In this episode, Adam and Carlton are joined by Ben Putano, the founder of Damn Gravity Media and the author of Great Founders Write. Ben joins us to tell us why he believes books are making a comeback, how long-form storytelling gives founders a superpower, and how writing a persuasive title took one author’s book from an unread failure to one of the best-selling books in history. If you love to read, love books, or want to write a book one day, this episode is specifically for you.
Highlights from the conversation:
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Transcription generated by Otter.ai
Adam Vazquez 0:06
On this episode, we’re joined by Ben Putano, the Founder of Damn Gravity Media and the Author of Great Founders Write. Ben joins us to tell us why he believes books are making a comeback, how long-form storytelling gives founders a superpower, and how writing a persuasive title took one author’s book from an unread failure to one of the best-selling books in history. If you’re like me and you love to read, you love books, or you want to write a book one day, this episode is specifically for you. Let’s get into it with Ben Putano from Damn Gravity Media.
Put that content down. Content. The close is over. What’s your name? Content. That’s my name. You know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight. I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name. Content Is for Closers.
Adam Vazquez 1:06
All right, we are back yet again, another episode of Content Is for Closers. This is our first take and everything is working, functioning properly. It’s been a while since we’ve had that.
Carlton Riffel 1:15
Yeah, we’ll see if this stays this way. We’re only a couple of seconds in so there’s always a chance for more problems.
Adam Vazquez 1:22
Just a heads up, right off the bat, I did something incorrectly for the actual interview so my audio is a little fuzzy, but you can hear it and that’s all that matters. So when you get to it and you notice, oh, what’s going on? That’s what it is. Something’s a little bit off with the audio. Let’s just all acknowledge it up front and move on from it.
Carlton Riffel 1:41
Hey, it was still a good interview.
Adam Vazquez 1:44
Oh, it was a great episode. It’s one of my favorites because we talked about one of my favorite topics. If you’re into marketing, if you’re into human psychology, there’s like a number of things that have crossed your mind over the course of your career. I’m speaking with myself, of course, maybe at one point, you think you’re gonna go into law school, if you’re religious, maybe you think you’re gonna go into theology. And the third thing is, you want to write a book of some kind. And today’s guest helps people like us do that. And so that was it. It was a really fun conversation. What do you think about it?
Carlton Riffel 2:18
Yeah, I mean, you got to speak for yourself because I’ve actually never wanted to write a book. But maybe draw. I was wanting to illustrate a book. No, I think if I had to write a book, it would probably be something about how life is like art and it would be more pictures than writing words. My relationship with words is a little rough. But yeah, how about you, Adam? If you were gonna write a book about something, what would you write?
Adam Vazquez 2:46
This is like asking, what do you want to do when you grow up? Which I still don’t know the answer to.
Carlton Riffel 2:51
Who’s your favorite child type of question.
Adam Vazquez 2:53
Yeah, well, that’s an easier one, but no, it’s just so difficult. There are so many things. I’ll put it this way. If I knew what the topic was, I would have written a book already. Because I have a lot of energy and desire to do that. I think even just the lifestyle of reading and writing are probably my two favorite things to do in terms of work or that sort of thing. And even hobby, like I read a lot, so yeah, I don’t know. I wish I knew. Maybe Ben could help me figure out what it is that I should write about. But it’s definitely something that I have a lot of energy towards and something that I think a lot of people do, but it’s not always clear. It’s and Ben talked about this, what your position is, what your area of expertise is, and how that relates to what you should write.
Carlton Riffel 3:48
Yeah, I feel like if you were to go on Family Feud or something, and one of the questions was, What’s everyone’s bucket list item? I think that’s pretty high on there. Everyone has this idea of writing a book and getting their thoughts and their ideas out into the world. And it really is a comprehensive way to do that. I just think we’re at a point in time where we’re kind of like seeing this divergence between what is traditional publishing and what is kind of new media. And people are having a hard time, not necessarily seeing how they fit together. But it feels like there’s the old way of doing things and kind of the new way of doing things. And I like how the conversation really revolves around, meshing those together and actually bringing a new approach to how to publish and how to create content.
