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Tour of the New Members Area

On April 1st the Simple Scrapper members moved into a brand new online home. If I've ever seemed quieter than usual recently, it's because this transition captured the bulk of my attention during the first quarter.

With this big project mostly complete, I wanted to offer a behind-the-scenes tour of the membership.

No matter what I write on the membership sales page, I know (as a customer of other brands myself) that you always wonder "but what do I really get?"

While this post can't re-create the value of community, it can demystify the resources members receive and the environment in which they are delivered.

Shall we begin? (You can click any image to enlarge it.)

A Peek Inside the Membership

The new membership site exactly matches the blog, sharing the same minimal design with lots of white space and crisp typography.

Logging In

The login screen let's you know that you're in the right place and also provides easy access to customer service should you need anything.

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Upon login you're greeted by name and presented with menus tailored to your access level. This site not only serves our members but is the home of our classrooms. Currently the only non-member classroom is for The Finishing Project.

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Navigating the Site

The content on the homepage exactly mirrors the navigation menu you'll find across the site, making it easy to see what is available and difficult to get lost.

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Member Interaction

Community is the heart of the membership program. Members are invited to twice-monthly private chats inside of a full-width chat room. Transcripts are provided for those who are unable to attend.

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The new site also boasts a simple forum that is used for focused (and organized) interaction during workshops, events, and small group sessions. This week our members are kicking off two new Focus Circles, small self-directed groups that last for a short duration. This session's topics are creative challenges and photo organization.

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This area of the site also provides instructions for accessing the closed Facebook group for members, which is the primary hub for day-to-day conversation.

Tracking Your Progress

Members, event participants, and workshop students have access to lessons in our customized classroom area. It was important to me to create a learning environment and not just download pages.

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Each classroom includes a welcome message with instructions, followed by a course outline. Most lessons have comments open, helping to facilitate engagement on the topics.

Every member is encouraged to begin by completing the Membership Orientation class, which introduces the entire member program in 12 lessons. The highlight of this class is a special self-assessment that's exclusive to the orientation.

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Students can easily track and see their progress for each class as well as contact me directly for one-on-one support.

Members get exclusive and immediate access to Focus, my scrapbooking productivity class. In 12 video lessons with companion worksheets, you'll learn fundamentals of simple, focused memory keeping.

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Members also receive access to Start Fresh Anytime, a DIY planning e-course, inside of the classroom area.

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Accessing Resources

The Resource Library is key feature of membership, providing anytime access to a depth and breadth of tools for scrapbooking.

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I love planning and believe that making lists is crucial for making things happen. Members have access to our current workbook and planner as well as a library of other planning worksheets.

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Each month members receive a new issue of Spark, our 60-page member magazine with exclusive articles and layout examples from the creative team. Inside of the member area, you can access the entire back catalog of issues.

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A big feature of membership is the Sketch & Template Library. Each month members receive five new page designs, both sketch and layered template versions, to use as layout starting points. The entire library of nearly 250 sketches is indexed and filterable by various parameters, such as number and size of photos.

Plus, there are annual PDF sketch indexes that are perfect for loading to a tablet and cropping away from your computer!

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Sketches and templates are not only provided for 12x12 page sizes, but also 8.5x11 and double-page versions of each.

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Each month members also receive a new set of storytelling prompts, coupled with a gallery of examples from our creative team. Previous prompts are indexed on the site and there's also PDF compilations to use on-the-go.

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This year we're also building a library of Jumpstart challenges. A new challenge that couples design and story directions is posted every Friday. Though these aren't technically a class, they are built into our learning management system to make tracking your progress easy!

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The Jumpstarts help members utilize the Resource Library in creative ways, using creative team layouts as the inspiration from each set of directions.

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Members also have access to a suite of bonus resources, including eBooks such as Story-First Scrapbooking, Simple Scrapbook Organizing, Everyday Storyteller Volume 1, and Everyday Storyteller Volume 2.

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Plus, I've also included instructions for 27 diverse papercrafting projects!

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Though the membership launched in 2011, this is really just the beginning of the 2.0 era. I'm excited to have a great platform on which to continue delivering high-value content and experiences!

