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5 Awesome Things You Can Do Right Now with


Blurb is a self-publishing and marketing platform that allows for amateurs and professionals alike to publish professional quality printed magazines, books, and eBooks. The site was founded by Eileen Gittins in 2005 as a way for individuals to affordably and simply publish books of their own design. She personally desired for a way to publish her own photography in a professionally bound book.

Over the next decade the company expanded to provide a variety of services and tools for artists and writers to publish their works. In 2008 the site won a Webby Award for Best Services website and then in 2010 was ranked #47 in the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing U.S. companies. It also earned the honor of ranking #1 in the media category and among the top five fastest-growing companies led by women. In 2018 Rix Kramlich was appointed Chief Executive Officer bringing his experience from his roles in Macromedia, i2 Technologies, and ABB.

The site allows for users to design and create their own photo books, trade books, magazines, or eBooks. The user can design their own material or use Blurb's book publishing software, Bookwright. The software allows for the user to design their own product and easily submit a document that Blurb can then publish and prepare for sale.

The site also provides information and tools for the user to sell their creations either through Blurb's website or through online distributors, such as Amazon, Ingram, and Apple iBooks store. Blurb promotes itself as a one-stop-shop that aids the user in every step of the way from creating the product to printing and selling. The user only needs to bring their ideas and creativity.

The site also provides a series of articles that can inform the reader on a variety of subjects. The blog section is organized under three main topics: book-making, selling, and inspiration. It is tempting to go step by step through all of the awe-inspiring ideas included in the site, but rather than ruining your own exploration through all of the information, I will highlight five awesome things you can do on Blurb.

Blurb provides information and tools for the user to sell their creations either through Blurb's website or through online distributors, such as Amazon and Ingram
Blurb provides information and tools for the user to sell their creations either through Blurb's website or through online distributors, such as Amazon and Ingram.

1. Be a better writer

Writer's block can get the best of any of us. Blurb's blog has several suggestions that can help you jump start your writing process. In the site's writing section, none of the articles are very long, but each of them provides suggestions to help you find a topic and get writing. You can also explore reviews of different apps that can help you focus and organize your work.

Under the inspiration section, you can find articles on how different artists and writers created their projects and learn about what inspired them, such as the interview with children's book author Megan Roy. She talks about her inspirations and what led her to make her own book on Blurb.

Another article I really enjoy is "Five great ways to combat writer's block." The author outlines simple ways to get writing. One, just start writing. I like this advice. I use it with my students all the time. Sit down and write. It does not need to be good. It does not need to make sense. Just get words on paper. Two, pretend you're writing for yourself. This one is strange but works. Ignore any specific audience. Just write to you. You can always edit later to match a specific audience. Three, make sure it isn't something else. This one takes some self-reflection, but make sure there is not something else going on in your life that is keeping you from writing. Four, give yourself some space. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Sometimes sitting and thinking or meditating is a critical part of the writing process. Take a walk or bake cookies. Just be careful you are not using those activities to procrastinate. There is a fine line between taking a mental break and just wasting time. Five, break it into smaller tasks. Focus on one task at a time.

I wrote my dissertation 500 words at a time. Every day I wrote 500 words, and then changed tasks—either edited another section or analyzed some data or even read a book. I felt comfortable writing 500 words. Again, it did not need to be the most perfect 500 words—just 500 words I actually wrote that day. I finished a 300+ page dissertation over time. Don't worry about the whole project at once. Break it down.

2. Learn to take a better photo

Blurb began as a way for Eileen Gittins to publish her own photography. Throughout the site are lots of tips and advice on how to better your own skills in photography. The topics range from social media photos to taking photos worthy of an art studio. The advice is written in a manner that someone with no or limited knowledge could understand and begin the process of making photography a serious hobby or possibly a career. I particularly enjoyed the essays on the history of photography, which takes the reader on a journey from the invention of film to Instagram. This section of the site has the most information, which is not surprising considering Blurb's beginnings.

3. Promote yourself

One of the other more developed areas of the site is the section on Promoting and Marketing. The authors help the reader understand the many different ways to promote your own work through self-publishing. The articles range from using Amazon and eBooks to effectively promoting yourself online. I particularly liked the suggestions for using writing communities to help you write and promote yourself as you begin to create your work. By having someone help you be accountable for your writing, people tend to write more and more effectively. I used writing communities all the time during my graduate school years. I am even planning one for this summer to work on another project. By creating a community around yourself, you build a network which builds your own confidence. Your community can help you create more and promote your completed projects.

4. Find inspiration

The site as a whole is built to help you find inspiration in your own creativity. There are articles on finding ideas if you need help getting an idea going. There are many interviews and profiles of writers and artists throughout the site that discuss their artistic journey. The scope of the topics covered will allow almost anyone to find something that interests them. Plus, you might find a tip that helps you begin your own passion project. I particularly enjoyed the article "From Idea to Book." The author maps out the process from idea to published work. Again, the reader needs to provide the creativity and imagination, but the process is outlined quite clearly. is built to help you find inspiration in your own creativity is built to help you find inspiration in your own creativity.

5. Get published

This one is probably the most obvious. The main goal of the site is to provide a place for creators to self-publish their own projects. As mentioned, the site breaks down each step—design, printing, and selling— or their customers. Blurb makes the process seem easy and simple. If your goal is to publish, Blurb provides a number of guides and tips to making that happen. They provide information on choosing between printing on demand or making a large order. Throughout the whole blog there are a number of suggestions and advice on all aspects of publishing your work, whether it is the next great novel or a photobook for grandma.

Final takeaways

As a writer, I appreciate the efforts that Blurb has taken to provide a space where creators can publish, promote, and sell their work. Blurb provides worthwhile information and services that many people will want to use. The traditional publishing industry is brutal and not the best place for every person to go to when looking to distribute their own work. Blurb meets a need in our 21st century world where people, through social media and other platforms, are self-promoting themselves in ways never before thought of. To quote the site, Blurb is a self-publishing and marketing platform that unleashes the creative genius inside everyone. The site almost makes it seem too simple, but what it allows people to do is celebrate the hard work they have put into their creations.

I suggest browsing the site and find some inspiration. But the next step must be for you to go out and create. Write, take a picture, paint, draw, dance, act, or do whatever moves you. Blurb is there to help you document and potentially sell your work, but you need to go and create. Find a place to work. I love coffee shops. I like the simple parade of people as they order their coffee or tea and move about their day. I also like quiet old libraries. The smell of books keeps me calm. But no matter where you create, the key is that you do it.

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