The Top Five Struggles of Digital Scrapbookers

Once again a big huge THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by my Goals post a few weeks ago and shared their digital scrapbooking struggles. After taking some time to digest all your comments (which I LOVED reading by the way), I am back to share my thoughts on your responses to this question:

What do you struggle with when it comes to digital scrapbooking?


As I’ve mentioned before I am a bit of a numbers nerd, haha, so in an effort to make sense of all the awesome responses I received from all of you, I decided I would get back to my economics-lovin’ roots and put together a lovely little chart representing the top responses.

Here were the top five struggles of digital scrapbookers based on your responses:

Top 5 Struggles

As you can see, Time Management comes in at the number one spot followed very closely by Design in spot number two. Rounding out the top five are Inspiration, Titles and Organization.

Let’s chat a bit more about each of these, starting with number one…

#1 Time Management

Does it really surprise anyone to see Time Management sitting in the number one spot?

I’m not surprised one bit considering I too would put this as my number one struggle not only in digital scrapbooking, but in life in general. To be honest, I think you’d be hard-pressed to any digital scrapbooker let alone any person who never struggles with time. (And if there’s a digital scrapbooker out there who falls into that category, please come teach us your ways, Obi-Wan Scrapobi!)

The simple fact is time is a finite resource. We each get the exact same 24 hours in a day and that’s it. I know, some days this makes me want to cry too.

But the one thing we do have control over when it comes to time is our CHOICES. And this is where I believe the struggle for digital scrapbookers begins.

One of the amazing things about this hobby of ours (and really our world in general) is thanks to the magic of the internet, we have access to an infinite number of possibilities available to us anywhere, at any time of the day.

Need a new kit to go with those photos you just took? Easy-peasy.

Want to ask fellow scrapbookers for advice on your most recent layout? Post in the forums.

Looking for some design inspiration? Hundreds of thousands of scrapbooking layouts are out there for your viewing pleasure.

Unlike traditional paper scrapbookers we don’t have to drive to the store when we need a new sheet of cardstock or stop by a weekend crop to hang out with friends. This is one of the many awesome advantages of digital scrapbooking.

But when you start thinking about everything we have to juggle as part of this hobby – Creative Teams, forums, galleries, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, oh yeah, and scrapbooking somewhere in there too, it’s easy to see why so many of you struggling with getting and staying focused.

The answer you often hear from time management gurus is to just turn the internet off. Turn it off. Focus on the task at hand.

But when the digital scrapbooking world exists online how do you manage this? And more importantly how do you filter out the never ending stream of new information and inspiration that is coming in?

That’s the question we as digital scrapbookers need to be .

Now obviously I am not a time management guru by any stretch of the imagination. And I’m not about to pretend I have all the answers because I most certainly don’t. Not even close.

But I do have ideas on how we as scrapbookers can manage are time better and I’m hoping we can work together to figure out a solution that works not only for our industry but for our individual lives as well. Because I don’t know about you but I think the digiscrap world would be a pretty sad place if everyone managed their time simply by turning off the internet.

#2 Design

Coming in at the number two spot was Design which I think we can all agree is a big struggle for many digital scrapbookers.

Design encompasses so much of what we do as scrapbookers: composition, photo placement, kit choice, color scheme, patterned papers, clustering and element placement, dropshadowing, typography & title design. It’s easy to see why design is so overwhelming for so many scrapbookers.

Many of you commented that this is why you love scrapbooking with templates because it takes the guess-work out of scrapbooking. As a template designer, I say GREAT! I can save you a ton of time and energy by thinking up complicated, layered paper-lovin’ designs for you. And I love doing that.

But as strictly a scrapbooker, I have mixed feelings about this. Because sometimes I worry that we’ve lost a little bit of that unique design spark that existed back in the early days of digital scrapbooking out of fearFear we don’t have enough design talent. Fear our pages will never be as good without the safety net of a template.

In digi-land there’s often this assumption that good design is an innate ability. That all talented scrapbookers were born with this magical ability to craft amazing page after amazing page.

I have news for you. They weren’t. And if you don’t believe me, go back to page one of any one of the galleries from those scrapbookers you admire. I guarantee their pages will tell you a different story. I have done this since I was a newbie scrapbooker and I have yet to find a scrapbooker for whom this wasn’t true.

The simple fact is all good design is built on a foundation of solid design principles. When someone says they have an innate sense of good design, all they’re really saying is they don’t actively think about these design principles as they’re designing.

But if you actually look for these elements of design – like symmetry, balance, unity, repetition – I guarantee you will find them in their layouts. I know they exist in mine.

And that’s great news for you.

Because these design principles can absolutely 100% be learned.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. You are the exception to the rule. Design is HARD. You’ll never get it. Templates are SO much easier.

