and/or fees involved in your purchase. If you just want a good image to put on your blog or Facebook page to help drive home your point, you’re usually okay.
A few more tips: when in doubt, credit your source. Don’t use clip art or bean people unless you’re creating an homage to 1992. Relax and get a little creative. If an image speaks to you it will likely speak to others. If you’re having a hard time finding the right image to make your point, go with a stick figure or just do it the old fashioned way: with words. The world may be getting more and more graphic, but succinct writing is still a powerful tool.

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About the Author
Elaine Reed is a marketing professional with heavy emphasis on e-commerce and Internet marketing. She blogs regularly on her website and tweets often.
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