I would be remiss if I didn't also mention mobile devices in this post. There were many great reasons for this re-do, but improving the experience for members visiting from their tablets and phones was one of the biggest.

Both the blog and the member site are fully responsive and will continue to be optimized with various devices in mind!

Do you have any questions? I'd be happy to answer anything at all in the comments on this post.

And if you're now sold on the benefits, I'd also be happy to have you become a member today.

 

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Playing Favorites with Patricia Roebuck

As part of our Simple Tip Saturday series, we're inviting fresh voices into the mix. Today we’re hearing from Patricia Roebuck with her simple tip.

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What is one way you simplify scrapbooking?

By picking favorites.  I do the same with working with one manufacturer’s products as I do with my stash or a kit.  I pick favorite products that catch my eye right away.  I start by going through the papers, then pick out the colors that appeal to me, and then the patterns. Then I go through the embellishments.  I will usually only have those items that I pulled out to work with.  It is similar to working with one collection where everything goes together, but extending that same process to my stash, kit or multiple collections.

What problem does it solve for you?

Ending up with less stash because I’ve used most of my favorite items.  Not to say my scrap space doesn’t get cluttered, but there is less clutter, which overall helps me be more creative using less product.

Why do you think it works so well?

Using favorite products extends to my scrapbooking purchases.  I only buy what I love, and what I will use.  This helps my pocketbook.  I am more productive and spend less time working on a project.  I don’t have to get up and find an item.  I have everything I need at arms length.

How can others get started with it?

Collect your papers and embellishments and sort out your favorites.  Give away or sell the rest.  Create kits from color combinations or themes that interest you, and that you know you will be using soon.   You will have the satisfaction of using what you already have, making beautiful projects without the overwhelming feeling of too many product choices.

Simple Tip Saturdays are for sharing easy ideas to grab and go. Would you like to be featured? Complete this form to submit a tip for consideration.

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Why I Quit My Kit Club

Earlier this spring, I made a big decision.

Cue dramatic pause.

I cancelled my subscriptions to the Studio Calico Scrapbook Kit and Project Life Kit. I had subscribed to at least one kit almost-continuously for the past 4 years.

Studio Calico was my introduction to modern papercrafting, helping me discover my scrapbooking style and define my own approach to "simple". I love this company's aesthetic and enjoy feeling challenged to try products out of my comfort zone.

Subscribing to a kit has saved me time in coordinating supplies and freed my imagination to focus on the stories first. While I wish the kits included more products from other manufacturers, I've been a happy customer overall.

So why did I quit? They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so my answer is this:

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and worse, this:

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I love pretty new supplies as much as anyone, but I'm also a big believer in roughly matching your shopping rate with your making rate. In other words, I try not to buy much more than I can use. By keeping my stash small I can avoid feeling overwhelmed by my stuff.... in theory.

The thing is, I had found myself stuck and not practicing what I preach. The guilt began to mount and honestly, I felt embarrassed that the kits were piling up. Since I'm not the most prolific scrapbooker, I had to make a change on the other end of the equation.

It wasn't easy, though. I had to wade through the murky waters of FOMO, dealing with a certain degree of anxiety about no longer getting the latest and greatest. Without being a subscriber, what deals would I miss? What if that next Project Life kit had a filler card with that perfect sentiment I've been waiting for?

Then I told myself to get a grip. Even though this hobby is serious business for me, it really only is paper and stickers.

As I let go, I began to feel calmly confident in the decision as well as a renewed excitement for my scrapbooking. Here's what I discovered from the process:

1. FOMO isn't real. There will always be more. Today's scrapbooking supplies are so evergreen and non-thematic that it's really only the color palette that changes month to month. What seems like a "must have" this month will be quickly upstaged by the next "must have" coming down the pike.

2. I can still buy one-off kits. Once I stopped being so dramatic about the decision, I realized that not subscribing doesn't prevent buying. While I personally chose to take a temporary spending hiatus, I'm glad I have the option of purchasing the kits that I love the most.

3. Less mail means less pressure. For some, receiving a new kit is the best day of the month. They're ready to dig in and make more pages. But if you're like me and not especially prolific, that new kit can represent added stress. We create enough of our own anxiety that there's no need to have supplies be a part of that.