If you’re the kind of scrapbooker who LOVES scrapbooking with templates, that’s AWESOME. Templates are a fantastic tool for making amazing pages. And I will definitely be working hard at providing you with awesome templates here at NettioDesigns.

But if you’re the kind of scrapbooker who would love to learn more about design,

I will definitely be chatting more about design here at NettioDesigns as well as sharing more about my personal design process when I scrapbook. It’s going to be fun.

#3 Inspiration

Inspiration is a funny thing. We tend to look at inspiration as this mystical power that bestows itself upon us.

“Oh great gods of mojo, send me some scrapbooking inspiration so I may complete this layout of awesomeness.”

Far and away the number one comment I received with regards to inspiration was a variation on this:

“I feel like I’m making the same page over and over again.”

Time and time again it is drilled into us as scrapbookers that we need to find our style.

But as a scrapbooker who very much has a defined style, there are days when I too start feeling like maybe my all pages are starting to look the same.

It’s a fine line to walk.

The key is getting to place where we are confident with our style but not so comfortable with our style that we become afraid to push outside those boundaries and mix it up from time to time.

Try an unexpected color scheme. Mix up pages sizes. Do a mini album. Scrapbook with a kit outside our normal style.

We will definitely be talking more about inspiration around here: how to get it, how to keep it and most importantly how to find your style while still keeping things fresh and exciting.

#4 Titles

So I’ll admit, the number of people who listed titles as one of their major struggles took me by surprise. Journaling and storytelling I expected but titles specifically, not as much.

But this is exactly why I wanted to hear directly from YOU because I knew there would be some things you struggle with that I don’t necessarily think about and that’s actually a good thing. Because it means I can help.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why titles are a struggle for so many of you and I have a few questions for you:

What kind of stories are you telling?

Are you telling deep and meaningful stories? Are you telling stories from a wide range of perspectives?

Or are do often find yourself telling the same story over and over again?

Obviously only you can answer these questions for you because your definition of deep and meaningful is going to be different than mine.

But I ask this because for me personally, titles, journaling and storytelling are all very interrelated.

The richer the story I’m telling, the more opportunity I have to create a rich, meaningful title. Where as in comparison, the pages I’ve done with a cute photo and a quote don’t exactly leave me a lot of options when it comes to creating an interesting title. Those tend to be the pages that get slapped with a “love” or “sisters” title, which I think we can all agree is a bit boring for sure.

Now it’s possible this isn’t your problem at all and if that’s the case, please feel free to let me know in the comments! I will definitely be sharing more about how I specifically come up with my titles but any details you want to provide about why titles are a struggle for you are always welcome too.

#5 Organization

We have made it to number five. At first I was a bit surprised to see Organization all the way down in the number five slot given the number of forum threads around digi-land devoted to it. But the more I think about it, the more I think it’s probably a good thing because it means we haven’t lost sight on what’s important when it comes to scrapbooking.

In a lot of ways it’s fitting that organization comes in at the number five spot because organization provides us the foundation on which to build all of the things mentioned above in numbers 1-4.

When your fonts and alphas are organized, you can be more creative with your titles.

When your photos are organized you can be inspired to document all those meaningful stories without fear you won’t be able to find the “right” photo.

When your supplies are organized in a way that works for how you scrap, you will have more freedom in your design choices.

When your photos and supplies are organized, you’ll stop wasting time trying to find exactly what you need. It’ll just be right there.

Perhaps even more importantly, as I found out during The Great Computer Spring Clean-a-thon, when you’re supplies and photos are out of control, it can seriously kill your mojo.

Often as digital scrapbookers we tend to get too wrapped up in the technology of organizing (myself included).

ACDSee vs Finder/Windows Explorer?

Lightroom vs Aperture?

To tag or not to tag?

But the key to organizing is finding a system that works for you and the way you scrap.

The question we need to be asking ourselves is not which tool is right for me but how do I want to be able to find my supplies and photos? When I go hunting for a photo or scrapbooking supply, what am I usually looking for?

Obviously I don’t have all the organizing answers just yet. But as I mentioned in my Goals post, organization is a big priority for me because I know it’s holding me back from being a fully organized and inspired scrapbooker. So you can be sure there will be more posts on this topic in the future.

Now It’s Your Turn

And with that, we have completed our journey through the top five digital struggles as told by you. What do you think? Any struggles you thought would rank higher? Any struggles you were surprised to see? Share your thoughts in the comments!


  1. Terra says

    When it comes to titles, it isn’t necessarily coming up with the title that I find challenging… it is making it look nice on the page that I really struggle with. So any tips you could provide in that area would be very appreciated. Sometimes I think I spend more time on actually scrapping the title than on the rest of the page.

