Ever wonder what our blog would look like in a physical form? So have we. And while that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re transferring our blog into book format, the option is certainly out there thanks to Zack Price, Founder and CEO of Blog Into Book. In this post, Price shares his thoughts on why blogs are great material for books, trusting your gut, and what it’s like to have a local titan in your corner.
Take it from someone who’s been there and done that -- blogging ain’t easy. If your intent is to put together a strong story then you’ll need to conduct interviews, hours of research, and an enormous amount of fact-checking to ensure accuracy. If blogging is part of your profession, then all of these tasks have to be done by a deadline; one that’s either self-imposed or given by an editor.
Once you’ve done your due diligence, you can finally take a sigh of relief as you hit the publish button. Your hope is that the blog you’ve just put together will provide impact for readers for months and possibly even years. But according to Zack Price, Founder and CEO of Blog Into Book, that hope is unlikely to turn into a reality.
“The problem is that when you blog, you put something out there and the first day or hour, it’s a huge hit; after a couple of days though, it dies down and falls into the abyss of the web. And though there are rare exceptions, most blog posts just don’t have that lasting power.”
And though blog posts may not have lasting power, books most certainly do; after all, can you name the last major film or television series based off a blog post?
“I say that the book is the new business card. It’s a great business tool, a great marketing tool, and that’s as true for corporations and institutions as much as it is for individual bloggers. You can turn a series of blogs or newsletters into a book and that’s really a win-win for bloggers or organizations looking to extend their brand.”
And if there’s anyone who would know the power behind a book, it’s Price. Having worked in the book publishing industry for 20 years, Price leveraged his experience to help bloggers turn digital posts into physical pages. And while he’s got the process down today, it certainly wasn’t easy at first when he joined 1871 as one of its first members in 2012.
“There were challenges at the beginning. Blog posts are written for blogs and not for a book format. I had to edit a lot of blogs so they could be read like a book, but it was a great learning experience.”
At the time, it was a side project for Price’s publishing aspirations -- but that quickly changed.
“During my career in the publishing industry, I had received a lot of emails from bloggers who were asking if they could write books. I kept receiving those emails and realized that there was a lot of demand for this platform. That’s when I started dedicating all my time to building Blog Into Book.”
It’s a good thing Price did as he would eventually turn the blog posts of a successful, well-known serial entrepreneur into a collection of best-in-class advice for founders and startups -- and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably already heard of him.
“I launched Blog Into Book at Techweek Chicago in 2013 where I saw one of the most prolific bloggers in the city of Chicago. I gave him my business card along with an offer to test and use my platform at no cost to him.”
That individual just happened to be Howard A. Tullman, the current -- and the first -- Executive Director of the Kaplan Institute at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the former CEO of 1871. 30 published books later, Price reflects on the encounter.
“In my six years as an 1871 member, the most influential mentor to me has been Howard - not only from reading the blogs I publish for him as books, but from watching his relentless desire to try new ideas and help others build practical businesses. He blogs so much sometimes I think he’s a startup robot with a long grey wig – 'The Tullmanator.'”
(Price and Tullman’s latest book offering, You Can’t Win A Race With Your Mouth, is a 500 page publication comprised of all 300 blog posts from the past six years.)
As Price quickly began to scale his platform, he also realized that he had to make an important pivot.
“I looked at what books were selling and which books weren’t – our margins were thinner than that Merchandise Mart toilet paper. I had to change the business model from something that was royalty-based to a fixed-fee model. That put less risk on my company as a publisher and allowed us to publish more people. Today, most of my customers actually end up doing multiple projects.”
And because books have, quite literally, a longer shelf-life than blogs, Price’s customer base grew along with his company. While Price is the first person to admit that some degree of luck was involved in his entrepreneurial journey, there’s no question that much of the success around Blog Into Book is a direct result of his talent, hard work, and preparation.
“User-testing was really instrumental in building Blog Into Book. As an unproven platform you have to be willing to give your project or services away for free in the beginning. You have to get feedback and test your infrastructure. That opens the door to people who may not have visibility on what you’re doing, and it also provides you with insight on what people really think about your product. If you’re building a business around a product or service, then you absolutely need to test it.”
Having previously started and sold companies before, Zack performs double-duty at 1871, not only as a member entrepreneur, but as a mentor, holding office hours sessions each month. His biggest piece of advice to his mentees?
“Trust your gut. When starting a new company, especially something that’s never been done before, you are going to get suggestions, advice, and warnings from anyone and everyone. At the end of the day what matters most is your own inner voice. Nobody knows your business better than you. The entrepreneur who is living and breathing their idea 24/7 is going to be the one with the vision and passion to make it happen.”
Blog Into Book has published dozens of books for 1871 members and staff. If you are interested in becoming a published author please contact Zack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1871 provides work space, education, resources, and curated connections to help Chicago's entrepreneurs build and scale their business.