Today is the big day! This is easily the biggest day for Scan Your Entire Life since July 5, 2010, when I had finally built up enough confidence to post the first article on this brand new website.
Now, almost 8 years later, I’m extremely excited to finally make the first public announcement on this website of my brand new membership and training course.
This online training course with professionally-produced video lessons, and some that are text-only when most appropriate, will teach even the most technologically-challenged person the basic steps for scanning their photos and documents. It's designed to help you gain confidence to make all the right scanning choices.
This has literally been over 3 years in the making, and truly would not at all be an overstatement to say this has been a monumental achievement for me to finally be able to unveil this to you!
Whether you've tried to scan your photo and document collections, and you didn't get very far because you were afraid you just weren't doing it right, or you’ve simply been procrastinating doing it for some reason, it's become my focus through this membership and training course to personally help guide you through each and every step of the way.
I'm so proud to finally present… the very first …. sneak-peak …..
….. of the brand new Membership course area!
If you're a long-time reader of this website or subscriber to my mailing list, who has been asking me for years now in your own unique and clever way to create some kind of a step-by-step, “one-on-one” detailed video instruction course on how to scan your photos, you're probably wishing I would just stop talking here, and just show you where you can finally line up and join! If that's you, just click the button below, and it will take you right to the Membership signup page.
For everyone else, I'd love to slow it down a bit for the rest of this article, and tell you all about what's happened with this website over the last few years or more, and explain how creating this Membership became my obsession and the key to helping the largest number of people finally accomplish scanning and organizing their entire life.
Because this seriously has been 3 years in the making, I'm sure you certainly didn't expect I would be able to put out a short announcement post about it right!? So, I've included a lot of big headings throughout the post. So, feel free to skip around and read what interests you the most.
WANT TO SEE WHAT THE COURSES LOOK LIKE?
Here's a short “teaser trailer” I put together just for you — like a movie preview without any words — made up of some of the edited footage you will see inside of the Scan Your Entire Life course lessons:
WHY I (FINALLY) CREATED A TRAINING COURSE
Ever since Scan Your Entire Life began in 2010, I've worked incredibly hard to create a fair amount of in-depth articles and lessons on various steps associated with the entire workflow of scanning your photo collections and then organizing your digital versions once they are in your computer.
It's almost hard to believe, but I've been operating my website for 8 years now. And as much information as I've already put out, there are a lot of people who tell me they still haven't started on their project yet. They still don't have a foothold on even beginning to start scanning.
But, why is that?
Why have so few people even started to scan their family photo collections?
As much as I believe all of my articles have helped so many people — especially judging by all of the wonderful testimonials and comments you all have taken the time out of your day to write me (thank you so much!!!) — I have to say, there's still been a huge portion of readers who continue to write, year after year, asking for even more help.
And I don't mean more useful little tips and tricks along their project's journey. I mean, you all are asking for instructions to the entire project — like a complete “A to Z” tutorial, in order from the beginning to the end, of everything I've learned and done to scan and organize my family photo collections. And this means sparing no details!
But, I have to tell you, when you all write me, you are so polite and often try so hard not to appear too needy of my time — which I just love to death and can certainly appreciate. I've got just the best readers ever!
Your requests are disguised in a carefully crafted request which appears from the first read to be asking for just a little “chunk” of the entire scanning project “puzzle.” But, after I've read it through another time, I really get a sense you're waving a little white flag and you're showing me you want the whole thing and even the kitchen sink!
Like, here's an example of a very nice email I received from Michael last July:
There are so many sites out there with so many conflicting opinions as to what is “right” and what isn't. Since my computer skills don't include photography, I find myself in unfamiliar territory… needing help. I've read a number of your blog posts and articles, but I was hoping for a bit more information.
You mentioned that you also use an Epson scanner. I was wondering if you could share what settings you tend to use with the Epson Scan program. Not just the ppi/dpi, the other settings as well. I've tried a bit of everything, from “Full Auto” to “Professional”, and everything in-between.
Having a “suggested baseline” would help give me a starting point as I take baby steps into this new field. My intentions are to eventually have a very high-quality archive. I appreciate any suggestions you can offer, and I thank you in advance for your assistance!
It's possible Michael is technologically advanced and truly could have excelled with his collection if I had just written back to him with what would amount to a half-page “cheat sheet” with some numbers and scanner setting positions (that have done wonders for me and my photos) typed out for him.
