Behind the Scenes (+ how to create content they’ll read)
A year ago, I came across a free download from a woman I’d been following on Instagram for a while.
It showed a photo of the beautifully designed cover – complete with a dreamy photo and nice typography – and promised a wealth of info that sounded useful to me. Without giving it too much thought, I gave her one of my most valued possessions (my email address!) and, in a matter of moments, the pdf download was sitting in my inbox.
But here’s the kicker.
Opening that pdf was a complete disappointment.
Once I got past the slick cover, it was page after page after page after page of nothing but plain. black. text. No colored headlines to guide my reading. No table of contents to help me find what I was looking for. I quickly skimmed through it and didn’t even read a single page.
Needless to say, within a week I threw the pdf in my virtual trash can and unsubscribed. Sound harsh? Maybe. Am I too picky? Quite likely. (I’ve been called worse.) But I’m hard pressed to believe that you would enjoy reading 15 pages of plain copy either. No one does. And why should you have to when it’s not that difficult to spice things up a bit, if only to make it easier to read?
The worse thing is that it was probably full of valuable info. Info that this dear woman spent her precious time writing and editing. But I’ll never know because I just. couldn’t. stomach. it.
So we both missed out.
I missed out on potentially life- or business-changing knowledge. She missed out on a great opportunity to build consistency with her brand and loyalty with her audience because I’m probably not the only person who downloaded but didn’t read.
Why do I tell you this?
Quite simply because I don’t want this to be you! The knowledge and expertise you have is too important and the hours in your day are too valuable for you to be putting out content that no one reads!
In September I had the pure joy of working with 2 incredible woman who “get it”. They had new, exciting content to share, and they knew they didn’t want to waste their (or their audience’s) time and energy by putting out crappy looking stuff. Like I said, they’re incredible! And I’ve been sitting on my hands waiting to give you a peek behind the scenes.
Here’s a look at the first project.
Caryn Gillen is a weight loss expert who helps women end their struggle with food and weight. She’s a delight to know and work with. Many months ago I created new social media templates for her to follow, and follow them she has. She’s been a rock star at using consistently designed posts every single week to help build her brand recognition. Every time I see one in my feed, I feel like a proud mama! Through that process, we set some very basic “brand guidelines” for her, things like her color palette and fonts. We also revitalized a logo that she already had but wasn’t using. You can see how those elements come together in her templates here.
Last month she was ready to create 2 new pdf downloads. Like the woman I mentioned above, they’re free for her audience and a great tool to help grow her email list. However, Caryn’s content is amazing plus she wanted them to look great, function well, and compel her subscribers to READ them, all while building her brand credibility. I also knew that Caryn had new brand photos taken since we last worked together. So in addition to compelling written content, she had fresh, new imagery that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on!
The first pdf is an interactive quiz (yes, you can do that in a pdf!) with check boxes that can be “checked” digitally without even having to print the file. I also designed new Facebook banner images to direct her readers to the download. The second pdf is a multi-page workbook with questions, examples, and space for her reader to make her own health plan. Even though these are just a few of the pages (and blurry to protect the privacy of her content), you can see what a difference it makes to create beautiful resources for your clients. They’re not fancy or complicated, but they’re clean, engaging, and easy to follow – exactly what we wanted.
But what if you can’t hire a pro yet?
Don’t worry. Even if you can’t have your resources designed professionally, here are a few things you CAN do to ensure a great reader experience. (Key word being READER because they actually READ it.)
Build white space into the page. Have wider margins, hit the return key a couple times between sections, or place the text into 2 columns. Read more of my thoughts on white space here.
Color is your friend. Use your brand colors for headlines, subheads, bullets, or special quotes.
Break up the content. Use graphic elements to break up all that body copy into more digestible sections. Insert a photo; free stock photos are fine as long as they relate to the content. Highlight an important sentence by repeating it as a pull quote or in a sidebar. Sometimes a simple line in the right place is all you need.
All of these things can be done in whatever software program you’re comfortable with. Canva is a good tool for this if you’re not creating a document with too many pages. (Did you know that I have a series of free Canva tutorials? You can access them on YouTube here or on Vimeo here if you need some extra help.)
Remember to keep it simple and don’t overdo it.
The idea isn’t to add more stuff; your goal is to break up the content and make it easier and more enjoyable to read. Your brand is so much more than your logo and website, and you want to carry it through every facet of your business. Thoughtfully designed free tools build your credibility by leaving your audience asking, “If her free stuff is this great, I can only imagine how incredible her paid services are!” Bingo!
Watch for the next post where I’ll give you another peek “behind the scenes” of the second project from September. It’s a beauty!