Friday, 13 March 2015

Keeping It Simple

I'm not very good at simple. I tend to throw stuff at the page and end up putting bits in all four corners even when I'm trying to leave lots of "white space". This page is made with One Little Bird's Halcyon kit (part of The Lilypad's BYOC February 2015). I started off copying one of the CT layouts but drifted off piste.

I tried to fix the shadows so the elements stand out from the page, especially the flowers. I'll do a tutorial for My Memories later this week. In the meantime here are some tips for keeping it simple if you're one of the Very Bad People who like to throw stuff at a page:

1) Find a simple CT page you like and copy that. Obviously if you end up copying the entire thing you need to make sure you give credit to the person who made it.

2) Use only one photo and keep to one kit. Plain papers can be too traumatic so choose papers with a slight pattern.

3) When you think the page is finished force yourself to remove at least two elements!

I love the "live in the sun, swim in the sea, drink the wild air ..." quote. It's my mantra and we hope to live near this very beach one day. It's Alum Chine in Bournemouth and the photo was taken during the very hot summer in 2013 when we were lucky to be renting an apartment right by the beach for a week. No, we're not kidding ourselves it will be like that when we live there. For a start the apartment we buy will be half the size and not have a sea view!

Click on the picture below to get a bigger image:


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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Making the most of what we have ...

I'll get to something deep and meaningful in just a moment, it being the end of the year and all that, but first I'll show you some pages I made recently:

Romsey is a little town near us with the best Waitrose (expensive food store for those across the pond) for miles around. We went to get the week's shopping and noticed signs about roads being closed. So we parked in Waitrose and walked through to the square where the Christmas lights were going to be turned on. Unfortunately it took ages and we had to get back to the store before the lights went on. We took some rubbish photos. No matter, here's a page made with Raspberry Road's Christmas in the City which includes a gorgeous Bokeh Papers pack. If I'd know this earlier I might have tried to get some better Christmas shots! Click on any photo to see a bigger version in a new window.

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We had a Christmas market in Southampton town centre this year as every year. A depressing Facebook group I was in - note "was" as I now leave anything not uplifting - did nothing but moan about the market and how Southampton isn't Christmassy enough so we went to have a look and had a lovely evening. Best of all I got a Monty tote bag free in John Lewis. Yay me! I think they were for people buying iPads and I was only buying a £25 phone but the assistant was keen to get rid of me and go on her break and I don't blame her as the store was packed.

Here's the page made with Kristin Aagard's Christmas Lights:

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One thing we did learn in our Failed Christmas Lights trip to Romsey was the date of their carol singing. Again photos were rubbish but the sly cropping of a regular photo into a panorama made them less so and, hey, we were there! Kit is Melissa Bennett's Tis The Season, template is from Traci Reed's 365 Unscripted Stitched Grids 7.

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So is there a not-so-hidden point to the title of this post?

In common with many of my scrapping friends I have far too many kits and other scrapping stuff and there is no need to buy any more. I should make the most of what I have. Indeed I'm sick of everyone trying to sell me more at every opportunity, and not even timely stuff. Christmas kits were being sold in November. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't you need to take the photos before making the pages? Are we scared the internet stores will run out of kits? We had New Year kits well before Christmas. By the way, designers, "Happy New Years" doesn't even make any sense in the UK. It appears to beg for an apostrophe, needs to lose an s and/or ends mid-sentence. Don't get me started on the way you leave money on the table by not considering what other nations say.


Yes, of course I'll fall off the wagon at some point but I'll save money, save computer space and actually use the kits I already have.

Have a wonderful 2015 full of good memories and new friends!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Ignore Paypal at Your Peril!

Altogether now with the whinges:

"I can't afford to have Paypal in my store, it costs too much money"

"Poor little me I work so hard and everyone should love me and not criticise me".

Oh sorry, the general all-purpose whinge from silly designers slipped in there. We should probably take that as read.

What matters is not what your expenses are but your profit - the bottom line:

Do you want 100 sales without Paypal charges? Do you want more sales from those 100 customers and their friends? OR...

Do you want 1000 sales from around the world where the net receipts are a (small) percentage less due to Paypal charges? Do you want more sales from those 1000 customers and their friends?

If you can't see it in abstract terms - and most people can visualise the concept of "more sales" - try it out with some actual figures. If your maths isn't so good get a friend to help you.

