VirginiaLynne is mother of five who loves a bargain. She extensively researches the products she reviews to help other families.
Hands down, the best digital scrapbooking site is Scrapgirls. Not only do they have top-notch quality digital papers, embellishments, styles, templates, pages and even kits available, they offer a daily newsletter which always has at least one freebie.
- Daily Freebie: The week's freebies can also be found on the website. Be careful though because freebies are generally only available for a short time. However, the free E-Book for getting started in digital scrapbooking is always available along with one excellent kit which gives you all the digital papers, embellishments, and alphas to make your first layouts (what I used in my first layouts!).
- Tutoring in Digital Scrapbooking: Each newsletter gives some tips for how to do digital scrapbooking. Moreover, they have a great online University and tutorials to help you learn how to digitally scrapbook and continually learn new techniques. Recently, they have included a short tutorial in most of their newsletters too.
- Fabulous Sample Scrapbook Pages: If you love scrapbooking magazines, then you will love the daily Scrapgirls newsletter which gives many examples of digital scrapbooking pages in many different styles. They provide product links at the bottom of the examples which is generally the easiest way to find products you like.,
- High-Quality Scrapbooking Commercial Products: For people who want to do scrap-for-hire, Scrapgirls also offers a limited selection of products that you are welcome to use to make layouts that you sell to other people.
- Social Media Site: As a full-service site, Scrapgirls has a gallery, an online forum and many contests, chats and scrap events. It is also a site which gives life encouragement and inspiration. Even if you are not interested in digital scrapbooking, you may enjoy reading the daily newsletter and getting inspiration from looking at the great layouts. Any serious scrapper, digital or not, should sign up for the Scrapgirls daily newsletter and enjoy the great layouts as well as this online community of people dedicated to sharing their lives through scrap art.
My Memories has a great variety of free items from a variety of different scrap artists. This site features a lot of different digital artists, so the kits offered are in different styles from shabby, to classic, to industrial. Most artists on the site offer free kits as samples of their work, hoping you will like them and come back to purchase more.
- PU: personal use
- S4H: scrap for hire use
- CU: commercial use
I downloaded a beautiful quick page by Shabby Designs and some cute Homestyle Word Art by Elizabeth's Market Cross. On the site you can search by:
- Type (Templates, Paper, Quick page, Layout, etc.)
- Category (Animals, Birthdays, Celebrations, Family, etc.)
- Designer (over 150 designers!)
Lots of Freebies!: Last time I visited, I saw that they had over 200 freebies available to download and you can find these by just clicking "free kits" under "shop." I really like the fact that some of the kits are for specific topics. I have some graduations coming up, so I'm planning to download the "For Graduates" kit by StoryRock!
Kate Hadfield Designs
Kate Hadfield Designs is a new site for me. I really like "The Beginner's Guide to Digital Scrapbooking" explanation of how to get started with digital scrapbooking, which includes lots of links and explanations about the different software you can use including some freeware. She also gives links for phone scrapbooking and video tutorials. Along with giving some links to classes you can pay for, she also has a variety of free links (my favorite of course!) for videos, kits, and scrapbooking styles.
Freebies: Of course, the most important part of the site is the Kate Hadfield Free Goodies page, which does offer some really cute coloring pages for kids (or adults!), along with some cute free printables like bag toppers, bookmarks and party decorations. There are also a variety of digital scrapbooking goodies, including some really nice alpha sets, whimsical embellishments, journal cards for pocket scrapbooking pages, and 60 free scrapbooking templates. The style of this site is more for family or kid's pages, but I like the fact that these freebies can be used by teachers or in school pages as well as for a scrapbook. More are available if you become a subscriber by signing up for the mailing list.
Sweet Shoppe Designs
I discovered the great freebies on Sweet Shoppe Designs when I was looking for some tutorials. Although this site doesn't offer as many freebies as some of the others (I counted 24 kits on a recent visit), they do offer quality.
