When it comes to scrapbooking, few things do more to keep the creative juices flowing than sharing our creations with others. After all, the reason most of us spend the time we do to create all of these pages and albums is to make sure our stories and experiences find an audience and a memory outside ourselves.
And one of the easiest and most fulfilling ways we share is by posting our layouts in our favorite online galleries.
Few things make me want to scrapbook more than the thought of sharing my layouts in the gallery. There’s just something about seeing that nice big image displayed alongside everyone else’s pages that makes me smile. And fueling that fire are the nice comments left by other scrapbookers in the hours and days that follow, validating me as a scrapbooker and helping me to feel that I have been seen, heard and maybe even understood.
As first a scrapbooker, and now also as the owner of an online scrapbook-related business, I have noticed there is an often unwritten etiquette to being a welcomed and valued member of the online scrapbooking community, particularly when it comes to site galleries. But I’ve also noticed that it sometimes takes a while before newcomers catch on to these commonly accepted and expected standards of gallery behavior.
So today I thought I’d take a few minutes to share what I’ve learned in hopes of helping fellow scrapbookers make the most of what the gallery experience has to offer.
When it comes to playing nice in our favorite online galleries, just think about the advice our mothers gave us …
1. Play by the rules. Every gallery has its own set of rules which you generally have to agree to in order to become a registered user with uploading and commenting privileges. The rules typically spell out what can and cannot be included in your image descriptions (such as whether you are allowed to link to outside stores and Web sites), file size requirements, daily upload limits, and whether you are allowed to post layouts created with products purchased outside that specific site’s store. Follow the rules out of respect for all of your fellow scrapbookers, as well as to avoid annoying the site administrator.
2. Give credit where credit is due. Product designers deserve to be acknowledged when you post a layout that includes their items, including templates as well as all papers, elements, alphas, fonts, etc.The same holds true when you “lift” the design of another scrapbooker or when your page is inspired by a particular book, Web challenge or other source. By providing such information you are not only showing your support and respect for these designers and authors, you are helping your fellow scrapbookers find new sources of inspiration and resources.
3. Do unto others… If you like to receive nice comments on the layouts you post (and who doesn’t?), then take a little time to return the favor in the galleries you frequent. It doesn’t take long for fellow scrapbookers to recognize “hit-and-run” posting, which nearly always means the layout is there just to sell a product or that the person is much more interested in receiving than in giving, neither of which will earn you much love from your fellow scrapbookers. This is especially true for galleries supported by specific stores, as opposed to the open galleries that are not connected with any one particular retailer.
4. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Most scrapbookers practice this art because they enjoy it, not because they’re looking to have their pages picked apart. Unless someone specifically asks for constructive criticism, it’s best to leave only positive, encouraging comments in the gallery. Even if they do suggest they are open to critiques, it’s wise to think twice before saying too much … and then only through a private message. The same holds true for typos and other little mistakes. No one likes to have their weaknesses pointed out in public.
5. Quality over quantity. When it comes to gallery comments, more is not necessarily better. If you’re going to take the time to leave a comment, say something that shows you actually looked at the layout and found something to appreciate. A handful of sincere messages is much more meaningful to the page artist than a big, long list of comments that look exactly the same as those on every other page in the gallery.
6. Do a little more than is expected. While you certainly are not required to include the text of your journaling in your layout description, it sure does make it easier for your friends to really appreciate and enjoy your page if you do. This is particularly true if your journaling is lengthy or in a size that is difficult to read on a computer monitor.
7. No trespassing. If you are posting a page in a gallery owned by a site that sells scrapbooking products, it is generally a good idea to limit your posting to pages that are created mostly, if not entirely, with products purchased from that site. Some sites require this, but this is a good rule of thumb even for those sites that do not. The exception is a gallery that is truly an “open” gallery, in which case this will usually be made known in the site’s policies. Remember, it is often product sales that make it possible for a site’s gallery to exist. It’s poor form to make a habit of posting pages using products sold by that site’s competitors unless such a practice is specifically allowed on that site.
8. Say thank you. One of the best ways to show your support and appreciation for your favorite product designers is to share the pages you create using their products in the galleries where they reside. This is particularly true if you happened to obtain those products through a freebie post or giveaway on a site outside the designer’s regular venue … let those designers know you appreciate their generosity by letting others see their products in action. A nice little thank you note never hurts, either. 😉
Have your own tips or advice on how to be a true gallery standout? I’d love for you to share them in a comment below…
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