Adam Vazquez 4:37
Yeah, I thought that the novel approach to a very traditional execution of book publishing was really interesting. And then I also thought that there was just some fundamentals. Yeah, like, positioning and good copywriting. He tells a story that I won’t spoil, but about how an author wrote a specific book, but it wasn’t framed well. And so he later on his career republished essentially the same book and a different wrapper. And it’s one of the most famous books of all time, like, yeah, when he discusses it and explains it. It’s, it’s one of the most successful books of all time. So it’s so important to have that positioning down. And that’s part of what Ben’s service provides. So really interesting stuff. Anything else that stuck out to you, Carlton?
Carlton Riffel 5:21
Yeah, you’re talking about the positioning aspect of the conversation. And that as content marketers, that really is one of the hardest things to find, what is the right way to frame this content that I have? Because the actual meat of the content, maybe the subject matter is one thing but how you present it and the stylistic nature of it, or the stories that you tell as a part of it, are really what’s going to propel it forward and in our world make it viral. And so finding that balance of Yes, having the right things to say, but saying it in the right way. And framing it in the right context, is really what’s going to make something successful in a world where there’s so much content and so much noise.
Adam Vazquez 6:02
Yeah, I’ll just say this. If your interest if that’s interesting to you, if you’re like, Yeah, I have something I want to talk about, or I think I have the itch to write a book. Fast forward to the end, because Ben gives a code. The code is his website, quote, and then the code I think, is closers on a checklist on a tool that helps you narrow that down. So I just want to tease that out here at the beginning. If you have that interest if you have that edge. Make sure you go and hear that because he gives away some free tools to our listeners.
But before we get into the rest of the interview the rest of the episode, we need to read our five-star review for today. Today’s comes from Mr. B. Robison. The review is titled “Love the content,” five stars. “I love the content and format that Adam and Carlton have for this show. He does a great job interviewing and sharing information that I find very useful. I also like the energy Adam brings to the show. Great work, keep it up!” Appreciate that Mr. B Robinson. As a reminder each and every week, you can leave yours as well. We’ll read it here live on the show. But yeah, I think that’s pretty much what I had anything before we dive into the episode.
That’s good, man. Let’s jump in.
Alright, we’ve got Ben Putana. Here on Content Is for Closers. Ben is the CEO of Damn Gravity. Thanks for joining us, Ben.
Ben Putano 7:27
Hey, Adam, how are you?
Adam Vazquez 7:29
So excited to have you on. I need to pitch you something before we get rolling too much, if you’ll entertain me. Is that okay?
Ben Putano 7:35
Okay. Yeah, let’s hear it.
Adam Vazquez 7:36
Alright. So your book guy, your marketer? I don’t know if they had this when you were in school? Did they have something where like, if you read a certain amount of books, you would get to eat pizza?
Ben Putano 7:47
Oh, yeah. Book In a Bag.
Adam Vazquez 7:50
Mine was called Book It. What was yours?
Ben Putano 7:52
I think it was called “book in a bag” where you literally have a Ziploc bag with a book in it. And that was like our evidence of finishing it up. Then. If you finished enough at the end of the quarter, whatever, you got to join the pizza party.
Adam Vazquez 8:04
Yeah. Okay. So yeah, so that sounds super similar. Mine was you had to read. I can’t remember how many books it was. But it was like over the same time period a quarter. And then you got to go to Pizza Hut and get like one free personal pan pizza, which was so much work for Uber once you actually got, but it felt incredible. It sounds like you had a similar thing. How do we like do we partner with a big chain and then sell this to companies for their employees. I don’t know how we do it. But it feels like we need the back in my life.
Ben Putano 8:34
I love this idea. I was just thinking about you remember the Scholastic book fairs that you’d have in school that was like my is like a book fair that set up in our gymnasium in elementary school. And it was like the best day of the year. And like you like if you’re lucky, you got a few bucks from your parents to go and buy a book. And I just loved every moment of it. I think there’s a lot we could do this flipping that model on its head and treating adults who want to read more books like elementary school kids again.
Adam Vazquez 9:02
100%. Alright, we’ll put a pin in it. But I think it’s something we need to revisit and kind of put our heads together on.
Ben Putano 9:08
I love it.
