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DIY Infographics: Three free tools

Infographic on phone

Infographics can be a great way to get complicated information across quickly and visually. If you’ve been on our Infographics That Wow online training, you’ll know what to include in an infographic and how to best plan and structure that information. So you’re all set to create your masterpiece…  but what tool do you use to do that?

If you’ve got some design experience, then you can dive right in to tried and trusted Adobe platforms like Creative Cloud – but if you’re not a specialist, or don’t have access to a paid platform there’s some free packages out there you might want to consider.

Most of these packages are somewhat limited in the free functionality which they offer, with the option to upgrade for more advanced features, but you can still produce respectable infographics with relative ease. A basic grasp of design principles is always helpful, but if you’ve already been on our infographics training you’ll have enough to get you going.

I take a quick look at three of the most popular free infographic tools and their pros and cons below, based on my own experience of using them.

Pros:

  • There’s a range of pre-set infographic templates which are easily adaptable.
  • You can upload your own images – or select from a range of free icons etc.
  • You can choose you own colour scheme, from pre-selected options or by selecting specific hexadecimal colours.
  • It’s a pretty intuitive interface and you can download the file in multiple formats (PDF, JPG, PNG…)
  • You can access some of the teams functionality, to share work, within the free package.

Cons:

  • The infographic templates are limited to 800 x 2000 pixels – you can set your own dimensions to start with a blank sheet, but the existing templates won’t work, so more work required on your part.
  • The range of fonts is a little limited, and you won’t see trusted favourites like Arial – instead having to scroll through to find Canva’s own versions, like “Arialle”.
  • If you want Canva to remember your preferred colours/fonts etc, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version which provides a “brand kit”.

 

The paid version has some handy tricks like automatically resizing your content for different purposes – so you can adapt your infographic to optimal Facebook post size, for instance, but this can be a bit hit-and-miss in how well it works. It still saves time, but you’ll likely need to do manual adjustments to get the look you want. You can get a free 30 day trial of the paid version to see whether you think it’s worth the investment of around $13/£10ish a month.

 

Pros:

  • There’s a much more extensive range of templates and different dimensions to choose from.
  • You can add marketing features like content gates (e.g. so that content is obscured unless people sign-up for your newsletter)
  • The fonts are more standard than the ones in Canva, and you have a similar range of icons available to use

Cons:

  • The free version is very limited – you can’t export your infographics or upload your own images, for instance.
  • In the free version, you can only publish online, and your infographic is automatically published in Venngage’s own gallery (so not ideal if you want to create infographics for internal use only)

 

In terms of the interface, it’s similar to Canva, but if we’re comparing the free versions, Canva offers more flexibility. The inability of Venngage to export content or to upload images is very restrictive. If you’re a non-profit, then the price is roughly in the Canva ballpark. If not, it’s $19 for an individual, but the number of image uploads you can get is set at 50 max, and your export options exclude high resolution and interactive PDFs unless you upgrade to the Business package, at $49 a month.

 

Pros:

  • The templates are great if you have a lot of “number-based” information you want to convey through an infographic
  • There are many free photos available through Visme to use in your infographic – and you can upload your own images too
  • You can download the image as a JPG (but not a high-res JPG – you have to upgrade for that and other file formats)
  • It’s more geared up for infographics than Canva – you have more control over your representational graphics, icons, etc.

Cons:

  • The colour schemes are limited to a few pre-set options unless you upgrade to the paid packages
  • The interface is a bit less intuitive to use than Canva (in my opinion)
  • You can get up to 5 projects in the free version, and the Visme branding will appear on your work.

The end-product from Visme can be very good – but it can be a bit more work to your infographic from scratch than with Canva. On the one hand, it stops you being lazy, and your template is less likely to be used elsewhere, on the other, it does take a bit longer to get to the end point than Canva. Visme also uses standardised fonts, unlike Canva – you can find Arial and others with ease.

Visme’s Standard package is $13 a month – so pitched at the same level as Canva, in terms of investment, however you do have to pay annually. That gets you all the premium assets, 15  projects, and you can create your colour palettes. The Complete package is $22 a month, and again is annually billable. If you do upgrade to Complete, then you can download in HTML5 format – and Visme will let you do some nifty animations with your infographic.

 

Summary

There are of course other tools out there, but if you’re on a tight budget and looking for easy ways to create an infographic, you should be able to get something decent from the ones I looked at here. The pricing was correct at November 2018, and based on functionality available at that time, and the review is based on my own personal experience. Don’t forget, AMA’s Infographics That Wow online training includes plenty of practical help and advice on creating infographics that connect with your intended audiences.

