Planning Ahead

Even though I use a planner and I like to think of myself as organized, I often find myself making my monthly sticker kit for my planner at the last minute. Sometimes the new month has begun before I start making the kit.

I wanted to get a jump on the next couple of months for a couple of reasons. One, because making both the kits for November and December puts me ahead. Two, because it means I can cross two things off my to-do list. 😀

I could buy sticker kits on Etsy for my planner, and I have before, but I like to make my own. I’ve shown you several of them before, but I don’t think I’ve shared them for a couple of months. Eventually I plan to sell them myself on Etsy, but until then, I have fun making them for my own planner.

For November, I wanted a nice, soft, autumn theme – not the usual turkeys and Thanksgiving theme. So I made this:

Ignore the payday and bill due stickers – I don’t generally use those myself, so I don’t bother changing the colors on them when I make my own kits. And it wasn’t until after I had printed it, cut it, and went to apply it that I realized I forgot to change the name of the month to November. Gah!

I do like the way it turned out, and I love that I can hop over to Pixabay and find all kinds of free art there. So I spent some time finding things to use on my December layout as well. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, so I found all kinds of goodies to use.

I really like how the December stickers turned out. I love the colors and I couldn’t resist the cute little plaid reindeer. The maple leaf is a nod to my Canadian husband. 😀 This kit was a little frustrating, because my cutting machine was being a jerk and not aligning properly when cutting. I printed and cut the stickers three times before finally deciding to close the software program and restart it. Voila! Suddenly it cut perfectly.

At least now those two months are done and I can move on to working on other things – like my budget planner. I do also need to order new planner to use for next year. The budget planner I use is undated and I accidentally ordered two the last time I needed one, so I’m set there. For my personal planning, I use a big Happy Planner. I’ve tried several different sizes, but I like the big one the best.

I’ve tried using the Erin Condren planner, and while I love the way the paper feels, the spiral binding makes it too difficult to add and remove pages for me. It’s so much easier to move things around with the Happy Planner disc system.

Now, on to the next project! 😀

August Planner Set Up

August is just around the corner – literally. 😛  So I thought it was time to get my August monthly planner done.  I didn’t want to use a ‘back-to-school’ theme, since we won’t be going back until September.

I browsed through several kits on Etsy, then finally decided I would do a D&D theme.  I found some freebie polyhedral dice pics on Pixabay and threw in a few of my own mini pics to set up the kit.

Aug 2020 Monthly BigI don’t use the payday stickers or the bill due stickers, so I didn’t change the color on those.  The three stickers at the top are generally used for holidays – except there aren’t any holidays in August.  None. Nada.  Zilch.

It’s hard to tell sometimes from the Silhouette program how the design will actually look once you place all the stickers in your planner.  I’m pretty pleased at how this one turned out.  Black and yellow are the colors for the college my kids will be attending, so I did give that a nod with the color scheme.

I’m already trying to decide what kind of a theme to use for next month, because I doubt I’ll want to use ‘back-to-school’ then either.  What kind of themes do you like?

July Planner Layout

I’m behind this month in getting my planners laid out for July.  I set up my budget planner for July last week, but I didn’t get my personal planner set up until this week.

I didn’t want to do the traditional ‘stars and stripes’ for July.  I wanted something different.  So I decided to do a Canadian theme in honor of my husband.  Bonus points for me because July 1 is Canada Day. 😀

It’s a very simple layout.  I found a couple of free designs on Pixabay and used the patterns to plug into my planner template.

IH July 2020 Big Pg 1

I use the Big Happy Planner and this is my template for the headers and footers on both monthly pages as well as date covers and some full boxes.  The red and white is admittedly a plain color scheme, but it works for what I wanted.

June feels like it went really quickly, which is strange, because March and April seemed to take forever.  And I think I missed May completely!

March 2020 Kit – Big Happy Planner

February just flew by, didn’t it?  I suddenly realized I hadn’t created a kit for March for my planner yet.  I have decided to move from the classic size Happy Planner to the big size – I have tons more room to write, and I can still see everything at once, without having to flip back and forth from the weekly views.

I tried using the weekly views, but having to flip back to the monthly overall just got annoying.  I guess I’m just set in my ways. 😛

Anyhoo, here’s the kit I created for March 2020 for my Big Happy Planner:

IH March 2020 Big Pg 1 JPEG

It’s a fairly simple kit – just the two top washi, two bottom washi, a couple of holiday stickers, some full boxes, and the date covers.  I printed the payday stickers, but I keep all my budget stuff in a separate planner, so I don’t really need those for my big planner.  Same for the bill due stickers.  I know a lot of people find them useful, so I included them in the kit.

