11 Ways Writers Become Master Visual Storytellers

Writers! Need to master visual storytelling? Do THESE 11 tips and you will.

Visual storytelling in 2017 is imperative. The landscape of how readers consume content has drastically changed. Yes, readers still love to read blog posts, magazine articles and 500 page novels. However, many readers are now switching gears and wanting visual content to devour. Don’t believe me? Let’s talk some numbers shall we? 

 Here are some conclusive numbers drawn from Hubspot:

  1. This year, video content will represent 74% of all internet traffic. 
  2. 4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about something than read about it. 
  3. Directions with visuals cause people to do 323% better (yes, you read that right, 323%) than those looking at directions without visuals. 
  4. Tweets with relevant visuals receive 150% more retweets.

The list goes on and you can find all the good tips, at Hubspot.

“Yeah but Stephanie I’m a writer, who cares?” Your readers care!

The ability to draw and communicate visually can no longer be seen as optional.
— Bette Fetter

It matters not that we are gifted in the art of wordsmith mastery. What matters is what people want. To get your writing out there, whether it’s your books, your blogs, what have you, you’re going to need to market and reach your readers. You’re going to need to get in their face and say, “HEY! I just wrote something amazing. Go read it!” They will only do so, if you reach them how they want to be reached, and that is with visuals. Video, infographics, strategic visual content through Instagram, Twitter, etc. 

The online landscape has switched to visual storytelling and if you want to succeed as an author, a writer, and entrepreneur, you have to get with the program and get on board. 

So how DO you become a master visual storyteller? Let’s talk about it!

1. Always remain credible

There ain’t NOTHIN’ out there like someone who is not credible. You can tell they’ve taken someone’s work and are claiming it as their own. Please don’t do this. 

If you’re using numbers, tell where you got the reference. If you’re sharing a quote, always tell who originally coined the term. Be strategic with what you share visually and how you share it. Make sure it is true to you. 

Your visuals should always be easily identifiable with you.

2. Use graphics that align 100% with your brand as a writer

BE YO SELF. For real though. The world of the internet has so many copycat writers out there. Don’t follow the masses. Be true to you. If you like how something looks, GO. FOR. IT. 

Don’t let others determine the end all be all of what you should share, how you should share it and what it should look like. They don’t have that right because they’re essentially telling you how to be you.

No no.

When picking visuals that will tell your story, or maybe the story of your characters, make sure you are seeing in the visuals. Make sure your voice is thoroughly intertwined and your heartbeat can be seen evidently.

3. Turn images into series

Series are a great way to captivate readers. The same way they love it when you write a series, it’s the same way they will fall in love when you show the series. 

Pick images that relate to one another and use them in a timely and cohesive fashion. String them along as you use them to depict what you are sharing at the moment.

Multiple images draws the attention of the mind. The mind processes it as repetition, therefore causing it to stick longer. You want to be in the forefront of your reader and consumers mind. Therefore, pick a story, break it up into several visual images, and share it with the world through a series. Your brand will be better for it.

Visual storytelling of one kind or another has been around since cavemen were drawing on the walls.
— Frank Darabont

4. The chosen image must have a strong story behind it

I think we can all agree, no one likes to see basic content. Some visual pulled from the deep recesses of someone's buttocks that has absolutely nothing to do with what they’re saying, let alone trying to get across. 

When you pick visuals, make sure a story can be seen unfolding. A picture is worth a thousand words… literally. Don’t fall short by not doing your due diligence to find visuals with an exceptional ability to make your voice heard through what the reader sees.

5. The camera is only the first step

Never think shooting is the end all be all. If you’re a multi-passionate writer and choose to share your visual stories with your own content, by all means, huzzah! However, you’ve only conquered half the battle.

When wielding a camera with a vision of sharing a story, be mindful. Every single shot matters. Every single shot tells another part of the story. Also be aware, once the camera captures the vision, you must now arrange in a manner that will emotionally connect with your audience in a way they’ve never been captivated before.

