Lisa Swift On Getting Published and Getting Onto a Design Team

Lisa Swift is another of a line of incredibly talented people you are going to see over the next week or so here on D's Paper Studio.  I totally love everything I've seen that Lisa has created.  Check out her work on her blog Remember the Good Times

Thanks Lisa (posted with Lisa's permission and blessing.)


I have been asked a number of times recently for tips and suggestions on how to get published and/or onto a design team. I am far from being an expert on this, but I thought it would be helpful to share what has worked for me and to provide a resource for those of you asking the same question.

Getting Published:

My biggest piece of advice, and you'll hear this echoed by others, is to keep trying. Don't give up! Don't get bogged down by the voices of self doubt in your head. Don't wonder if you're good enough. You'll never know unless you try (that's my motto, by the way)If a project isn't picked up by one publication, don't give up. Submit it to another.

Use current product. Unless a magazine has a call for "what's old is new again", try to use new product. Six months goes by between the time your project is requested to the time an issue is published. Product needs to be fresh and readily available.

Despite specific call topics, we don't truly know what editors are looking for. For example, there may be a call for spring pages. Everything you submit may be top notch but when it comes down to choosing the final projects, there are a number of variables involvedDecisions could be made based on style. Is the magazine looking to show diverse scrapbooking styles or do they want to showcase similar styles? Another consideration is whether your layout will work with others chosen for the issue and for the facing page. Are the colors complementary?

There have been times when I've been unclear about what to send in for a particular call. When this happens, I email the editor and ask for clarification. Use the contact information on a publication's web site or in the call itself. Creating Keepsakes, for example, has a contact name and email address listed after each and every call they post. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Better to know than to send something in that's not going to be considered.

If I feel I've interpreted a call a bit differently, I add a note to my submission highlighting what it is about my project that fits the call but may be a bit "outside of the box". Use products in ways they weren't intended to be used. Be creative!

Most publications have a "showcase" or "reader submissions" call for each issue. If you have something you think is special, send it in even if there's no specific call for it.

Although most publications post their calls on their web site, some post them on Facebook and some work from an editorial calendar that is not posted online. If you see a publication you'd like to work with, and their calls are not on their web site, email the editor and request a copy. Likewise, be sure to "like" the magazines you're interested in on Facebook so you can keep up with what they're looking for.

When you finish a project, write up a supply list. I do this by sending an email to myself (attaching the project to the email). I file the emails, by theme, in separate mailboxes in my email program. This way I reduce the chance of forgetting the manufacturer of a product I used. If you don't remember who made a particular product, list it as "unknown". Some of the categories I use are seasonal/holiday (like fall, winter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.). Others are birthday, pet, memorial, and family.

Take quality, well-lit photos of your work. Poor photography doesn't show your work at its best. Also, be sure to take photos straight on. You can get a square, straight on shot by
standing your layout up OR you can stand over the layout. Here's what I do:

  • Place a large piece of white foam core board on the floor, near a natural source of light AND flush against a baseboard or other straight edge. For me, this is my back slider. Having a straight edge to work with is important unless you have an amazing eye and can tell when things are straight.
  • Line the bottom edge of your layout up with the bottom edge of the board. Again, we're working on keeping things straight and square.
  • Place a chair or step ladder flush against the bottom edge of the board.
  • Depending on the height of the chair/ladder, either kneel or stand so you are hovering over the layout.
  • Square the layout in your lens finder, either using the top edge of the layout or the bottom. It's perfectly OK to get some of the board in the photo. It gives you room to crop later.
  • Crop and edit in whatever program you use.
I routinely save my files at 600x600 pixels. Most magazines require this size, although there are some that prefer 500x500 and yet others that want 1500x1500. Be sure to check the requirements so your project will transmit properly. I usually don't include close ups or detail photos unless they are specifically requested or I feel there's something special that needs to be highlighted. offers an up-to-date listing of current calls (magazines, challenges, and design teams). Some specific magazine calls can be found here:
All Northridge Publications (Scrapbook Trends, CARDS, Simply Handmade, Create, etc.)

Getting Onto a Design Team:

Keep your online galleries up-to-date. I've gotten publication and design opportunities because magazine editors and/or manufacturers went through my gallery and either requested a specific project or offered me a freelance opportunity because they liked my work.

Start a blog. It's another way to share your work (and the work you'll do once you're on a team). Keep your blog up-to-date. Try to post at least 2-3 times per week.

Add the manufacturer's name to your post title AND tags when posting on your blog or in a gallery. Jillibean Soup, for example, does a weekly blog post called "Soup Spotting". They search the Internet looking for projects that use their product (and they also take email submissions). Little Yellow Bicycle regularly posts projects on their blog from what they call the Peloton (a group or pack of bicycle riders). Fancy Pants does shout outs on Facebook when you post a project to their page. As you can see, there are many opportunities to have your work featured.

Truly love the product you'll have to work with. Don't try out for a team just because you want to be on one. If you don't love the product, you'll find yourself struggling to use it.

Share your projects on the manufacturer's Facebook page. Likewise, if you have a page published featuring at least 90% of a manufacturer's product, be sure to let them know, either on their Facebook page or by email.

Participate in a manufacturer's contests and challenges.

Comment regularly on a manufacturer's blog and Facebook page.

Share a company's new product announcements or contest posts on Facebook.

Pin from a manufacturer's board on Pinterest. Some even run "pin it to win it" type contests.

Offer to guest design. Get your name out there. Contact the design team coordinator to touch base or find someone who might know that person (or someone on the team) and ask them to put out some feelers for you.

Avoid drama. Be polite. Respond to emails promptly. Participate in the design team group (on Facebook, for example). Get your assignments done on time.

All in all, you need to get your name, and your work, out there. These are some ways to do it. If a company or magazine sees your name over and over and they know you are enthusiastic about their product, it may provide opportunities for you.

So those are my thoughts. If you have other ideas and suggestions I'd love to hear them. I blog at Remember the Good Times.

Lisa Rukin Swift
Freelance Scrapbook Designer
Blog: Remember the Good Times


  1. Loved Lisa's post. Very informative for sure! :)

  2. thank you so much for all of these tips---I've heard tips before, but so GREAT to have a concise list all in one place! THANK YOU!

  3. Great article! Love you girls!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing my post, Debby!

  5. I had a lot of hits...I know many people received some great advise.


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