A Newbie’s Perspective on Scrapbooking

by | Getting Started with Scrapbooking, Productivity Advice | 26 comments

Next month I will celebrate my one year scrapping digiversary, something I didn’t even know existed until recently. A year ago I would have said, “Huh? A digi-what?” And scrapbooking? Don’t even get me started. Scrapbooking was something for those women with perfect lives and perfect children. They scrapped in their beautifully decorated craft rooms in their picture perfect houses.

Diane Caldwell

I had met some of these women-at church, at PTA or while doing volunteer work. For fun, these chicks took pictures of every move their families made. Then they went to a hotel for the weekend, leaving their children with their husbands, while they would cut, paste and crop until the wee hours.

When they came back, they would go on and on about crops and scrapping with an almost religious zeal. Weird, I thought, and so totally NOT me.

My husband was away on a business trip that September day and our only son had just left for college. I was cleaning out desk drawers when I happened upon a “Learn Digital Scrapbooking” CD by Linda Sattgast. It had come free in the box with PSE 8 when I purchased it at Costco a year earlier. Given my disdain for paper scrapping, I don’t even know why this would interest me.

I have never been sentimental about the past. I have a great memory and just figured that I would remember all the important stuff in life.

As for passing it along to my son and any future generations—please! My life is just not that interesting or important. I am a lousy photographer but I would take the obligatory snapshots on vacations or special occasions. I know this sounds strange, but I didn’t even OWN any photo albums! Other than our wedding album and my son’s baby book, all my pictures were in shoe boxes (not sorted or organized) or living on the hard drive of my computer.

I still don’t know what kept me from tossing that disk into the trash. I must have REALLY been looking for an excuse to escape the boredom of cleaning out the office! But something spoke to me that day and I popped the CD into the tray and hit play.

I was fascinated from the very start. I have always been good on the computer and had edited the employee newsletter at my old job. This looked like so much fun! I liked the idea of limitless creative options and the fact that I could always fix mistakes by clicking undo. Best of all there was NO MESS! And if I hated my original (lousy) photo, I could crop, change to black & white or zoom in to emphasize something other than the main subject.

Digi-scrapping seemed like a much less expensive hobby than regular scrapping but as someone with two sets of golf clubs gathering dust in the garage, a like-new sewing machine that I sold at a yard sale a year ago and drawers full of fabric, notions and yarn-I KNEW my tendency to go whole hog on a new hobby only to abandon it later could end up costing me big bucks in the end.

As I began researching digiscrapping on the internet, Simple Scrapper was the first site I found. I loved that it was so straightforward and well, simple! I was so hooked on this new hobby that I needed advice-and Simple Scrapper was great in directing me to invaluable resources and inspiration from some of the best folks in the business.

Determined that I could do this new hobby almost entirely free, I began by using freebies and printing on my home printer. I quickly found that trolling for freebies on a daily basis was eating up huge chunks of time and I had begun to subscribe to the mindset of “if it’s free, I must need it!” As soon as I realized how much time I was wasting when I could be scrapping, my addiction to freebie-hunting was cured.

My Lessons Learned

I learned that a couple of subscriptions were my best investment. I currently subscribe to The Digi Files and Scrapper’s Guide. Both provide tons of digital product as well as fantastic training videos and articles every month.

A Seagate 1TB external hard drive was also money well spent. Kind of an unglamorous purchase but one I am glad I made. All my scrap stuff is in one place and accessible on my home network and if one of our computers were to crash, I am safe. Of course if my house burns down or a tornado strikes, the EHD is gone along with the computers so my next investment will be an on line backup service.

The idea of home printing was a bust. My printer is not large format and the cost of the HP ink alone is a deal breaker. There are many great printing services available but I tried Persnickety Prints first and see no reason to switch.

I am proud to report that I did finish a year in review album for 2010. I sent it off to Persnickety Prints and got the pages back in just 3 days. I was so excited that my hands were shaking as I opened the package. My handiwork was all there in gorgeous living color—with staples the size of a small country and journaling fonts that could double as the top line on an eye chart! OK, so I still had a lot to learn about perspective and how some things may look fine on the screen but not so much on the 12×12 printed page.

Yet something strange happened as I gazed at those first printed pages. I realized that I loved scrapping the everyday moments. Yes, we had a family reunion and a vacation and Thanksgiving and Christmas to scrap. But those were not my favorite pages.

The turtle we found on our dog walk one day is one of my faves.

A page about my in-laws first house is another.

Cute Shoes and a Good Hair Day sums up my feelings after a long Chicago winter.

