In this episode, I talk to Carole Asselin (or Cassel as she is also known as) from Scrapbook Campus and based in New-Brunswick, Canada.
Carole has shared her story about the importance of storing your memories using digital version of a scrapbook. Thanks to her passion in doing so, she teaches others who can do the same, runs regular webinar and manages a community of people who wants to learn how to create a digital scrapbook for their most passionate memories.
Along the way, Carole has also explained her journey of creating her business and how WordPress has helped her to do just that.
Here are just a few things we talk about:
- the pros and cons of having a digital vs traditional paper scrapbook
- the importance of storing your memories and making it easier to share with others
- the challenges she faces for those who focuses on Photoshop and not her main tool, PaintShop
- why starting slowly is the best way to start and grow your business
- Carole’s early experience on using WordPress and how persistance pays off eventually
“When you start, you can start very manual, very low, low tech or start with something. From there, you’ll be a little bit more comfortable with that one part, then you can expand a little bit. If you are immediately looking at the big picture, you’re just gonna get scared and lost and confused.” – Carole Asselin
- Office Site: http://scrapbookcampus.com/
- PaintShop: http://www.paintshoppro.com/en/products/paintshop-pro/
Ahmed: Here we go. This is IgniteRock podcast and this is your host, Ahmed Khalifa. This is where I talk to creative individuals who are creating some awesome stuff using WordPress. Welcome to the show and thank you for joining me. I’m so shocked that you’re here today, I’m so happy that you’re here today on episode 15 of the IgniteRock podcast. Thank you. Whew. Excited today.
I’ll be talking to Carole Asselin, who runs a digital scrapbooking business, and someone who has been doing it for over 10 years. Something is different to the tradition of scrap booking, really, really interesting discussion, and I’m really happy you’re here to enjoy it and join in on our interview. Sit back, relax, and enjoy today’s chat with Carole Asla, and I’ll catch you at the end of the interview.Click Here to Show Transcript
Here we go, everyone. We’ve got excitement today, I have Carole Asselin in today all the way from Canada. I’m really, really excited to have Carole on the line. It’s something quite interesting that I don’t have a lot of knowledge about, which is digital scrap booking. It’s really, really good to talk to someone who has been doing it for a long time, understand how it works, understand the business and obviously talk about the online presence as well. Carole, thank you for coming onto the show. I really appreciate your time. I guess we can get started off with just an idea of who you are and how you got to where you are today.
Carole: Well, I’m actually a speech language pathologist. That’s my day job. I started working on a computer many years ago when my mom gave me a copy of her PaintShop Pro 7 when she was upgrading to version 8. She sent me the disc, I think it was actually a copy. Probably was pirated but back in the days we didn’t know. I had that, and I installed that programme. It looked good but I had no clue what to do with it, because I had never done graphics or anything similar to that. I went online, I found one kind of course, it was like 30 small lessons that will show me like the basic of this tool and that tool and how to add the colour and stuff like that. I was like oh yeah, that’s kind of cool, but okay, what do I do with that next?
I joined back then a Yahoo group, and they were giving challenges and showing how to make a frame around a photo or how to do this and that. They were all things that you do on the computer, you show your friends and say huh, yeah, nice. That was it. It was just like, sitting on the computer. Nothing concrete with it. Then somebody showed me something about digital scrapbooking or making scrapbook online, not online, but on the computer using the programme that I happened to have, which is PaintShop. I thought, that is useful. It’s not something that’s just gonna stay on my hard drive, but it’s something I can print, I can make a book, I can send to a friend or family. That’s when I started getting into that.
Since there was very few tutorials for PaintShop as a programme itself, most tutorials online were for Photoshop back then. I had to kind of explore the programme and play around with the settings, the tools, the commands, and I discovered a few things- how I can do this in that way, and since I’m kind of a very visual person, I would look at something and try to replicate it with the programme.This is how I started creating tutorials to show people okay, how you can make a button, how you can make a ribbon, everything with the programme without having to scan or photograph. This is how I kind of started.
This is how I started creating tutorials to show people okay, how you can make a button, how you can make a ribbon, everything with the programme without having to scan or photograph. This is how I kind of started. Eventually over time, I also learned about one function that PaintShop had in a later version, not the very first version I had, which was scripting. Scripting is a way to record different steps that the programme will take for you, so it will be faster, more accurate, and you can do one ribbon or one button or one something just by clicking and choosing the colour. It would do it.
