Finish a Scrapbook Album in Less Than 30 Days


Do you have an album close to completion?

This month at Paperclipping we’re finishing up a scrapbook that’s almost done (and hiding those unsightly back sides that so many of us have in our books!).

Play along with us! We’re starting now…

Choose the Scrapbook You’re Completing

I’m going to finish an album I titled, Everyday Life. Because I work on lots of albums at once (of different subjects or stories), I’ve been adding to this album for many years now and I’m ready to just finish it all and be done with it!

Look Through Your Scrapbook Album

  1. Note the empty, problematic, or missing stuff (it’s often the ugly stuff like back sides of pages).
  2. Find the underlying potential story.
  3. Identify what’s missing from the album and/or what should be moved.

The second step is optional (but awesome!). If your album is 100% chronological or 100% random — and you want to keep it that way — then step 2 may or may not apply. If it does not, skip step 2 and move onto step 3.

Let’s dig into these steps and I’ll share my own results with you…

Step 1. Note the Empty, Problematic, or Missing Stuff

  • If you scrap chronologically, maybe you left a page to be completed later.
  • If you vary your page sizes then you probably have backs to fill.
  • Is there missing journaling?


I have at least five page backs to fill. Also, my Everyday Life album contains a section of pages I made to document a week of our life and it pops out of nowhere with no explanation. It’s jarring and confusing. So I need to add some explanations. It also involves some unusual style pages that are difficult to turn.

Step 2. Find the Story
My albums start with a general subject. As I go through this process of finishing an album, I tend to find a subtle story underneath all the life snippets of my scrapbook pages. It’s really exciting! If you don’t see a story thread in yours right away, don’t brush off this step immediately. It might take time.

For example, at first I didn’t see anything more in this album than the fact that each pages reveals an aspect of our everyday life. That’s enough of a story. But now that it’s almost done and I’ve been looking more carefully at my pages to see what’s missing, I realized there is a recurring theme throughout this album, which covers a spam of years…

There are lots and lots of pages about big and small changes that we’ve made.

Staying Home for School

Not every layout in this album is about a big change, but I can take this concept and do something more with my new story theme before it’s totally done.

I love that because it unifies your experience as a viewer of my album, and gives more insight into who we are!

So take a good look at your album. Sit down with it and read your journaling. Is there a story you could develop further? If not, that’s okay. I’ll post more about this next week.

And that leads you to the next step…

Step 4. Identify What’s Missing and/or What Should Be Moved

When you look through your album make a note of anything you’ve left out:

  • journaling on some of the pages
  • relevant parts of the story that you realize your scrapbook isn’t showing
  • photos you want to include in that album
  • ephemera that should be a part of the album

I usually find at least one or two pages that will be better at telling a different story in a different album.

Now we’re ready for the next step…

Make a Plan: the remaining scrapbook pages to complete.

You should now have a list of the empty backs of pages you need to fill. You should also have a list of what’s missing in your album. Now match them up.

For example, one story I found missing from my scrapbook is how we reclaimed our home by turning our garage into a studio so we can shoot our videos and the Roundtable in there, instead of in our living room and bedroom. The number of pictures I wanted to use for that works well with one of my empty pocketed page protectors.

I completed that page yesterday…

Reclaiming Our Home

playalong 3

Make a Scrapbook Layout and Share It!

Ready to get going? After doing any steps above that make sense for your album, choose which layout you want to start with and make a page!

If you post your layouts somewhere online, please link us up to it by leaving a comment!

Paperclipping Members: If you want additional ideas and inspiration, you can watch episodes 175 and 176, where I shared this entire process (and more!) for a scrapbook about the personality of my family.

For next week’s member video tutorial I’m going to take you on a tour through my Everyday Life album so you can see more of the problems, more of the “uglies,” and see my solutions for it. You’ll see this album — which currently looks like a jumbled and confusing mess — come together as a more cohesive story that flows.

Not a member? Click here for info so you get a fuller experience as you play along this month!

To move forward in the Play Along: Finish An Album, click here: Complete an Everyday Life Scrapbook.

  • So interesting Noell! What types of albums do you have besides everyday life? I still toy with the concept of keeping LOM topic albums somehow . . . But I’m not sure how just yet.

  • My current story albums evolved from Stacy’s LOM. For example, Everyday Life was originally a Things We Do album.
    Another one is Things We Love at Grandma and Grandpa’s. This came out of the fact that our trips to their farm in Missouri bring us some of my favorite photos. After every visit I always intended on scrapbooking them but the idea of all those amazing photos would be overwhelming and the next thing I know we’ve been there and back again with a million photos. Finally I decided that rather than try to scrapbook a bunch of different trips there, I would choose my favorite things from all the different trips and add to that album whenever I feel like it.
    Here are a few more…

    This Is Us — about the general personality of of family.

