Beating the Freebie “Gotta Have It All” Mentality

When we first start digital scrapbooking, many of us fall into the “Freebie Trap.”  You know the one I mean… right?  You get SO EXCITED that you finally actually figured out how to start using your software (let’s face it, this Photoshop business starts out looking like a menacing beast bearing its claws and fangs in all their glory if you don’t know what you’re doing) that you decide you need ALL THE THINGS to start playing with.  The only problem?  Well you can’t very well spend $100 a week of your carefully budgeted grocery money on scrapbooking supplies!  So you do what we all started out doing.  You open up google and type in those three tempting words: “Digital Scrapbook Freebies.”  And wowie wowza wow!  Look at all those tempting results!  Only 999,000 results to filter through!  Yep, totally have time for that! 😉

No, I’m kidding.  We DON’T actually have time for that.  But you know what the silly thing about it is??  We pretend like we do!  And we go through those blasted search results one site at a time and we download EVERY. SINGLE. FREEBIE.  Some are super dated and not up to speed on the current trends and capabilities of technology now available to digital designers.  Many are from new artists that are just trying to be discovered who haven’t been in the game quite long enough to snag a permanent gig at a big shop.  Many are great, gorgeous even!  But most (yes, MOST) are garbage.  Yep.  In the kindest way possible, G-A-R-B-A-G-E.  It’s not that they are not beautiful.  It’s not that the color palette doesn’t sweep you off of your feet.  It’s not that you didn’t fall in love with the cute little illustrations and the fancy schmancy word art.  The reason they are garbage my dear friend, is because you will not use 95% of what you spend hours, days even, downloading.


When I first started downloading freebies, I became obsessed with finding and keeping them all.  Now I started 5 years ago, and there were not near as many sites and freebies available then as there are now.  But I got on this website and I spent days downloading every kit that was on it.  The amount of time I spent downloading each kit, extracting it, and then sorting it into a file was insane.  At that time, I had even decided that I wanted copies of each element in its own specific folder according to the type of element it was.  Not only did I have a kit folder with every single piece, but I sorted through the kit and copied and pasted every single element into a corresponding folder.  So I copied all of the buttons to a button folder, the flowers to a flower folder, the papers to a paper folder, the ribbons to a ribbon folder…  EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE. was on my computer in two locations (because you know we all have space for that too!) so that when I really started scrapbooking, if I needed a button and the kit I was using wasn’t hacking it, then I could go to that button folder and find the most perfect button in the world ever without having to search through every kit.  Pure craziness!  Like I was seriously a digital scrapbooking beginner in need of freebie overload therapy.  Look at all of the folders I had sorted pieces out by:


I was so proud when I finally finished downloading all of those freebies.  I remember showing my husband how organized I was and how I had sorted everything into their own neat little folders.  I thought I was pretty glamorous! I was finally ready to begin scrapbooking now that I had downloaded and created an organized copy of nearly 100 GB of freebies onto my computer.  Yes!  I was ready!


So I opened up my pictures folder.  Where to start, where to start?  I found the perfect photo that I just had to scrap with and spent an hour selecting a kit from those 100 GB worth of freebies to start with.  The freebies were all pretty generic, so I was basically going off of color.  I started pulling things out to work with and realized that even though that freebie was packaged all up with a pretty preview, that it really wasn’t my style.  Try as I might, I was not feeling that red feather boa underneath my daughter’s 2 week old pictures.  The brass beads added nice contrast to the preview, but looked pretty “out there” on my page and really didn’t mesh well with the kit.  The plastic looking buttons that must have been created in Photoshop by a beginner, looked sooooo fake when I pulled them out in full resolution.  But oh well!  What the heck?!?  I mean they were after all, FREE!  So I kept plugging away and created my page.  I remember thinking, “Hmmmmm…  Not quite what I was hoping for, but it’s finished!”  Now I wish that I had a copy of that page to show you.  But I don’t.  You know why?  Because as I continued to scrap and my skills and tastes developed, I realized that I HATED that page.  And I deleted that sucker right off of my computer!  Couldn’t even find it on a hard drive.  I hated it that much.