Adam Vazquez 9:08
It’s fun because everybody grows up or a lot of us grew up reading certain books or it was kind of an escape for a lot of us and a way that we got to enter all these different worlds. So naturally, some of us wanted to eventually write books were become the people who were behind actually, all the creations that we enjoyed so much. And you have such an interesting background because you come from, like so many in our audience, a marketing advertising background, and have now made this transition to where you are writing books for yourself and for others. And so I kind of just wanted to get into that and hear how you’re living so many of our seven-year-old to 15-year-old dreams.
Ben Putano 9:51
Yeah, I feel like I’m living my 10-year-old self strain as well. So I feel pretty lucky. It’s not a big business yet. We’re about a year old. We’ve published one book. We have two more on the way this year.
Adam Vazquez 10:05
What’s the book the published?
Ben Putano 10:06
It’s called Stop Asking Questions by Andrew Warner. It’s a book about having great conversations, high-impact conversations, specifically for podcasters. So it was really fun working with Andrew. But anyway, I’ve had a sort of a crazy journey to get here, I’ve sold insurance, I was a traveling consultant for my undergraduate fraternity, I worked in specialty coffee. And then I became a freelance writer. But that was sort of like coming back to where I started, I grew up loving to read and loving to write like so many of us. And when I needed to start making money, again, I just instinctively turned to writing that evolved into a like a solo content marketing agency, where myself and some freelance writers would create blog posts, white papers, sometimes customer positioning documents, websites, things like that, for tech companies. And I really liked it, I learned how to create content and really embody someone else’s voice, which I think serves me well now. But as I was about a year and a half ago, I was considering what was next for me. And I was actually reading a book when I had this revelation. In the book, the main character gets everything he wants in his life. He’s a multi-billionaire. He should be incredibly happy, but he finds himself miserable. No friends living alone in a mansion. And it was like, middle of the night, I was reading this book, and I, it just hit me like a ton of bricks if I built this agency to be bigger than myself. And at the time, I had plans to do that I was I was scheming, figuring out how to how to grow, grow that agency. If I did that, would I be happy? And the immediate answer was no, is unequivocal. I did not want to build an agency. So following that, I had a brief moment of dread, because there goes my life plan. But then another question popped up in my head, which was, if I could do anything, what would it be and my mind immediately went to writing and creating books. So literally, the next day, I started mapping out my first book, which is coming up this summer. And I just went for it. I mean, I was lucky enough to be in the content industry already. So I had some frameworks to work from now writing a book is way more different than I’ve been writing blog posts way different than I even expected. But at least I had a step in the right direction. And then about a month into that process, I was learning about the publishing business, I was considering working through a traditional publisher, and I just realized how backward the whole industry felt to me as an entrepreneur, which is when I decided I wasn’t just going to write books, I was going to become a publisher as well and help other entrepreneurs and business leaders and creatives, write books and become authors. So the transition process lasted like six months for that time period, I was writing my own book, I was pitching other authors to bring them on. And I was still servicing my content marketing clients. But by summer of 2021, I was able to make the leap, make the transition to working on books full time.
Adam Vazquez 13:19
That’s awesome. There are a few things that I think resonate with your story. And anyone who’s worked in advertising, knows there’s this constant tension, right? Because you’re flexing your creativity, you’re working in the industry that allows you to do that, but at the same time, you’re not always expressing your own opinion, your own thought or your own creativity. Even you’re, you’re helping someone else express theirs. Where writing, we have this picture of writing, we’re able to just fully express so I’m gonna get into a little bit, but following up on a few things you said there first of all, do you mind say what the book was the midnight book?
Ben Putano 13:54
It’s was Ready Player Two. Not Ready Player One. Ready Player One is one of my favorite books. Ready Player Two was not as good, but it gave me a life-changing revelation so I guess that counts for something.
Adam Vazquez 14:09
I’d say so. Okay, that’s awesome. I read Ready Player One, listened to the beginning of Ready Player Two.
Ben Putano 14:15
I hope I didn’t ruin it for you then.
