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Digital scrapbooker turns hobby into Lincoln-based business

Lincoln, Neb.-based Gotta Pixel is a digital scrapbooking community started in 2005. 

We’ll venture a guess that unless you are already a digital scrapbooker, you probably aren’t aware of Gotta Pixel, a Lincoln, Neb.-based digital scrapbooking community.

But with 25,000 users and a gallery of more than 250,000 layouts, what started as a hobby has now become a full-time endeavor. 

“My next-door neighbors don’t know,” said owner Stacy Carlson of her business. “It’s a big industry but it’s a small industry.” 

Gotta Pixel is a great example of the beauty of the digital age: theoretically, at least, anyone can earn a living doing almost anything, almost anywhere. 

Carlson started Gotta Pixel with her cousin in 2005. Her daughter was getting “a little older” and she felt a need to get back into computers. She had picked up digital scrapbooking as a hobby (despite never liking paper scrapbooking) and had the original Gotta Pixel site up within two hours. 

For two years, it was a labor of love. If anyone “took the time to upload their layout, we took the time to leave a comment,” Carlson (right) said. 

Gotta Pixel took the leap toward monetization in 2007, adding a store so select designers could post page kits, elements and templates on a consignment basis. Carlson—her cousin later left the business—covers all of the server costs, PayPal fees, and other expenses herself. She also promotes the designers’ work through a daily newsletter and says that at least four of the designers make a minimum of $1,000 per month. 

Today, the site has a team of 21 designers along 13 employees and “Pixel Praiser” volunteers scattered all over the world, including members in Canada, Brazil, the Ukraine and Australia. 

In terms of challenges, “the biggest thing to try to handle is a virtual team,” Carlson said. The Gotta Pixel team is far-flung across so many time zones that even coordinating Skype calls doesn’t always work out well. Instead, they collaborate via email and a monthly group chat.

Now that Carlson’s two children are both in school, she has a more consistent daytime work schedule and time to reach out to the local startup community through Startup LincolnAwesome Camp and Ladies Who Launch

“I’m forever grateful that I get to work at home,” Carlson said. “I can go pretty much everywhere and as long as I have Internet I can work. Internet and a desk and away we go.” 

“Who would have thought that creating a digital scrapbooking community would become my business?” 


Credits: Product photo and Stacy Carlson photo courtesy of Stacy Carlson. 

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