But, here's the thing — and this is really important to understand. These numbers and setting positions would be meaningless if Michael didn't already have the foundation of everything else I've learned about scanning that makes knowing when to use each of these settings useful. And when I write each person back, it's so hard for me to assume anyone already has this crucial “foundation of knowledge.”
So it's often an extremely daunting process for me to help people through just email and even my fairly detailed website articles, because I know I'm often just been supplying you all with “small pieces” and I'm not able to give you what you are really needing from me, which is to put together the whole puzzle for you — the entire “A-Z Roadmap.”
However, building a training course is definitely easier said than done. But, I was certainly up to the challenge!
WHAT IS THE SCAN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE MEMBERSHIP?
If I had to sum it up in the simplest of ways, I would tell you that the Scan Your Entire Life Membership Training Course currently is:
But, it's so much more than this. And because it's based on the membership subscription model, it's just going to get better and better every month you're in it!
Your Own Account
When you become a member of Scan Your Entire Life, you will get your own personalized account with a username and password. You can sign in to your account anytime by clicking on the “LOGIN” link at the top of every page on the website.
The entire membership area has been built on top of the main Scan Your Entire Life website. So, you're not going to be leaving the main website and going to a completely different one just to access your private membership area. I went to great lengths to ensure accessing your membership would be as seamless and easy as possible for you.
Once you're signed in, the first thing you will notice is a special blue menu bar will appear under the main one, that will give you access to the members-only features.
Your Membership Dashboard
You will first arrive on your personalized Dashboard page. This is like the instrument panel in your automobile. Here you can see all of the most up-to-date information about the membership area, and what's new since the last time you logged in.
Your Helpful Course Library
The Course Library is what most people will be joining the membership for — a list of the currently available course lessons, in order as it's suggested you watch them, to get the best experience learning all of the material.
Most of the lessons will be video-based, with some useful and additional text information underneath that compliments what was discussed in the video. And a much smaller portion of the lessons will be text-based, when text-only is most appropriate to convey the information.
Each lesson is easy to find because they are organized in categorical topics such as:
- Equipment and Supplies
- Scanning Concepts
- Flatbed Scanning
- Organizing Digital Photos
Your Own Supportive Community
People are going to be coming to the Scan Your Entire Life Membership for the training course material, but I won't be surprised to hear from many people, they are going to be sticking around for a long time because of the Community happening inside.
The Community is a private message board (a forum) that only members have access to. Here you can come in and ask a question if you're still stuck on certain topics and you're looking for some advice before moving forward. In addition to the course lessons, access to the Community is the biggest benefit of being a member.
Not only will I be inside the Community forum area answering questions and giving my own advice, we welcome all members to talk with and help members of the community with your own voice and opinions on what's worked for you with your own project. We're all in different places along the journey, and we can all use a little advice from someone that was just in the same place you were.
It's certainly not required that you use the Community area — maybe you consider yourself a little bit shy, or you just prefer going at things alone. But, I think you will find you'll progress much faster if you embrace the knowledge and support from all of us inside.
To get the ball rolling, there's a separate little area inside where we suggest you go first right when you sign up. Here is where you can introduce yourself and tell us how excited you are to get going on your scanning project! And you'll find you'll be welcomed with open arms!
You Get Coins!
Oh, and something small but fun I've recently added to the Membership area are “Coins.” Without any effort on your part, as a member, you will start collecting “coins” for various things. When you join, you are instantly awarded 10 coins. As you routinely do things such as reply to someone's comment in the Community, or answer a poll question, or read a blog article in the public area of the website, you will accumulate additional coins.
You can see in her forum post above, Stacy currently has a count of 200 coins. Your current count is displayed under your profile image when you post a comment in the Community area.
I know many will love the gamesmanship of the coins. Others won't care much at all about them because they are just there to learn — and that's totally fine! But, I think regardless, the coin counts will have their value to you in many different ways that won't seem apparent to you at first.
HOW THE COURSE LESSONS ARE MADE
Something that really weighed heavy on me over the last few years while I was dreaming this whole thing up, was how it was going to look and feel inside of the Membership Course area.
If you've been a long-time reader of my website, it's one of my deepest hopes you've noticed how attention I've given to make sure everything on the website is the best I can possibly create for you.
So, the burden on me then was, if you have really loved all of the free content I've been delivering all of these years, what in the world would I then have to create so when you finally stepped into my paid area, you would without a doubt be absolutely blown away?!
