How to Get Started in Digital DesignSeptember 16th, 2010 | Posted by in Articles
I was so very excited to be invited to be a guest on the Paperclipping Digi Show this week!
I just love the show and it’s so incredibly fun to get to be a part of it, too! You can listen to the show either by subscribing on iTunes or here on the site: PDS016 – And Then a Dog Barked
The topic was all about what it takes to be a digital scrapbooking designer: How to get started, how to be successful, how to stick with it. Plus—best of all—this week, I got to be on the show with one of my bestest digi friends, the fabulous Flergs! Be sure to take a listen. The show was great! Not only will you hear some sound advice, you will also be thoroughly entertained with our goofiness! Due to the different times zones we all live in, we recorded later in the day. It was about 11 p.m. for me. We were a little punchy, I think. Made for some good times!
I think Megs and I were a rather serendipitous choice for Steph. She didn’t know that Megs and I have been friends since before we started selling our designs and we were actually part of a group of girls who helped each other learn and grow along the way (that was The Sunshine Girls, if you remember from our freebie collab days).
We had a lot to share. So much so, in fact—my brain is still full of thoughts and ideas all about this topic! So, I thought “Maybe I should write a little bit about this on my blog!” I’ve heard people say that this sort of information is hard to find. Well, I don’t mind sharing! That’s the spirit of the internet, isn’t it? Sharing information, talking all about what we love… so let’s talk a little bit about how to get started in digital design! I have so much to say, I’ve actually planned out this little series in five parts!
If you are just landing on my blog for the first time and you wonder who the heck I am (and how I got to be so opinionated!), let me give you a little background info on myself! You can find my bio here: About Me. There’s a little bit of my story there all about how I got started with digital design.
And in addition to designing two lines of products myself, in February of 2009, I became the owner of The Digichick (a digital scrapbooking boutique with over 30 other designers). I’ve read lots of things. I’ve seen lots of things. By trial and error, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. And I’m happy to share some of that with you! So, let’s get to it, shall we?
How to Get Started in Digital Design – Part 1: Passion
You’ve Got to Have Passion
Simply stated, more than anything else you have to have been “bitten by the bug.”
If you’ve stumbled upon the world of digital scrapbooking and you’ve fallen in love, that’s a good sign. If you find you have a nagging voice inside your head that’s telling you that you think you can do this, that’s even better! Now, you have to ask yourself: “How good am I with sticking with something? How committed to this am I?”
Love What you Do… or Don’t Bother!
The reality for me is that I’ve been at this for over three years now and I still don’t feel like I am at the place I want to be with my designs.
In that time, I’ve learned a ton about Photoshop. But I still have a hard time translating the things I see in my mind to the computer. My creative process is a bit like wrestling with myself… LOL! But everyday, I wake up thinking “Gosh, I love what I do!” I’ll be going about my morning, having a bit of breakfast, and I’ll suddenly have an idea and an itch to get into Photoshop as soon as I can.
It’s my passion that keeps me going. You have to love design.
Pennies on the Dollar
You can’t do this for the money. Mainly, because there is not a lot of money to be had in this industry!
If you are good at this—if you have an eye for color and are handy with Photoshop—designing can make for a great supplemental income for your family. You can pay a few bills on the side with your earnings, which is wonderful if you are a stay-at-home mom. But the market demands that our prices be pretty low. To turn a big profit on $5 and $6 items, you have to sell a ton of product.
The truth is that there are so many factors that play in to how successful you may be in the industry, you rarely hit the volume of sales you need to see a good return on such a low price. You might have a great kit all about a certain season (like Christmas) or a theme (like Back to School) and you might look at your work and feel very proud of it because you did a great job. But when you put it out there for sale, it has to compete against so many other designer’s kits that are already on the market… your kit will be like a little ship adrift on a vast sea! You have to really love sailing to have the determination to make it through those rough waters and enjoy the challenge of just doing it.
So, ask yourself “Do I think I have it in me to stick it out for the next year before people even notice me?” Because it might take that long! If you really love designing, you’ll feel compelled to do it, even if the light at the end of the tunnel is very far off.
What You Put Out There is Transparent
Another common problem with just churning something out to make money off of it is that it will show in your designs. Maybe there’s a lack of imagination in the colors you picked. Maybe you used a ton of recolored designer tools (which we commonly call “Commercial Use” items or “CU”; things like patterned overlays, silk flowers, ribbons and vector shapes) straight out of the box—you didn’t do anything to make them your own or creatively alter them. Or maybe you only have a small handful of items in your kit because you felt like you need to hurry and get it out on the market because “it was overdue!”
Sure, we are all very busy and it’s easy to blow right past a deadline—I’m not saying that you aren’t a good designer if you find you frequently run out of time! That’s a matter of planning and having life get in your way. This is a question of where your heart is.
Which comes first in your mind? Are you saying “Wow! I love this. I want to learn about it! And how cool—I could also sell my things!” or are you saying “Wow! I could make a ton of money here with very little effort. Awesome!”
We aren’t stupid. We can see that in your work! If you have been designing for a while and you wonder why your designs aren’t selling, it’s time to be brutally honest with yourself and ask the tough questions! One of the first questions to ask yourself is where’s your heart at now? Do you even like digital scrapbooking anymore?
And if you’re new and green and all full of excitement, just know that it is a long road that is ahead of you. But if you know that you do have a passion for design, you’re probably going to make it—and have lots of fun along the way! So don’t sweat it. You’re on the right track.
Now, what else do you need? We’ll see you tomorrow for Part 2: Ability.