Adam Vazquez 14:18
No, no. It lost my interest. So now I have a reason to go back and get back into it. And then the book we kind of skirted over it. But very serendipitously or I guess, because of the Twitter algorithm, maybe I was connected with you or DM you about coming on the show you were kind enough to say yes. And then soon after, picked up Stop Asking Questions, and had no idea that you were involved with it at all. And we had just been DMing and I open the front of it. It’s like oh, yeah, Thanks, Ben. I was like, no way. That’s the same dude.
Ben Putano 14:53
I love it. That’s our positioning at work. So podcast and totally find podcasts that that’s exactly what we want.
Adam Vazquez 15:02
Yeah, it’s a great book, and we’ll link it for anyone who’s interested. But it was just such a funny coincidence. Turn to the two of them. Was the content agency you were working for yours?
Ben Putano 15:14
Yes. Yep. And there was a brief time I like teamed up with somebody else. We’re gonna build a larger like HubSpot agency. When that fizzled out. That’s when I really started questioning, like, what am I going to do next? And decided on the book path.
Adam Vazquez 15:29
The thing about podcast ads is that they normally suck, right? I mean, you’re listening to a conversation you’re actually enjoying, and then you hear the hosts come on in a completely different pitch and tell you why you should buy some meal prep service, or listen to another pod instead of this one. But you wanted to listen to this one. That’s why you’re on this episode. That’s why you’re here in the first well, this ad is no different. So just bear with me, because I need to remind you that today’s show is brought to you by herd media heard is a podcast and YouTube production agency serving B2B service based companies. That’s what we work with. That’s who we serve. If you’re a B2B company, listen to this, we can help you we create, produce and distribute content to help you find customers. So you can focus on what you’re great at. If you want to learn more. Once the show resumes in like 15 seconds, open your browser on your phone and visit www.trustheard.com to find out how your company can start a show that drives revenue, though it’s finally over. Let’s get back to the show.
Got it. And so I guess that’s my next question then. Fom a marketer’s point of view or from a founder’s point of view, what was the trigger that you saw that led you to think that operators could benefit from either writing a book or having a book written on their behalf? And how did that process start to flesh itself out?
Ben Putano 16:45
Yeah, that’s a good question. Well, clearly, maybe this is just from personal experience, or we hear people talking about it all the time. There’s no, there’s no lack of supply for authors. Basically, everybody who has good ideas of some point wants to be an author, maybe this is me, in a lot of this, maybe it was just scratching my own itch. Because writing a book was always on my bucket list. When it came to specifically helping entrepreneurs do it one, this was my area of expertise. As an entrepreneur, working with entrepreneurs, I understood that they didn’t have a lot of time on their hands. But they needed to create content to grow their personal brand and grow their company brand where I started playing around with the full-service model was when I talked to my first potential author, and I asked him, if you want to write a book together, he said, “Dude, I’d love to. I have no time to do this.” And he wasn’t a writer either. So being a writer, it was pretty natural for me to say, well, let’s do it. I’ll write it for you. And we worked on that book for like six months, we kind of we ended up parting ways on the project. But what we found during that was, even though we never even published a book, the process of going through thinking about what this 40,000-50,000 word manuscript is going to look like, took him so much deeper into his own work, he actually ended up pivoting his entire agency, from the revelations he had from writing his book. So that was a really big, that was a really big insight for me. Yes, my whole business is built around selling books, but if we sold zero books, the process of going through writing a book makes you such a better professional, you have to if you think your industry now tried to write 50,000 words on it and keep someone interested the whole time. That’s when you know that you really understand your domain.
Adam Vazquez 18:50
So let’s get into that. How does somebody start to think about writing a book? What are the process that they should be considering? Or if they think it’s a good idea, what’s the validation process for that?
