Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.
Expert scrapbookers may become industry workers, though some industry workers do not enter the industry as an expert. For example, one respondent became both a scrapbooker and an industry worker at the same time. She had seen a display by an Inspired Stories [pseudonym] consultant and decided she wanted to remove her photographs from magnetic albums and put them in scrapbooks. Once she realized how many albums she needed to complete the task she decided to become an Inspired Stories consultant to get the product at a discount. Here, an industry worker was not an expert scrapbooker when she entered the industry but later became an expert.
Many industry workers are already customers of the business where they begin working. One respondent became an independent consultant, because the consultant she bought from decided to leave the business. Not all industry workers jump right into industry work. Scrapbook industry workers who own a business typically do more research to develop their business before opening up shop. The owner of City Scrapbooks says that not doing their homework first was one reason many scrapbook stores are not successful. Industry workers who became business owners typically leave other careers or are looking to be self-employed rather than looking for an employee discount. The owner of Posh Scrapbook Supplies had a somewhat different trajectory into business ownership. She had been teaching classes at her local scrapbook store before moving across the country. Her students were disappointed to see her go (good scrapbook teachers often get a following of students who take their classes just because they are teaching it regardless of topic). She started an online kit club so that way she could still provide her students with a version of her class through the mail.
Several of my scrapbooking respondents are also industry workers to one degree or another. I did not always know they also work in the industry until some point during our interview. Overall, at least seven of my scrapbooking respondents also work in the industry. In most cases, I did not ask them about their work in the industry so all references to industry workers exclude these scrapbookers unless specifically noted. Generally, these respondents enter the industry for the discount (i.e., independent consultants), because they are asked to make a scrapbook for another person (i.e., freelance scrapbookers), or they had are asked to teach scrapbooking classes or join the design team at a local scrapbook store.
It is possible for an industry worker to earn a living at scrapbooking but this is rarely accomplished. Scrapbookers may become an independent consultant for the discount but find it difficult to make the minimum in sales and quickly leave the industry. Most industry workers work purely for commission as independent consultants or for roughly minimum wage as workers at local scrapbook stores. One respondent worked his way up from local scrapbook store worker, to member of a design team for a manufacturer, to eventually being employed full-time for a manufacturer of scrapbooking products. His story was the exception, not the rule. Most industry workers are only able to work in the industry because they either have other full-time jobs or partners that have incomes high enough to support their part-time work in the industry.
Most scrapbookers who want to earn money from scrapbooking want to do so as a scrapbooker rather than as a seller of scrapbooking supplies or educator about scrapbooking. A couple of respondents do some freelance scrapbooking. Their customers want a scrapbook for a particular event (e.g., wedding or recent death), do not have time to scrapbook but still want a scrapbook, or believe they are not creative enough to create a scrapbook themselves. Freelance scrapbookers can be paid very well for their work; they charge anywhere from $12-$20 per scrapbook page (not layout), which includes both parts and labor. A completed scrapbook album easily costs the customer several hundred if not thousands of dollars. Freelance scrapbookers, however, did not find as much pleasure in scrapbooking for others even when they are paid well for it because they are not using their own photographs or memories. The photographs and memories are what bring people to scrapbooking in the first place.
Do you work in the scrapbook industry and make a living at it? How? Comment below or join the conversation on facebook or twitter.
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