Last month, two of my girlfriends approached me saying "I really want to start Project Life. All of your photos have inspired me to create my own album. Do you have any tips or suggestions for me?"
At this point I was wearing the biggest smile and doing a happy dance by myself. Heck yes! My friends are falling in love with Project Life and they wanted to know if I had any tips? Well.... I most certainly did! And for anybody else whose been thinking about starting Project Life, I wanted to share these tips for you too! (If you're interested.)
My Tips For Starting Project Life
1) Buy a combination of off brand + brand name items. Don't limit yourself to just the Becky Higgins Project Life brand when starting Project Life. While there are some items I just adore from her line, I'm also a loyal fan of other, smaller brands. My page protectors are almost always Becky Higgins and I have quite a few Project Life core kits. That being said, I don't know what I would do without all of my MAMBI pocket pages cards and I love how a lot of brand name products and "off brand" products blend seamlessly in my layouts. Bonus- smaller brand name products are usually a lot friendlier on the pocketbook! One brand name product I absolutely love- Project Life Core Kit - Midnight Edition
. One off brand product I equally love- Me & My Big Ideas Pocket Pages Themed Cards 3"X4" 72/Pkg-I Love Life
2) Buy in store not online, if possible. Seriously, homies. I bought from the Becky Higgins shop on Amazon once and wanted to slap myself silly two months later when all the pretty new kits I just bought were introduced to Hobby Lobby (a store I often frequent,) where I could have used a 40% off coupon. I could have gotton twice the amount of product for the same price if I had waited a little longer to shop in stores. Michael's, Hobby Lobby & Joann's all sell Project Life products. All three of these stores offer a daily 40% off one item coupons. Use that coupon and save a ton of money. (Plus, Joann's offers an additional 10% off coupon card for all college students- yahh!)
3) Exchange products and kits with friends. A core kit comes with more than 600 cards, with 10 of each 3x4 design. That's way too many for one person to use if you like variety and don't want to use the same cards in every layout. So invest in a core kit and trade 1/3 of your kit with a friend. Then repeat. The best ratio I've found is keeping 1/3 of my kit, and trading the other 2/3's for 1/3 of two other kits I don't already have. None of your "in real life" friends do Project Life? Instagram is the best place for meeting lovely ladies to exchange with. I've exchanged 6 times with ladies I met on Insta and they have all been so kind and generous. Try it out. You won't regret it.
4) Buy an at home photo printer. Seriously, this was the best decision I ever made for my memory keeping process. Not only am I saving a small amount of money in prints in the long run, but it has given me complete freedom over my process. I usually craft in the middle of the night. If I can't make it to the store a few days beforehand, or if the store prints my photos too dark or too red, or if I forgot to print a photo from last week- there's no need to completely stop and wait until I can get to store again to get the prints I want. I simply do it at home and continue working on my project. Paying $70 each time you need new ink (about every 3 months for me) is a little tough to swallow at first, but you learn to budget for it and you make peace when you realize you were spending $5 - $15 on prints at the store each week. And for me, the convenience of my at home printer more than made up for the cost. This is the one I have and I love it. It was really affordable + it can print larger photos if I want it to + it can print matte pictures- which is my jam. Matte finish all the way.
5) Free printables can be a waste of money. Beware fellow Pinterest lovers. Unless the free printables you find online are on a mostly white background with just a few words or small graphics on it, printing your own "freebies" at home or at the store will cost you way more than buying physical products will. It seems like a great idea but the truth is that the cost of ink usually isn't worth it. If you're going to start Project Life, be prepared to make a little bit of an investment to get started. If you're shopping in stores and using coupons (like me!) I would budget about $100 to get you off to a fabulous start. In my experience, I needed some variety to start off inspired and motivated. $100 (if using coupons) will get you a 3-ring album, a huge pack or two of page protectors, two Project Life core kits and a few off brand filler card packs.
6) Be patient. It can take a while to discover "your style." And making layouts that aren't your style can leave you feeling unmotivated and uninspired. Stick with it, try a variety of different styles and products and you'll know when you've found your style. It took me about 2 months to create a layout I was head over heels in love with and it took me about 6 months to truly discover what "my style" was (Bright and white with lots of floral prints, polka dots and stripes!) In the beginning, be patient if you aren't in love with what you're making- it's so worth the journey and process.
There you have it! My tips for those of you who may be thinking about starting Project Life. Is it any surprise that most of them were about saving money? A girl can be thrifty and fabulous! One thing I will say to end the post is that Project Life is an amazing way to document memories. I absolutely love the process, the products, the creative people in the community. If you love making and documenting memories, it is so worth every penny you invest.
So what about you? Are you thinking about starting Project Life?