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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blog Books!

My purpose for blogging is to journal my children's lives through my perspective as well as share myself with my children so when I pass away they will always know ME.  While that's all wonderful and good...how are they REALLY going to cherish these posts someday unless they are printed in books? Making blog books has been something that is a top priority to me. Seriously. I told Zach that if I died randomly I would go to my grave regretting not getting all these posts made into books. Well, I will no longer have that regret b/c I am COMPLETELY caught up on blog books. What!What! I know, be impressed ;)

Up until a few months ago I had made one blog book. One lonely little blog book. I used Blurb to create it and I blogged about it here. I was happy with the result but it took me a LONG time to make it and there were a few things I wasn't crazy about with it...one being that the cover of the book was just a plain book and they made a wrap cover to go over it that was specialized to fit my personal book (yes, my blog was originally titled: The Journey to Becoming Mommy and Daddy...I changed it once Kye was born and I've just stuck with the same title since. I mean it should always work right? Even when my kids are off in college I'll still be on a "parenting journey"). The other thing I wasn't crazy about was how TINY all the pictures were. There was an option to rework everything and create each page however I wanted it to be (I know Kelly spends HOURS and HOURS perfecting hers) but I didn't want to mess with all of that. I have TOO many blog posts to be worried about making my books perfect ya know?

Here's what the cover of the first book looked like:

Because it WAS such a painstaking process I put off making other books. Yes, it was less time consuming than scrapbooking would be but I didn't enjoy making the book at all. I decided to make my next book using The Cutest Blog on the Block. I use their template as my blog design and saw that they offered discounts on blog books. I figured I'd do one book as a test run and see what I thought. They actually use a company called Sharedbook to do the blog books but I still did it through their site and not through Sharedbook directly, although I may look into that in the future!

While the site is not super user friendly...the book making process was a BREEZE. It literally took me 20 MINUTES to make a book! Not four or five hours like the other one did. I simply picked the dates I wanted to cover for my book, personalized my cover and dedication page, and let it automatically create it for me.

It took a little guess and check for me to figure out just how much time I could cover in one book. I'd either max out the amount of allowed pictures or pages so I had to fiddle with it a bit. I decided to keep the "blog time" not the "real life time" so my dates are when I WROTE the posts, not when I LIVED them (since I typically, purposefully, run a month behind). But I did make sure to end each year at the ACTUAL end of the year. So each year ends with my "Year End Review" post from that year and each next year begins with my "Goals For ...." of that year. Make sense? I have a logic behind it so I'm good with the system ;)

If you're looking for something fancy with a lot of options and ways to personalize your book then you may want to look into Blurb. But for me I feel like anything "cool" I do to it will be dated eventually anyway. Why not just keep it simple and basic? My goal is for my kids to have the WORDS I've written and the PICTURES I've taken...I don't really care how it's presented to them. The font (even on the cover) is what they choose. The layouts aren't customizable (other than you can pick to have the pages look JUST like your blog or to save space and have it rearrange things automatically to fit the pictures in around the words better...I wanted mine to look EXACTLY how I wrote it!). 

When the first book came in the mail I was BLOWN AWAY. The personalized cover is the actual cover, the quality is awesome, I love the picture size and the overall layout. It's really exactly what I wanted!!!

I knew in order to get caught up on the blog books I'd need a big chunk of cash. I mean I post almost daily, I am wayyyyyy overly wordy in what I write, and I don't have a good editing eye as far as pictures go: I post a million haha. I knew each book would be LONG and that I'd require a LOT of books to get it all in (by the 2012 posts I could barely fit 2 months into one book...I did make an individual book just for our Italy trip and ended up making December it's own book!). 

It took 25 books to get me caught up. Each book is FILLED to capacity at like 400-500 pages. They were roughly $100-$200 each. Yeah, I told you I need some mega cash! Thankfully I am blessed to be making a little money of "my own" through Advocare! Just sharing my success with the products has allowed me a nice sized nest egg and Zach and I agreed we'd use that money to cover blog book expenses. Sadly I can no longer say blogging is free haha I am VERY thankful for a husband who is so supportive about this (he is as passionate about the books as I am!).

I also waited to do all of my blog books until they offered a discount. They run 10% off deals ALL THE TIME. And for me, that 10% off ended up resulting in two of the books being free :) Major savings!!!!

Here's an example of what the book looks like:

I LOVE how the pages look exactly like my posts and how they do rearrange the pictures to fill in empty space when there isn't words. Because of this fact I'm trying not to write as much in-between pictures on my posts. Less space = less money spent and the pages where I put little captions in-between each picture don't look as clean and sharp to me as the ones where the pictures can be grouped together!
I especially love the SIZE of the book itself. It's big and is about the same size of my old year books. It has MUCH more of a presence than the first blog book I made! Out of ALL the books I ordered only one had an issue...it was a BIG book and the binding hadn't stayed glued. I called the company and they had me text them a picture of the issue and they sent me a new book, no questions asked. And I got to keep the damaged one!

Here's a side by side comparison of the two different types of blog books. My first one (from Blurb) is on the left and an example of all of the other books I've done (from The Cutest Blog on the Block) is on the right:

I was SO excited when they all arrived! We all had fun looking through them all!!! I did from Jan 2009 through Dec 2011 in the first order then waited until they ran the 10% off sale again and did all of 2012 in a second order. 
I even rearranged our bookshelves in our living room to fit them all! While I don't expect anyone to come visit and want to actually read them...heck, I don't even know that I myself well ever sit down to read them at all??? I do like having them neatly displayed! I want to start at least showing Kye some of the pictures. I have started talking to him some about the blog and explaining to him how we do have to be a little bit more careful regarding "stranger danger" issues just because our family is a little more recognizable? in the public eye? haha I can't think of how to word it where I'm not sounding like we're some celebrities or something...but yall know what I mean. 
I could NOT be more pleased with how they all turned out! I plan to wait until the end of each year to make the books for that year so I can finagle (pronounced fa-niggle in case you were wondering...) how to fit the most posts in each book. 

I have gotten a few emails from The Cutest Blog on the Block saying that they have more options and features now when creating blog books. One of them is the ability to remove posts from the books and I'm excited about that! As there ARE posts I write that I don't really need to have in a book forever (like...this one for example haha). 

Do you make your blog into books? What company do you use? While I'm SUPER happy with how mine turned out I'd def be open to trying out a different company too! My only real  annoyance is that I couldn't put the DATE on the side of the book...it's on the front. So they all just say "The Journey of Parenthood..." on the side which can make it tricky when wanting to read posts from a certain time period! Have you used The Cutest Blog on the Block? What was your experience? I do encourage EVERYONE who has a blog (which if you don't blog...I also urge you to start! What better way to store all your precious memories???) to create blog books! I can't think of something I'd rather leave to my children one day!!!

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