Freelance writer Connie Myers was given an amazing opportunity to be part of the select in-studio audience for Becky Higgins’ unprecedented three day live streaming class with creativeLive recently. She agreed to share her behind the scenes experience of the event with Scrapbook Update readers. — Nancy
Project Life founder Becky Higgins and online education site creativeLIVE joined forces to stream a three-day scrapbook event from November 20th-22nd, 2013.
CreativeLIVE offers online education on creative topics. Its diverse courses include photography, business, software, design, video, audio and lifestyle classes. The company’s business model is to broadcast the class for free while it is live. If audience members wish to watch the broadcast again (or new viewers find the course later), they may purchase the video file. Shows are catalogued on the creativeLIVE web site for later purchase.
To produce their first streaming scrapbook event, the creativeLIVE team approached Becky Higgins. She was a perfect choice. Becky Higgins LLC has a huge online following, including 14,000 on Twitter, 17,000 on Instagram, and 49,000 on Facebook.
Becky’s love of scrapbooking extends back many years. She put together her first scrapbook in high school and continued through college and marriage. Then of course she became part of the Creating Keepsakes Magazine team after a now-famous encounter with Lisa Bearnson’s mother in church one Sunday. I personally was a fan of Becky’s Scrapbook Sketches, her longtime regular feature in Creating Keepsakes. Her clean designs and graphics helped me create family scrapbooks that I love.
As the scrapbook industry evolved, scrapbookers became overloaded with product and with the idea that every page must be a creative masterpiece. Becky designed Project Life as a way to get back to basics – a simplified approach to scrapbooking using photos, slide-in pocket pages, and coordinated pre-printed title and journaling cards to create a beautiful scrapbook in very little time.
CreativeLIVE invited Becky to teach its online audience about the Project Life approach to scrapbooking through a three-day broadcast. Becky told us that at first she wasn’t sure what she would teach for three days, as she can explain Project Life in 30 seconds or less. She soon realized that if she taught the philosophy behind preserving family memories, she would have a lot to talk about.
“I have a passion for sharing and it happens to be that my ‘circle of influence’ has grown a bit over the years,” Becky told me in an e-mail after the show. “But I’m just trying to do my best like everybody else – as a wife and mother, a friend, a part of my community, and in my work. I really care about what I do and if it benefits, enlightens, motivates, inspires, or uplifts even just a few people, I’m pleased about that.”
Becky Higgins and the creativeLIVE team advertised for scrapbookers who wanted to be a part of the live broadcast in the creativeLIVE studio. I was one of eight women invited to the San Francisco studio. We met over breakfast: Denise, Cady, Lisa, Rachel, Michelle, Debbie, Tami, and me. Tami and I were college roommates, but we were the only two with a previous friendship.
Each morning of the three-day production, we arrived at the studio at 8:00 for a catered breakfast. On that first morning none of us knew quite what to expect. The production team quickly made us feel comfortable. We chatted in the breakroom as sound engineers helped us with our mikes. Our energy levels rose dramatically as our start time approached and we prepared to move to our studio.
CreativeLIVE began in Seattle in 2010, but the company now has a second site in San Francisco. The building is large and airy and industrial. Everything about the office is creative and innovative and inspiring, from the air ferns growing on the wall to the floral frosting piped on the breakroom brownie bites.
The San Francisco location has four studios. All four may be streaming different classes at once. Our studio had a low round wooden stage in front of a backlit lavender wall. The eight of us sat at four desks facing the stage. Four cameras surrounded us. Black curtains lined the walls behind us.
The daily ten-minute pre-show began at 8:50 a.m. Hosts Jamarie Milkovic and John Kennedy O’Connor (JKO) introduced themselves and welcomed the internet audience to Becky Higgins’ Scrapbooking with Project Life. Using a display screen, JKO explained how the creativeLIVE web site works during a broadcast. On the top of the creativeLIVE home page is a green WATCH NOW button. Clicking that button takes viewers to a display of programs currently playing. The internet audience is invited to participate in the live broadcast by posting comments or asking questions using the online chat board. JKO and Jamarie monitor comments during the production, making the internet audience part of the event.