Blog post by Amy Firth, Head of Marketing – Membership at AMA

Take me back to the blog

AMA: Review of 2018

Arts, heritage, museums – we are a resilient sector and surviving this year with passion still in place demonstrates this. Whilst we might be debating exactly what resilience means we are continuing to have a positive impact on the UK’s health, well-being, communities and GDP we have been celebrating success against a back drop of uncertainty. We’ve been talking about how we live in uncertain times for too long, perhaps this is the new normal. Or perhaps one day we will be talking about living in solid, sure times – I don’t think so.

To deal with uncertainty we need to be comfortable with risk and to be ready and willing to change. We need to be focusing on what matters – how we can be relevant to our audiences. We’ve been helping our 2000+ members (more than ever) build their ability to have successful relationships with their communities, visitors, audiences, supporters. We’ve had record numbers of small organisations and freelance workers join the AMA and we are working hard to have an impact for every member.

As the country was battered by the Beast from the East in the early stages of the year Creative Scotland has engaged in its own battle internally, with stakeholders and with the Scottish government. Despite a better than anticipated deal from the government Creative Scotland felt the ire of the sector with its portfolio decisions. Most keenly felt by our members has been the sad demise of Culture Republic. Creative Scotland is no longer supporting an audience-focused organisation and without this organisations’ have lost visitor insight, a place to network and share ideas and development opportunities. It’s unclear how Creative Scotland plans to address this but I hope we will be seeing some movement soon. The AMA has continued to support our growing Scottish membership throughout the year culminating in our successful first ever bi-city Digital Marketing Day.

Throughout the year we heard the metal chink as cuts cuts cuts kept coming. In Northern Ireland the Arts Council had to pass on cuts to its portfolio and in local authorities budgets were squeezed to the point of expiration. Although a small number of pioneering, possibly enlightened councils fought back recognising the benefit of placing culture at the heart of their plans. Coventry, Leeds, Renfrewshire and Dundee we salute you – and all those I’ve missed.

GDPR threatened to swallow us whole but we came out fighting and as we poured our energy into respecting others’ data, Facebook was getting away with compromising 50 million people’s personal information. Power, structures, greed, data….

The mythical barbecue summer became a reality and as the epic heatwave thawed us all we were saddened and disappointed to hear that too many of our leaders had let us down and were finally being taken to task for abusive behaviour. As we sought to ensure this never happens again (we’ve got a long way to go) we were able to have long overdue conversations about our sector’s culture.

We are nearly at the end of our first 12 months as an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation (SSO) and we’ve impacted nearly 70,000 people via culturehive.co.uk, over 50 small organisations through the Small Scale Development Programme and 40+ organisations through the Audience Diversity Academy.

I’ve nearly made it through without mentioning ****** but we have to mention it because it’s important. We don’t know what’s happening, we don’t know what the impact is going to be for us as individuals, organisations, a sector and a country. I’m trying to take a positive stance that our hard won resilience will see us through the next period of turbulence.

Wellness is one of this year’s buzzwords that actually matter. In a sector where we work hard for little financial reward with increasing pressure we need to take the health of our sector seriously. We’ve been helping our members with this and we will be exploring this more at 2019’s conference in NewcastleGateshead. Themed ‘Rewire: Culture, Audiences, You’, we will be giving you the personal support you need to succeed. We’ll also be giving you the power of knowledge to head back to your organisation to make the change you need to make to reach more and more diverse audiences. We are asking big questions – what are the changes we need to make as a sector to be inclusive and relevant? How can we make our organisations audience-focused to give us the best chance to reach more people? How can we change our day to day practice to be up to date and effective in our communication with our communities? How are our audiences changing and what do we need to do keep up with them?

2019 is the AMA’s 25th birthday year. We are looking forward to celebrating this a year full of challenging, essential, impactful development opportunities. And a few surprises too.

 

Cath Hume, CEO, AMACath Hume

Inclusivity and Audiences Symposium — setting the tone

11th February 2019 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Image courtesy of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival — Jazz Dance Workshop at Jazz ReFest 2018
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What is it about?

How does diversity feature in your work? And how does it feature in your approach to audiences?

This one-day event will challenge you. It will equip you with confidence to make changes and shape your workplace at a new level.  You’ll gain an understanding of how the intersections of society goes beyond segmentation and profiling.

You’ll hear from speakers who will share good practice and help you clarify your approach in engaging new and diverse audiences. Challenge your ideas about inclusivity and equity in relation to audience engagement. Leave with practical tools and strategic ideas to implement straight away.

What will I gain?

— Confidence talking about diversity and placing it within strategic thinking

— Tips on how to put into action an effective approach to engaging more diverse audiences

— Space to challenge your own thinking

Read more

Mentor Myth-Busting

While the benefits of having a mentor may be considered obvious, often the benefits of being a mentor are overlooked. We aim to shed some light on some of the myths about mentors, based on the feedback from past AMA mentors from our mentoring scheme

 

Myth 1: Mentoring takes up a lot of time.

