In 2007, I got married and soon heard about starting a blog. I barely knew what a blog was, but I went ahead and wrote about being a newlywed, my travels and job and what we did with our friends. I’d take pictures and type up what I did- it was fun! A few years in, I found out that I could make a book by printing up my blog. And that’s where my yearly photo book was born!
I store my books under this bench. Where we can quickly grab them ad flip through them
I heard about a company- Blurb who had a software for making a blog into a book quickly. Sadly, they no longer use that software (sob!), but that’s how I started using them to make my yearly books. I’ve made one with them every year since 2008. 12 books in, I’m pretty committed to keeping my book uniform so I’m not going to switch companies now.
This post will be all about how I make my yearly photo book through Blurb (note, this is not sponsored by them. I’ve paid for all of my books). If you want to check out other companies, Blook Up, Pixxi Book, Blog 2 Print, Into Real Pages, & Blog Booker all have options for making a blog into a book. They also have software to quickly upload a blog if you’re looking for that feature.
I am a huge memory keeper. I was always the Historian in clubs in high school and loved taking pictures and putting them in scrap books. As a kid, one of my favorite pastimes was to make a scrapbook full of pictures and stickers and fancy paper. But that takes forever and, to be honest, it’s kind of an expensive hobby. Instead, now I like to make a yearly photo book.
Why make a yearly photo book? As a way to organize the zillion images you take and preserve them in one spot. It’s a way to highlight your best memories and write about them. This quote- “we write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.” by Anais Nin is also apart of it. There’s a sweetness and sometimes a sadness when making these as you relive the past. Plus it’s a great reminder to live a life you want to remember.
I 100% suggest making a yearly photo book! As you can see from above, I kind of lucked into making mine. But now, they’re one of my most prized possessions. Like, I’d grab my kid, dogs, and these if there were a fire. I’ve spent so many hours creating my photo albums and they hold my best memories.
I can’t tell you how many times I have grabbed one of my books to see what we were doing in years past. My husband and I love to look through old ones and see our travels and the fun things we did with our friends. And now, Don loves looking through them too!
flash back photo of Don looking at one of the photo books
Determine how long your book will be for. My book is a year long and goes from my anniversary in September to the next September which is confusing sometimes! I would suggest starting with January and going through December to keep it simple. Some people create books for trips or big events (wedding, new baby).
So say you want to start on making a yearly photo book, but where should you start? My suggestion would be to start with a current event. Writing about what happened a few weeks ago will be easiest since it’ll be fresh on your mind. Start there and get in a groove. You’ll find ways to make a photo book efficiently and then you can go back in time to “catch up” if you want.
If you decide to go back in time, decide how far back you’ll go. Catching up can be the death of this project. I do wish I had one of these for every year of my life, but that’s not going to happen. I have gotten a few years behind and it’s been hard to catch up, but I’ve done it because it’s worth it to me.
Just be realistic on how much you can actually do. Choose a month and completely finish it. Repeat until the year is done. Having one year done is better than having a few months here and there started and then never finished because you got overwhelmed. Focus is the key with this project.
Now that you know how long your book should be and when you’ll start your photo book, it’s time to organize your photos. 99% of the photos I have in my photo books were taken on my phone. So I open the photo app on my phone and make a list of events I want to write about in a notebook.
Start with one month and say “in March I did…” and write down each item you want to remember in the future. I usually have 13-17 events each month that end up in the book. Things like birthdays, places I traveled to, holidays, fun events, or just everyday photos I don’t want to forget.
When I take pictures now, if I think it’ll be something I’ll want in my book, I try to take a variety of photos to really capture the moment. Not everything I take a picture of ends up in the book. And that’s ok.
Once I have those events written down, I import all of my photos from the month onto my computer. I have a folder for each year (for example 2020 or 2019). Within the year’s folder, I have subfolders for each month. I name them 1 January, 2 February, 3 March, etc so that they are organized chronologically.
Then, within each month’s folder I have a folder called “best photos” and I put in only my favorite images I want in the book. Reading this back, it sounds OCD and time consuming, but it’s not bad. And I promise, your future self will thank you! Being able to quickly find special photos will save you soooooo much time in the future. Plus it feels good to have them in order!
I keep all my photos on a hard drive, I copy my favorites onto my laptop, and I have my photos on my laptop setup to sync onto the cloud. So my best images are in 3 places. In the past, I’ve accidentally lost photos and I’ve felt so sick about it. Having them in a few spots gives me peace of mind.
If you only have physical photos that you want in your book, scan them and digitalize them. If you don’t have a scanner, I recommend the app Google Photo Scan. It’s free and it takes 5 images of your photos and puts them together to create one high quality image.