    Izzy and Me

    Albums for each of us as individuals about our personalities

    Dance album for Trinity

    Childhood album for me

    Nutcracker Ballet album

    Philippines album

    I’ll probably share some about my albums next week in a post about Story Albums

  • Thank you! :-) I do love those topics but I just felt like I was looking through a hodge podge of mess and my family wasn’t looking at them, maybe because they were too divided in sub-sections. I started feeling like everything was pretty much a thing we did and seeing a trip or vacation (place we go) out of context with a job change or moving to a new house was a little odd. I always wondered what was the rest of the story.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of this series!

  • I originally liked the concept of sub-sections but found I didn’t care for the reality of them. I do have an album full of all the different holidays and I’ll eventually pull my Christmas pages out and start an album called Christmas Stories (hopefully this year!). To save space for now I have them all together, but I don’t do the sub-section intro pages that Stacy does.
    It’s funny because I stopped doing chronological albums for the same reason you started. I didn’t like having everyday pages and then suddenly there would four pages of vacations. And then pages that told stories over a long period of time didn’t seem to fit in for me, either. Not that it’s wrong — I just felt like it was disjointed and confusing when we looked through it. That said, my story albums tend to be sort of chronological over a period of years. The Everyday Life album I’m working on now has pages from 2007 and it progresses through 2010 I think. They’re not totally in order of time, but for the most part they are. Once I finish this album I’ll start a new Everyday Life album that mostly starts in 2011. If I ever go back to an early time and do an everyday page (like from 2007), I’ll decide if I want to write it from the present time period and put it in my current everyday album, or if I’ll fit it into an older one.

  • Lucy Farrugia

    Hi Noell, excited to get started! Which members videos did you recommend? It says episode ?? And dunno if it’s just me seeing that?

    Off to look through some albums!

  • Ha! Oops – I meant to look it up before posting and forgot! I’ll fix that now! ;)

  • Guest

    Thank you :)

  • Lucy Farrugia

    Thank you! :)

  • Simmone Kennedy Daughdrill

    I have never completed an album to date. I have many random pages completed. I will look through and see if I can find a theme amongst them. I welcome this challenge as I would love to have some complete albums to show. I just seem to have trouble accomplishing a complete album.

  • You know, since 2006 or 2007 I’ve had dozens of albums going at once and I think I’ve only completely finished two since that time! :)

  • Simmone Kennedy Daughdrill

    That makes me feel a better! I imagine all these scrapbookers with walls of completed albums!! :)

  • Um, I have two finished project life albums. I have one Disney album of my daughter’s first trip, and one volume of my daughter’s school of life albums . . . and that’s all the completed albums I have (and I’ve been scrapbooking since 2000). No need to think all scrapbookers have walls of completed albums :-)

  • Debbie Piercey

    This is a very interesting topic Noell. And it seems very timely in the fact that I’ve been thinking about a reorganization of my albums. I have followed the Stacy Julian LOM system with my albums. And while that has worked great in many aspects, it hasn’t worked completely. I have thought about signing up for Shimelle’s Cover to Cover class. But I think I’ll take a good hard look first at my pages and stories as you have suggested, and see what stories I find that are missing. I’m looking forward to your upcoming video and the rest of your posts on this subject. Thank you!

  • Chriss

    How timely, Noell. I’ve been doing the same thing will all my albums. I’ve started with two different holiday albums that are nearly complete. In fact, I just need to sew some page protectors to size, and one of the section of one of those holiday albums will be complete. I’m doing the same with our non-trip albums… though that’ll take a lot longer. No rush. My albums are completely viewable as is.

    I’ll be playing along. I don’t know if I’ll finish either of these before the end of the month, but now I have a bit more incentive to get the remaining languishing photos printed sooner. :)

    Looking forward to the new video. I love seeing into other people’s albums (I don’t know anyone IRL that scrapbooks).

  • Cornelia/Sorken

    I’ll be following you! But I don’t think I’ll have time to finish an album completely (preparing for an exhibition at the end of April). And I don’t think I have enough pages on one ‘theme’ to fill a complete album. I’ll use this time to look through my pages and find and name the stories/themes that suits me and my life and move pages around. I joined Shimelle in her Journal Your Christmas, and that spun off into a Christmas Album that I call “Spår av jul” (= “Traces of Christmas”). If I only can make up my mind on what pages I want in there, then hopefully I could finish that one. I have a really hard time making up my mind. And that goes for everything! :-)

  • Melissa Gross

    I started working on a couple of layouts for my album after I read your first post on Wednesday and have finished three layouts which I’ll be sharing on my blog tomorrow. (I’ll come back & post a link then.) All my layouts for the album I’m working on are in random order, so I’m planning to do a little organizing and planning this weekend to see what needs to be done to complete this project. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Great – that will totally work because it’s so similar to what we’re doing.

  • Great head start! Looking forward to seeing it!

  • Many of my albums require some page sewing — but not the one I’m working on this month. :)
    Even if you don’t finish, hopefully you’ll get a good jump on things.

  • Gladdie

    Fantastic motivation! good luck to us all!