Ben Putano 19:02
Yeah, that’s a great question. I am a firm believer in just starting to write, not writing your book, but just writing in public. So writing on Twitter, on LinkedIn, building an email newsletter, there are countless really famous authors who’ve taken this path James Clure most recently. He wrote for like, six years before the launch of his book, Atomic Habits. He built a massive email audience to support it. So if you think you at one point might want to write a book just are writing because I was actually just listening to a podcast with James the other day and he made the great point that it takes time to figure out two things one, what people want to hear you talk about or write about because you have a lot of interests right but what is going to resonate with your audience specifically for him? He was interested in not just building habits but fitness and health and psycho watching all these other things, and it happened to be habits that really resonated with his audience. So just starting to write will help you figure out what your audience is interested in. And then to you figure out your voice, you how you talk, what a for me like what a Ben Butano book sounds like, or what an Adam Vazquez book sounds like. And that’s really important. And you can’t get that quickly, honestly. So that’s step one, just start writing something when you feel like you have your voice and a, a topic that resonates with your audience, I want you to pause. Because just because you have a great idea does not mean it’s going to translate into a great book. Because frankly, there are a lot of great ideas that are turned into books, many of them are really, really good, but nobody’s ever heard of them. The problem isn’t having a great idea. The problem is what is going to make your target audience pick that book up. And it all comes down to positioning books or products. At the end of the day, we buy them and sell them. They literally sit on shelves like products, yet so many people think of them like art. And if you treat your book like art, your customers are going to treat your book like art too, in that they’re going to stop for a second kind of tilt their head and confusion, maybe not and then walk on as a great analogy. And then we’re looking at it and there’s zero transaction happening. So yeah, if you want to be a wallflower, go for it. But if you want to write a book that sells you need to think about your book as a product. And that means thinking about positioning. So who is your book for? And why should they care? My job as a publisher is basically to repeat that question over and over and over again, in different ways. Why should your audience care about this? And why should your audience care about it right now.
Adam Vazquez 21:45
You had a great tweet that went pretty viral I think yesterday where you were talking about Dale Carnegie’s writing experience. And he kind of did both sides of what you’re saying. He first wrote a book, nobody cared. And then was it the same book that he took through that copywriting framework that you talked about in the tweet? T that up for us.
Ben Putano 22:05
Yeah, so in Dale Carnegie was a sales and business teacher. In 1926, he wrote a book called public speaking. And then there was a subtitle that I can’t remember off the top my head practice, like a practical guide for businessmen, I think it was, and it just never went anywhere. He sold a few copies through his courses. And those courses were pretty popular. He wasn’t like an unsuccessful person at this point. But if that was his only book, none of us would have heard of Dale Carnegie. But 10 years later, a publisher from Simon and Schuster, which is a massive publishing company now, but at the time was that was an upstart, basically, this person took the course and given Sunday write another book, it was really similar in content, not exactly but his courses were all about winning friends, influencing people, being a good interpersonal communicator. So really similar topics. But the difference with his second book was the publisher decided to hire a young copywriter named Victor Schwab. And this guy would go on to literally invent split testing ads, the predecessor of AB testing, he would use coded coupons in newspapers to test which titles worked with which offers, which CTA has outperformed others, he invented the modern methodology that we all use today in marketing. But at the time, he was a nobody. He was given this project, I like to imagine as his agency that he worked for, nobody wanted to work on this, this book from a random New York City teacher, so they just gave it to the intern. And he ran with it. He had the insight that the book was the cover of a book is an advertisement. So he treated it like that. He didn’t say, what is this book about? He asked, why should somebody read this? Why should they care? And in the middle of the recession, people wanted to take control of their lives. They wanted influence. So the title How to win friends and influence others had a massive impact on the sales of the book and it’s, in my opinion, the driving reason why we still know it today.
Adam Vazquez 24:20
Yeah, you described—and we’ll link to thread in the show notes—the framework that he used, which it felt like it was a more mature version of the ADA framework, attention interest, desire, yeah, action. He had a few extra little steps in there I think around control or something like that. There were like these human terms but and was able to put all of them into the title of the book and the cover, and then you linked in there as well. This beautiful— It wasn’t beautiful, sorry. It’s beautiful in the effectiveness of it. The visual was not beautiful. This New York Times ad that he put that up. How much did he sell through that?
Ben Putano 24:58
Allegedly, this one had sold a million copies and prayers to under 50,000, the first year and then 750,000 Over the following two years.
Adam Vazquez 25:07
And that was all based on positioning to your original point the book verbalize what it had done previous. So what do you do with your business and with a potential author or an active author, to help them work through that positioning so that their book is more like the second version of Carnegie’s?