6. Show people instead of telling them

People are switching to incessant amounts of visual consumption because they’re tired of hearing something. They now want to see it. They want to consume it with their own eyes. They want to devour it visually so they can turn around and create their own stories with it in their minds.

Friend, to master visual storytelling, you have to learn how to make the visual talk! Have you ever gone through the Instagram feed of a style blogger? And I mean a GOOD style blogger that knows what they’re doing? Let’s look at Aimee Song and Nicole Warne for a moment. When you look at their content, what do you see? Better yet, by looking at the content, what do you hear?

This is the heart of visual storytelling. The ability to make someone hear just through making them see. If you master this, you will master the art of visually storytelling as a writer.

Visual storytelling: Your vibe attracts your tribe.
— Michelle Davies

7. Display raw authenticity

Be real friends. People crave the true you through your work and content. When choosing book covers, you go through an extensive process to make sure it’s perfect. When choosing visuals for your author brand, you go through an ordeal to make sure it is just so.

Apply the same sense of urgency with your visuals. It will impact your storytelling in ways you couldn’t imagine. Choose visuals that will align with who you are. Visuals that would make sense being identified with you. Make sure what people can easily reflect who you are, across the board, at all times. What people has the power to make or break you.

8. Make sure it’s relevant

If your visuals are completely irrelevant to who you are, what you do and what you write, I now personally petition you to please evacuate the internet. Thank you. I’m not trying to be fresh, I’m just keeping it real. No one will follow a story that’s visually irrelevant. 

You can’t talk about wanting to go shopping with your girlfriends and show visuals of plumbing. The same way, you can’t be a writer of fantasy and continuously show visuals of manga. It doesn’t work that way. Your visuals MUST be relevant or else your efforts are futile.

Be consistent. Make sure the visuals make sense and give your readers and consumers a sense of urgency. Your visuals must speak through a blow horn that can be heard miles away, and it has to make sense. If you’re talking about lovers, let your visuals represent love. If you’re writing about comedy, let your visuals represent joy and laughter.

9. Choose vulnerability

Hey you, yes you, writer. I know you’re most likely an introvert. You hate talking to people. Pff, you hate people in general. You don’t like communicating with them. You don’t like revealing yourself. It feels like giving pieces of yourself off that you’re not ready to let go. Look, I. Get. It.

Being vulnerable is hard. People are quicker to judge than to understand. Despite how difficult it is, vulnerability is necessary. That’s how your visuals will come to life. Take a deep breath and expose yourself. If you want to connect heart to heart through your visuals, you’re going to need to give people a piece of you before they give you a piece of their heart to your books and other written content.

10. Leave the viewer with something new

Let your visuals be refreshing. Make sure it’s something new. Make sure they’re learning something, getting a new plot twist, seeing something in a different angle for the first time. Your visuals shouldn’t be repetitious if they’re not sharing something fresh.

Don’t become mundane and an internet hag by repeating your visuals and yourself. Give the people something new. Let them walk away from what they see wanting to come back for more.

11. Own who you are and share it

Do YOU. Don’t try to be like others who you think have it going on with their visuals. Run from comparison syndrome. Do your thing. There is only one you so be the best version of you out there. Own your story and be brave to be unashamed about it. You have a masterful story to tell. Do us all a favor and share YOUR story. It deserves to be shown.

Ready to start telling your masterful story?

I highly recommend you to do some research on marketing for 2017. It means so very much for the success of your author brand and writing business. Take some time to work on your visual storytelling. Think of what part of your story or stories can be shared visually. 

What image will emanate what you are wanting to get across? What visuals will share the strongest messages and help your readers and consumers connect with you more? With a little bit of work and a whole lot of heart, you’ll be able to tell masterful stories visually in no time!

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Which tip stood out to you that you would like to implement going forward?