  • Irene

    I have looked through my album, made a list of what needs to be done and I am on my way. I am surprised at how I feel – like a weight has been lifted of my shoulders !!!!! I have direction and purpose. I am so ready to tackle this task. Thanks Noell :)

  • What an awesome concept! Now, which unfinished album to choose… I was thinking of finishing a heritage album that I’ve been working on, but an everyday life one might be more fun. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Melissa Gross

    Here’s a link if you want to see what I’m working on:

  • Yes — give it a try and see if this helps you find your solution. While I’ve moved away from LOM quite a bit, it was definitely the starting point that helped me find my own way with my albums, and I her album categories still help me get a start on certain albums that need some time to grow before I pinpoint the story. Hopefully I’ll be able to touch on that a bit next week in a post about album stories. :)

  • Ha ha — more like walls of incomplete albums for me! Years ago I made one album at a time and I made them in the order that they went into the scrapbook. So those old albums are all done. I don’t work that way anymore, and even though I’m slow to finish many of my albums now, they inspire me a lot, so it’s all good!

  • Congratulations! That’s so awesome to hear! Sometime soon I’ll do a blog post about the way I think of albums and stories nowdays because this new way of doing it also gives me that same feeling of direction and purpose and inspiration when it comes to choosing what types of stories I scrapbook now.
    Great job, Irene!

  • Alright! Fun is always…well, it’s fun! That’s how I usually choose what scrapbooking stuff to work on! ;)

  • Yay! Just left you a comment! ;)

  • Melissa Gross

    I thought I’d share another link here – I recently combined my LOM system with ideas from Shimelle’s Cover to Cover class and completed a chronological album for 2007. I used similar questions/ideas to the ones in this prompt (from one of Shimelle’s prompts) to fill in the gaps in my album. I share about it in a blog post & created a video of the entire album:

  • kathy m.

    Melissa I can’t believe how much we have in common with regards to our album organization evolution! I scrapped chronologically until about 2006. I then discovered Stacy’s first book and began thinking about album organization and scrapbooking differently. I began organizing layouts in the 4 LOM categories but still missed seeing our stories in order. My family seemed to miss it too and didn’t quite get the new categories. Last year I took Shimelle’s class and it prompted me to look at things in a new way. I now put “Things we Do” in albums by year, chronologically. “Things we do” for me includes: bdays, holidays, sports, and trips and events. Last year after taking Cover to Cover I completed my 2007 album-just like you. I went through layouts and found what was missing. Using Stacys organization cards helped me. I still have three binders that have categories though. People we Love, All about Us, and Places we Love. These house personalities and relationships about my immediate family and extended family and friends as well as documention of our homes and some travels. These are still a work in progress, but I still have stories I want to tell that may span several time frames and I am happy to have a home for these items.
    I enjoyed your blog post and video and it has inpsired me to begin adding to my blog again (I only have a very few posts). I do have a few explaining a bit of my organization. I so look foward to this play along and am exploring my 2008 album to complete. Thanks Noell !

  • Melissa Gross

    How interesting Kathy! I did keep one Category Album for All About Us, too. We certainly did have a similar journey with our albums. I really enjoy everything else about my LOM system & now with this new album organization I am having even more fun scrapping!

  • Melissa — thanks for sharing your link to your own conclusions. I love that we can all share what we do. Most of us probably adopt some things from others and then tailor them to our own personalities. When I want to see something chronologically I go to my computer where I have my photos really wonderfully organized with journaling attached as metadata. I love viewing them on my computer when I want to see something that way.

  • I’ve been adding little bits to my old layouts from one paper line – Dear Lizzy’s Fifth and Frolic – and my old layouts from the years 2000 – 2013 are beginning to look like they all belong together! This album project is so much fun!

    (here’s a link: )

  • Melissa – your video is awesome!

  • kathy m.

    Just posted a blog entry about how I finished up an album last year and how I plan to “play along” and complete another one with this challenge.

  • Great blog post! Just left ya a comment!

  • That was a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Thanks for the idea! I have had a hard time getting myself back into scrapbooking. So, I started going through my shelves and found lots of page ideas I had put in folders, so I did a couple of those. Then I put away all my pages I did last year for 12. Some were in an album, some were on an easel. Now they are all in my Library of Memories topic albums. Then I saw a few back sides and used some more of my page ideas to finish those. THEN I found an old album I did of my childhood that needed titles and journaling in the last 15 pages. So I finished those. I am feeling so accomplished! Thanks for the challenge!!

  • Wow, you got right on top of things! Holy cow — that is awesome!! Great job and congratulations. I bet you feel amazing!

  • LeAnne Spetch

    I’m playing along too. Here’s a link to my blog post about it.
    I did a reorganation to part of my LOM albums and am working on finishing one of them.

  • Melissa Gross

    I’ve finished a few more layouts for my album and come up with a plan for its organization! I have quite few more photos & stories I want to add, so I’m not sure if I’ll finish this month. Posted my progress on my blog today: