Project Life for Noobs

Project Life for Noobs // cayleegrey

I’ve had a few people ask for pointers on starting Project Life, and what inevitably happens is that I get too excited about it, and forget all the important bits. So here is what I hope to be an extensive starting point for all the Project Life noobs.

The best thing about Project Life is that it can be as easy as you’d like. You can work on it for only an hour per month, or you can devote a few hours every day. It can look exactly how you want it to look, and it can be used for whatever your purpose is. Project Life fits in with you.

1. Choosing a method and gathering supplies

There are four broad methods of Project Life-ing: traditional, kits, digital, and hybrid.

To start Project Life you need three things: an album, page protectors, and photos/memories. The type of album and page protectors depends on which way you PL. You can search Google or your favourite scrapbook store for options and in your favourite colours.

For tradition and hybrid PL, you should get a D-ring binder. The two main sizes are 12×12″ and 6×8″. There are so many options for binders there, so be sure to choose something that will last. I use a We R Memory Keepers album, and I absolutely love it. I chose it because it is sturdy, great quality, a classic, and seems like it will be selling for a while so I can get matching ones each year. It was the most expensive of my options, but I reckon that it’s worth it for a hobby that I spend a lot of time with. I’m also not so keen on having anything break. Here are a few album options:

Project Life for Noobs // cayleegrey

12×12: 1 We R Memory Keepers | 2 Project Life | 3 American Crafts Modern | 4 Cloth Album

6×8: 1 Studio Calico Handbook | 2 Snap Simple Stories | 3 Basic Grey Capture

Project Life for Noobs // cayleegrey

12×12: 1 Design A | 2 Mixed Pack | 3 We R Memory Keepers | 4 Coin Protectors

6×8: Studio Calico Handbook | 2 Snap Simple Stories | 3 Basic Grey Capture

Project Life for Noobs // cayleegrey

I’m going to group Becky Higgins’ Core Kits and monthly subscription kits together. Becky Higgins Core Kits are the easiest way to do PL both physically and digitally. My favourite is the Midnight edition, although I am quite biased to the creator’s style. Becky has a pretty comprehensive post about putting together an album with the basics. You can also purchase monthly subscription kits that you receive in the mail once a month filled with cards, and embellishments. Studio Calico, Gossamer Blue, Citrus Twists, Cocoa Daisy offer monthly kits. I have only ever tried Studio Calico and I loved their collections.

Project Life for Noobs // cayleegrey

Digital Project Life is using your computer, and digital elements to record your memories. Usually you’d store the layouts on your computer and print it in a book every so often. Hybrid is when you add a physical component, or incorporate digital and traditional memory keeping methods. Hybrids usually keep the traditional pocket pages. I am a hybrid Project Lifer.

Project Life for Noobs // cayleegrey

1 Design A Template | 2 Design A-J Templates | 3 Adobe Photoshop Elements | 4 Adobe Photoshop CC

For digital PL, my favourite three book makers are BlurbArtifact Uprising, and MILK/Moleskine. With digital you can choose any size you’d like to print at (with the restraints of the printer).

You need some sort of image editing computer program if you’re going full digital. If you’re going hybrid it is not necessary, but it does help. I use Photoshop CC. It is my favourite non living thing in the world. It is quite expensive though, and Photoshop Elements works just as well. I can’t recommend anything else as those are the only two I’ve ever used, but other programs include other programs in the Adobe Creative Suit, Gimp, and Corel Paintshop Pro.

There are loads of shops that sell digital scrapbooking kits, journal cards . My favourite digital designer is paislee press. Obviously. You can buy Project Life kits digitally here.  Other digital stores that I know of include The Lilypad, Digital Design Essentials, Sweet Shoppe Designs, and Sugar Hill Co.

2. Choosing frequency and time span

You can contribute to your Project Life as often, or as infrequently as you’d like. Some people take a photo every day, some people have weekly spreads, some PLers do monthly recaps, while some only document the major events. It’s completely up to you.