One thing I knew for sure was I didn't want the course videos to look like this gray-haired dude standing behind a tall desk, perched up on an overly-lit set, with a couple mismatched cheap potted ferns in the background. I knew this easy-to-fall-into “public-access channel” look is one sure-fire way to not only put someone to sleep, but to make them never want to watch another second of my video lesson again!
Instead, I decided to keep it extremely personal and shoot the videos in our home office and narrate them with my voice. It's where I've scanned all of my family's photo collection through the years, so why not let you have this same experience when I show you how I did it.
In order to raise the bar even further, I started out by heavily researching and then buying professional equipment.
One of the first things I did was ditch my USB computer microphone for a really nice studio-quality one. I can assure you, I certainly didn't go cheap on this one! It's my understanding that this microphone is found in most radio stations across the country and has been for a long time. I knew my untrained “introverted” voice needed as much assistance as I could possibly afford!
It wasn't always about getting the best or the most expensive. When it came to a video camera to record the “tabletop footage,” I went with this very portable “pocket-sized” cinema-grade camera that was small and light enough I could suspend it on an extending tripod mount above my head.
And for all of the moments in the video lessons that aren't made up of footage I've shot with the above equipment, I'm using professional screen-recording software to record myself demonstrating the computer software we'll be covering in the courses.
WHAT MAKES THIS COURSE UNIQUE
In addition to the production value quality I'm trying to achieve with the video course lessons, there are also some other characteristics I think separates my course videos from other video tutorials you've probably seen in the past.
Easy to Understand
It's been the utmost priority for me from day one when building this course, that I create all of the course material in a way that it's easy for everyone to understand — even the most technologically-challenged! So if this is you, know you especially are included too!
What good is a tutorial course that teaches you challenging things, if even the course that's meant to explain it to you is too difficult to understand?!?
I care so much that you clearly understand how to scan and organize your photo collections.
Maybe it's because my Dad had a stroke when I was a teenager, and helping him do things on his computer became the biggest thing we did together in the years that followed. I really learned the reward of patience when helping him. We all learn at our own pace and in our own ways.
And I also learned how important it is not to overwhelm someone learning with too many choices. Most often, less actually is more. My Dad would look at me stern and say, “Just show me how to do it one way, and I'll do it that way.”
Through the use of narration without all of the technical jargon, and with the help of easy-to-understand visuals and graphics, these courses are designed to make you feel smart, because you're going to watch them, and you're going to finally understand all this stuff!
No Rambling, Only What You Need To Learn
Have you ever watched a free YouTube video, hoping to find the answer to your problem, and instead you ended up talking to the screen, “Just get to the point will ya!”
The easiest and least-effective way to build a video training course is for the instructor to just turn on an audio or video recorder and just start talking and hope something smart and clearly expressed comes out.
I value your time.
I'm not saying my course will never post LIVE “off-the-cuff” recordings in the membership area for you to enjoy. LIVE videos can be great! So, I plan on getting into this option as well when it seems appropriate.
Instead, the core lessons that make up the majority of this video training course are scripted, recorded, and then “professionally” edited so what you will end up watching is the best learning experience possible.
In fact, before I finish a video lesson, I will usually have gone through many many drafts of the narration script. Often it appears to be perfect, and I record it, and then I am in my video editing program and I realize there's a much more precise way to explain something for you. So, I re-write that portion of the script, re-record it with my microphone, and then re-edit that entire section of the video.
Precision is important because if I don't convey the right instructions to you, you could end up scanning your entire collection the wrong way!
I care. I care about you, and I care about teaching you correct scanning principles.
The Lessons Are Fun!
Who said video training course lessons should be boring? Apparently, everyone who makes courses! (Lol — just kidding)
Learning how to scan and organize your photo collections isn't brain surgery, but it's still technical stuff and it would be easy for me to make these lessons dry and boring. I assure you, it takes a lot more work to actually make them fun and engaging.
I've bought a lot of video editing software that does a lot of cool things to make the videos feel almost interactive! Sometimes there's music, and sound effects, and animated white-board sketches, and floating text. There's even a cute cat mascot who makes a routine appearance!
Because I know you will probably need to revisit a lot of these lessons over the period of your project, I want it to be fun — even the second or third time you watch them.
