Advice for beginner card makers that I didn’t follow… but I wish I had!

By now you know that I’m new to the craft of card making. I stumbled across a card making video on YouTube in September 2020 (ever heard of Stamptember?) and I decided then and there that card making was going to be my new crafting jam! I started with absolutely nothing… no knowledge, no experience, no supplies. Like most enthusiastic newbies, I ran to the nearest craft store and picked up the cheapest supplies I could find, and started making cards. Well, I don’t know that those initial creations could be classified as “cards” but you get what I’m saying. I was off to the card making races.

Photo by Pixabay on

I should kinda back up for a second… before I went to the store, I binge-watched countless videos for beginner card makers. Experienced, knowledgeable card makers were doling out lots of advice to help newbies like me avoid the pitfalls of card making that they had endured. But in classic beginner-level fashion, I heeded none of their advice. “Hello, pitfalls! I’m Adrian, and I’m new here….” Today I want to share just 5 pieces of advice that I heard, didn’t heed, but wish I had…

If I had listened to this piece of advice, I would have avoided countless hours of frustration and disappointment. This was in regards to buying ink pads, but it really can be applied to just about anything in crafting.

When I was learning how to stamp, the process was horribly messy and I became quite discouraged when I couldn’t produce a single crisp, clean impression. I was using really cheap silicon stamps from Amazon (no negative reflections on any sellers and retailers) and spongy, squishy ink pads from Walmart. It was a recipe for disaster.

It wasn’t until I purchased my first photopolymer stamps and quality dye inks from MayMay Made It and Gina K. Designs that I started to fully enjoy my new crafty hobby. I was so surprised by the difference the quality products made in my card making. It was well worth it to spend a few extra dollars to get good quality supplies for crafting, and I will always go for the good stuff!

Card Making Supplies, photo courtesy of Adrian Mackey

This may seem like weird advice to give someone, but trust me, it makes so much sense to me now. My favorite color is green, closely followed by blue. Any shade of green (or blue) will automatically catch my eye. This is truly evident when looking at my craft stash of colored supplies like card stock, inks, glitter and even my scissor grips. I have more supplies in these two colors than any other hue of the rainbow. I love looking at all the stuff I have in those colors, but that is not too helpful when I want to create something that requires more than green and blue. I had nothing in orange or yellow. You can’t have a complete rainbow without those colors. Now I am more intentional when purchasing colored supplies, and my stash is growing in a more color-balanced way.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on

I was a professional makeup artist for over 20 years. Brand loyalty was the name of the game. This followed me into crafting. I would buy stamps, dies, inks, paper, tools, etc., from the same place/brand all the time. No matter how many different stamp sets they put out, the styles, themes, images and layouts were all the same. Everything I did looked the same. Then a crafty friend suggested some other brands to me, and that was when things really got fun! I love the variety. I love the eclectic feel of my craft stash. There’s a little bit of everything in there. Now, I seek out new (or at least new to me) supplies from a plethora of brands, big and small. Once again, I’m building my collection in a more balanced way.

Supplies from Altenew, Hero Arts, Ranger and Michaels, photo courtesy of Adrian Mackey

Now this piece of advice will require a bit of unpacking… This was originally referring to ink pads. However, for me, it is about so much more. First, it was good advice regarding my creative space. I had just moved into a new house, but did not have a lot of space for a craft room. If you watch the “craft room tour” videos on YouTube like I do, it can be a little disappointing and intimidating to see all the gorgeousness of these craft rooms online, and then have to look at your small space and not be able to deck it out like you saw in the videos. But I was able to start with just a table and chair in an empty corner. My storage consisted of a few bins from the Dollar Tree, tucked under the table for safe keeping. I was able to utilize that small space to the fullest!

This advice is also relevant when it comes to social media. I see so many creative craft pages with only a few subscribers/followers. This can be disheartening when you’re trying to reach a much bigger audience. Even for me, the slow growth of my social media platforms has been a little lackluster. Getting this blog started and getting people to subscribe has been more than challenging. But I keep reminding myself of one of my favorite scriptures, Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Just keep doing the work that’s right in front of you, and trust the growing process to bring the increase.