From there, I went on and I found one, to my knowledge it was only one, course on scripting for PaintShop. I took that course and that is when things kind of went larger. I did create scripts and started to sell them. Back in the day I joined an online consignment store, which was it’s like an online store, I guess a little like Etsy now, but somebody owns a store and they have designers come in, and you sell your stuff. You get 80% of the sales and the owner keeps 20% or 30%, depending on the store and the owners and what else.I started that way, but back oh, about 10 years ago, many stores were opening, but not all of them stayed open. I guess either was too much work or people just changed their mind or for whatever reason, so I decided to open my own store. That is when I learned that you could open your own store using Zen Cart as a platform. That’s what I used first.
I started that way, but back oh, about 10 years ago, many stores were opening, but not all of them stayed open. I guess either was too much work or people just changed their mind or for whatever reason, so I decided to open my own store. That is when I learned that you could open your own store using Zen Cart as a platform. That’s what I used first.
I opened my own store, didn’t know much about it. I did a lot of tweaking, searching online, forum help, and once in a while I had somebody oh, can you help me? Somebody who was more advanced than me who was already more familiar with all the back ends and everything like that, so I built my own store and that store is still up now. I have like, I think I passed over 500 products in there. I’ve been adding products every week for six, seven years. Can’t remember. Kind of long.This is how I started my store, but around the same time, I started teaching scrapbooking using the PaintShop programme. People wanted more tutorials, they wanted to know more, and I started making tutorials for them. Back in the days, I built the site, don’t even ask me how. I don’t even know how to edit it now, so I can’t even remember.
This is how I started my store, but around the same time, I started teaching scrapbooking using the PaintShop programme. People wanted more tutorials, they wanted to know more, and I started making tutorials for them. Back in the days, I built the site, don’t even ask me how. I don’t even know how to edit it now, so I can’t even remember.
The site is still up and it has all my info, haven’t touched it, because I then transferred to building my own when I started with WordPress. I was told that WordPress was a good platform, and I didn’t know anything else, so I went by recommendations and I started a WordPress site. Since it was free, it was perfect on my budget. Just like Zen Cart, it was free. Really kind of scrapping all the pennies. Things went on, but I’m not, I’m kind of familiar with WordPress, but I’m far from a pro. Whenever I have a problem I have to go and search. Google’s my friend. I have other friends, groups on Facebook, my Mastermind.
There’s always somebody around to help.This is where I started, I built in 2011. That’s six years ago. It’s the site that’s called Scrapbook Campus, where I teach scrapbooking using PaintShop and sometimes using PaintShop for something else than scrapbooking, because when you use the programme and you learn the techniques that can be used with scrapbooking, well you can also use it for something else if you’re doing cards.
I have a lot of members, they are card makers. You make cards for birthdays and weddings and whatever, and some people actually sell those cards let’s say on Etsy or other platforms. They just learn about PaintShop, PaintShop is the programme, the main programme, and the angle is scrapbooking. You can learn back and just go wherever you want. I have several members who are not scrapbookers, but they come in and they follow all the tutorials just to learn the techniques and the use of the tools and so on. This is kind of my journey through that digital scrapbooking. That was like, the long story.
Ahmed: No, no. It’s fine. It’s just interesting that there was opportunity. It was all offline. You’re saying someone showed you something about scrapbooking the offline way, and then you look at it in a more digital way, and then gradually twist and turning and you pivot and you try different things and programmes and platforms. You’ve done so many things over the years, trying to make it work and it’s just really interesting because I’ve never really thought about scrapbooking in a digital way. I know internet, online computer, you can pretty much do anything online now. I just never thought about scrapbooking.
Am I correct in, you know, I’m gonna be very naïve and a newbie that the difference between scrapbooking and digital scrapbooking, really scrapbooking is you have a scrapbook where you can take pictures and paste it on your book and you keep memories, and you gradually build a scrapbook about a particular theme, topic, whether it’s about holiday or birthday, and a digital one is obviously a digital version.
My wife and I, we have a tradition of guest book in paper, and a table it has only, you know, the sticky pad and a sticker and a pen and the portable camera. Yes, it’s fun. Everyone interacts with it, but at the end of the day there’s only one book. You can’t share it with everyone. It takes up room. It’s a nice memory, of course, there’s no complaint about it. Of course, you can’t, you’re right, I can’t really share it with anyone. Because there’s only one available, you take extra care of it. You’re so worried that it’s going to get damaged or you lose it or something happens to it. There’s a bit of a fear factor around it.
Ahmed: I can understand then what you’re saying.