Here’s what it looks like after I applied it to the pages in my planner:

March Kit HP Big

Again, my photography skills aren’t the best, but you get the idea.  I am still deciding what to do with the kits for the big Happy Planners.  Because they are so large, it takes an entire 8.5″ X 11″ sheet of paper just for the stickers.  Which means they will cost more to mail, so I am considering whether I should make them available for download rather than as a physical product.  We shall see.

Creating Planner Covers

One of the products I plan to offer in my shop is covers for the Happy Planners.  I’ve made several of them now, and I think I finally have the process down pat.

I made one as a test a while ago and have made several tweaks.  The first one seemed a bit flimsy, so I added in cardstock for additional weight, and I changed my laminating sheets to 5 mil rather than 3 mil.

I had already purchased a special punch specifically for use with the Happy Planner disc system.  I experimented on the first one with adding some stickers, and I have some ideas for adding other things to future creations.

With these covers in mind, I went out and purchased some scrapbook papers that I thought would work.  It takes 4 pages of 12X12 scrapbook paper (and 2 pages of regular cardstock)  to make the front and back cover for the classic size Happy Planner.  I think I can get both covers out of only 2 pages of scrapbook paper for the mini Happy Planner.  I need to figure out my cost, and then see how much shipping would be for a cover.

If it ends up being too costly for shipping, I may have to scrap the idea as a product, but I am having fun making them.

I made this cover for myself:

Galaxy Cover 1

When I bought my planner, I couldn’t find a cover that I liked, that spoke to me.  My sister had the same experience, so I’m planning on making her a custom one next.  I love the galaxy/star theme of this paper.  The stars and lines are gold foil, though that’s a bit hard to see in the photo.

The white galaxy paper on the inside covers is from the same theme pack of paper:

Galaxy Cover 3

Now that I’m looking at the photos, I may add a foil 2020 or something to the front cover.  Just something to jazz it up a bit.  All in all, though, I’m much happier with this cover than the one that came with the planner.

Making Mockups

As I get closer to opening my Etsy shop, one of the things I need to do is to take product photos and/or have mockups of them so that I can show buyers what my stickers look like.

My photography skills are still not great, and even with a light box I’m getting weird shadows on product photos.  So I thought I would try using some mockups, since my products are created digitally first.  I’ve seen a million of them used on Etsy, so a quick internet search would net me some options, right?

Wrong.

Oh, sure, I found a ton of mockups available for free and for sale, but none of them were really what I needed.  I’m not selling photos or prints, and that was the majority of the mockups out there.  After an afternoon of fruitless searching, I decided I would try to make my own.

I own Photoshop CS6 (the last version you could actually purchase, rather than a subscription).  I’m no expert user by any means, but I figured I would at least try.  It turned out to be easier than I thought.

Because my monthly kits will be multiple pages, buyers will want to see what is on each page.  Also, I may offer pages for individual sales, so they will definitely want to know what they are getting in that instance.  So I needed two different mockups – one to show the entire kit, and one to show each page.

Using my limited Photoshop skills, I managed to come up with the following:

Test 3 Stack
This is the mockup for the entire kit

I’m using the kit I made for myself for February as an example.  I managed to figure out how to make each page of the kit a smart object, so now I can just replace each sheet with an image from my Silhouette software, and I’m good to go!

Here’s the mockup I made so that you can see what’s on each individual sheet of the kit, in case someone wants to purchase only certain sheets:

Test 3 Straight
Here you can see each sheet

I’m really happy with the way these turned out.  I now have an easy way to show buyers what they are getting and all the front-end work I put in will make any new images I need to create fast and easy.

Now if I can just improve my photography skills!

Sticker Tetris

tetris-2973518_1920
Credit: Pixabay

I’m still working on my sticker templates for my sticker business.  I’ve designed monthly kits for both the Happy Planner (mini, classic, and big sizes) and the Erin Condren Life Planner.

Now that the templates are done, I can simply fill them in with designs and then sell the themed kits.  Designing the templates, however, was an experience.

First I had to acquire each planner so I could measure for sizes.  I did try just looking up the sizes on the internet, but every site had slightly different sizes, so I decided to measure them myself.  Also, most of the measurements I found were in inches, and they weren’t easy measurements.  For example, some of the monthly boxes were listed as 1.56″.  That’s a weird measurement when you’re working in inches.

So I decided to try metric.  You remember metric? That system they had us learn in the 70’s because the US was going to start using it?  The one where everything is in multiples of 10?  Yeah, that one. 🙂

Amazingly, using millimeters to measure, I ended up with easy to remember numbers.  40mm X 40mm.  40mm X 20mm.  And so on.  No weird decimals to deal with.

So once I had all the sizes I need for the various stickers that go in a kit, I had to try and fit them into a small sheet.  I have to mail the sheets, so I wanted to keep the sheets small to save on postage.  Somewhere around 7″x5″ is pretty typical for the kits.

