I’ve written a lot about how much design costs and why you should be willing to pay a professional to do your design. However, this does not mean that a little bit of thought could save you some money. I am talking about evergreen content. What’s that I hear you say, well…
Evergreen content is content that aims to be always relevant, simply put. It doesn’t adhere to trends or time specific events, it offers the viewer information that is as pertinent in 5 years as when it was published. The benefits of this are of course that it is always relevant, so will not need updating or replacing. The term is usually applied to written content but is equally appropriate for images and design. Design and photography are very prone to fads and trendy and as such you will see a lot of the same style of content being produced for a short period, and then it dies away. While this can be very effective in the short term, it leads to a lot of work being put in for only a little return. Evergreen content aims to take your initial effort and give you years of return.
The trick is to figure out what is short term and what could be evergreen. Once you know which is which, you can see that it makes the most sense to spend you money on hiring designers, photographers and videographers to create your evergreen long term content, as it will give you the best return on investment.
If you are promoting an event, any content produced for that is almost completely worthless the day after it happens. You may be able to take what you have done and update it for the same event next year, or squeeze some more out of it for follow up and reviews, but essential its dead in the water at that point. But it needed to be done, you need to promote that event with leaflets, blog post, social content, videos and everything else, or no one would come.
On the other side, something like headshots for your website could be considered evergreen. They can be used on your site, in press releases, on blogs, on leaflets, all over the place. You just need to give a little thought before the photographer hits that button. It not that you shouldn’t spend the money hiring people to promote short-term project, you just need to take a step back and assess if it will be worth it.
Headshots the Deadshot
In the example of the headshots, the first thing to consider is the time of year. Sounds weird, but if you are drinking a Sangria because it’s the middle of summer or there is snow on the ground because its February, then its going to look a little odd out of context if you use the sangria shot for a Christmas event, or the snow photo to promote a summer workshop. What you need is something that can work in almost any situation. Plain backgrounds, shooting in the milder climates of spring and autumn or shooting indoors can help with this, its just a case of thinking it through. It doesn’t have to be dull, it just needs to work as hard as it can for you all the time, not just some of the time.
Equally important, and somewhat related is what you are wearing. Christmas jumpers are hilarious, don’t get me wrong, but they look out of place in an email sent in July. Just think how weird it would be to turn on the TV in August and see that “It’s and Wonderful Life” was on.
Once you have sorted out that stuff the the other considerations are things you have probably considered already, such as tone and use case. But it is always worth just have a second thought to make sure these photo will look great in every situation you are going to need them for, and for some time to come.
The final thing to think about come after taking the shot, and that is editing or processing the image. Instagram filters are all the rage now, but will they look a dated in 5 years time? Probably. A good professional photographer with take on board what you have to say, so tell them you need this to work in a lot of situations and for a long time. They can make it work.
Evergreen is looking a bit brown around the edges
There is a proviso to all this, the term Evergreen is a little misleading. These days you will be luck to produce something that has more than a years shelf life if you are working in the tech industry for example, the same goes for every fast moving sector around today. Some industries, like law, may get a bit more juice from the fruit, but still laws are changed all the time a therefore legal advice needs to change too. You should probably think of Evergreen content lasting between 2 and 5 years, and assume that you will at least have to review it at some point in that time frame. It will always be worth keeping an eye on it make sure it is still working for you.
How can content work harder for me?
The point is this. If you go to a designer and get a quote for a design for, say, a roll up banner, like the ones you see at a conference, and you know you can use that banner for years, as it has no offers on it, not dates, just information about what your company does, your logo and some classic design elements. The designer says ‘great, that will be £500’ and you think, ‘yeah good price, because that will be used 6 times a year for the next 5 years, so its costing me less than £20 a use, bargain!’
The next week you go back and get a quote for a banner for an event next week, where you are running a special, never to be repeated offer. The event is Christmas themed, so you ask for holly and father Christmas to be on there. And the quote is £500. You say ‘what? Im only going to be using it once!, what a rip off!’
The the effort for the designer is the same, he will have to put in the same level of work with both projects, and ultimately its of little concern to him how or why your are using the end product. If it cost £500 to make a banner, its always going to be £500 to make a banner, you are the one who needs to get the value out of it.
Planning is key
So the Key to saving money is to assess what content is worth paying for. You should look at fitting content into 3 categories:
- long-lasting, evergreen content that is worth paying for. (e.g. headshots, site photography, promotional videos, logo design)
- Short term content that will net you a big return or can be used a lot in a short period of time, and therefore probably worth paying for. (leaflet design, event photography, workshop promotional materials)
- Short term content that will not make you any or much of a return and there for may not be worth paying for. (social content)
Once you have figured that out, its simply a case of finding a designer/photographer/copywriter or who ever to create the evergreen content so it is top notch and looks great right up to the day you stop using it.
For the short term content, you select the stuff that is going to make you money and think about if its worth hiring someone for that project or not. For the rest of the content you will probably need to get your hands dirty (figuratively) and learn to use some of the free or cheap tools available on line, such as Canva or Adobe Spark, that will quickly and easily get you up and running with descent content. I wrote a post about getting started with some of these tools here if you want to give them a go.
I’m Alex Dyett
I am a freelance Graphic Designer and Photographer, and Flickering Light Studio is my company. I live in York, UK, with my wife and daughter.
Hopefully, this blog post has given you some inspiration to go out and tell your businesses story with great design and eye-catching images. Take a look at the other blog posts to get some more ideas, and if there is anything that you feel I could help you with, please feel free to contact me, and I will be happy to work on a project with you.