Here's another common whinge: "The store is taking commission. It's not fair" Well, of course it's fair. Why would someone who has spent time and money building up a store sell your stuff free of charge? It's the same maths exercise:

Do you want to sell to the 100 people who might look at your website and Facebook page or do you want to sell to the tens of thousands of people who are customers of the store?


We have a whole series of articles in progress on running a digital scrapbooking business. What prompted me to write this now is a big paper scrapping company who have branched into digital. This has its own challenges as paper designs don't always transfer well to digital and digi scrappers don't necessarily make their pocket pages the way paper scrappers do. They also have a gazillion stores vying for their business. No Paypal. Lost sales.

You can't assume you will have a lot of sales so why lose sales through not offering Paypal? I can use a credit card for any purchases but the bank charges an overseas transaction free of £2.00 (about $3.00). I have another card that doesn't do that but you lose out on the exchange rate - so still a fee. Don't kid yourself it isn't! And why, pray, should I entrust my credit card details to a company I don't even know?

I fix the stupid "No Paypal" mistake on a regular basis as I'm an accountant. A British one, hence maths not math. When I prepare a business plan or bank loan application for a client Paypal has to be in there or there's no deal. It's standard business practice even for the smallest business. I offer it myself so clients can pay their fees easily. It's a courtesy to clients. The total fees just go in my own accounts along with bank charges. It brings in the fees earlier and I can move the money to my business account in seconds.

Your business will have expenses - phone, stationery, web hosting, Paypal charges. Suck it up. do the maths.  Look at the bottom line. Don't be one of the whingeing idiots. Be professional, be courteous to your customers, make more money!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Save on Top Photo Editing Software

By Yobeth Puckett

There is no better time to try the top photo editing software, Paint Shop Pro, and save 50%.  Get this Black Friday special from the comfort of your home.  After the 50% discount the full version is $38.99 or upgrade to the latest version x7 for only $28.99.  Amazing!  No need to fight the crowds just click here to purchase.


Hurry, this offer is good through November 29, 2014.  PLUS you'll receive additional bonus items valued at $150.00.

This is my go to program for photo editing and creating digital scrapbook pages.  I love it and use it all the time.  I know you'll love it too.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Piracy? Okay or Not?

by Yobeth Puckett


Piracy, copyright infringement, unauthorized use, reproduction of another's work, plagiarism, and the list goes on.  We frequently see news reports of companies copying a legitimate website/product to make a fake website/product and steal sales.  We can probably all agree that's not right and it's not fair!

People often dream of coming up with the next hugely successful company or product.  But how would you feel if you had a great idea for a new product, you labored over it, spent all your time and money to bring it to market only to have the idea stolen.  Someone else loves your idea too! But they're lazy. They decide to replicate it or in the case of digital designs they just download it, repackage and sell it under their own name.



Intellectual property is defined as a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript, film or design, to which one has rights and may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.  A copyright gives the originator the exclusive legal right to the intellectual properties use and the right to authorize others use of the property as well.


Designers always include "Terms of Use" with products they for sell or give as freebies.  The terms vary widely and range from okay for personal use only to commercial use for commercial use. Whatever the terms are they apply to the person that bought the product only.  Designers do not want us to share products with each other, not even freebies.  Do not share, do not redistribute, do not resell, do not claim as your own, etc.  You may be able to use their products if you buy a license from them or give them credit but otherwise it's considered piracy.  That's reasonable since they either designed the product themselves, bought a license or bought a commercial use product.


No Piracy insert as seen in many digital products.

The use of intellectual property seems to be a muddy area for many people. It's not uncommon for people to download pictures & clip art to use in a layout but just because something is available online doesn't mean it's right or legal to download it.



Of course, some things fall into the "public domain" category either because they're not copyrightable, the copyright has expired or the creator has assigned them as such.  Public domain material is not restricted by copyright so they're free to use, no license required.  Titles, phrases, slogans and such are not copyrightable.  Neither are items of fact or government works and documents.  There are web sites that are great public domain resources for books, images, illustrations, audio and films.


Movie Night kit used with permission by Kimeric Kreations

But what about music or movies?  Really?  I don't think you need to ask! Everything made to promote your child's favorite movie is designed for your child to want, you to BUY and the production company to make money. But wait, you say, sometimes designers make things that are super cute to give away as a freebie! That's okay, right? Sure it's okay, if the designer is using original work made to coordinate or complement the characters or theme of the movie.  It's not okay if they steal original work, downloaded directly from the movie website, to make anything.  It doesn't matter whether it's free or for profit!  These large companies do not tend to sell licenses or give permission to use their products.  They retain all rights.

I recently downloaded a free product a designer made using images that were obviously snagged from a web page.  I downloaded it because I wanted to see if she gave credit or had somehow gotten a license to use the images.  There was no mention that she was using copyrighted images, however, she did include her own TOU.  Among other things, she specified the items were for personal use only and to give HER credit if anything made using the product is used online or submitted to any publication.  Wow!  In case you're wondering, I deleted the product from my computer.  I don't support piracy!

Piracy is definitely a global problem.  The world wide web has broken down boundaries and made it so easy to steal other people's work.  I can only say, if you see designs that are obviously stolen, don't pretend it's okay, it's not. Don't excuse it by saying it's okay because it's free.  If the item were more tangible, a car for example, you probably, hopefully, wouldn't think it was okay to keep a stolen car.  Even if someone gave it to you!  Not only is it wrong, it's illegal to possess a stolen car.  The only one with any legal rights to the car is the car's owner.  

I define good character as doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Don't spoil your good character by stealing something simply because it's easy & no one is watching.  Don't support or defend people that do.  Some people try to make this a grey area but it's really quite clear.  Stealing is wrong and if you agree, then don't do it yourself!  Piracy is stealing.  Piracy is NOT okay!


Friday, 1 August 2014

Fill Your Text With an Image Using PaintShop Pro x6

by Yobeth Puckett

Have you thought of using areas of your photo or a favorite background paper to make a title for your page? Give your layout a custom look.  It's easy to do using the Text Tool in PaintShop Pro x6.  I've written a step by step tutorial if you'd like to try it. You'll find the tutorial here.



Go ahead and give it a try.  We'd love to see your layout on Divas Facebook group.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Now For The Things You Don't Want To Do With Shadows!

By Yobeth Puckett

A few days ago I posted an article about the top 5 things to do with shadows on your scrapbook page. Now for the flip side, is there anything you shouldn't do?  Well, I'm glad you asked!


Today I posted the other side of that coin.  The top things that you don't want to do with shadows on you layout.  I want to encourage you to use shadows because they truly add a lot to your designs.  

There really is a happy medium.  Like most areas of life, it's about balance. Skipping shadows all together is not good but floating around like a cloud in the sky is not good either.  You can read the entire post here.  Don't worry, it's not long but touches on the highlights.

The most important thing is to get scrapping.   As as absolute beginner every thing may seem insurmountable but practice makes perfect.  And with practice you'll discover your happy medium.  

Saturday, 12 July 2014

5 Things to Remember About Shadowing Your Layout

by Yobeth Puckett

One question that comes up a lot among scrappers is about adding shadows to your scrapbook page.  There are really no hard rules when it comes to scrapping but shadows can enhance your layout and make it look complete. 


I've written a short post that might be of interest to you.  It's about the 5 top things important to remember about shadowing.  You will find the full article here.

Although this not a post specific to any program I do have a tutorial on shadowing in My Memories Suite.  I believe it was written for version 4 but nothing changed with version 5 that applies to adding shadows.  The buttons appearance are different but the steps are the same.
You can find Shadows 101 tutorial here

I hope you find this information helpful.


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Plain or Fancy?

There's something to be said for simple pocket pages. On the other hand I like to throw stuff at the page! Let's do both then...

The colours in these photos were a tad retro since it was getting dark so I used the Becky Higgins' Digital Project Life Azure kit and changed the selfie pic to sepia. Here's the simple version:

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It would pass muster but let's throw stuff at it anyway ... (Click on it to see a bigger version)

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The seasidey bits are mostly from Creashens' Newport.

There's an article on simple v fancy on our main website HERE.

Let's do some recycling: same template, same kit, different photos. I love these photos of my Mum and Dad on their first trip abroad together in 1968. I even used their passport photos in it. Mum is doing her film star impression going up the steps of the plane.  I left the hotel postcard looking faded but brightened up the photos a little in Picmonkey.


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Monday, 5 May 2014

All Work and No Pay!

by Yobeth Puckett
How did the industry standard in the scrapbook world become getting people to do your work and not paying them?  It's not isolated either, I've seen it in many different areas.