Tutorials: You might want to check out the tutorials on this site along with picking up some of these trendy free papers and sets. They have some really interesting topics that are explained very well. I like the fact that there are a lot of different teachers for the tutorials and each one has something different to explain. I learned a lot from the "Art Journaling" and "Recoloring" tutorials, but you might also be interested in "Templates," "Shadowing, "Photo Editing," and "Layering." There are lots more too!
Freebies: To find the freebies, go to the very end of the "Categories" list and click on "Free Samples." I especially like "a little bit of crazy" because of the stars and the squiggle papers that could be used in lots of designs. Another favorite of mine is "celebrate life" because I really like the theme as well as the nice color combination of sage, mustard, and peach. Finally, I can't help but love the "Spring Party" set because of the beautiful shabby papers, especially the newspaper with the yellow paint stamps. Warning: they suggest that you purchase the freebies (for $0) separately from a paid order in order not to cause a problem with your credit card or Paypal.
Variety of Samples from Designers: I think the 30+ design teams on Sweet Shoppe are some of the most professional I've seen, and the freebies are offered by different designers. I really appreciate it when designers let me try out their work before deciding if I want to purchase a bigger set. Many of the freebies have a link to a coordinating set you can purchase to go with them.
A final site that I use is Smilebox. While you need to pay a fee to download and print, you can make online books for free. The best part about this site is that it is dead easy to do. So easy that my girls were able to use it when they were in elementary school. Since it was free, I let them make as many books as they wanted for things like:
- My favorite dolls.
- Me and my dog.
- Best friends.
- My art projects.
Best of all is that working on their own books helped them to appreciate mine and also kept them busy while I was working on my scrapbooking. Smilebox offers some beautiful scrapbooks that you can turn into an album in just a few minutes. You can make digital albums which include music too. They are free to make and send digitally, but you need to pay a monthly ($3.99) or yearly ($47) fee to join "Club Smilebox" in order to download and print them.
The fee can be worth it if you are doing a lot of books or if you don't want to spend much time making up your own pages. One tip is that you can have a 7 day free trial of the paid subscription. If you make a lot of books before the free trial, you can then download them and print them during that 7 day period.
Free Pretty Things For You
Although I did not like the advertising on this site that popped up at me when I logged on, I really love the images, paper, fonts and clipart available on Free Pretty Things for You.
I'm addicted to beautiful papers and especially liked the "Free Romantic Rose" papers and "Lemon and Flower" papers. I found it helpful that you can quickly find what you need by topic:
- Free images
- Scrapbook paper
- Free fonts (lots of beautiful fonts!)
- Planner addict (art, fonts, covers, and stickers)
- Vintage Clipart
While I don't keep a digital planner, I know a lot of people who do, and that part of the site is a nice addition to my free stash since a lot of planner art works on pages too. I especially liked the "Free Critter Autumn Planner Stickers" which have a cute hedgehog, squirrel, owl, and mushroom.
Limited-Time Offers: One thing to look for is the "limited time offers" that are highlighted as specials. Some of the downloads link to other sites and one that I was interested in "12 Days of Christmas Fonts" was not available anymore. However, another font I liked "Free Presty" was quick to download right away.
Why Go Digital?
Save space and money. One of the best parts of scrapbooking is shopping for supplies! In fact, I have a lot of traditional paper scrapbooking friends who have gathered hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of scrapbooking paper, embellishments, alphabet stickers, stamps and more.
Safety of Memories: I've been scrapbooking since my son was born in 1997, so I've amassed a good amount of traditional supplies and managed to create a huge number of large 12 x 12 traditional paper scrapbooks. The space required to store all of these, along with the problem that these priceless artworks and memories can't be replicated made me move to digital.
Cheap Ways to Share Your Work
Share Digitally or look for Deals to Print. Especially when I saw the great deals at Shutterfly and Winkflash for photo books, I realized I could save a lot of money by printing my books there rather than having to print photos, buy supplies and also buy scrapbooks to put the finished pages in. However, I wondered whether I could afford to shop for a whole new set of supplies.