Carole: Definitely. Also, digital scrapbooking has, like since everything is on your laptop, you can decide, you have to, I don’t know, go, you travel, whether it’s for work or something, you can bring your laptop and you can do scrapbooking. You can do that, you can, but you’re kind of limited if you have to bring all your papers and scissors and stuff like that. You might have a whole suitcase just for scrapbook supplies, versus you can do that with your computer.You can sit by the pool if you want to have your computer there, but you can still do it at the park. It’s really, and one other thing that I really particularly like with digital scrapbooking is what I call the oops button. You can always undo something if you don’t like it.
You can sit by the pool if you want to have your computer there, but you can still do it at the park. It’s really, and one other thing that I really particularly like with digital scrapbooking is what I call the oops button. You can always undo something if you don’t like it.
Ahmed: Oh of course.
Carole: Versus in paper scrapbooking, if you cut the photo, oh, you cut it too small. Darn. What can I do? I have to be a bit creative and find another way, or if you use that button, I don’t know, if you have a dozen buttons and you already used six, and maybe for your next project you wanted, oh darn, I wanted eight to place that way but I only have six. With digital you just copy and paste. You can have a million buttons if you want. Oh it’s not the right blue? I can change the shade of blue with my computer. I can’t necessarily do it with an actual physical button. It’s blue, I wanted it pink, or I wanted it yellow.
There are many things that can be done digitally that it’s harder to do with the paper scrapbooking. Another advantage is, especially if you have young kids at home or pets, how often can you drop something that is small and you don’t want the child to choke on it, or your pet to eat your little beads or buttons or something like that? You don’t have that problem at all when you do digital.
Ahmed: A lot of benefit, I can see it more and more now that it haves a lot of benefit and it’s easier in so many ways as opposed to the traditional way. I can definitely understand where you’re coming from. I was gonna ask you, because you gave a few examples of using a scrapbook [inaudible 00:14:33] buttons for this example. Is there a traditional demographic, target market, that tends to be more involved with digital scrapbooking? Is there a specific audience that tends to favourite it, or is it very open for everyone?
Carole: It seems, to me it’s pretty open. I guess it depends on … I’ve seen some people who started digitally and never did paper scrapbooking. I’ve seen people doing paper scrapbooking and transitioning to digital. I know some people who are still doing both, so I guess it kind of depends on maybe your goal.Maybe you have only one album for your child, or you’re making one because you want to have, I don’t know, their drawing or the handwriting in the book. You want to have
Maybe you have only one album for your child, or you’re making one because you want to have, I don’t know, their drawing or the handwriting in the book. You want to have physical paper to put in, or you might want to make an album and have your, the stuff for your concert that you attended, things like that. You want to have something tangible, and maybe you will want to do something more traditional, paper-based. Everything can also be scanned and then you put any in a digital format too.
It depends. I’ve seen some younger ones, younger people are more technology inclined, I would say, because technology is all around them. They think that it goes faster and it’s easier, whatever. It’s part of their world to have a computer and do things on the computer. They don’t look in the dictionary anymore, they just look on Google. Ask a kid what’s a dictionary? They say what?
Carole: Simply because it’s there all the time, so I’ve seen some younger ones, but I know that on my site, I have somebody not long ago who asked me a question and said, “Oh yeah, I forgot. I’m 82 years old.” I was thinking, what? 82 years old and she’s on the computer and doing scrapbooking. Why not?
Ahmed: That’s fantastic.
Carole: Sure. It’s really very wide, and even though you know, we might think that older people are not on the computer, I think it’s not accurate. Maybe not most of them because it’s a new medium for them, but a lot of them have enough time to learn and have an interest in that.
Ahmed: I think it’s great.
Carole: It’s pretty wide.
Ahmed: I think it’s brilliant that you said young and old. They can get involved in anything, not just digital scrapbooking, but getting involved in computers and creating something. I think that’s brilliant. It shouldn’t be age limit or gender limit or creativity limit or whatever. It’s very open, and it’s quite nice that what you do and what you offer and what you teach is something that literally anyone can do, anyone can learn. There’s no barrier for age, gender.
Carole: No, and I would say probably kids would be able to use a computer also to do scrapbooking. I don’t have any registered because well, I guess under 13 they would need a parent’s permission and stuff like that, and probably they’re too busy with school. I know with some people are saying, “Well, when my grandson is coming, I make it, and he works on the computer too, so why not?”
Ahmed: That sounds pretty good. That’s the thing with the younger audience, they have a lot of options to go in terms of they go online, go on the internet, and they have a lot of things that can be distracting to them. Social media is one of them, as well as so many other websites and other things. What’s the challenge? Is there like, a big step to your business, to digital scrapbooking, because there’s so many options out there online to create something, anything? Is there a challenge to you? Is social media, is that stumping you or is that hindering your growth? What are your challenges?
Carole: I find that for me, specifically for my business and my site, the challenge is the fact that there’s still more visibility for Photoshop tutorials and Photoshop products. You go online and you can find actions for Photoshop, you have plugins for Photoshop, which is kind of funny because a lot of plugins that are set for Photoshop can be used with PaintShop too, but it just don’t say it. It’s not as visible. You have some sites where you can download or purchase brushes for Photoshop, but you can use the same ones for PaintShop. You cannot use everything from Photoshop in PaintShop, but a lot of them you can. It’s not as visible. If you go online for scrapbooking tutorials, you’re probably gonna get a tonne of tutorials for Photoshop or Photoshop Element, but not as many for PaintShop.
When I, in my business if you come in and you have Photoshop and you want to take my courses or follow my tutorials, you won’t be able to unless you’re really, really familiar with your programme and you can say okay, these are the steps one, two, three, and four and for my programme I have to do one, three, two, and four, or I have to do one, two, five. I have to do things slightly differently.
If you are very familiar with your programme, you can probably work around that, just the same as PaintShop users who are really familiar with their programme can probably follow a tutorial for another programme. It’s not always easy, and this is where people like the content of my site is if they are not super familiar and you know, power users of PaintShop, well they can get a lot of guidance and tips and tricks and techniques and so on.
Right now, my challenge is mostly to identify who is using PaintShop for scrapbooking, because I have a lot of people using PaintShop, but they’re not scrapbookers. There are lots of people doing scrapbooking but not using PaintShop. It’s like, niche down, but it’s a little, that’s a bit of a challenge. I can go and look for somebody who’s doing traditional paper scrapbooking and try to show them the advantage of trying digital, and maybe they will, but maybe they won’t.
It’s not because you’re doing something that you necessarily want to convert to a different medium. Maybe some people are just comfortable with their paper scrapbook, and that’s perfectly fine, too.
Ahmed: Mm-hmm, yeah. That makes sense. It’s very interesting that the power of Photoshop, it’s the first thing that people think about isn’t it? If you want to edit anything, immediately the first thing in your mind, it’s almost like a word of business. It’s Photoshop.
Carole: Yes, yeah. Photoshop.
Ahmed: You know like how Google is the first thing you think about. Just Google it. You don’t hear people say just Bing it or the other ones.
Carole: Yahoo it.
Ahmed: Oh Yahoo it, yeah. Back in the day.
It’s quite interesting that you said that. Then obviously another favourite, popular platform that I love to talk about as well is WordPress. Obviously something that a lot of people are familiar with if they are working with online industries, websites, all these kind of things. WordPress, it’s a big name, but you said yourself that someone recommended it to you and advised you to use it for your own website. It’d be interesting to know what was your first experience with WordPress like? How are you finding it, what are the kind of general feelings about you using it on a day to day basis for your website? How are your experience with it right now?
Carole: Well when I started, the first thing I did was to create a blog that would go with my store, so just a blog to promote the new products. It was basically just a blog, it was nothing else than that. I remember trying to figure out things, and I wanted to have something on the site. I couldn’t figure it out, and then I posted a question in a forum for scrapbookers and someone said, one said, “Well, did you enable the widget?” I said, “What is a widget?” I had heard the word widget, and I had heard the word plugin, and I thought they were the same thing.
Carole: I said, “Oh yeah, I have it,” but no, I had put a plugin and not a widget. I didn’t know what a widget was. I was really, really totally new to that. They had to explain to me that no, that’s different. The widget is this, versus a plugin does that and is completely different things. When I did my own site, one thing that I was always, I always hated was HTML. When I started my site and someone was saying, “Well, you know, you just have to change the code in there for the header and the width of your,” I was like, what are you talking about?
To me, it was completely, complete foreign language. Even to this day, I can get the very basic, but I usually have to do copy and paste because I can never remember the code for this or that, or okay I have to put an image that’s going to be 400 pixels wide. I can’t even remember how to code, okay, do I have the, is there a quotation mark there? Is there a before, after?
I have no idea. It’s like, to me, that’s, I always say I’m allergic to HTML and CSS. Don’t give me a theme where I have to play with HTML and CSS. No way. Back in 2011, I was looking for a theme and I stumbled upon back then, one drag and drop theme that was Headway theme. Back in the day I think that was the only one that I found, so I installed it. I was back in version two and it was like okay, drag and drop. It’s just like when I work with my PaintShop. I can put an image and I can layer and I can put beside, I can select.