My first experience working in the digital scrapping world was on CTs (creative teams).  This is basically a barter system.  When you work on a CT your purpose, at the very least, is to promote said designer's new release.  You get the kit before it's released, create a predetermined number of layouts within a few days then use them to promote the kit when it's released.  Then you're usually asked to post your layouts in 2-3 galleries. That's not a bad deal for the designer or the CT member.  But some designers require a lot more. Depending on the designer, you may also be asked to participate in forums, praise teams, on Facebook pages, on your own blog, host challenges, and even make products for the designer to give away free in stores, trains and hops.  Wow, now it's looking a little more like slave labor!



I've also "partnered" with some designers to make products they can sell in their stores. I've had good and bad experiences doing this.  The theory is when something you design with the kit sells you're paid a commission. This is a win/win unless you aren't paid the promised commission. This can amount to a sizable amount and is nothing short of theft!

Then you have affiliate programs where you partner with the software companies.  Typically you may provide product reviews, tutorials, giveaways and other promotions for the company on your blog and a link to their product's page.  If a customer follows this link and purchases the software, you receive a commission for advertising, promoting and selling their product. But not all companies are paying commissions as agreed.  They don't have good tracking and reporting systems in place which makes it easy for them. But when two or three people you know say they bought the software using your code but you're never paid, it's not good and reveals their actions.  Actually, it's theft!  And it's happened more than once.

It's ridiculous!  It's not good to base compensation on the honor system when there is no honor among thieves.

A Jewish friend once told me that when someone says "Trust me!" it's yiddish for screw you.  Sad but, in a lot of cases, true.  Like, you promote my software & get us sales & we'll compensate you, trust me! Or, use my product to design stuff I can sell & I'll compensate you, trust me!

I can't think of any other industry that could get away with not paying someone for their labor!  As a matter of fact, it's illegal and is the reason we have minimum wage and other laws in place to protect workers.

I'm currently working with a lady that produces training videos that is actually paying me to write the accompanying handbooks.  Plus, I get the training video which I would have to purchase otherwise.  AND, she pays me the same day I send her the handbook!




Saturday, 3 May 2014

Feel Free To Waste Our Valuable Time

So how does iNSD work when you run a digital scrapbooking store? It is, after all, a marketing event, let's be honest.  It's not rocket science. You get your designers to offer deals in the store and maybe grab bags. You offer generous freebies to your customers. Easy.

OR ....

You send them on a time wasting treasure hunt style blog train to collect letters where one of the designers has hidden the letter so well in a "start here - go there - come back here" blog post that it's impossible to find. I looked. Four times. So customers are understandably guessing that letter and it's wrong. They don't get the kit. They're annoyed. They complain on Facebook. What is the correct response to this in marketing terms?

1) Give out the code, or

2) (Better) Make the kit free for everyone.

Instead they are continuing to annoy people by ignoring them or saying "the code should work".

Customer service tip: When the customer has a problem you provide a solution to that problem, you don't tell the customer there is no problem. If you don't solve the customer's problem don't expect them to spend money in your store ever again. I can't believe I have to write this sort of thing. It's common sense.

iNSD is a busy time for scrappers. Some, allegedly, join in fun stuff. Those of us who run six Facebook groups are too busy looking after our members. And, no, we don't give out your precious codes, we provide a valuable service to stores by promoting their free deals and sending our members to the stores/blog/FB pages to get them. We don't have time for childish games and blog trains to nowhere.

Blog train tip: When you're running any blog train/Facebook hop check that it actually works. That the customer doesn't get stuck in a "Sign up for a newsletter. Confirm it. Get a link that goes to a 404 error page. Do not get link to next stop". How to kill it stone dead. How to ensure that person will immediately unsubscribe from your mailing list. Mailing list management is a big area where designers and stores get it wrong ... article to follow.

It really isn't hard and it comes down to respect for your valuable customers. They work hard in horrible jobs to pay for kits in your store so you don't have to work in those horrible jobs.

FOR GOODNESS' SAKE JUST GIVE THEM A FREE KIT!!!

Latest:
Apparently the treasure hunt store changed the code. It then didn't work  for those who had got it earlier. So they had to go through again and get another one. For once, words fail me.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Does My .... Look Big In This?

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Yes it does! Although that could be because my head is missing since the template division slices right through it.

Why do scrappers think this kind of thing is OK? People cut in half, limbs sliced off, Vincent Van Gogh impressions ... my friends and I call it the Eeek Factor.  I've even seen designers who think that spreading a photo across pockets in trendy manner is more important than not cutting members of  your family in half. Please don't do it!