Ben Putano 25:28
Sure. And I just want to be clear on the on the terms when I say positioning, some people have a very specific idea of what that means. If you read a book on positioning by Jack Alries and Jack Trout, or by like April Dunford, they’re gonna have a very specific idea of what I’m talking about his framing. And when we work with authors, we spend the first month or two, just getting that part, right. So asking questions like, Who is your target audience and finding very specific people who we want to write to, like, for example, when I wrote great founders, right, I was writing to a good friend of mine, who’s an aspiring entrepreneur. He’s a CTO of a company, he wants to start a consulting agency one day. So I wrote to him, I literally put his name at the top of many of my chapters. We want to know what big change is happening in your audience’s world? So your book isn’t the biggest thing that’s happening in their life, what is happening in their life? And what pain is that causing? And this all boils down to two questions: what your reader thinks they want to maybe alleviate that pain or take advantage of an opportunity, but what do they really need? So let’s go back to James clears book atomic habits, because he talked about this a little bit. When it comes to building habits. One thing that James Glue talks about, a really important piece of it is deliberate practice. He could have written his entire book on deliberate practice. In fact, a lot of atomic habits is about deliberate practice. But he didn’t frame or position his book on deliberate practice. He positioned it on habit building. Why? Because people just because in our society, as we grow up, we learned that it’s good to have good habits, and you don’t want to have bad habits. We talked about this all the time. So key position is book, two, to feed a desire that most people already have, which is building better habits and getting rid of bad habits. But what they really need, and what James understood was that they need deliberate practice to implement better habits or to break old ones. So what your reader once is that desire that they may express online, or they may tell you outright, or that you might see in Google search results, or if you check Google traffic on what search, what people are searching for, that’s what they want, you as an author, you need to have an insight on what they actually need. So the first, before you start writing a single chapter, or even creating an outline, make sure you know what your reader wants, what they need, and make sure your positioning is rock solid, basically.
Adam Vazquez 28:19
Yeah, it reminds me of, this is so whatever tech bro-y, but Steve Jobs talks a lot about how customers don’t know what they need. They think they have something that they want, but they don’t know what they need. And that’s how he came up with the iPod, and all these different things, many kinds of reminds me of that, right? Like, you’re being empathetic, and you’re speaking to the audience in a way that they think they want to be spoken to. But then you’re using the product of the book to deliver on the actual, whatever you need they have in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in the content that you write about. Is that sort of?
Ben Putano 28:55
Yeah, exactly. In fact, the second section of my book, Great Founders Write is writing with empathy. It’s first you have to know why you’re writing. But second is understanding who your customer is and why they should care.
Adam Vazquez 29:06
Yeah, so you’ve alluded to that a little bit. But tell us a little bit more about that book. And I know it’s coming out here in the next couple of weeks or months. You mentioned you sort of wrote it to your friend who wants to be an entrepreneur. How did you come up with that? And what’s that book about?
Ben Putano 29:23
Yeah, Great Founders Write: principles for clear thinking, confident writing and startup success. As a content marketer for startups, I had to add a front-row seat at the power of clear communication in the inevitable or in the eventual success of companies. It was external communication, which is communicating, talking with your customers on the marketing level, on the brand level on the sales level, and then it’s internal communication as well. Brene Brown has a great quote, she says clear is kind and I think that’s a fantastic pillar of management. You can either or create chaos as a manager or as a founder through vague, infrequent or sometimes too frequent communication or conflicting communication, or you can calm the chaos by being very clear, simple direct. And my book tries to be a primer for founders to solve both problems communicating externally with potential customers and investors, and audiences as they’re trying to build their own personal brand, and then also how to communicate internally.
Adam Vazquez 30:33
Cool. Where does that come out? And how do people get that?
Ben Putano 30:37
Yeah, comes out in early August, you can go to great founders right.com. And you can actually read a free chapter right now, it’s a really cool story about how Jeff Bezos used this thing called “beginning with the end in mind” where he used a really clear communication to keep people’s focus on the end goal, while basically Amazon just burned cash for the first decade of their existence.