It’s really so much easier. I don’t have to fiddle with HTML much at all. I do, but it’s very minimal. I kind of started that way, and then I needed a plugin for membership or to protect my account because I wanted to sell the content. Again, I was looking around and I was really penny pinching.
I found there was, back in the days, I think there was wishlist member, S2 member, and there was a third one, I can’t remember which one it was. Of the three, S2 member had a free version, not a trial version but a free version. I thought well, I’m gonna go and try that so at least I don’t have only seven days or 14 days to try and see. I can use it for three months. If I don’t like what I have, then I can try something else. I stayed with S2 member, and I think I went for the pro version only about two years later, just because I wanted to have one functionality that was not in the free version. For the rest, the free version was fine.
Again, I remember I was annoying everybody on the forum, the support forum. They must have been tired of seeing my post of how do I do this and how do I do that? They would refer me to this and that. I would spend hours trying to figure out how to set it up because, just because I did not want to have only what was available. I was kind of picky and I wanted something different, and I wanted something more advanced. Otherwise, if I had just wanted what was there, it would have been very simple. I was too picky. I kept asking how about this, and what do I do for that? I was totally new to WordPress, so when you add WordPress, I had the newest theme that I wasn’t familiar with. I had a membership plugin that I was not familiar with. Everything was so new for me.
It was kind of a struggle. I would say it took me a good four months to at least set things up. I started building the site, I think it was in February, and I opened the actual membership in September. In the meantime, I had put content and tried to format my site and I guess in a way, I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going to go because I did not know what the power of WordPress and plugins and all that was.
I would imagine somebody starting now with an idea okay, I want to have a course this way. I want to have a forum there, and I want to have, I don’t know, a login page there. My about page there. I want to have a resource page. If you have a bit of an idea, at least a blueprint or skeleton of what you want on your site, it might be a little easier to build, just like if you want to build a house, it’s better if you have a plan before. You don’t bring in the contractor, well let’s have the kitchen there. Oh no, maybe a little larger there.
That’s probably the struggle I had when I started, because I had no idea what I was doing, and I had a very vague idea of what I was planning, what I wanted as an end result. Over time, I kind of started to be a little more focused on okay, one thing at a time. Okay, I want to have this functionality, or I want to have this kind of page. Okay, how do I do it? Okay, next. Go to something else, instead of going to 30 different things at once.
Carole: I don’t know. Maybe that’s what happens when anybody starts, but I only started once. Now when I start something else I kind of have that in the back of my mind that I was all over the place.
Ahmed: You persisted. That’s the thing, you persisted.
Ahmed: You didn’t know anything about WordPress, you’re trying to understand all the jargon and words and all these things, and you kept on going. It’s easy to look at it and you think, you know what? It’s not for me. I’m just going to leave and stick to my old format, or just you know, don’t bother trying again. I like how you said that you’re not a technical person.
You don’t like HTML and CSS and all these things. It’s something that you avoid at all costs, and I can understand that’s what you’re saying, but it’s not stopping you from creating some kind of platform and a virtual representation of business. It’s not something if I’m trying to build something, and by yourself it seems like it’s there because you’re on a shoestring budget as well, so you want to really be careful where you spend your time and money and you kept on going.
I caught what you said about how you focus on one task at a time, you call it like a blueprint. Okay, I’m gonna focus on this task, focus on that. That’s done. Move onto the next one, where instead of that some people have like, 50, 100 different mini tasks and they jump on one thing to another. You’re not doing that. It kind of makes sense, because multitasking is something that I don’t agree with. I don’t really think it’s a thing, people boast about being able to multitask, but at the end of the day if you multitask, nothing is getting your 100% focus. What you want is you want to have that focus on one particular thing at a time so you can get it done quickly and at high quality as well.
All the challenges that you had, you kept on fighting and you kept on going. What would you say to those people who are approaching their first website, or they’re using WordPress for the first time, what advice would you give to those who are in that same situation, and how would you advise them to move forward with it?
Carole: Well I would say go one step at a time, because right now, whenever you hear about I don’t know, courses or mentors, they say, “Well, come and I have the blueprint. You can build your six-figure business.” There’s so many moving parts. If you try to do everything at once, you’re just not gonna know what is working.
It’s like, for example, there’s a friend of mine and he’s kind of interested in doing something in the health and fitness space. He said, “Oh yeah, but that’s complicated. Making a site and having the mailing list and doing this and doing that,” I said, “Look, wait, wait, wait. First, you can probably make your product and just post something on Facebook and tell people, ‘send me an email and I’ll send you the e-book,’ or, ‘Send me five bucks on PayPal and I’ll send you the e-book.'”