All those days spent downloading freebies and sorting them.  All that lost time just kills me!  Especially because here now, years later, I look at those freebies and click delete without a second thought.  They are not me, not my style, not my scrappy personality.  They were a waste.  I don’t want you to make that same mistake!


So how can you beat the freebie “Gotta Have It All” mentality?  Here are 3 tips to help you overcome or avoid your freebie binge downloading habits:

Start at a Reputable Site

The problem with going to good old Google to start searching for freebies, is that you never know where you’re going to end up or what you’re gong to find there.  For example, I found this really fun paper pack through the top Pinterest hit Google gave me.  Super cute foil paper pack.  Sure, I’ll take it!  So I click on it and this is where it takes me:

Oh…  Is it the green download button?  Or the blue?  Or neither?  Because these sites offer FREE scrapbooking supplies, they have to sell advertisement space on their website to help cover their costs of doing business.  So those ads sneakily look like if you click on them, you’ll be getting what you want, but really, they’re taking you somewhere else, downloading some sort of weird unwanted program, and costing you time and unwanted hassle.  So even though you think the download should be easy and right there in your face, you have to search the site for a bit to find it:

Many of the free downloading sites will give you the runaround like this one does, so if you do decide to use them, pay attention to what you’re downloading.  Make sure you’re not going to be getting a virus or an unwanted program in the process.  So much time wasted, just searching for the actual download button.

Here are a few reputable digital scrapbooking stores with amazing designers that offer freebies from their designers right in their shoppe:

Sweet Shoppe Designs


The Lilypad


Please note, there are many other digital scrapbook design stores that house fantastic designers, but the aforementioned are the only ones I know of that offer freebies right from their shop.  I love when design sites offer freebies or samples of their designers’ works, because it’s easy to get a taste of what designer you jive with the best, without spending a penny, and knowing that you’ll be able to easily find more of what you love later when you’re ready to make digital scrapbook purchases a permanent part of your budget.  If you find a designer you really love, search the designer specifically.  They may very well have freebies available on their own personal blogs or websites!  Many of them do, but it would be impossible to list them all here.

Recognize the True Purpose of a Freebie

The true purpose of a freebie should be to give you a taste of what the designer has to offer in their products for sale at their shop.  They’re like samples at Costco or Sam’s Club.  If it looks enticing, you snag yourself a free sample.  If you love what you’re getting a taste of, then you buy the real deal for yourself to enjoy later.  A freebie has served it’s purpose if you loved it enough to spend money on whatever else the designer has to offer in the shop.  Think about it.  If a designer thinks their products aren’t worth anything and only gives them away for free, can they really be that great?  One or two products, sure!  But their entire product line shouldn’t be up for grabs.

Let’s be real here for a second.  Most hobbies aren’t free.  And if we enjoy them enough, we should be willing to put a little money into developing them.  So get your free samples, you bet, but don’t cut yourself short on the enjoyment and use purchasing a kit you LOVE can bring you.

Limit Yourself to Three downloads

When searching out those freebies, do yourself a favor.  Limit yourself to three, yes THREE downloads.  Find your favorite three freebies and download them.  My brain is telling me to only say one here, but my scrappy heart says to cut you a little slack and give you three.  Download them, organize them, and USE them.  Before you download another thing, USE what you’ve already taken the time to download.

After you use one, ask yourself a few questions.  Did you like the overall feel of the page you created?  Would you use the freebie again?  Was it easy to work with?  If you answered yes to each of those questions, then chances are, you’ll be interested in checking out more from that designer!  Google the specific designer to see if they offer any other freebies, or if they have a kit in their shoppe just calling your name.

If you didn’t love the freebie you chose, scrap it (pun intended) and go find another.  Just make sure that you use what you download first to avoid losing things you thought you would love in a file folder full of freebies.  Keep scrapping until you find a good fit.  Then you can search their shop to see what else might jump out at you.  You’ll be amazed at what these amazing designers can create week after week!