You might be surprised to know that a successful mentoring relationship can be sustained on just 1 hour every 2-3 months. You can get a lot of ground covered in an hour, and having a regular – but not too regular – catch-up provides a good opportunity for both of you to take a step back from your day-to-day to review how things are progressing with both your professional and personal development in the intervening periods.

 

Myth 2: Mentoring won’t benefit me.

The basis of a meaningful mentor-mentee relationship is not one based around the mentor tutoring a passive protégé, but one where you bring different perspectives to each other. Working with a mentee can help bring new solutions. At AMA we look for a minimum of 5 years professional experience difference when pairing mentors and mentees. It’s not just about the professional experience though – the experience which a mentee at a different career-stage brings can shape mentor-thinking too. It’s tough to be across everything when digital technology and trends change so quickly – and the perspective of others from outside your circle should not be underestimated.

 

Myth 3: There’s no reason for me to be a mentor.

Getting the mentor-mentee partnership right is key – we want to pair you with someone that brings as much to the party as you do. So we look at what our mentors want to get out of it – perhaps you want to raise your profile, perhaps you want to develop your skill-set, perhaps you want the personal satisfaction of seeing the difference you can make or maybe you just want the experience for your CV… there are lots of reasons why you might want to start your journey as a mentor, and we work to deliver against your goals.

 

Myth 4: Mentoring is thankless task.

Mark Zuckerberg has spoken about the difference his mentor, Steve Jobs, made to his career. Okay, we can’t all be Steve Jobs. But you might be surprised the difference that you can make, and how motivating that feeling can be. But don’t take our word for it – here’s what some of our past mentors have to say:

 

“It’s really rewarding – and it’s helped me to realise how much knowledge I’ve accumulated over 20 years. I’ve also learned a lot from my mentees…it feels great to be sharing insights and giving something back”
Catrin John
Marketing and Communications Manager, Watershed

“Giving an outside perspective on somewhere else also helps me think more objectively about my own organisation”

2017 Mentor

 

AMA’s mentoring scheme runs periodically across the year. You can find more details about upcoming cohorts here.

Connect! with Creative Europe Desk: Event report

Connect! was a forum on the value of networks, held by the British Council and the Creative Europe desk.

Brexit clearly featured large, particularly as whatever deal (or lack thereof) occurs is likely to change how we work with Creative Europe after March next year. But the tone in the room was of determination to keep collaborating and networking and finding ways to keep connections going whatever the post-Brexit landscape brings.

Speakers included Creative Diversity Network, Doc Society, PRS, DCMS, IETM and AMA’s own Amy Firth was there to chair a panel with Neil Butler of AZ Arts, John Peto of The Nerve Centre, and Tania Santos from CRU Cowork on ‘Setting up Networks’ (pictured below, L-R).

The DCMS speaker, Victoria MacCallum, did a great job with a very difficult brief — updating on Brexit. While there was nothing too much to add to the general uncertainty, she did announce that there will be a Future Framework out in October that sets out what they hope to get for the cultural sector, so watch out for that. Government will be underwriting all EU funds awarded before March next year, but can give no guarantees beyond that at this stage.

There were some inspirational talks from Dawn Walton of Eclipse Theatres, sharing the success of their Black Men Walking project, and Deborah Williams of Creative Diversity Network. Deborah also spoke at AMA’s Conference recently – you can see highlights here.

Connect! followed on from last year’s event, Collaborate!, and we look forward – with bated breath – to see what 2019 will bring.

Picture of Connect Panellists

AMA new events launched

The AMA exists to help arts marketers, and those in related roles, make better and more connections with audiences.

We’re proud to launch our latest training and events for Autumn/Winter 2018/19, with a rich selection of online workshops, day events and residential training for all levels of experience. You can view the full programme of over 30 events here.

As an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation, we also deliver training for the AMAculturehive programme.

Highlights include:

AMA members get discounts on event bookings and also access to bonus resources and support. Find out more about membership and what our members gain from working with the AMA.

We’re also excited to hold our annual Digital Marketing Day in two locations London and Glasgow on 5 December 2018. This event will give you:

  • Practical insight into how to better use and understand digital 
  • Inspiration to take forward exciting digital ideas and practical knowledge in how to implement them 
  • An understanding of the broader digital landscape, the journey so far and where cultural organisations sit within it  

Keynote speakers announced so far include globally renowned futurist and author Anne Lise Kjaer and Chris Unitt, founder of One Further, a digital analytics and user research consultancy. We can’t wait to share more details with you… Sign up for our news updates to keep in touch.

Tips for Developing Small Organisations

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

As part of #SmallOrgAug, we’ve been collecting the learning from some of our past delegates from our Small Scale Development Programme (SSDP) to share with you.