Photo by Anete Lusina on

The final piece of advice that I wish I had followed was this: You don’t have to buy everything all at once, or even buy it at all. Had I just listened to this, I would probably have a few more coins than I currently have in the bank. Remember when I said that I started with nothing? Well, I was not exaggerating. I had no ideas, crafting tools or supplies before September 2020. When I made up my mind to start crafting, I jumped in with both feet. Before card making, I am embarrassed to admit how much money I spent “finding my crafting niche,” but I will say this, my 401K is now probably more like 199A. I was totally reckless when it came to spending money on my crafting hobby. I first started with making DIY home decor. I cannot tell you how many wooden signs, glass candle holders, hot glue guns and glue sticks, paints and brushes, and all the other trappings required to make stuff for your home, at which I threw my money. I quickly got bored because it just wasn’t my thing. Then I tried wreath making. There are probably forty wire wreath forms hanging on the wall in my craft room because I just had to have those $1 forms. I was going to make a ton of wreaths and everybody was going to want one. Except, that did not happen either. Insert eye roll… I also bought a couple of Cricut machines, and all the blanks, pens, blades, tools, vinyl and every other thing you can think of for crafting with the Cricut. And a great deal of the stuff I bought is sitting in boxes in my storage room. Money wasted… Ok, so it is not totally wasted because I did learn some valuable lessons. But I’d still rather have the money.

As this applies to my card making hobby now, well let’s just say that I have had to learn that I don’t need nor can I afford every new craft release. I cannot tell you how many stamp sets, markers, paints, this new thing and that new thing that I have spent my money on and never even taken it out of the packaging. It’s overwhelming. Every week, a company is releasing the next great thing in card making, and I want it all! At one point, I was buying things so fast, I was duplicating items because I could not keep up with what I had bought. This got old really quickly. I had to put a stop to my spending. Now, I have a budget, a relatively small budget of $50 a month, to spend on crafting. That means, I miss out on a lot of shiny new crafty goodies. But it also means that I can save more money, and that makes me a happy crafter!

Photo courtesy of Adrian Mackey

I hope you’ve found this short list of advice for beginner crafters helpful. Even if you’re not a beginner, you may need to heed some of this above advice. We can all benefit. Please take the time to share your advice with me in the comments. I’d like to know what you wish you had listened to when you first started crafting.

Have a great day and make something wonderful!

2 thoughts on “Advice for beginner card makers that I didn’t follow… but I wish I had!”

  1. I am also a YouTube handmade greeting card crafter. Your story is exactly my story with hobbies in general. I began from a terrible breakup, and used adult coloring books as my healing process. I purchased so manny coloring books, thinking that I would color them all at the time because that was my only craft. I then from coloring wanted I to draw so I ditched the coloring books and purchased art book that was supposed to teach the basics. Needless to say I did gain any drawing skills. I I just recently gave all the coloring away to a crafting MS foundation. Total cost about enough to build a raining day fund. I decided to keep the drawing books and sketch pads.

    The goal of learning to draw was to color using alcohol markers and then progress to acrylic, oil, gouache painting on a canvas. I took a paint and wine course and became hooked. Out of the frustration of failed drawing attempts, I got the bright idea to indulge in Diamond dot painting and paint by number. I still have completely accomplished either craft. I do not know how someone sit for that long to complete those crafts.

    Still needing a crafting fix, I was browsing YouTube and stumbled upon a crafters companion greeting card tutorial. Down went everything my small craft room is a store. I have created haul videos with all the crafting goodies I purchased.

    I am just now starting to reduce my spending. Saying to myself you cannot get everything. I now regret investing so much and having an over abundance of die cutting machine from the Cricut explorer air2,the Cricut maker, Joy in which I won on Instagram when it first released; the brother scan n cut 2, the Gemini Junior, go, and now the pro, Sizzix foldaway, and the Diamond press Marquise. This is not counting all the stamps dies, punches, cardstock, embellishments, and stamping platforms I have acquired. Sometimes I get overwhelmed just walking into my craft room.

    However, I would not trade this investment for the world. It is my go to when stressed, the creations I’ve made for others have brought many smiles to their faces. If anyone new is considering papercrafting, please follow the advice of starting small and purchasing reputable items. These items cost more which will help you maintain a small amount.

    Liked by 1 person

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