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More Tools of the Trade

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. None of the companies responsible for the products mentioned here have given me a damn thing in exchange for a mention or review. These services are used by me, loved by me, and will continue to be my go-to for the foreseeable future.

There has been a fair bit of discussion online within Twitter’s Writing Community asking for suggestions to help in the creation of ads. As I mentioned in a previous post, a lot of us who are independent authors do our own advertising and promotion. For the record: No, I do not outsource my ads. I haven’t paid anyone to do any portion of my social media. I haven’t hired the next best thing on Fiverr to create a campaign. I haven’t even paid Facebook Ads.

Let me stress – there is nothing wrong with anyone who chooses to do any combination of these things. There are those who are willing to do it on your behalf for reasonable fees. I taught myself how to do a good bit of it myself as a cost-cutting measure. I create my own ads and schedule them for blasts on Twitter and I construct my own book trailers. What do I use? I’ll not only tell you but show you some of the results.

The basis for the visual ads I create begins with Canva. They are my one-stop-shop for everything from social media ads to e-book cover design. I also used Canva to create the header for my Twitter page and also for my Facebook Cover…not to mention my logo. Mind you, I’ve done all of this using their free service. There is even more available – including animated ads – when you use Canva Premium, which I plan to sign up for very soon. Here are some examples of what I’ve created through Canva. You’ve probably already seen these but didn’t know how I was able to do it.

This is my ad for Duality that currently runs on Twitter every morning. I created this by uploading the book’s cover into one of the available templates on Canva. You can choose from myriad styles, colors, backgrounds, fonts…whatever you need to tailor something to your brand and to your target audience.

But, what if you don’t have a book to promote yet and need a stock photo to add to a promotion? My primary source for free stock photos is Pexels. Their site is easy to use, and the search feature makes it so simple to find what you need. To their credit, they also explain the licensing process very easily. You can read the details here, but what it amounts to is this:

Easy enough, right? I’ve used stock photos from Pexels in my social media ads and also in my book trailers. We’ll get to the book trailers later, but here’s an example of a social media ad that includes a photo from Pexels that was used for Duality:

The amazing thing is that the picture came from Pexels, but the ad itself was created using Canva. When you have a solid base of products to choose from, you can mix/match them as needed to make whatever you want. This ad was pretty popular on Twitter for the first six months after it debuted and remains one of my favorites.

Last, but by no means least, are book trailers. Of all the promotional tools that I use, creating book trailers is the most challenging and the most fun for me. It transcends finding the right picture to suit a mood. With a book trailer, you need to find groups of pictures and even video…setting them to the appropriate music that fits whatever message or feeling you want to impart (or inflict) upon the viewer.

Lumen5 makes all of that possible. When I began using Lumen5, it was to make video versions of my blog posts that I could then post to social media. I didn’t realize then what a goldmine I had, and then one morning I had the thought that I wanted to do something more. I wanted to create a book trailer as a means of advertising my first novel. I had NO idea of the can of worms I was opening up. I honestly believe that the only thing that’s been better than creating a book trailer was writing the book itself.

There are paid tiers, each with its own additional benefits, that you can review here. There is also a free version, though, which is what I used for the first year or so. As to what I’ve created…here are examples that include one of my very first “visual” blog posts…as well as a book trailer created just months ago.

I hope that this has proven to be helpful. Everyone should know that the ability to create vibrant and engaging ads is affordable and within reach. Like I said in the disclaimer, no one is paying me to share this information. I’m spreading the word because these are services I use on a continual basis and I can’t imagine not having them.

Sure, there are likely other programs out there that are as good or even better, but whoever’s using them can cover those. Until next time!