Free Supplies: Luckily, my search online led me to realize that I could collect digital scrapbooking elements for free all over the place! In fact, one of the best parts about digital scrapbooking is that when I don't have time to actually scrap, I can get a quick "fix" by just browsing for supplies and downloading them for free, rather than going to the store and spending money on supplies I didn't really have time to use.
If those free supplies end up not getting put into layouts, I'm only out a few minutes of my time. Those mountains of traditional supplies add up not only in money lost but also cabinet space. I've been happily digitally scrapping now for five years and know I won't go back to 12 x 12 traditional books again.
Try Digi Scrap!
As you can see, the possibility of getting freebies for digital scrapbooking is almost endless. I gathered such an immense collection of supplies that I began to have trouble finding what I wanted and finally spent some time getting rid of supplies I wasn't really using. So have some fun visiting sites, gathering supplies for free and enjoying this addicting hobby!
Do you have a favorite digital scrapbooking site I haven't listed? Please share in the comments below!
Questions & Answers
Question: I am going through a divorce and need to make copies of the scrapbooks I have created. Is there a good way to scan 12x12 scrapbook pages with embellishments and upload them to create digital albums from the scanned/uploaded album pages?
Answer: Probably the easiest way to do this is with a good digital camera and tripod. You would need to get good natural lighting, take the pages out of plastic, and make sure that the lighting does not create halos or shadows. If your camera allows you to do square photos, that makes it easier, if not, you can crop with either your photo software or the online website's software. Shutterfly is my favorite site for uploading these sorts of books.
Question: I just realized CTMH’s Studio J is no more, and I am completely bummed. Not only because I had pre-purchased layout credits I never used, but also because I don’t know if another site makes custom 12x12 digital pages that can be printed on 12x12 scrapbook quality photo paper, and then added to top-loading albums. Do you have any suggestions for that software or service?
Answer: I have not been using top loading albums for a while because I have switched to making bound scrapbooks. I generally use Shutterfly for that, and they do offer 12 by 12 books which you can upload with your own pages. I just checked, and it turns out that they also offer prints of scrapbook pages, so that would probably be my first suggestion. I do know they usually deliver quality things and often have coupons and sales. Additionally, I did find another place you can have 12 by 12-inch prints made. I don't have any personal experience with them, but they might be worth a try. It is called "Presto Photo."
Question: I just tried Smilebox. Although it was easy to use, it does not have many options for personalization, at least not in the free version. Are there more options in the paid version?
Answer: I agree. Smilebox is easy but is rather limited when it comes to personalization options. I use it for quick projects, but if I want something more special, I usually go with Shutterfly. The paid version of Smilebox is somewhat better but won't give you as many options as Shutterfly. What I like best about Smilebox is the fact that I can create a quick slideshow that I can send to people.
Question: I love digital scrapbooking for the same reasons you do. What do I do with all the thousands of items I've amassed from paper scrapbooking? Do you do hybrid pages? Is that even a thing?
Answer: What a great question! Hybrid pages are definitely a thing that many people do. You can create the digital pages, print them out, and then add embellishments. Another thing I've done is to make smaller paper scrapbooks. I have many, many large 12" x 12" books, which were the gold standard for scrapbooking when I was heavily involved in doing paper scrapbooking. However, I do find those books rather heavy and I'm not sure my digitally inclined children are really going to want to haul those around forever. Moreover, I did get a little bored doing them because it was hard to do something new. So now I tend to make smaller books as gifts for special occasions. I like to make my own books and be creative. I've made paper bag scrapbooks, License plate scrapbooks, envelope scrapbooks, matchbook scrapbooks, fan-folded books, and many others. You can find lots of instructions for these and I have some on my site. More recently, I've started making all of my own cards using my scrapbooking materials. I also make my own envelopes. You can buy templates, but it is also easy to just open up an envelope that fits your card and trace around it. Then you can decorate the envelope to match the card. It is a fun project and a way to make a very personal gift!
Question: I have created 12"x12" paper pages. I have scanned them with my flatbed, wide-format scanner. I'd like to be able to put all the scanned images in an online album (not necessarily to be printed) so that I can share the album with relatives who can't travel to see the physical albums. I'd like to be able to place/upload that online album on my own website for relatives to look at. Do you know of any site that will allow me to do such a thing?
