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Recently I posted an article about using your research to connect with your potential readers.
Kerry Howard's video about her book Dear Codebreaker is a stunning example of how to use your passion to communicate to an audience. In this article, Kerry explains how she learned new skills to produce the video as well as how it produced an exciting opportunity.
The first video I made is less than 3 minutes long, yet it tells my audience more about me, my passion for research and showcases my material with greater impact than any number of articles on the same subject.
Watch the video below or here on YouTube.
Why use video?
Recent statistics from comScore.com illustrate the growing importance of using video content on our blogs/websites. During September 2013 a staggering 188.7 million Americans watched 46 billion online content videos and 22.8 billion video ads. Gulp!
Based on those figures, I feel very pleased that my short video got noticed in a seemingly endless sea of online content. I’d like to tell you that my decision to make videos was part of a grand strategic plan, but my motivation is much simpler. I just want to enhance the reading pleasure of my book, Dear Codebreaker by sharing my research in a more multi-media way.
This is part of my plan to develop a ‘style’ and ‘formula’ where my readers know that with each non-fiction book they will have access to a supporting website with extended material that would not make it into the book at the time of publication. In this rapidly changing world there are more interviews to be gathered, and new material to share.
Books no longer need to remain static text but can evolve and grow over time. There is no need for a book to be finished by the reader, shelved and forgotten. By updating and expanding material the book and writer stays in the forefront of the reader’s mind until the next book, creating a link and the process starts again.
Investing in my creative self
The three minutes of my video actually represents many days of work where I had to learn, make, scrap, curse, try again and again until I understood how to make a video that could showcase my historical research in an appealing way.
The days of frustrating and fun effort could easily have been weeks of effort if I had not invested in my creative self. For me that investment came in the From Ideas to Cash course delivered by Joanna Penn and Julie Hall, who share their own experiences and knowledge in producing multi-media products.
Although the course is primarily focused on producing online courses with multimedia content, I found the know-how and key resources equally enlightening for my own goal of producing media to compliment my book. It took time to give myself permission to buy my first course. When I first signed up to Ideas into Cash it felt like a real luxury. I felt guilty about spending this money on myself.
That guilt stems from the belief that I can, and should, do it all myself. Sometimes we need to recognize when to purchase a product to learn from someone else, when to ask for help and when to do it ourselves.
Paying for courses and attending webinars
As a researcher I am very happy to spend hours looking for information. Most information can be found online for free and webinars are a great way to get a detailed overview of a subject. However, this can be a very time expensive exercise, especially when a course full of quality and relevant information can be more beneficial in time, knowledge and money in the long run. It can also be a good way to get support from tutors and other course participants in the first steps of turning knowledge into action.
Since doing From Ideas into Cash I have developed a real interest in developing my skills through online courses and attending webinars. Signing up is now easy but it is always a considered decision based on whether the cost will truly benefit my learning and business needs.
DIY plus the benefits of asking for help
Adobe’s Creative Cloud provides the vast suite of software I use for producing my creative content. I started with learning InDesign for book layouts and Photoshop for image editing. Adobe software comes with a steep learning curve but as I am ‘renting’ the software through a monthly subscription, I was determined to use Premiere Pro video editing for producing my first video.
My learning was done through the act of ‘doing’ (thanks Adobe TV and YouTube) and overall I managed very well. Then I got stuck. I had absolutely no idea how to do the text animation for the Dear Codebreaker introduction so I turned to a creative friend for help. Fantasy Artist Jon Cape produced the first 15 second introduction in less than an hour whereas it would have taken me an age to learn and execute. His 15 seconds of the video went on to influence the entire look and feel of the book.
The ‘geek’ in me loves to learn and try new things. It is also financially important that I do all I can myself. However, it is also important to know when you need to call in the experts, which I did when it came to the eBook version of Dear Codebreaker.
Using Adobe’s Dreamweaver software I managed to format most of the book. I had to tackle it as the eBook conversion software I tried failed to correctly format the letters of correspondence contained in the book. As the book is mostly letters, this was a critical problem. My attempt looked good on Kindle but totally rubbish on the IPad Kindle app.
By accepting the limit of my capabilities and as well as the limits of my time I had no problem reaching out to a professional formatter to finish the job. Matt at candescentpress.com did a fabulous job and guided me through the mistakes I had made. An added bonus is that I have a contact I trust for formatting the backlist of World War 2 codebreaking books I produce for other writers.
So, when we break it down those three minutes of video actually represent a lot in time, money and personal growth. It also shows that this digital landscape can throw open new unexpected opportunities when we show ourselves as authentic and passionate.
An unexpected result
My unexpected result was delivering my exciting keynote speech at a high profile event hosted at Bletchley Park by the Women's Security Society, Cyber Security Challenge and Raytheon for women in intelligence and cyber security on 11 October 2013. Some of the high ranking women at the event feature in the media, including The Times and The Guardian, and I was mentioned in a separate article, which appeared in Infosecurity Magazine and The Guardian.
I will continue to add to and utilize the investment in my creative self to further enhance the reader experience on www.dearcodebreaker.com, on my blog www.bletchleyparkresearch.co.uk and for every book I produce in the future.
How do you invest in your creative self? Please do leave a comment or any questions below.