My perception of scrapping being for sappy sentimentalists was quickly changing. I realized that I love doing this FOR ME. Yes, I am documenting our family history, but mostly I am expressing myself through a hobby that I truly love. Is that really any different than the woman who golfs, plays tennis, paints or sews as a hobby?

I assembled that 2010 album using archival quality sleeves and taking great care to put the whole year in chronological order. After dinner, I brought it out and showed it proudly to my husband and son, who both said, “Oh that’s nice” and quickly turned their attention back to whatever sporting event was on ESPN at that moment.

The old me would have cried and quit. The new me took it in stride and kept right on scrapping her imperfect life.

I am a wife, mother and daughter who VERY occasionally blogs at http://travelinggazette.blogspot.com. When I emailed Simple Scrapper about doing a guest post from a newbie’s perspective, my intent was to write a review of essential products for the new scrapper. As I began to write, I realized that while those things were important, what was more important was finally finding a hobby I totally love and how my perceptions of scrapbooking and memory keeping had dramatically changed.

Did you find this post helpful?

We believe simple is not how your page looks, but how your scrapbooking hobby works. We have a free workshop called SPARKED and it is the best way to learn more about Simple Scrapper and start creating consistently.


  1. Linda

    What an awesome article! I used to be “one of those paper scrappers” I have enough paper scrapping supplies to start my own store. I would sit in my room, moving pictures around on the paper, trying to make embellishments fit and give up. I bought PSE 4,, couldn’t figure it out and bought 6 thinking I could (not) figure it out. A friend of mine, got me started 4 years ago, & I haven’t touched a piece of paper since. Thanks for such a great article

  2. Terra

    I agree with almost everything written here. I am also celebrating my one year digiversary pretty soon and can hardly believe I have kept up with a hobby for a whole year without losing interest. In fact, I grow more enthusiastic about digital scrapbooking every day. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, this was a great guest post.

  3. Cindy

    I still love both paper and digi-scrapping but I have to admit the digi-scrapping seems so much easier with the ability to ‘re-use’ supplies and to do it easily on the go using a laptop! One thing I would add is that it’s not just self-affirming for us, but is something we create for future generations – those everyday moments will be priceless for your grandkids and great-grandkids – so keep up the good work and documenting everyday life!

  4. SWJenn

    So wonderful of you to share your journey! I’m always interested in what brings non-scrappers over to ‘the dark side’! 🙂
    I think we ALL have stories to tell, and as a historian I know that we’re writing the rough draft of history. Your history may not seem significant, but it’s your daily thoughts, interests, and accomplishments that will mean something to someone looking to learn about 21st century life one day. Thank you for making silver halide prints on quality photo paper, they will certainly outlive both you and all your digital media! Keep up the good work, and thanks for the post!

  5. Christine Smith

    I’ve been scrapping for 18 years now and have always enjoyed it so your perspective on being turned off by scrapping was really interesting. I like that you have found that scrapping is a great way to just express yourselff

  6. Ida (IdaIsAlive)

    Good article…I can relate/identify with so much of what you say! It’s good to know I am not the only one out there that once thought scrapbooking was for “perfect lives and perfect children”. My best pages are far from perfect!

  7. Barbara

    I. too, got introduced to digi through Scrapper’s Guide (now Digital Scrapper) and can’t speak highly enough of the quality of the teaching. I stumbled on it just looking for ways to edit my photographs, and instead I found a new passion!

  8. Sarah B

    What a great article! I can really relate to a lot of what you say. When I switched from paper scrapping to digital I also spent way too much time hunting for freebies. I agree, the subscriptions are the way to go.

  9. DoggiNo

    What a recognizable story ! Wanting to get on in digital photography and trying to find info on PSP (for which my mum had a great deal through the local newspaper), I stumbled onto digi-scrapping. Quickly I was stuck on blogs and others sites with great layouts and tutorials and yes, like many others freebies were an addiction to start with.
    The initial photo processing is only sneaking in again, but the fun and satisfaction of scrapping have already taken a permanent place in my life 🙂 So glad that ironing and cleaning were willing to move aside a little. Hihi.

  10. Katie

    I like the idea to use a subscription, sometimes I find searching through the various stores & designers. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and buy a lot of kits you might never use, as I did…when starting out.