There are tips in the article HERE on positioning your photo and choosing the right template - plus a tutorial on merging photo boxes in PSE.

Here's a version of the page (I have several, I'm so proud that DH has mastered the Walking Away shot) showing all of me plus some of the woods. You can click on it to see a larger version. The cards are from Becky Higgins Digital Project Life Coral kit and the template is Template B, the embellishments and background papers are from Trixie Scraps' Nature Walk.

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Maybe this photo shouldn't be split up at all. Here's a version of the page made with the same kit and a  template from a mystery best-thing-since-sliced-bread program I'll be reviewing in the next few days.

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Monday, 21 April 2014

Say it here and it comes out there ...

Do you ever find yourself yelling at the TV for someone to do or say something (usually in my case it's "For goodness' sake, object!" at a defence attorney), then they do it and you claim full credit? That's what happened to me and my friend Ruth Trice last week. Ruth is a very talented paper crafter who can do amazing things with all kinds of paper and stamps.  I'm complete rubbish with stamps but really wanted to include stamping in our tutorials and design ideas pages so I turned to Ruth for help.

Cue husband (well, probably both) wondering how two women can talk for hours about cards, pockets, stamps and the like. Since Ruth is an independent demonstrator for Stampin Up ! we talked about the kind if things she could make - and teach us about - with Stampin' Up products. [OK, they had their one ! after the Up and any more would have my English teacher, who wouldn't be keen on the loss of the g either, spinning in her grave ...] We'd both noticed the occasional pocket-y page layout and how Ruth was able to make the exact size 3 x 4 card with one of the products and wondered how long it would be before they offered more pocket scrapbooking products.

Then the announcement came about Stamping Up working with Becky Higgins to offer Project Life within Stampin Up. It was as if they'd heard us! It makes great sense for both companies and it's great for us! I'm coveting the new corner punch already as I like the fold flat Stampin' Up punches. There's one not even got across the Atlantic yet that has my name on it.

It's interesting that the Stampin Up cards are not going to have rounded corners. It made me wonder if Becky Higgins' company is going to offer an option of square corners at some stage. Folk who like rounded corners can make square corners rounded. Obviously. Those who like square cornered cards cannot do the reverse. There is therefore a section of the market lost to Becky Higgins and it's the people who don't like rounded corners. I would imagine someone has noticed this. Personally I like rounding corners, it's a relatively mindless but vaguely creative activity I can do in the wee small hours when sleep has gone walkabout.

Ruth and I are working on an ever increasing number of projects, including a gazillion ways to alter Project Life cards, but to whet your appetite here's a fabulous page she made using Stampin Up products. You can see more in our Facebook group and on Ruth's Facebook Page Artful Stampin.

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Did you know that Ruth has put together some great kits for you to get a head start on your pocket  pages? You can find them and see more of her creations on her blog HERE

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Eat More Ice Cream

Well, we could stop right there, with that instruction in the title!

On Shrove Tuesday we took about 100 photos of us making pancakes. Note to self: Must clean kitchen before taking photos in kitchen or it will be embarrassing. I couldn't resist giving this tub of ice cream its own page. I should pin it up in the kitchen as a reminder to get some more of it. I used mostly Just Jaimee's Ice Cream. The rosettes are from Sahlin Studio's Pure Happiness and I used a mask by Lindsay Jane. It didn't take me long to make the basic page but I kept tweaking it for ages moving the embellies around.

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 Here's a different version using the same kit:

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Those days when nothing happens

I like the idea of documenting our daily lives even though I don't do that PL thing as such. Week numbers?? You won't get anyone who has ever owned a timeshare wanting those on a page!

Some days nothing happens. As in this day when it took two attempts just to get out for a coffee (the UK sunk under all the rain this winter ...) I made a paper and digi version of this. As you can see, in the digi version stuff escaped and biscuits appeared. I used Raspberry Road's Coffee Shop. The February photo overlay is by Ali Edwards. I have SO many coffee kits and even have a Pinterest board about coffee. I should get out more. For coffee.

Click on the photos to see a larger version.

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We have so many coffee photos I had to do something different with some of them. here's a hybrid 4" x 6" where I used the photo and an embellishment cluster from ML Designs' Good Morning. I deliberately left some white space around it.   I like white space. Literally WHITE space. It makes the photos stand out. There's a Design Ideas article to follow on that very soon.
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