Answer: You should be able to do that at Shutterfly. In fact, Shutterfly has a "share site" option that lets a group of people share the pictures they have taken, and books they have created, and because Shutterfly does offer 12x12 albums, it is easy to upload yours and then share it.
JDurfee on December 13, 2019:
I'm looking for easy, customizable - but lots of easy templates, an online program so several people can contribute to the same book (and so Mac or PC is OK), and that I can take the product and print other places cheaper.....thoughts?
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 20, 2017:
Hi, Cadence! Smilebox lets you put in videos, or it did the last time I was looking at it. I don't know about other sites that allow it, but maybe other readers can chime in. I do know that Shutterfly lets you create a "share" site where you can upload books, photos and under 15-minute videos. Anyone on your share group can add things to the site, which makes it nice for families or groups with a common interest.
Cadence on August 20, 2017:
Thank you for this review! I was wondering, are there any scrapbooking sites that will allow me to put videos in? I have quite a few of special moments, and I'd love to have them in a digital scrapbook too. Thank you for your time!
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on May 17, 2017:
Thanks Marie--that is good information.
Marie on May 17, 2017:
ScrapbookMembers.com has a nice paid digital scrapbook membership area. They offer digital scrap kits, commercial use designer tools and much more for just $10 dollars a month.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on March 10, 2017:
Hi, Laura--absolutely. I have done this myself. I use Shutterfly because although most of their albums are pre-made templates, they also have an option that lets you upload your own pages. They do have 12x 12 albums and also 8x8 squares. I often actually do 8x8 because they are easier to view. Another way I have done this on other sites is to just choose the "full page" option for a photo and then put a JPEG of my page.
Laura Provost on March 10, 2017:
Hi. I'm still so confused. Maybe you can help. ...I want to digitally make all my 12x 12 pages, but then print them to put in my albums. Are these sights good for that?
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 22, 2016:
I have not used SnapFish recently for printing. Generally, if a service doesn't have a format specifically for digital scrapbooking, you can choose any square shaped book and use the "blank page" or "one photo" template to fill in with your scrapbooking pages. I did that before photo printing services had digital scrapbooking formats. If you want to create single pages to put into a scrapbook, you can either use a square photo (if they have one) or print your square scrapbooking on a rectangular photo and cut it out, or make your scrapbooking on rectangular pages. Good luck!
Marsha on August 21, 2016:
I want to create using digital patterns and have them printed using snap fish.
Aussie on July 18, 2016:
You should also look up www.craftcrave.com for daily digital scrapbooking freebies as well as other types of free craft items
Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on July 23, 2014:
You have written an awesome hub for scrapbookers. I have worked with two of the ones you mentioned. I look forward to looking at the rest.
Lisa Bowman on February 04, 2014:
I have to say that some of the best designers I have ever worked with are at http://www.e-scapeandscrap.net/boutique/ They have a store, gallery, blog, and are also on Facebook and Twitter. It is a nice sized store, and offer a variety of different styles. There are items for profession photographers, as well as commercial use items and scrap-4-hire items as well.... AND Freebies. Stop by when you have a chance and look it over
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 18, 2012:
Thanks RTalloni--I have been so busy writing on my Hubs that I've not scrapbooked much recently, so I need to get back to that too!
RTalloni on October 18, 2012:
Thanks for sharing what you've learned about digital scrap booking and including these links of the 5 best! I've never taken the time for much traditional scrap booking, nor have I wanted to do the research on digi scrapping, but now... :) I plan to soon look closer at your Smilebox hubs.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on June 09, 2011:
If you don't like making your own layouts (too time consuming ect.) then Smilebox is great. I have a couple of hubs about how to use those. I love doing the full-out scrapbooking but I don't always have time--and I do want my family to see those pictures! So I use smilebox and the quick books at Shutterfly.
ameliejan from Alicante, Spain on June 08, 2011:
This is really interesting. I really appreciate scrapbooks but can never come up with creative layouts myself. There are some beauties, though.