Adam Vazquez 31:04
So when you think about book writing, would you send the outcome is— Okay, so let me give you the example with podcasting. So we produce podcasts for people, and a lot of times we’ll talk to, especially if it’s B2B, tech, SaaS, whatever. We’ll talk to them more about the process of producing a podcast more so than the outcome. So like, if you produce a podcast, as you said, you have to have clear thinking, you’re going to be great connections, you’re gonna build all these relationships and co-create all those things, but the outcome might not be a new Noteworthy or whatever. Is that a similar thing with like— I would assume all of your authors won’t end up on the New York Times bestseller list, although they may. But how do you explain that to people who are thinking through it?
Ben Putano 31:48
Yeah, I think of books, like any other form of media, whether that’s podcast or a blog, or a newsletter, you can be really big. Media has always been a finicky industry when it comes to profitability. You can look at BuzzFeed. I think their recent valuations like $300 million, dropping basically 10x from their peak a few years ago, it’s really tough to build a media company. But having media, having a media arm of your personal brand, or your business is a huge form of leverage. Now, a lot of people treat books like a inexpensive business card, I don’t see it like that I don’t I don’t see it as a cost center. I think both can be very profitable. But it’s all about how you approach it. One thing that I urge every aspiring author to do is think about how you going to take all this effort you are going to put into creating a book and expand that IP into other products and services. So with Andrew Warner’s book, for example, Stop Asking Questions, we created a premium version of that book that includes audio clips from his podcast, and a podcasting course, a three-hour video course, infographics, and it’s really beautiful online reading experience, we partnered up with another publisher called Holloway. So we teamed up with this we use it’s the same content, but we expanded it. And we raised the price, and that became our most profitable product out of this whole project. So you can do this in a lot of ways you could you can couple your you can couple coaching sessions, you can create other products or courses, that most traditional route is turning your book into a keynote speech. There are a lot of things you can do with a book. One thing I love about books similar to podcasts is that if it’s good, it gives you a lot of authority in your space. And you can do a lot of really cool things when you get into the room with the right people and books and podcasts. They tend to do that for you.
Adam Vazquez 33:59
I love it. Living the dream we all had as younger people. And I really appreciate you spending time with us have just two questions to wrap. The first I ask everyone is just what has you excited trend-wise, content-wise, what’s in the world that you’re looking at and you’re like, man, as a creator, that has me amped up?
Ben Putano 34:17
I don’t know if this is a trend or not? Actually, I think it’s trending in the opposite direction. Right now people are reading fewer books than ever before at the moment, but I firmly believe in the future of slow, intentional content. When we spend too much time on social media, at least for me, when I spent too much time on social media, I just feel completely fried. And I feel anxious. I feel like I’m living in a hurricane almost. It’s just chaos in my brain. And it’s almost like eating too much junk food. I call it “junk food content.” We just consume, consume, consume, and it’s not very nutritious for us. At some point we’re going to pick up on how bad junk food content is for us and make a big shift back to slow and intentional content, long-form content books, being one of them, podcasts being another, even email newsletters are better for our brains and I think more beneficial than then than social media because they have an end, there isn’t the infinite scroll that will keep you stuck for hours on end. When you read a newsletter, it’s over, you close it, and you go on to your next thing. So I don’t know when the world is going to catch up, I’m going to do my best to create great books to get people off constant social media scrolling. Slow intentional content is where I would love to see the puck go at some point.
Adam Vazquez 35:40
I love it. I’m all in for that. I don’t know if that’s a, I feel like we may be out on their own island on our own. If we, it turns it out. But I’m with you. I’ve had to delete as many social apps as I can realistically with what I do. And it’s definitely just I don’t know, it feels so much better to read longer form things that I can pick up, think about and put down, as opposed to just being force fed through social. So I’m 100% with you. Well, this has been great, Ben, I appreciate all of your time.
Carlton Riffel 36:14
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening to this episode of Content Is for Closers. We hope you find this show really helpful as you grow your business with content. Maybe you know of other people who would find this show helpful as well. How about you send them our way? If you didn’t like this show and you want to tell us that, then you can head over to contentisforclosers.com where you can send us a message, give us some feedback, ask questions, or find detailed notes for every episode. Until next time, keep creating and keep closing.