  2. Dawn says

    I completely agree with what Terra said! I listed titles as a problem area for me and maybe I did not explain it right. I have no problem coming up with the actual title but more so the placement of the title on the page (as well as mixing up the alphas for a title ). I am completely in awe of alot of pages in the galleries that the titles just pop and draw you into the page. That is where I am looking for help with. Sorry if I was confusing initially. :)

    Thanks so much for the great information!

    • says

      I think perhaps I didn’t explain myself well enough. Title design is absolutely listed in there but it’s grouped as part of the “Design” section, specifically where it says “typography & title design.” The separate “Titles” section included the comments that specifically said the design part of titles wasn’t the problem – the titles themselves were. I debated calling it Titles & Journaling as well as Storytelling and then ultimately changed my mind. Thinking now maybe I shouldn’t have. LOL My apologies if it was unclear!

  3. Ginger_79 says

    In the past I had trouble with title design as well. Three things helped me a lot with it. a) Study someone’s pages who is an expert at it. My biggest title inspiration is Cindy Schneiders Gallery:

    b) Think of the title as a design element from the beginning on. In the past I would scrap a page and in the end try to fiot a title somewhere. It always seemed to look odd or destroy my design. Now I think of it more as an element or cluster, so the title’s look (bulky or tall? shabby, crafted, metal, ect?) and space is already in my head while I scrap. Helped so much!

    c) Organising my alphas. I use Adobe Bridge and I have a collection called “alphas”. In it are either the letter sheets or if possible the letter a of every alpha I own. This way I can browse them all at one look and try out the ones, that look promising.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your advice! I totally agree with looking at titles as a design element from the beginning – that’s exactly what I do too. I like to draw my layouts as sketches first and I always have “title” written somewhere on the sketch. It’s just too big of a part of the page to just randomly tack on at the end.

  4. says

    I never paid much attention to title, but this article (and the comments) makes me think about it in a new way! And I can’t wait to hear what more you have to say about inspiration, the “feels like doing the same page over and over again” is one of my main issue too!

    • says

      Woohoo for thinking about things in the new way – that’s what I was hoping for! Inspiration is a biggie for a lot of people so you are definitely not alone in that for sure. :)

  5. says

    This is just AWESOME, Lynnette! :) I had to chime in about the whole design aspect, because ohmygollygoo do I struggle with it. However, I sometimes have crazy moods, and it’s happened that working with a template has stressed me out more than starting from scratch, lol!!! Not sure why it happens, and when it does I promptly close photoshop 😛

    Talking about adding an original spin, one of my fave ways to play with a template it so totally modify/flip/spin/short of completely mutilate it so it “works” for me. :)

    About style, for the loooooooongest time I stressed over this! I’ve been asked about this–what IS my style? And I can never answer it enough. But this is what gives me the most peace: I like a whole variety of styles and I want to add them to my pages. I like traditional, I like paper-heavy, I like realistic, I like vintage, I like retro, I like cutesy. I suppose the only one I don’t really like is fantasy. But everything else is fair game to me. I like trying out styles and then adapting it to my layouts. THAT’S WHERE I GET MY KICKS. :) And maybe that’s my style, lol.

    I completely agree with your take on titles. I don’t really struggle with it, and I’ve stopped agonizing the EVERY layout of mine needs a title. Sometimes they really don’t. I tack on wordart and I’m good. :)

    Like you, I WAS surprised journaling didn’t figure into your pie chart.

    Oh, organization. I have ACDSee. I started tagging my previews but then I stalled. I can scrap with PS and just Windows Explorer, but I know if I only utilized my stash more I COULD probably add more oomph to my layouts. So far however, the idea of tagging everything far outweighs any possible oomphy pages I could make 😛 I’ve been hearing lots of buzz about Windows Live Picture Gallery and I’m really eager to try it out, except that I’m still on a PC with XP. It may take a few more months before I can upgrade (of sorts).

    Aaaand to round off this novel of a comment, time management. I’ve learned to go with the flow of my mojo. Although there have been plenty of times I’ve wanted to scrap but didn’t have the time, instead I sketch out the layout or fiddle with journaling I want to do (always have a notebook and pen!). If I really,really want to,though, I’ve no qualms about burning the midnight oil and scrapping :)

    • says

      LOVE your comment! It could be a blog post in it’s own right, haha. So many awesome thoughts here.

      I just wanted to comment specifically about the idea of style. I think there’s this idea in scrapbooking that having a style means fitting into a predetermined category, things like: fantasy, traditional, minimalist, vintage, etc. But really what having a style is all about is embracing what you love. I would argue that almost any scrapbooker could look at their pages and find a common thread between them and THAT is the basis for their style. I definitely see a style when I look at your pages!

      Great comment!

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