The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Digital Designer
Hello everyone, and welcome to the brand new “For Professional Eyes Only” column! A little about myself: My name is Grace Lee; I’ve been designing for a little short of 6 years, and I currently sell at Sweet Shoppe Designs. Every month, I will be sharing with you my experiences as a digital scrapbook designer. While it’s my first time writing a column like this, I do hope it’ll prove to be a good read.
For my very first topic, I’ve chosen to talk about the great and the not-so-great things about being a digital designer. I believe the question “Should I design my own kits?” has crossed the minds of many scrappers. If you’ve ever wondered about designing but are not sure what to expect, maybe the list below can help you make up your mind.
1. Getting Paid for Doing What You Love
Chances are, if you’re a regular scrapper, there are many aspects of designing that you’d love. Being creative. Making pretty things. Looking at patterns and current design trends all day. I truly love the process of putting a kit together and slowly seeing the vision in my mind come to life. And when people love your creations enough to buy them? Even better!
2. Having a Flexible Schedule
Like a lot of jobs that you can do from home, being a designer means you can sit in the comfort of your pajamas, munching on popcorn as you work on the computer (what I’m doing now!). You’re able to set your own pace and decide how often you release products. You can put aside work if there are other matters that require your attention. In a word, you are your own boss and you can set your own schedule as a designer.
3. Growing Your Skills
Your skills will grow once you get into designing. Whether it is working faster in Photoshop, learning other programs, trying your hand at making elements (that you later photograph and extract!), or training your eye to be more attuned to great color palettes, your creative skill set will inevitably expand when this becomes your job. I’ve had lots of opportunities to work with other designers over the years, from whom I’ve learned so much. When I look back on my designs a few years ago, I cringe… but I also appreciate the journey I’ve made from there to where I am now.
4. Helping Others With Their Memory-Keeping
This is perhaps my favorite part of being a designer: seeing my designs in use on other people’s layouts. It’s an amazing feeling – and humbling too – to think that someone has chosen my designs to be a part of their memory-keeping. As you grow as a designer, there will be more and more opportunities for you to share about this passion of yours, and that is pretty awesome as well.
1. You Won’t Get Paid a Lot
It’s sad but true. The market for digital scrapbook designs is very over-saturated. A lot of people already have more kits than they need. You can also find lots of freebies or even just images from Google. There are tons of kits that go for $1 or $2. Considering how much goes into making a kit, you’re really not being paid a lot for your time and effort. Plus, at least a portion of your income goes right back into buying commercial-use products, paying for your program, etc. For the first few years, designing was hardly worth my time. I stuck around because I love designing, but I think it is important to have a realistic picture before jumping right in.
2. It Requires a Lot of Discipline
There will be days you don’t feel inspired. There will be days you’d rather be reading than designing. There will be days you’re too busy or too tired, and the option to do it the next day sounds so tempting. However, all designers will tell you that having consistent new releases is key to becoming successful in this industry. Being a designer means you need to design not only when the mood strikes, but also when your creative juices have run out.
3. It Cuts into Your Scrapbooking Time
If scrapbooking is what got you interested in designing in the first place, it only makes sense that you keep doing it when you’re a designer, right? I believe scrapping is an important part of designing – to keep that passion going – and I try to scrap as much as I can. Unfortunately, being a designer means the time I have to scrap for myself is cut short. Photoshop feels like a work space for me and sometimes I feel guilty to be doing “fun” stuff in it. Other times I just don’t want to look at my computer screen anymore when I’m done designing. So, if scrapping is a big part of your life, you will need to consider how designing is going to affect that.
4. Being a Designer is More than Just Designing
Like all jobs, there are fun parts to being a designer, and there are some not-so-fun parts. Being a designer is more than just designing. It also entails a lot of administrative and marketing work, such as answering emails, previewing your kits, adding your products into the store, writing blog posts and newsletters, managing a creative team, and so on. Sometimes these feel like chores, but they do come with the job.
I hope this gives you a look into what it’s like to be a digital designer! There are definitely pros and cons to the job. At times it’s frustrating, but at times it’s so rewarding… it’s totally dependent on your hard work and drive. If there are designer topics you would like to hear about, or if you have any questions, just let me know in the comments!