But trying to fit all the stickers into that 7″X5″ area is like playing a game of Tetris.  You think you have everything placed perfectly, and then realize you forgot a sticker.  Or you want to try and fit in just one more sticker, and that means rearranging everything else.

I persevered, and the templates are done.  Now I can move on to the next job.  😀

Back on Track

Download Success
Credit: Pixabay

I think I’ve mentioned before that I am a planner from way back.  I’ve been planning for as long as I can remember.  I’ve done it for so long that when I don’t, it throws off my whole schedule.  For instance, because I’ve been trying out different planners, I don’t have everything in one place like I used to.  So I completely missed the fact that I have double-booked myself for two events that I have to attend.  Which means I now get to figure out how to rearrange schedules so that I can make it to both – not the end of the world, certainly, but things would have been much easier if I had realized it from the beginning and scheduled accordingly.

In the planner sticker world, the Happy Planner Classic and the Erin Condren Life Planner are two of the most popular planners.  I finally got my hands on a cheap Erin Condren (half-off because it’s an 18 month planner, but it’s got all of 2020 in it, so win!) and I also bought the Happy Planner mini and Big sizes so that I could take measurements for my sticker kits.

I was surprised to discover that I actually really like the Erin Condren planner.  It’s good quality, it’s sturdy, and the paper is smooth.  The downside? The large spiral – it gets in the way of everything I do.  So, while I like it, I won’t be using it.

I thought I would stick with the Happy Planner Classic, because I knew I wouldn’t use the mini.  I don’t carry my planner with me – it stays on my desk and I check it periodically throughout the day.  If I worked full-time, I might want something portable, but not now.  And I’m finding that I really miss my large, cheap, big box store planner – it was large and had lots of room to write in the monthly spreads.  The monthly spread is really all I use in my planner, because I like to see everything at a glance.  I’ve been trying to use the weekly spreads in the Classic, but it gets annoying to keep flipping back and forth.

I think I’m going to move to the Big Happy Planner – I don’t need the weekly pages, but the monthly spreads are large and give me plenty of room to write everything I need to in one place.

I’ve managed to pare down from 6 planners to 2 – one scheduling planner and one budgeting.  It’s taken some getting used to, but I feel like I have a good handle on things now that I’ve pared down.  For a while there, with 6 planners, I think I spent more time copying the same thing into multiple planners than I did actually planning.

I have gotten all the templates for my monthly sticker kits made for the sizes I want to sell, and my goal now is to get demos printed and photographed so I can post them for sale. I’ve also figured out how to make covers for the Happy Planners, and I’ve already had two requests for them!

HP Classic Cover
My first cover!

It took me a couple of tries to get the dimensions just right, but I’m excited to make these.  I picked up some pretty scrapbook paper to use for them and I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

Now that my planner and organization is back on track, hopefully everything else will fall into place.  Things aren’t going as fast as I’d like, and I’ve still got some business housekeeping things to take care of as well, but I’m slowly getting there.

February Planner Stickers

Once again, I am behind schedule.  I have been working on my sticker business, creating stickers and figuring out what works for me.  If I wouldn’t use it, I don’t want to sell it.

It’s taken more trial and error than I had anticipated.  I wanted to start offering my monthly sticker kits in February, but since I’m behind, now I’m aiming for March.  Le sigh.

However, there is good news.  I’ve been creating stickers and I’m happy with how they’ve turned out so far.  I’ve avoided posting pics of what I’ve created because I want to wait until I have them ready for sale (i.e., when I’ve finally decided if I’m going to plunge into Etsy).  But since I’m not going to sell this February kit, I thought I’d share it.

My picture taking skills still need work, but here’s what the first two pages of the kit look like:

IH Feb Tulips Monthly Kit

It’s not perfect (the kit or the picture), but I’m working on it.  I am going to use this kit myself for February.  I made a winter-themed kit for January that I’m using as well.  I didn’t think initially that I would need weekly kits, but I am going to try creating some of those as well.

Using kits like these are any easy way to make my planner prettier, while still remaining functional. There is a third page with some additional full and half boxes, as well as some script and scalloped stickers.

Here’s a picture of the kit in use:

IH Feb Tulips Monthly Layout

I think it turned out pretty well, though my sticker application skills could use some work.  As could my photo skills, since there are weird shadows on my photos – I took this using a light box and they’re still there.  I guess I need to use the light box and my ring light.

I made these for my classic Happy Planner, but I’m struggling to keep from purchasing the other sizes and brands to see which one I like better.  I have to say, I love the disc system and the fact that I can take the pages out and write without the discs getting in my way.

My next tasks are to improve my photography, get busy creating for March kits, and working on other functional stickers.