You can also choose how long you will record for and when you start. You can record year by year, which is the most common, but there is also for the duration of pregnancy, for a child’s life, for a special event, whatever. Aimee and I both started Project Life in the month that we were married. You can start on your birthday, on a special day, or just today.

3. Taking and printing photos

Once you have chosen the method of Project Life-ing that best suits you, you’ve got to get everything in. It’s so easy to take photos nowadays because of smart phones, and digital cameras. I’ve always been a heavy photo-taker, but Project Life has helped me improve my photography skills because I am looking at the photos more than I would usually. I’m developing a style now and I’m loving where this project is leading my photography.

You can print at home (more control), or you can print at a professional (cheaper). Matte is better for the pocket pages, but not every printer has that option. I printed glossy and it has been fine. If you’re printing at home you should buy photo paper to improve the quality of the prints. If you don’t feel like it, that’s cool. Print on thin off-white paper if you want to. Use only googled images for the places you’ve been to. Whatever. This project is about what you want.

Project Life for Noobs // cayleegrey

If you are American, I have heard a lot of good things about Persnickety Prints. If you are German, I used Müller’s Fotoservice for €0.07 a print during 2013 and while the quality was only just above average and glossy, it was so cheap that it was just fine for me.

4. Adding other forms of memories

Project Life for Noobs // cayleegrey

This is optional, but I love adding ephemera to my PL. Things I included this year were business cards, pamphlets, plane/concert/occasion tickets, receipts, price tags, cards and notes, letters from friends, invitations, art from kids, bills, packaging, name tags, maps, serviettes and sugar packets, foreign coins, wrapping paper, an autumn leaf, and perfume sticks.

These types of extras, and the fluff mentioned next do tend to bulk up your album. If you’re doing PL fluff- and extras- free then you could fit 52 spreads into one album. If you’re putting in extras, that will increase the number of albums.

5. Adding the fluff

Some people love the fluff, while others prefer to focus on the photos. Liz Tamanaha, Pink RonnieTracy Larsen, and Manda Townsend are good examples of photo-focused PL. Finding Nana, Stephanie Bryan, and Amy Tan are PLers that I can think of who incorporate a lot of scrapbooking elements on their layouts.

6. Joining the community and getting inspiration

Ah, this is one of the best parts. There is a whole internet worth of inspiration out there, and memory keepers are one of the nicest types of people. Post your layouts to a blog, or your Instagram, join Facebook groups, leave blog and Instagram comments, post or email someone. This project has a wonderful community and it would be a shame to miss out on it.

Traditional and Kit Project Lifers

Digital and Hybrid Project Lifers

These Project Lifers do not necessary have my favourite styles; they are just there as broad examples. My Pinterest board has some of my favourite PL layouts. Other great sources of Project Life inspiration include the Instagram hashtag #projectlife, Pinterest search for Project LifeStudio Calico Member Gallery, The Lilypad Digital + Hybrid Gallery, and Two Peas in a Bucket Gallery.

The best way to do Project Life is the same way to do most things: just do it. You’re not going to get everything perfect on the first go, and the only way to discover what you like is to discover what you don’t like.

Do you have any questions about starting ? I’d love to answer them.


  1. Wavatar says

    Wow! Thank you for these information! Wish you all the best for 2014 and a good start in your next home!

  2. Wavatar says

    Thank you so much for taking the time to put together this post for us new aspiring Project Life-rs :) Very useful information!

  3. WavatarAlice says

    I started Project Life this year and stumbled upon this post. Then I spend a good hour on your blog, looking at your spreads and being amazed on how they look. Thanks for being such an inspiration! Can’t wait to see what you create in 2014.

  4. Wavatar says

    I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, but haven’t for whatever reason. This intro is great and, though I’m sure I will have a lot of questions, the only one I can think of at the moment is – when you’re ready to print digital photos to use in PL, how do you specify the correct size for the PL pages? Are the specs included in PL kits? Do you end up cutting them down? And PL inserts appear to have rounded edges – do you just trim your photos from rectangles? Maybe these are stupid questions or they are answered once you’ve bought the system, but I didn’t want to invest the money before finding out the answers.

    Thanks! :)