You Will Appear As a Member In Public Comments
Because my website's Membership software is built “on top of” my main public area of the website, I can do all kinds of neat things for Members.
One of my favorite examples of this is I've now set up the public comment area below all of my blog post articles so that when you are logged-in with your membership account, and you write your own comment, the badge under your avatar (profile picture if you're using one), will indicate you are a proud Member.
WHAT’S COVERED IN THE COURSE LESSONS
The best thing about the training course being sold as a membership is that you aren't purchasing a finished course that will never be updated or improved upon with new courses.
For a monthly (or yearly) subscription fee, you have access to all of the current lessons. Then, every month at least one lesson will be added, building on everything you've learned before.
The course library is launching with an initial amount of “core” lessons that will teach you the crucial foundation of photo scanning for archival purposes before you start scanning. This includes but isn't limited to:
- The hardware and software you will need to use to scan your photo collection
- Flatbed scanners you should consider using/buying
- Scanning supplies I've used and highly recommend
- An overview of computer file types and the best way to save your archival digital photos that match your goals
- Techniques to associate and match back your original photos to your new digital versions
- Questions you probably didn't know you needed to answer before you can even begin scanning
- Which mode in your scanning software will produce the best results
- What every setting in your scanning software does and how it will affect the results (with scanned visual examples)
- How to scan your paper prints, for those with basic or advanced goals for their collection
- How to give your scanned photos a useful filename
I am teaching the core scanning content using the Epson Perfection V600 Photo flatbed scanner. I've chosen this model because of its exceptional quality scanning not only paper prints and film (negatives and slides), but also because of its very accessible and affordable mid-level price.
If you don't have an Epson model of photo scanner, it's okay. Many of the settings are very similar from one scanner to the next, so you will be able to apply this information to your own workflow with your photo scanner.
Although Curtis' videos in his membership training course are based on the Epson scanners, I have found that this easily transfers to anyone on a Canon platform. The menus might not be quite the same and the terminology might be a little different, but the most important settings are very easily transferable to a different platform.
I will forever be grateful for Curtis' work that gave me this brand new confidence to actively pursue my goal of preserving these treasures for my family. As I scan, I'm writing down the stories that I can remember and am sending them out to my extended family. The comments and encouragement that I've received from them make every bit of this work worth it to me!
Currently, the course only covers scanning paper prints. I started with prints because most people seeking the help from a course have stated their collection is almost entirely made up of this format. But, those with film wishing to get a head start, the course already covers all of the scanner settings associated with the process. Lessons on scanning film are planned and will be produced soon.
While scanning is certainly a huge portion of the project of archiving your family's photo collection, I am definitely planning on continuing to build upon the other major categories.
The first major category I want to cover is “Organizing Your Scanned Digital Photos.” This will include the best method to store your digital photos on your computer, as well as how to use a photo manager to organize, label and non-destructively edit your photos.
Additionally, I plan to cover these important categories as well:
- Restoring Your Digital Photos
- Complete Workflow of Backing Up Your Digital Archived Collection
- Organizing Your Original (Analog) Photos
- Storage of Your Original (Analog) Photos
WHY A MEMBERSHIP ISN'T FREE
And now it's going to get a little real here. For some people, the conversation of money and what something is worth is often a tad uncomfortable. But, let's go there because this might be on your mind right now.
I've been giving away everything on my website — all of my content and all of my time — for the past 8 years now. And I've done my best to answer as many of your questions through my “contact me” pages as I possibly could. It's truly been my passion and I've loved every second of it. I've helped as many people as I could.
The problem is, the amazing success of my website — which I'm so grateful for — has recently also been its own downfall.
In the last several years, I started getting more traffic to my website than my cheaper website hosting service could keep up with. I've had to upgrade my hosting services with different companies several times now through the years, so my website could keep up with not only all of the growing daily visitors from the United States but also the traffic demands I receive internationally. It's not cheap. Trust me.
But what is nearly impossible to fix is the problem of how to “scale” the time I am available to invest. Every one of us only gets 168 hours in a week to do as we choose. And this is often not enough for any of us to accomplish what we've set out to achieve.
I truly hit a crossroads in my life where the best solution to this problem — the way I can help the largest number of people — is to flip my life upside down and turn Scan Your Entire Life from a side-passion in my available free time, into my full-time focus and primary means of income.