4. A backlog can be like Christmas morning. There's little difference between an unopened kit that arrived yesterday and one that's six months old. Our industry doesn't change that much so new is new, even if it's old. I'm excited to shop my stash, and at my own pace of creating.

5. Stash busting feels like a fun challenge. Since my stash is overly abundant at this point, I feel a sense of challenge to make a dent in creative ways. While I don't desire to be wasteful, this stuff is meant to be used. I'm excited to tackle the backlog with the freedom of a kid in a candy store.

6. The money is spent. On top of having unopened kits, subscribing to a kit means that not everything is a winner. I could spend time regretting my purchases, but instead I choose to let it go. That means I'll be focusing on the products I really dig and actively decluttering the clutter. Life is too short to keep supplies that make you feel bad.

For some, quitting is easy. For me, it took some thoughtful deliberation to make what was the best decision at the time. If you're feeling guilty or stressed about unopened or unused kits (but can't imagine canceling), perhaps my experience can offer some encouragement to take the leap.

Are you like me, tired of feeling that constant pressure to buy more? You might feel at home in the membership at Simple Scrapper. Our members include paper, digital, and pocket page scrapbookers who enjoy receiving tools and support to tell their stories with what they have. You can save 20% on a 6-month membership through May 31, 2015.
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May Free Sketch & Template

Each month our members receive new sketches and companion layered templates, plus a digital magazine featuring these tools in action. This year I'm giving away a sketch and template set from our membership library every month on the blog.

This month's freebie is a 1-photo, 12x12 layout with plenty of space for journaling. There are more than 225 sketches and templates instantly accessible when you become a Simple Scrapper member.

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See it in action...

Here is Jennifer Wilson's layout which inspired the sketch and template:

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Here is an interpretation from Shannon Morgan that puts a slight twist on the numbered journaling spots.

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Here is an interpretation from Kimberly Kalil that honors the original sketch but also adds a number of fun and whimsical elements.

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Here's an interpretation from Delanie Wood that alters the canvas size to 8.5 x 11 and shifts the block slightly to the left.

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If you use this design concept to inspire your own layout, please come back and leave a comment sharing your page. I can't wait to see how you make this your own!

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Fun and Distraction-Free Scrapbooking with Kathy Skou

As part of our Simple Tip Saturday series, we're inviting fresh voices into the mix. Today we’re hearing from Kathy Skou with her simple tip.

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What is one way you simplify scrapbooking?

The best way for me to simplify my scrapping is to limit the amount of supplies I allow myself to use on any one project.  I originally got this idea when I was packing for a weekend crop.  Since space was limited, I couldn't pack up my whole scrap room.  I created page kits for each layout I wanted to complete.  I now do this for all my projects and DT assignments.  I pick papers, embellishments and photos, sometimes sketches and put them in a sleeve.  When I'm ready to scrap, I just pull out those items and get working.

What problem does it solve for you?

I am not a fast scrapper.  By kitting for each project, I can concentrate on the design instead of spending time trying to decide which papers or embellishments to use.  I would spend hours trying to decide what collection, embellishment, etc ... there are so many goodies out there, it got overwhelming!  Now that I limit myself, I spend less time trying to pick what to use, and more time scrapping.  Obviously I occasionally add to the original kit, when inspiration strikes, but for the most part I stick to the plan!

Why do you think it works so well?

I have a lot of scrapbook supplies.  If I just worked freestyle, I'd end up changing my mind 100 times, trying out different variations, papers, embellishments.  It would take me forever to complete anything.  By pre-planning and limiting myself to a particular collection of items, I am less distracted and more focused on the project at hand!

How can others get started with it?

Start by figuring out what pictures you want to scrap.  Print them out and then work on choosing what you want to use to scrap.  It might be an entire collection from a certain manufacturer or it might be more random ... for instance, if you're scrapping a picture of your kids playing outside, you can put together items that work with that theme.  Put papers, stickers, embellishments, pictures (and maybe a sketch) into a sleeve or bag and limit yourself to those items.   It will allow you to focus on the actual scrapping and less on all of the supplies!

Simple Tip Saturdays are for sharing easy ideas to grab and go. Would you like to be featured? Complete this form to submit a tip for consideration.

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