 

AMA has been running SSDP as part of the CultureHive programme, with support from Arts Council England, for a number of years, helping small organisations carve out time for some intensive business development and planning. We know it can be hard to make that time, but we hear so often the difference that making time can make. We’ve collected some of the learning and top tips from past delegates, and paired them with some resources to help others working in small organisations. (Some of the resources below are member-only – if you’re not a member, check out our Small Organisation membership and see what we could do for you.)

 

Tip 1) “Work differently by looking at long-term gain over short-term funding wins”

Rachael Perrin, Director, Soundcastle – read about her SSDP experience here

Getting the business model right means that even when funding is necessarily short-term, you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture – and you help ensure the continued sustainability and resilience of your organisations. This video explores a typical starting point for the business model of many arts and cultural organisations and helps you plan how you might need to change and adapt in the future.

Business models in the arts and cultural sector

 

Tip 2) “Marketing is the end product of vision and mission”

Christine Davis, Centre Manager, The Architecture Centre, Bristol – read about her SSDP experience here

The vision sets the direction for the organisation, and the mission takes you there: once you have clarity on this, your marketing can be more focused and effective, allowing you to make the best use of time and resource. This article from AMA’s member magazine JAM sets out some pointers on how to get this right:

 

 

Tip 3) “Define our strengths and distinctive identity”

Harriet Warnock, General Manager, Collective Encounters – read about her SSDP experience here

Your vision should make it clear what it is that makes your organisation distinctive. Building on this to inform marketing activity helps make more compelling connections. In this blog-post, Rachel Miller of Avant Cymru reflects on how identifying their USP and what made them distinctive helped them connect with their audiences.

 

#CultureHive SmallScale Arts Council of Wales bursary recipient

 

Tip 4: “Use [SWOT and TOWS] tools to test ideas and create a shared sense of direction”

Julie Gaskell-Johnson, Chief Executive, West Yorkshire Print Workshop – read about her SSDP experience here

SWOT and TOWS strategy sets provide a useful framework to help you develop, plan and inform different elements of your marketing and audience development strategies. They’re a good starting point when you’re looking to figure out key decisions.

SWOT | TOWS | Strategy Sets

 

The AMA is a Sector Support Organisation appointed by Arts Council England, who subsidise the Small Scale Development Programme (SSDP). SSDP is an AMA CultureHive programme that runs twice a year for £95+VAT for 3 days intensive training. For more details visit our Events page. 

 

Celebrating Small Organisations

Did you know there are over 40,000 arts and culture organisations with 10 or fewer employees in the UK? Collectively, those organisations represent a rich and important part of the UK’s cultural sector.

We’re working to raise awareness of the work of Small Organisations during August – with what we’re calling #SmallOrgAug – keep an eye on our Twitter feed for more details or sign up for our newsletter. Plus as well as sharing knowledge through connecting members, we are working to deliver resources that small organisations, and those working in them, can create the conditions for success.

To celebrate #SmallOrgAug, we’re launching a new Small Organisation rate for organisations which meet two of the following criteria – fewer than 10 individuals /turnover of less than £632k / £316,000 or less on its balance sheet  (a.k.a. what HMRC calls a ‘micro-entity’). You can see further details here – plus join in August and take advantage of our launch discount!

Below, we’ve collated some free resources designed to support your work:

We’ll be sharing case studies and more resources all month – follow us on Twitter  or register for updates to make sure you don’t miss out – plus if you have your own case studies and tips to share, let us know and we can raise awareness of your work: info@a-m-a.co.uk

Using Artist-led Play to Engage Audiences

July 2018’s Yorkshire Network meeting was hosted by Hannah Mason, at The Art House in Wakefield. Members of the Art House marketing and curation team spoke about engaging new and more audiences through their latest artist’s residency. The following extract is from Jen Garrick’s talk. 

Using Artist-led Play to Engage Audiences: an extract from AMA Yorkshire Network Meeting

Jen Garrick, Communication Officer, The Art House, Wakefield

The Art House Network Meeting

We’ve got a huge creative hub that we work with to find opportunities and support – and community, effectively. We also run a whole programme of residencies, workshops and classes, so it’s a real diverse offering. We do lots of different things.

With our artists in residence, they live here, they have a studio here, and they work for a month and at the end of that month they put on a show of some sort. It can be a work in progress, it could be finished work, in the main gallery space. That’s what we’re going to talk to you about today, is the experience of one of those residencies in particular.

Up to this point, ‘play’ has not been a big factor for us here at all. In fact, we’ve been quite insular. It’s been about the art and the artist, which is amazing, but there’s certainly been lacking an audience component to that. As marketers we all know that the audience is really, really crucial and activates the work. It brings life into the space. As one of our studio holders described it, “When it’s really good, it feels ‘fizzy’ in the building”. When people are getting it right, you’ve got that energy. That’s what’s really important, and the audience is what makes that happen. Read more

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