Scrapbook Hobby Could Make You an Entrepreneur

By: Gail Metcalf

Product Designer/Manufacturer

Many scrapbooking products were designed by scrapbook enthusiasts, who saw the need for a product and filled it. Product designers can either license their idea to a larger manufacturer or take the plunge and start their own company!

Success stories abound in this industry about people who went from an idea to a multi-product corporation. And if you’re the next success story, prepare for profits! Of course, going it alone also means an investment of time and money, so be sure you have both before starting your company.

What types of qualities does a product designer need? Above all, creativity is the best thing you can offer. Perhaps you’ve come up with an excellent new die cut. How about inventing a new pair of decorative scissors? When you’re a product designer, literally anything is possible.

You need to find a niche that hasn’t been filled. Then do product research. See if your idea is feasible and what kind of investment you’ll need to make in order to bring it to reality. Use the library or Internet to locate information about your product. While conducting your research, you'll notice that products with a good reputation or success story are easily located. That's because companies who've had success with a product are not afraid to boast about it.

Rely on your experience. All great success stories begin with a person that has knowledge or a great interest in the product they're selling. Is the product interesting to you? Will you use it on a continuing basis? What is the life expectancy of the product? Do you know people that are familiar with the product?

Contact a scrapbook supplier and tell them about your idea. See if they think it has marketable potential. A word of caution here – don’t be too specific about your new idea. You don’t want to risk someone “honing in” on your new invention.

However, an informed opinion about the product's potential in the marketplace and value is possible after you have gathered all the information possible. All you really need to know now is if there is a real need for this product in the marketplace so do not rush into making a decision prior to bringing all of your tools to bear analyzing the item.

Scrapbooking “Expert”

Scrapbook enthusiasts who get published in the major magazines and idea books sometimes develop a “fan club” of other scrapbookers. That fame can sometimes be translated into connections with manufacturers to teach nationally or design products, retailers as “celebrity” guests, and other industry opportunities. So go ahead, submit your pages!

This is akin to being a freelance writer. If you think you’ve created an especially beautiful page, send a picture to a scrapbooking magazine. If they publish it, you’ve made it! If they don’t, keep trying.

Start out by subscribing to at least four of the major scrapbooking magazines. Some to consider would be:

• Creating Keepsakes
• Memory Makers
• Simple Scrapbooks
• Paper Kuts
• Paper Crafts
• Your Creative Spirit
• Scrapbooks Etc.

When submitting your pages, you have two options. You can scan your layout and submit it through e-mail or you can make a color copy and send it through “snail mail”. If you make copies to send, your costs can add up, especially if you're submitting to multiple magazines. Email might be your best option,

With each layout submission, you'll need to include your name, address, phone number, email, and supply list. The supply list is important, as magazines will not publish your layout without one. If you're working on a layout you think you'll want to submit, keep track of what supplies you use and the manufacturer of each one. Be as detailed as you can!

You can submit the same layout to every magazine, but be aware that when one magazine publishes your layout, other magazines won't use the same one. If you decide to submit, it's also a good idea to take those layouts off of the popular Web sites, such as

Magazines typically keep layouts on file and will ask for them when the need arises for a layout like yours. You might be contacted months down the line, so try and be patient. Sometimes the magazines will say what types of layouts they're looking for in advance. Check the magazines and their Web sites. Remember that most magazines are working on issues that won't be out for months, so your Kwanzaa page may be accepted in the summer.

Just do it! I've heard from so many scrapbookers that they haven't been published, but they "haven't submitted as much as they should." Write it on your To-Do list! Schedule a time to submit your layouts on a regular basis. It may seem elusive, but consider that the magazines need to fill space with as many excellent layouts as they can. So keep submitting!

If you are going to be published, the excitement will be great the day you get the call! Be ready for some down time while you wait for the issue to come out, and then it's excitement time again! You'll usually get your layout back when the next issue of the magazine is published.

If more than one magazine chooses to publish a layout, you'll need to tell the other magazines that unfortunately, another magazine contacted you first.

Some magazines pay with product and others with cash. But the opportunity to put "published designer" after your name is priceless! Good luck!

Set up your own website and publish your amazing pages on there. Offer up complete instructions on how people can re-create those pages for a small fee. Then watch your sales soar!

Once you've established a "name" by being published, you can approach manufacturers (or they might approach you first!) about teaching for them at national conventions and trade shows. That "name" might also unlock the door to getting your own product ideas and designs licensed to a large manufacturer.

Retailers can advertise the fact that they, or staff members and instructors, are "published designers." There is much power behind those words! Scrapbookers want to learn from the best, and some aspire (even in their own minds) to be the best – and what better way than to hang out with the "stars" and hope some of it rubs off!

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