As a beginner scrapbooker, you’re probably overwhelmed with all the product and style choices. Should you pick an 8.5 x 11 album, or a 12 x 12? Do you print your photos yourself, or get them developed online? Should you use a glue stick or a tape runner? The options go on and on!

And while these are all very important elements of scrapbooking, there are some basic scrapbooking skills that can help you along the way. If you master these three items before you start adhering photos to your pages, you’ll enjoy the hobby even more:

1. Cropping photos. The idea of trimming your precious pictures may send shivers up your spine. But photos these days are cheap compared to what our parents paid, and what we may emotionally think of. Our parents often paid $20 or more to develop a roll of 36 pictures, half of which didn’t come out! Now, we can print and reprint for pennies a shot. And by cropping your photos, you’re focusing in on the elements of your pictures that are the most important and interesting. Don’t be afraid to take a paper trimmer (or pair of scissors) to your pictures to make them more focused and eye-catching. An added bonus: If your photos are smaller, you can fit more of them on the page!

2. Making decisions. Time and time again, I hear from scrapbookers that they agonize over every decision on their pages. Do they choose the polka dots or the stripes? Do they opt for three pictures or just two? Should they use red ribbon or orange, or no ribbon at all? Enough already, I say! When it comes to scrapbooking, there are no absolute “rights” and wrongs.” Instead, there’s only what is pleasing to YOUR eye. If you master the art of making decisions and moving on, you’ll get more scrapbook layouts done — and you’ll become a better scrapbooker, too. The more you do something, the easier it is.

3. Journaling. Journaling is tough, I’ll admit it — and I’m a professional journalist! Knowing what you want to say and how to say it can be one of the most difficult parts of any scrapbook page. If you’re not a natural writer blessed with the gift of written gab, I suggest you practice. Carry a notebook with you to record small snippets of conversation, thoughts that occur to you, quotes, and even song lyrics, all of which can provide context on your scrapbook page.

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