I’m a book editor. I work with authors who self-publish fiction in a range of genres – crime thrillers, fantasy, speculative fiction … and pornography and erotica.
In October 2017, I wrote a blog post about copyediting and proofreading sexually explicit material, and I complemented that article with a vlog.
I didn’t want to do video. I was terrified! I’m an introvert who regularly suffers bouts of impostor syndrome. Back in April 2017, even the thought of doing video made me want to hurl.
So what changed my mind? And if you’re a reluctant vlogger too, what might change yours?
The bold blogger and the bashful vlogger
I’ve been blogging since 2011. My blog serves me well – over a third of a million page views a year on my content. It’s made me known in the editing community and visible in the search engines. That means I’m never without work. Great – that’s what every small-business owner wants, isn’t it?
Thing is, while I was getting a lot of leads, I wanted a bigger chunk from my target client base. So I hooked up with Andrew and Pete. And while they were teaching me how to fix my branding problem they told me to introduce video into my marketing.
‘Er, no, I don’t think so,’ was my response. I explained a few things – that I’m an editor, a wordy gal who works for wordy people and hangs out with wordy colleagues. That’s why I have a wordy content marketing platform.
‘We’re not saying dump the blog. Just mix it up a bit,’ said A&P. ‘It’ll be good for your business.’
That damn Cisco report
I dug my heels in. I’d been reading quotes about how by 2020 video will account for 80% of internet traffic and how that means everyone simply must do video marketing. I’ve read that Cisco report too. To be clear, it doesn’t say that 80% of online content will be video. It says that 80% of bandwidth taken up by that content will be video.
That’s not exactly a shocker when you do the maths – I have a 200 KB PDF on my website. I also have a 103 MB video. The video is 515 times fatter than the PDF but there are still only two pieces of content.
Size isn’t a reason for me to do video. It’s a reason for me to make sure my website can handle the strain. You can’t squeeze an elephant into a broom cupboard without causing some damage.
‘That’s not what we’re talking about,’ said A&P. ‘We’re talking about building trust, about offering alternative ways for your audience to consume your content, about showing people who you really are, about making people feel something. We get it – you’re nervous. Just do it anyway.’
And since I’m paying for their advice, it seemed daft not to take it.
It was the most difficult challenge I’ve taken on in my twenty-five-year publishing career.
Back to the erotica video
I sat in front of a camera and talked for ten minutes … about the differences between pornography and erotica, the size of the market, the challenges of editing written material with explicit sexual content, the impact on reputation, the SEO benefits, and why adult material has earned as much right as any other genre to be professionally edited.
It’s here if you’re interested:
And I put a link to that video on my blog and my self-publishing resources page.
How that video got me work
Midway through January 2018 I received an email from an author.
‘I was inspired by your clear and user-friendly website, and your video on erotica editing. I am looking for an editor who is open-minded about sexual subject matter. I want to be able to have an honest conversation without awkwardness. It’s one thing for someone to write a statement to the effect that they’re okay with this genre. It’s another to talk about it on camera. It really made an impact on me. Can we talk?’
We corresponded, and the upshot is that she commissioned me to copyedit her book.
There are two things of note here:
- She hired me to copyedit her book because she loved the sample edit I did for her. That’s about skills.
- But she contacted me initially because of the video. That’s about emotion.
I wouldn’t have had the chance to show the author my skills if I hadn’t made her feel something: that I was open-minded, that I was approachable, that she needn’t feel embarrassed.
Round one to Andrew and Pete. And knockout.
Bringing the blog alive
The problem with blogging is that while it’s still (and always will be) a powerful platform on which to offer amazing, valuable, problem-solving content to colleagues and clients, it’s not stand-out … not anymore.
Small-business owners operating in a global online marketplace need to find ways to enhance their written content, to move beyond solutions that are informational.
We need to bring our words alive. Video helps us do that.
For many of us, that’s a terrifying prospect. But we can’t afford to let the heebie-jeebies get in the way of being discoverable and compelling. There’s too much competition.
Your face, your voice, and your smile
There’s a ton of existing information on the internet about the power of video marketing, and tricks and tips on how to overcome the technical challenges. I’m not going to repeat that here.
Instead, I want to focus on questions I’ve been asking myself, because I think they’re relevant to any small-business owner.
Who’s the client?
It takes me a couple of hours to work with video – recording, editing, uploading. Given that introducing video into the marketing mix requires this additional effort, might it be worth targeting it at particular client groups?
In my case, the debut novelist might feel more anxious than an experienced writer about handing over their book to a complete stranger. I can use video to reassure novices that I have their backs.
How about you? Do you have nervous target clients whom you could put at ease using your face, your voice and your smile? Perhaps you’re a therapist, an adult-education provider, a nutritionist, a debt advisor, or a supplier of incontinence products.
What’s the topic?
I’ve already discovered how video can trigger a conversation with an author whose genre fiction pushes contested boundaries of acceptability.
But even if you’re a small-business owner who’s working with drier subject matter, might video humanize your business?
I know few people who’d enjoy a conversation about drawing up a will, preparing for the financial implications of a car crash, or filling out a tax return. But death, insurance and taxes are things we all have to deal with, even if binge-watching Netflix seems preferable.
Might your face, voice and smile make the notion of starting that conversation more agreeable?
How perfect do we have to be on camera?
I don’t look like Angelina Jolie. I don’t even look like my own headshot! And I don’t deliver my lines like a seasoned theatre actor. Does it matter?
It’s something I still struggle with. We’re bombarded 24/7 with images of beautiful, shiny, photoshopped slebs. I’m a fifty-year-old woman with a regular house, a regular car and a regular job. When I go on camera I see and hear every imperfection. The feminist Louise is shocked that I judge myself in ways that I’d never judge another. But I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t admit to my worries.
If you’re putting off video marketing for the same reason, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are you selling? If it’s modelling services, you need to look like a model. If it’s editing services, you need to look like an editor. And editors come in all shapes and sizes. As do accountants, designers, writers, web designers and electricians.
- What will people focus on? It matters little that your video is perfect if you have nothing interesting or useful to say; no one will watch because it’s boring. But if you help people, they’ll focus on your solutions and feel grateful for them.
- Do you only buy from gorgeous, perfect people? No. Nor do your clients. They buy from people who can fix their problems. No one cares what the paramedic looks like; it’s whether she can get you to hospital that counts.
Enhance your existing marketing platform
I’m not suggesting abandoning your existing marketing platform of choice in favour of video. My blog is the single biggest driver of my visibility and I’m passionate about it.
What I am suggesting is making your current platform even better by introducing video.
I ask my clients to hand over their precious manuscripts to a complete stranger, and to pay for the privilege. Those stories are crafted from their imagination and their experience – their hopes, fears, fantasies, anxieties, and grief. It’s personal. Hiring me requires trust and courage.
The very least I can do is show them the real me, even if that means stepping way out of my comfort zone.
And it’s okay to be anxious, to feel embarrassed. Just don’t let it stop you. Because your video might be the one thing that makes the ideal client choose you over your competitor.
Happy (if reluctant) vlogging!
– Louise Harnby, Proofreader & Copyeditor | www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com
Louise Harnby is a professional fiction proofreader and copyeditor. She specializes in helping independent, self-publishing authors prepare their novels for market. Louise worked in-house for two international publishers for 13 years before setting up her editorial business. She has self-published several books on the business of editing and proofreading and runs the Craft Your Editorial Fingerprint series of online courses. You can find out more about her at www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com.
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