When you start, you can start very manual, very low, low tech or start with something. From there, you’ll be a little bit more comfortable with that one part, then you can expand a little bit. If you are immediately looking at the big picture, you’re just gonna get scared and lost and confused.
It’s so easy to start, you know, if the first thing you start with is okay, I have to have a lead magnet, I have to have a PDF, I have to have a place to host it and I have to have payment processing. I have to have an email list provider. It’s like, what? Start low, slow. You can start with a website, okay, you have hosting. Okay, that’s a basic if you want to go online. You build your WordPress and you find any theme. Don’t start with oh, I have to find my logo. I have to find, you know, it’s like, it’s so many accessories, I would call them, to your business.
Don’t start with the accessories. You don’t build a house thinking what’s going to be the colour of my curtains? You build a house with the foundation. How big do I want it? How many rooms do I want? One step at a time you go to the next one. Each step is gonna be more manageable than if you look right away for you know, 100 feet further. If you start with WordPress, don’t start with 20 plugins. You might end up with 20 plugins at the end, but you don’t need to start that way.
You start with the plugin for maybe an SEO. Okay, you put one, usually there’s one available. It’s like, you don’t need too many things at once. Start slow. You do one page, two pages, you might have the blog. When you start with WordPress obviously you have a blog. You have one blog, well add one page that’s gonna be about you. That’s fine. Then maybe you can add another page that’s gonna be with whatever product you want to promote.
You just go one step at a time and forget about the oh, I need to have a six-figure business with 100,000 email subscribers. It’s nice to dream that, but it’s just like, your dream home. When you get the contractor to come and start building your house, you have to have a plan and you have to have that first step. You don’t get the plumber and the electrician and the roofers right away. One step at a time.
To me that’s the best way to build it. Sure some people will do everything like that in six months. Good for them, but it can be also daunting if you’re expecting it to take only six months and you’re five months in and you’re nowhere near, you know, I did not open my membership until seven months after I was building my site. There’s no point in trying to finish everything for tomorrow.
Ahmed: Very good point. It makes sense, I think what you said really does make sense. You start with a website. You don’t need to have 20 plugins right now. Build up when you need it, and then you can get something and look for a solution, these kind of things. I love the analogy of if you’re building a house, you’re not gonna think about the colour of the curtain. I love that. True. You think about this bigger picture, which is the foundation, really.
Ahmed: Start from there, and then you build on top of it more and more and more. You’re right, you’re not gonna get someone to make you a curtain if you have no house. I quite like that analogy. It’s really, really interesting. It’s good where you’re putting it, so thank you for sharing that. What would you say is your biggest strength?
Carole: Hmm. As far as the business, would be, one would be my expertise and second would be my willingness to keep going, and keep going and be proactive. Over the years, I have been able to do some public relation with big names. The biggest name for me is Corel, which is the makers of the programme. I got in touch with them…I don’t know how many years. I remember, I even had a copy of an actual letter that I sent by mail, with a stamp, in an envelope, because I couldn’t find an email back then.
Ahmed: God, shock horror.
Carole: I printed the paper, put in an envelope, put a stamp, and sent it to them, to the head office. I have no idea if anybody saw that letter. I never heard from anybody afterward, but I kept getting involved in for example their user to user forum on their Facebook page, and giving helpful information and eventually while kind of they noticed me. Five, six years ago they actually invited me to join their beta testing team.
At one point when I was getting an email from somebody saying, “What are you using PaintShop for when you do scrapbooking?” They wanted to get an opinion from somebody who’s not just a photo editor, because PaintShop was often seen as the programme to use to fix your photos and that was about it. Not much else was mentioned, even though the programme was powerful enough to do other things.
I started getting more contact and eventually I was asked to contribute to blog posts for them. Things went very slowly and it’s definitely not something that went overnight. It took I think was six years, well, I mean, not six years until something happened. I needed to give and give without asking, and show that I cared about their product. I care also about my members, my clients, and to me that’s like, that relationship, whether it’s with the company or with my clients. For example, I sell scripts. Scripts might sometimes not work with your programme. No, no, not exactly that. You might buy a script and you might try to run it and it doesn’t work.
