As a writer and editor who’s happiest honing words at her desk until they are just right, I’ve thought video marketing is not my thing. Marketing in general is always a bit of a push. In the Question and Answer portion of the April 2020 BAIPA meeting, author John Byrne Barry asked how we can tastefully market books during the pandemic when the time seems best for giving. I thought, good question, entirely in the abstract. I was solving this problem by focusing on my writing and editing for now.
But book marketing mentor Judy Baker’s answer caught my attention. She said this is a good time to take what we know from our books and show up as resources. She added that trending topics right now are stress relief, self-care, and immune boosting.
Photographer Lori A. Cheung, designer Elizabeth Iwamiya, and I (the author) created our independently published book, My Amazing Day: A Celebration of Wonder and Gratitude to help start babies, toddlers, and their families on habits of gratitude. Even 6+ years after the 101-word book’s publication, it keeps gratitude top of mind for me. During the pandemic, I’d noticed that the habits my family and I have formed around gratitude have helped lift our spirits. When Judy gave her answer, I realized I had something to share.
The notion of making a video seemed more attainable because of what I’d learned at marketing consultant Mike Wolpert’s presentation on video marketing at our January BAIPA meeting. I learned then that it’s possible to make an appealing video without a lot of expensive equipment. The most effective videos tell a story and connect with their audience—those are things I know how to do! Crucially helpful to me was his point that, as with writing, you can’t expect to have a polished piece after one or even just a few drafts. That really took the pressure off.
I decided that the perfect place to film the video was my front garden. Gratitude has helped me see that during the pandemic, I’m happiest when I spend time outside each day and that I’m fortunate that the stay-in-place order occurred while we were at the height of spring in California. I borrowed my husband’s phone tripod, put my phone in it, and set the phone on a cinder block. I found a place to sit where I liked what was behind me. I did not expect to have a usable video from the first or even second or third video session. With pressure low, I made many videos over several days, learning when the light was best, how I could be connecting while talking into a camera, and honing my message.
As the days went on, I learned that in each session the first take was never great—I’d always start out feeling unnatural talking into the camera. And after about the third or fourth, I’d start to sound too rehearsed. I realized that I needed to look at the lens, not my image, on the phone so that I’d be making eye contact with viewers. I tried to picture the face of someone who has bought many copies of my book–the type of person who I thought would appreciate my message. Sometimes neighbors would be too noisy for me to record. One of those times, when I was waiting for my neighbor to finish some chores involving her garbage cans, a hummingbird flew into the area of the garden right in front of me, and I watched it go to several flowers from up close.
That day, I liked one of the takes. The light wasn’t perfect—there was a weird shadow on my face—but the garden looked gorgeous, and my message and connection with viewers was just what I’d wanted. I watched that take and a couple other contenders with my husband. It was good to have his enthusiastic confirmation of which worked best.
Now I’ve posted the video in several places. And thanks to what I’ve learned at earlier BAIPA meetings, I know Facebook ads are an inexpensive way to reach more people. As I write, my video ad has been up on Facebook for a few hours and has gotten more likes than most Facebook ads I post get over several days. I hope the video is helping lift people’s spirits all around the country
When I think of my video about gratitude, I’ll always think of my gratitude for BAIPA.