Jan 16, 2009

Will Digital Scrapbooking Follow the Same Unfortunate Path?

We're having a discussion at ScrapBiz right now about how to bring new scrapbookers into the industry. It's been the greatest challenge of our industry mostly because not too many people wanted to do the "dirty work" of marketing. So, we lived under the delusion that EVERYONE discovered our wonderful hobby by 2000 and then we just all moved forward into more complex techniques and a greater variety of albums, themes and sizes. Yet, as I wrote over a year ago, beginners are the heart beat of our industry.

Now, here we sit, 9 years later wondering where everyone is. I guess you could say we're suffering from heart failure. The average interest in a craft or hobby lasts about 7 years. Two years ago, we started bleeding customers who stopped scrapping or moved on to digital scrapping. We've picked up a few here and there but few businesses have had the courage to spend their marketing time and money on gathering in new scrappers.

Is digital scrapbooking walking that same path? In some ways, I think it is and in some ways, I think it might not be.

I see several places where you can take online classes or watch tutorials on how to digi scrap. That's a good thing. I liken that to the many basic classes stores offered in the early days. Nearly every store had a "scrapbooking 101" class that taught the basics of layout, color, photo cropping, tools, etc.

But, on the other hand, when I go to consumer message boards dedicated to digital scrapbooking and see someone wander in and ask about getting started, I see other digital scrappers tell them to go get Photoshop Elements to get started. That's not a beginner's program. When I suggest something REALLY simple like Scrapbook Max!, I will often get razzed for suggesting it and the original poster gets told again to go get a program that will probably just frustrate them in the end.

YOU might be able to do fantastic and magical things with PSE, but not everyone CAN (or even wants to). Much of the scrapbook universe does NOT alter their photos in PhotoShop. Most of us just slap them on the page. So, simplicity in putting them on the digital page is really what most of us want.

I went to a friend's house the other day to show her how to digi scrap. She has 4 kids and is ready to do at least SOME of her photos digitally. I showed her Scrapbook Max! and I showed her the program at PhotoBooks{etc}. Even those two options intimidated her. Just because she can use Facebook doesn't mean she's comfortable with all aspects of her computer. Is she being left in the dust by the digital industry? Perhaps. If she had asked about it at a consumer board instead of asking me, she would probably have gotten the PSE suggestion and would have never tried it.

So, if the digital scrapbook industry is smart, they will figure out how to continually invite new people to try digital scrapping without intimidation or the assumption that everyone's already doing it. Learn from our mistakes. I don't think we (the traditional industry) have.


Stacie said...

I agree 100%! I got PSE for CHristmas 3 years ago and never used it until I took Jessica Spragues on line class. It was super and I learned a lot but it would have been great to have someone sitting beside me holding my hand and screwing up while i did! I htink digi would be even bigger if people just new how to do it!

jeff said...


I agree with you. Personally I have used Photoshop since 95 so I know it well. But its not the option for me. Since I design digi kits and graphics I too have had friends who want to get started but don't know where to start. I take them a further step back than scrapmax. I recommend scrapblog which is online no downloads and its free. They offer free content, you can do photos or videos.

This lets the hectic newbies a chance to dip there toe.

Thanks for your time


Amy said...

This is why we have started running Photoshop elements classes at our store. So many people have the application but have no idea how to get started. We have an all day session that shows you how to edit your photos and make adjustments, and then we run shorter classes to show people how to start making digital pages with it. So far our customers have been REALLY plased with the classes, and have started to use PSE!