When I got married and wrote a blog about my day to day life, that was the beginning of my photo books. I still keep that blog up today (though it’s now set to be private so no one else can read it since it’s turned into my journal). After organizing my photos, I write a blog post with each event I want to remember. AFTER that, I turn the blog into a book.
You don’t have to put your photos on a blog. If you want a quick photo book skip this step. But keep reading to see why I actually recommend it.
Why have a blog? It’s another way to back up your memories. From anywhere, anytime, I can pull up my personal blog and share old memories with friends and family. It’s also really nice to use the search function if you’re looking up a certain memory. For me, I find it so easy to navigate, it’s one small step but is a huge benefit.
You can start a free blog through blogger.com. It’s really easy to use and, like I said, it’s a great way to organize your memories. Of course, you can skip this step and put the text all on the photo book software. Just make sure to backup the text of the book so that if something happens with the company you go through, you have your memories in two spots.
how I make my yearly photo book
After I have my photos up on my blog with the text written, I start making my photo book through Blurb. They have their own software to make the book through- Book Write that you can download for free here. They have an app as well, but I prefer using my laptop to make my book since I find that most efficient.
First, I upload all the images that I’ve saved on my computer onto the book software. Then, I go to my blog and copy and paste the words I wrote for each event and the date. I start with the earliest event and work my way chronologically through the year.
I don’t have chapters, an intro or anything like that. It’s just one memory after another in the book. I find it really easy to navigate through the book since the date is on each page.
After the text is pasted in the book, I add the corresponding photos. My goal with my books is to make the photos as big as possible. For me, the whole point is to have a beautiful way to view my memories. So I take out as much white space as I can so the photos can be large. If I have a photo I love, I even make a whole page of it. I like how customizable the books are that I can do this!
With Blurb, I make my own layouts and have figured out 6-7 layouts that I use over and over to make it efficient to create my book.
Once the body of the book is filled in- usually 250-350 pages for me, I make a cover. I do a full image for the front and choose my favorite family photo from that year. The title of my book is the amount of years I’ve been married. For example, the first book was Year 1. Doing the actual year- i.e. 2020 would be best I think.
For the back of the book I choose my second favorite image. For the spine I put our family name, the dates of the book, and that it’s written by me (lol). You can put whatever you want, but I would suggest the dates so you can arrange them chronologically on the shelf so you know which book you’re grabbing for.
I like to spend a few hours on this once a week. But to be honest, that doesn’t always happen. I estimate that I can organize my photos, write up one month of event, and add them to the book in 3 hours. So 3 hours per month of memories and 12 months per book means that I spend 36 hours to make one book. 36 hours spread out over a year isn’t too bad.
tips for saving time on making the books
If you don’t have a ton of time, but still want to make a photo book here’s my tips on how to save time. 1. Don’t edit your photos. I don’t. Just use the images as you took them. 2. Stay up to date. The more recent the memory, the quicker you can write about it. 3. Don’t worry about perfection. Having one book done and pretty good is better than nothing. 100 times better.
I make an 8×10 photo book in standard portrait format. I order a hard cover with an image wrap. Making the outside of the book protected is a priority for me (you can do a soft cover if you want to save money). Personally, I use the standard paper that comes with the book. The quality is great and those options have always resulted in gorgeous books for me!
how much does the book cost?
My photo books usually end up being 250-350 pages just depending on how much we did that year. The cost is around $75-$100 for each book to print. You can usually get a discount on their website or social media. For me, the book is worth every penny.
If you don’t have the money to print the book right now, you can still make it. Do all the formatting and then save it in the software. That way when a good coupon comes up or you’ve saved enough it’s all ready to go and you can push print.
After you’ve make your first book and are ready to make more, my biggest tip is to use the same style and be consistent. There are so many ways to customize these books, but I think consistently using the same style through your books will keep them looking uniform and are easier for you to edit. And faster to make.
So why am I talking about photo books now? Well, I pulled mine out yesterday reminiscing about my past birthdays. With being home more, I think that it might be a great time to start making photo books. I like to make mine at night while watching TV with my husband. I take one night a week to work on mine- usually a weekend night.
Also, I think that it’s a great time to be writing down our thoughts on what’s going on.
We are in the middle of history! Let’s document our thoughts and feelings and frustrations. The beauty and the pain of what’s going on. Take pictures of your kids doing school from home or signs on your favorite buildings that are closed. Although it’s a strange reality now, this too shall pass and we might as well preserve our memories of it!
And honestly, these are one of my best decisions I’ve ever made to make. The books are priceless to me. I love that when my son is older, I can print more and he can have a written book that chronicles all our best times. I’ll never regret the time I spend being the historian of our family.
OK, that was a huge amount of information. I hope it was helpful if this is something you want to pick up. Let me know if you have any questions, I’m more than happy to help.
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