creating notebooks

Ideas for Creating Notebooks

Ann O'Brien

July 28, 2022

You may have written a book or two already or just simply have a creative bent that needs an outlet. One excellent way to use your creativity and publishing knowledge is to create notebooks or journals to sell. Both types of books are relatively simple to design and publish and can be sold through online retail outlets for a profit.

Many writers already maintain their own author’s websites as well as multiple social media platforms so the infrastructure for sales might even be in place for an industrious writer looking to bolster their income through consumable sales.

Consumables vs. Novels

When an author pens a novel or even a nonfiction book, readers may pick up the book once or twice while a few novels become repeatedly devoured by fans who have fallen in love with the story or contents of the book. But for the most part, the timeless nature of the book lends itself to a single use until a new reader comes along. While great for an author, books do not provide ongoing income since readers only need to purchase or download one copy.

But consumables like journals, planners, and calendars all are purchased specifically to be used, consumed, and ultimately replaced with a fresh, clean new book. Writers and creatives often turn to creating notebooks so they can develop an income stream with long-term potential.

  • Journals. These blank, lined, or themed books are marked by their blank spaces intended to provide space for the user to fill with words, thoughts, drawings, or other personal notations.
  • Planners. Calendar- or schedule-based, planners provide a set time frame or quantity of time for users to record or track their activities. Planners may be themed, for specific or general use. and may include other organizational tools in addition to the calendar.

Consumable Planners

Creating notebooks that are calendar-based like planners are an excellent option for making a consumable. Year after year, users search for a new planner to use with high hopes of using the organizational tool to its full capacity. The look and feel of planners often mirror popular themes, fashion, and colors seen in home decor, fashion or popular cultural themes.

Creating planners that users will love requires either crafting one that fills a specific, targeted niche or making one that appeals to specific audiences. Niche audiences are ones that have specific users in mind and may include detailed checklists, notes, or information to complement the planning function. Planners may also be general in use but target a specific age or type of user with the font, graphics, and organizational tools that are part of the planner.

What They May Include:

  • 12-month, 18-month, or 24-month calendar
  • Single month pages, typically on a two-page spread
  • Weekly or daily calendar areas that give users a spot to record important events or reminders
  • Thematic or specialty information, inspirational quotes, or journaling areas
  • Organizational tools: to-do checklists, birthday/anniversary section, personal information page(s), goal writing areas, at-a-glance areas

Personal Planners

Probably the easiest to design in theory, users of personal planners might be of any age or gender. Personal planners can be made for a targeted age group or demographic, like teens or young adults, while general or blank planners may appeal to those using the planner for business uses. The unique aspect of a personal planner is typically the way that it looks. Designing personal use planners with trendy fonts, colors, and graphics can catch a buyer’s eye and keeps the look fresh with each season.

School Planners

Geared toward school year schedules, these planners can be helpful for young students, high school, or college-aged kids or even parents of school-aged children. National holidays are typically included in these as well along with locations to put notes about school activities, sports schedules, or even collegiate course schedules. Other unique additions might be school supply checklists, teacher contact information, or locations for coach or team information.

Niche Planners

Different from other planners, these niche planners are usually not tied to a specific year but instead cover a time frame. They include monthly, weekly, and daily breakout areas but the month and date are left blank so the user can fill in their own timeline specific to the planner’s specific use.

  • Bridal, These evergreen planners are created to help brides or engaged couples plan their weddings. They are different from regular planners because not only are they not date specific, but they also include a host of organizational tools for planning a wedding, such as blank timelines, venue and reception checklists, guest list organization, and areas to calculate budgets. Bridal-themed graphics, fonts, and color schemes can be timeless or trendy as well.
  • Pregnancy. This niche planner is also evergreen and so it simply covers a specific time range, typically about 10 months. Unique inclusions in a pregnancy planner are areas for moms-to-be to make notes on their maternal health journey as well as note appointments, baby’s growth, pregnancy milestones, and birth expectations.

Self-Care Planners

These yearly planners combine a regular planner with themed additions that suggest ways and reminders for completing self-care like exercise, healthy eating, or utilizing emotional or mental health support regularly.

Unique But Practical Journals

Journals, unlike planners, are largely blank so that users can fill them with thoughts, drawings, stories, or just about anything else you can imagine. People love to have a personal notebook and typically journal users will seek out new books to use for different reasons or to replace them. This type of consumable can be for general use or very specialized in nature, making the possibilities for creating notebooks like these almost endless.

Blank Journals

These journals contain unlined pages and may have decorative or even blank covers. Some journals have inspirational quotes, stories, or motivational quotes to encourage the user to write or draw in the blank spaces as well.

Journals with Lines or Graphing Squares

Lined journals are appealing to users who use the journal for personal expression or to compose stories or poems. Others might use the graphic squares for sketching, tracking or other visual uses.

Theme Journals

Journals can be tweaked to appeal to specific uses or users through their cover design, organizational tools that are included, and motivating or inspirational inclusions.

Religious Journals.  These may be lined for sermon note-taking, include Bible or other religious verses, or display meaningful sayings or lessons on the pages.

Tracking Journals. These are usually intended for a specific purpose, may be lined or unlined, and appeal to a niche audience. These are also evergreen so they don’t include specific dates but instead utilize general time-keeping like daily, weekly, or monthly sections for users to track their situation, time frame, or hobby.

  • Baby’s Year. These are perfect for any age, but newborn through school age journals are popular and may include places to attach photographs as well as record milestones or other important memories
  • Dreams. Nightly journals may have a dream interpretation area that assists users in interpreting their input
  • Exercise. Fitness journals can include locations to track cardio, specific exercises, runs, nutrition, and sleep cycles
  • Plant Care. Ideal for users with a green thumb (or those who want one) to list growth information, garden organization, track new plants or flowers, and sketches of plant life
  • Reading. Bibliophiles can use online trackers to interact with other readers like Goodreads but many readers love the hands-on feel of a reading journal much like many prefer a physical book copy over a digital version
  • Vacation Memories. Often utilized to record vacation and travel memories while they are taking place, a vacation journal may be lined and also have blank spaces for sketches, pictures. or to include memorabilia

Creating Notebooks or Planners

Once you have decided to begin notebook creating with journals or planners, getting started is simple with these six simple steps.

1 Decide on what you want to make. It is simpler to create multiple types of planners or journals rather than one of each. However, for some types of niche planners, crafting a coordinating journal could be a good idea.

2 Use a free template to format your notebook. Use standard, pre-designed templates to save time so you can focus on adding personalized touches and fun graphic elements to the planner or journal.

3 Use a high-quality graphics design program like Canva to produce gorgeous fonts, beautiful graphics, and a memorable cover for your notebook. Potential customers often choose books, planners, and journals based on the look of the cover. If artistic design is not your expertise, consider working with a design expert to make sure yours look fantastic and helps potential customers see how your notebook will be the best choice for their needs.

4 Think ahead. While journals are timeless, most planners are not. Develop a planner with the next year, season, or time period in mind to give yourself plenty of room to develop, design, publish, and sell your creation.

5 Engage the services of a trusted digital printing partner like Publishing Xpress so you can be sure that the final products will look great so that you will be able to sell them easily.

6 Decide what kind of binding will look best for the notebook. Perfect binding provides a book spine while Wire-O and Plastic Coil bindings allow books to lay flat, perfect for writing in or using full-page spreads.

Consider your marketing plan. Offer the notebooks on your author’s website, promote them on social media platforms, or even consider using some as a gift with purchase to cross-promote with books you have written.

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