For a few of you reading this right now, it's going to upset you that I've decided to transition Scan Your Entire Life from something that has been exclusively a free resource up until now, into a business. Because really that's what it has to be now in order for it to grow and become what it needs to be in order to help everyone who's asking for my help.
If you are feeling this way about my decision, I sincerely hope over time you will see nothing but positive here; how the more time and energy I am finally able to put into Scan Your Entire Life, the more everyone will end up benefitting — even those who have chosen not to be a member. Working on my website the majority of my time — which just happens to also be my “best time” when I do my best work — will enable me to create the largest amount of new paid content as well as new free content for everyone.
HOW DEDICATED I AM TO THIS
So, maybe you are wondering how serious I am about this new membership area. Is this something I'm really devoted to? Or, is this just my current obsession that could be fleeting over time?
The answer to that is easy. I can tell you in three words: I'm all in.
This is a favorite phrase of mine I hear financial investors ask their entrepreneurial prospects before they consider investing their time and money in the business owner. (Ever watch the show “Shark Tank“?) Investors ask, “How much of your own money have you already invested in your business?” This is a very effective way of quickly deducing how important this career path is to the business owner, so they know if it should be important to them as an investor.
Three years ago I started building this membership course, working on it as much as I could in my free time. Then 6 months ago, I quit my full-time line of work (of 20 years) so I could focus on this project full time. This monumental decision gave me the extra time I needed to build a strong consistent momentum so I could finally launch the first version of this membership course for you.
The past 6 months have been an intense, fun, laborious, enriching labor of love for me. And might I point out if you would allow me to, I did it without any income coming in. It is amazing what you will sacrifice in life when you really believe in something.
So how “in” am I? Oh I'm in. I'm all in!
That's how important my website and this membership area is to me. That's how much I want to help you scan your photo collections.
I'd like to take a well-deserved moment here and thank my beautiful and wonderful wife Stacy, who has stood behind this project this entire 3-year period while I built my version of a “baseball field out in the middle of our cornfield” for you. She's always believed — even from the very first day — that this membership course is going to be important and is going to help so many people who need this kind of step-by-step help with their photo collections. (Thank you for believing in me honey!)
And now, 3 years later, I can finally say it's no longer just something that's been in my dreams all this time. It now lives in reality. I made it happen, and I'd like to invite you to be a part of it and become a member.
WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN NOW AND NOT WAIT
I personally am turned off by companies that use false and unethical “scarcity” tactics to get people to buy their product in a hurry. Like, “Buy this product now, because there are only 1,000 spots left, and they are sure to sell out!” I can assure you, since my course is digital, I can make more spots for you.
However, there is a legitimate and completely honest reason why I would love for you to consider becoming a member soon, instead of waiting much longer, and that is because I would like to offer you the chance at becoming one of my Founding Members.
Founding Member Status
Anyone who joins during this initial public announcement period of the Scan Your Entire Life Membership will be considered a Founding Member. It's kind of like that original group of friends we made in our adolescence — they're just special.
It's always a bit of a challenge isn't it, to be the first people to do anything? So, to let you know how much I appreciate you taking a chance with me to be one of my initial group of members to sign up, I want to reward you in as many ways as possible.
Founder Member Pricing
First, you are going to get access to the lowest monthly (or annual) subscription price I will ever publicly offer on my website. Once the cutoff date has passed, I will probably raise the prices a bit. I would love for you be a member with this extremely affordable introductory price point.
Anyone joining now (or ever) will be locked into the price they joined at, for as long as they stay a member. I will never raise prices on current members when prices for new members goes up. You will always be “Grandfathered in” to your original price point.
Founding Member Perks
When you are emailed membership news and updates, the header will address you as a “Founding Member.”
If I ever create a new pricing plan with additional benefits I will be sure to give these benefits to all “Founding Members” as well! You will be locked-in to my best offer always.
And during this period of time before the cutoff date, it's very possible I will come up with additional perks. Maybe you can tell me some of your own ideas in the comments below, and I will consider them.
I'm not absolutely positive when the cutoff date will be that will decide when new members signing up will no longer be given this status. But, if I had to guess, I believe it will be within two to three weeks from today (June 11th) when this announcement first went public.
So, be sure you are subscribed to my email list or check back here routinely if you're worried you will miss the cutoff date!
Alright. That's it!
I look forward to welcoming you as a Founding Member inside of the Membership Community. I want to hear about your successes along your photo scanning journey that will happen very soon!