Sometimes it could be because you didn’t read the instructions, that’s something common. Sometimes it could be because you’re using a different version and maybe the programme changed and I did not re-check all my 400 scripts with all the, you know, 20-some options. If you come and you email me, for example, and you say, “Well, it’s not working.” Okay, I’ll do a lot of troubleshooting and if needed, I will actually re-code the script because maybe you found a little bug. It’s possible. Sometimes there’s so many options in a script that I code that depending if you have a vector layer or a roster layer or not 10000 pixel, 50 pixels, so many variables can happen. I cannot test them all.
What I do is I’ll make it right. So far I haven’t had one customer who emailed me and I couldn’t get the script to work. I think that’s one strength is that I still have a small enough list, customer base, that I’m able to respond to every email one by one, manually, and I’ll get things right. I think that the PR part, whether it’s with customers, whether it’s with partners, or else, I think it’s a strength and that makes my customers come back and my partners keep me around.
Ahmed: I think it’s great. I think you make a good point that you, as well as we talk about you being persistent, but also you go out of your way to help your customers and your client, and also you’re working with Correl and you’re using their products again and again. You sent a letter to them, something that you never hear anybody do that. You never hear people sending a letter to a company or a brand. It just doesn’t happen.
Carole: Not anymore.
Ahmed: Not anymore, yeah. Easy, email, it’s done. Definitely the easy option. I like that you know, because of your attitude and you’re gonna try and get something done, get something fixed and so on and so forth, it makes people happy. It makes people around you happy with what you offer, what you provide, and I think it’s really, really cool. It’s what you do. It’s something that I think a lot of us can learn as well is that give, give, give a lot. You will receive. Maybe not immediately, maybe not intentionally, but it shall happen by itself that you will receive something in the end, sometimes without asking for it first. Keep giving. You just never know what you’ll get after that as well.
You know, we’re going to twist it around. Also I want to know what is your biggest weakness? How do you go around it?
Carole: My biggest weakness I think right now is being able to reach new people. Somehow, there’s some niche where if you have one client who’s happy, they can tell their friends. They possibly can become customers. In my niche sometimes I have, often people say, “I don’t know anybody else who uses PaintShop. Everybody else using Photoshop.” It’s like, a lot of my targets are isolated somehow.
It’s kind of hard for me to say, “Tell your friends,” because their friends don’t care about that. Right now, this is my struggle is to reach more people, not only about PaintShop per se, but thinking about scrapbooking, memory keeping. I guess it’s not the kind of thing you think of very much. I like to focus a lot on memory keeping because you know, when you’re not there anymore, all your stories in your head, they’re gonna be gone. If you don’t put them down, nobody else will have them.
We see that often. We have a family gathering and somebody’s missing. Oh yeah, remember that? Oh she was telling the story so much better, but the person’s not there. The thing is that people tend to think, well, I’ll do that later. I’ll do that later. Like many things, and then later doesn’t come. To me, I find that the challenge is the fact that what I can offer is not the kind, it’s not like an aspirin for your headache. You have a headache, you’re looking for that. It’s more of a, it has to be a desire, a want. It’s not necessarily a pain. Whenever you hear about find a pain point, it’s not necessarily a pain yet, that maybe when it’s gonna be a pain it’s gonna be too late.
I find that this is my biggest struggle, and I’m trying to find different ways. I haven’t really found the golden button for, or the magic button, the easy button, whatever button you call it, to reach those people who could look at my product and say, “Oh yeah, that’s interesting.” It’s not like oh yeah, that’s what I was looking for. I don’t know how many people wake up in the morning thinking, I wonder where I can learn digital scrapbooking. You know? They’ll have to hear about it first and say, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and then get, I wouldn’t say convinced, but get more informed of what it is. More interested, gradually interested into it. It’s not like I’m gonna present you a sales page and say, “Right,” no. This is scrapbooking, perfect. No, no, that’s not how it is.
That’s my biggest struggle. If at one point I can find that right way to reach those people, I’ll be able to offer more and I’ll have more people who can then share their stories with their families and friends and capture them and document them and share them.
Ahmed: I think that you’re definitely right. Even for me, I don’t really think about it immediately. When I think of scrapbooking or digital scrapbooking, it’s not something I think about immediately in my head, whether I wake up in the morning or the rest of the day. Yes, it’s not something that comes into my mind that it’s a pain point that I need to kind of fix. You’re right, it’s something that I should think about more often, because all these memories, you want to keep it. Even if it’s on paper, okay fine. If that’s your way, okay, have it on paper. Have it written down and pictures and so on. You make a good point that you say, “I’ll do it later, I’ll do it later,” but later never comes. Hopefully this podcast will raise some awareness and get people thinking about their memories and how they’re going to keep it and stuff like that. That’d be good for them.