  11. Tammy

    This was a great article! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’ve been paper scrapping for almost 20 years & have enough supplies to open a store (I am working on getting rid of all this)! I found digiscrapping about 5 years ago, but didn’t have the brain power to learn something new 😉 Since February of this year, I am slowly getting rid of my paper supplies-finishing up the years that I don’t have on digital and at the same time, learning to digital scrapbook. It’s SO exciting! 🙂

  12. Bunnyfreak

    I can totally relate to your husband and son’s response. My husband never shows much excitement over my pages. I definitely scrap for myself though and look to the online community to share my creations.

  13. Jill C

    Love your article Diane. It makes me want to give it a more serious attempt. Thanks for the great advice about going ahead and subscribing for simplicity and time savings, both of which are important to me.

  14. jules p

    I love the scrapbook layout. The colors are amazing.

  15. Suzanne

    Oh, I am with you in hoarding almost anything and everything related to a new hobby. In fact, I did it with digiscrapping – books, magazines, kits and even cameras! Would you believe I have 3 cameras? The books and magazines, I have not read ALL yet. Being overwhelmed by everything has really stopped me from scrapping but now I know better. Thanks for sharing your experience! And happy digiversary to you!

  16. Elizabeth

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and layouts. I am a newbie also and your suggestions for great subscriptions are awesome! I too have collected many “freebies” over the past year or two that were a great start but now a time drain! Also, I love that you are doing it for yourself. I do not have children to center my albums on or hope they appreciate later, and my husband is also like yours, “It’s nice”, so hearing you reminded me to recognize I am worth appreciating my own talents!

  17. Neisha

    Thank you for sharing your scrapping journey! You’re layouts are beautiful! Keep on scrapping 🙂

  18. kimberly

    I LOVE reading this. I always feel guilty scrapbooking because it’s just for ME (not a project for a gift or a card for someone)…and you have made me re-think digital scrapbooking–you’re right, less mess 🙂 I love the mess, just hate always having to clean it up!

  19. Barb

    I have 8 kids of my own and I can relate to the too busy to keep it all organized!!! I did however happen across a digital scrap booking company that had everything online. Best yet, I could open a free account and check out their studio. Since then I have enjoyed every moment of it and find it actually gives me the needed balance and a creative outlet to stay focused with the monument of things that happen each day. I take pics. with a purpose now and feel free to delete unnecessary photos. Sometimes less is more!

  20. Melissa

    I love your perspective Diane! 🙂 Awesome article – it reminds me how much I love printed paper – even with the giant fonts!

  21. Cathy Michels

    This was my favorite post. The reaction of your husband and son sounded so familiar and I love that you continue to create for yourself. That’s the best part – giving yourself permission to do something just because it is important to you.

  22. Neda

    “Scrapbooking was something for those women with perfect lives and perfect children.” This line really resonated with me because that’s exactly what I thought too! I’m still a newbie, so I’m exploring both traditional and digital scrapbooking, but having a lot of fun in the process. I love creative writing and photography, and scrapbooking just brings both of those loves of mine together to create something immensely personal that I can pass down to my kids 🙂
    Thank you for sharing your story and pretty layouts!

  23. Lynea Ford

    I have been doing this for 3 years and still feel like a newbie. There is so may things to learn and do, and buy, and see, and download and…

  24. June

    The wonderful thing about digi-scrapping is there is no huge store of items, just an EHD and a backup.
    The satisfaction comes not from perfection but expression. Your expression of memories and your day to day life. What a wonderful legacy to make too. One day someone will thank you for letting them glimpse into the world as you lived and saw it.

  25. Vicki

    Love the post about your journey into digital. I was a paper scrapper for 15 years (and yep, I too have enough stuff leftover to start a store, lol) then I found an article about digiscrapping in 2005 on the HP website. I haven’t created a paper page since. I love the no mess, take it with you anywhere aspect of digital. I’m still not sure if I spend less though :0

  26. Julie Rae

    Happy digiversary! This summer was my 3rd and although I have a ton yet to learn, I LOVE THIS STUFF! I still have all the traditional supplies and use them making cards, hybrid pages and 3-D projects. But my scrapbooking is 90% digital. I have to admit I did the freebie searching/hoarding thing for months. What an EHD filler that was! Then I began purchasing far more kits than one woman could use in a lifetime. Still kinda there as each week brings so many great looking supplies to my computer. Love The Daily Digi–I can’t start my day until I have been there. Probably one of the most attractive aspects of digi scrapping for me is that there is always something new to learn. I am SO happy for you and wish you continued success scrapping for yourself now and your happy descendants later when they discover the treasure trove of family facts/fun you took the time to create.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.


The Simple Scrapper community will encourage and support your unique creative journey.