The formal broadcast began at 9:00. Jamarie and JKO introduced each of the studio audience members and asked us to tell a bit about ourselves. Then JKO turned the stage over to Becky Higgins and took a seat next to Jamarie at the computer monitors.
Becky Higgins had a formidable task ahead: talking and teaching for 18 hours over the course of three days. Becky is well-loved by the scrapbookers watching both around the world and in the studio, so she was talking to friends. Still, 18 hours is a lot of time (especially with a head cold). She met the challenge. Becky was friendly, personable, sincere, warm, and approachable. She believes in her product and in her message and conveyed that belief with sincerity and passion. The 18 hours I spent with her was time well spent.
“To be truthful, preparing for creativeLIVE was pretty overwhelming,” Becky told me in an e-mail. “ But working with the creativeLIVE producers was nothing short of awesome. They are fantastic. And then to actually get there and meet my wonderful little live studio audience in person? Icing on the cake. Everyone was so great. I was very grateful that my voice ‘hung in there’ to get me through the show (18 hours of talking!) and that I only put my foot in my mouth a handful of times. Honestly, I am very grateful for the experience.”
Over the course of three days, Becky talked about the history of scrapbooking, her own association with the scrapbook industry, the genesis of Project Life, prioritizing, goal setting, Project Life products, organizing photos and memorabilia, scanning, mini albums, digital photography, digital Project Life, photo-taking tips, journaling ideas, social media, and strategies to stay motivated.
Becky also had several guest instructors. Photographer Kara Layne advised us on digital photography and telling stories through photos. Tech guru Kevin Allgaier (who happens to be Becky’s brother) taught us about organizing and editing digital photos using Photoshop. Designer Kari Holt walked us through the steps of creating a digital scrapbook layout using Digital Project Life. Stacy Julian, founder of Simple Scrapbooks Magazine and Big Picture Classes, appeared via Skype to tell us about upcoming online classes and workshops available through Big Picture Classes.
During one session, those of us in the in-studio audience began work on our own Project Life scrapbooks. We each brought 400 photos from home. Becky supplied albums, page protectors and kits. JKO and Jamarie reported from the chat room that many online viewers also scrapbooked as they watched. Chat participants bonded over their scrapbooks. They formed their own Facebook group and have invited the in-studio class participants to join them.
Each day of the broadcast we had two morning sessions and two afternoon sessions, divided by fifteen minute breaks and a 45-minute lunch. We were well fed. Every breakfast, break, and lunch was catered with exceptionally good food.
We completed our third day of filming at 4:00 on Friday afternoon and joined the crew in the breakroom for a wrap party – catered, naturally. Several of us were asked back into the studio to face the camera once again and talk about our creativeLIVE experience.
Meanwhile, Becky and husband David Higgins filled four tables with Project Life product for us to take home. Becky suggested we be as greedy as possible as we ran into the room. She counted down as she started filming us. On cue, we ran in the door screaming, fighting over free stuff. This you have to see for yourself.
Actually, notwithstanding the video evidence, we were remarkably civilized. We were polite and offered product to each other before we claimed it for ourselves. And we all said thank you.
CreativeLIVE plans to further expand its scrapbook content in coming months. Next up is Digital Scrapbooking for Beginners taught by Michelle Stelling, a three-day workshop beginning December 12, 2013. As always, the course will be free to watch live online and may be purchased for later viewing. CreativeLIVE is accepting applications for its in-studio audience.
Over those three November days in San Francisco, the eight of us in the studio audience became great friends. We shared cabs and meals and laughter and a love of scrapbooking. Tami empathized with every story and kept the tissue handy. Denise made us laugh. And laugh. Rachel suggested that Becky provide relationship advice along with scrapbooking ideas. Michelle has every one of Becky’s books and brought them in for Becky to autograph. Debbie, the quietest of the group, commented thoughtfully and sincerely. Lisa is in search of a 6’4” Polynesian boyfriend. Cady unified us as friends. She named us the Sisterhood of the Traveling Scrapbookers. We are already talking about a reunion. We’ll be sure to scrapbook it. This group friendship was just one more gift Becky gave us.