Carole: Also, another thing is that scrapbooking, digitally or not, is not only about you. For some people, remember, you have parents that are ageing. They have so many stories to tell. Where are those stories stored? In their heads. How can you keep that in the family? How can Grandma or Great Grandma’s story of when she went there, how are those stories gonna be shared with your kids and grandkids if they’re not put down anywhere on paper or digitally? It’s not only for your memories, but when you have the older generation and they’re ageing, and sometimes memory can fail at that age. Let’s not wait too long. Great opportunity sometimes for those people who are between generations. They’re still taking care, they still have older parents, maybe at home or they’re still living and they still have kids. You can make the bridge that way too.
Ahmed: You’re selling it to me. It’s a good point, it’s a good point. You’re right, though. It’s not just about you for your own memory, but it’s people around you. People in your family or relatives, your friends, you want to share together. It’s always nice to share memories together like that, whether digital or not. Sharing is caring at the end of the day. If we get to, you know, just finish off. We’ve got a few minutes to go. If you could finish off, we’ll get sentimental about it, what are you most proud about with your business?
Carole: I would say what my drive is is when I get comments about oh, I’ve been able to do this, or oh, I didn’t know that. To me, it’s like the fact that I can help somebody discover something, whether it’s about their own story, about the programme they’re using, but just that they’re discovering and learning. Just recently I had somebody, we had a challenge. The challenge was to create a silhouette out of a picture. Could be a silhouette of the person or something. Someone posted a scrapbook page and she said, “These are the photos that were destined for the trash can because the lighting was wrong.” It was a set of pictures of sculptures or something like that. Because the lighting was wrong, the colours were wrong, but then she turned those sculptures into silhouettes. Now, nobody would know that the pictures were wrong.
It’s like, she said, “Now they’re a piece of art and I’m proud of them.” That’s what I’m proud of is like, when I see people being able to say, “Well, here was a bad photo of my great grandma. I didn’t know what to do with it, and now because I learned the techniques, I can fix that,” or, “I have only one picture of my parents at their wedding. The picture was damaged and stained, and now I learned how to clean that up. Now I have a really nice picture that I can frame.” Having people like, when they comment and find that they can now enjoy something, whether it’s enjoying a story, enjoying a photo, enjoying a memory from what I teach, that is, that’s my drive.
Ahmed: I think that’s really beautiful, actually. The whole thing you’re talking about today, the theme of storing your memories and sentimental values I think is a very nice way to kind of end this interview about that you have helped someone to store their most precious memories because of a technique that they have learned from yourself as well.
I think it’s very, very nice thing to share. That’s really, really good. You know, I have to say again, I really, really appreciate your time and sharing your stories. A lot of sentimental stories as well, a lot of things that people have to think about, you know, about storing your memories in digital format as well is one option. Just pointing that out there. Not how [I sell it to you 00:56:14], but in another way. Storing memories.
If people want to get in touch with you, connect with you, where can they find you?
Carole: Well, they can just visit the campus, so the URL is scrapbookcampus.com, very simple. There’s always a little yellow help me button, so click on that, or you can contact me through, contact me, contact us, I can’t remember which one it is, on the site. I’m always available. I answer every email one by one personally. I have, there’s so much that you can get in a site. You don’t even have to purchase. There’s a blog, there’s something every week. If you want to give it a try, it’s there. There’s some free stuff you can benefit, tutorials, to get you started and see if you like it. You might discover that you like it more than you thought.
Ahmed: You never know. You never know until you try it.
Ahmed: That’s very true. If it’s something that you’re interested in, anyone is thinking of doing, check it out. It’d be something that, you never know. You’re probably gonna enjoy it more than you think. Carole, thank you again for your time.
Carole: Thank you.
Ahmed: And that is it. Thank you, Carole, for coming onto the show again. Really appreciate your time and sharing some beautiful stories about memories and how you think about storing them as well, and documenting the pictures today, you see what I mean?
Yes, we talk about business, we talk about WordPress and websites, but there’s also sentimental side of things in life and in your memories as well that you have to think about storing them. Whatever you do, make sure you store your memories, whether it’s online or offline, you have options. That’s what Carole mentioned is that if you’re in a digital way, you can always have access to them and can share your memories with everyone. It’s a really, really good point as well. It’s something that we should all think about.
Thank you for listening to episode. If you are interested in the show notes, they are available at igniterock.com/episode15. You have all the information, the transcription, and everything we talked about.
One final thing, if I can ask if you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, that would be awesome. It would really help me to reach out to as many people as possible about the power of WordPress and how it can help you.
In the meantime, let’s rock with WordPress.