Trust me.  In the long run, you’ll be glad to spend $8 on a kit that you can use over and over again, instead of spending 100 hours downloading freebies that will eventually hit your recycle bin without ever being used.  Your time is valuable.  Use it wisely.  You’ll be glad you didn’t waste your time and effort on things you might eventually use.  Beat the freebie “gotta have it all” mentality and start smart freebie scrapping today.

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  • Renee T. July 31, 2017   Reply →

    I am surprised how rarely this is addressed. The same problem can occur with physical product as well. This, from the gal who still has a closet full of “vintage” ’90s Creative Memories supplies! I have different digital products on 2 separate PCs and a laptop running different scrapbooking software, and I now have gotten into app scrapping, and the creep is beginning to encroach on my portable devices as well. The main problem for me is that I have so much, I can never find what it is that I want when I actually need it. It is a constant struggle for me, not acquiring in advance of actually needing it. I am trying trying trying to limit myself to only downloading something when I am actually going to use it on a LO I am currently working on. So much better to spend the time getting the stories documented, than acquiring product! Thanks for the incentive to recommit to this strategy!

    • Liz Riekena July 31, 2017   Reply →

      Right there with you…. see my comment below.. a variation of yours… so far I have not loaded up the portable things with anything other than fun photo APPs… Liz

  • Kiana July 31, 2017   Reply →

    I am in total agreeance. I think this should be plastered all across digiscrap land…..this is on point!!!!!

  • Liz Riekena July 31, 2017   Reply →

    Great article… I have been doing Digi longer than you and never focused totally on Freebies, but I did break every kit apart and filed the pieces into folders, which I would use more if they were not so huge, that they take forever to open and scroll through… have not broken things down or filed in about 3 years, so now I can’t find anything!!! Not good either… there has to be a simple way of keeping track of what you buy , and where to find it… I do limit the number of sites I go to and the designers I use, which helps… Not quite so many places to look… and I keep telling myself I need to go kit by kit through my stash, scrap a page and move on to the next one.. After all there WAS a reason I chose to buy it! Hard to do that, with so many cool things new each week!

  • Donna P. July 31, 2017   Reply →

    I think we all started out the same way. I know I downloaded every freebie, too. Now that I’ve been doing this for 8 years, I can be picky about what freebies I download. I no longer feel the need to download every blog train or cluster frame or quick page, knowing that I will never use them. I also make sure that I go through all my kits and templates and do a pretty good purge every 6 months or so.

    • Liz Riekena July 31, 2017   Reply →

      That is what i need to do… but then the thought comes along that some day my style might change and I might need that… Purging is REALLY hard for me…

  • Gwen August 1, 2017   Reply →

    It is hard at first with any hobby that you are so excited about to deny the supplies, until you have a big enough stash. I did the same thing with every hobby I have ever been interested in.
    But, for myself, I don’t always use a whole kit together or at the same time, and it is easier for me to find what I want if I break apart my kits into specific categories.

  • Jenn August 1, 2017   Reply →

    This was so me in the beggining…I downloaded EVERYTHING I could get my hands on…and sad to say I used very little of it. These days it’s important to download what you like and would use. Great article.

  • Sheryl August 2, 2017   Reply →

    You are so talking about me when I started! I am actually purging files now to get rid of all the stuff I don’t use so that I can find things easier that I do want to work with. I’m not going to lie though, I am a digital content hoarder. We need a support group! haha!

  • Kelly Rinker August 7, 2017   Reply →

    OMG! YES, been there, done that and have been in the process of multiple purge sessions over the past several months. I have been digital since 2005 and did the same thing with copy and paste until I had up to 5 different duplicates of the same thing sometimes. This sounds like a “support group”! Now I have been trying to go through and keep only one copy of an item but I often have to modify the name so it’s searchable. Some designers do a great job of naming items in their kits and some don’t even bother at a minimal level. It’s frustrating and time-consuming but my hard drive is thanking me.

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