How To Organize Your Digital Files For Your Handmade Business

Spring cleaning season is upon us and I'm feeling the need to get organized! We all know how to organize our homes, our offices, linen closets, kitchens, etc. There are a plethora of videos, blogs and books online teaching you how to get more organized in your life. But what you don't see often is how to organize your digital life. I don't think there's a KonMari method of how to organize your product photos on your computer (actually, I wouldn't know because I haven't read the book, but it wouldn't surprise me if she did. If you know, tell me in the comments below!).

How To Organize Your Digital Files For Your Handmade Business by MakerMonologues.com

How To Organize Your Digital Files For Your Handmade Business by MakerMonologues.com

So When I scoured the interwebs looking for tips and tricks on how to organize all my files I found a few helpful links, mostly geared toward service-based businesses. However, I really wanted to know how I can better organize the hundreds of product photos I need to keep stored on my computer. Something a service-based business doesn't have to worry about.

So I decided to take the bits I could use from the service-based business organization results and craft my own way to store all the photos I need for my product-based business.

I had somewhat of an organized method but I was often finding that my product photos were too spread out. I also found out I had multiple folders for the same product (no wonder I couldn't find the rest of the photos for my amethyst copper ring, I thought I'd accidentally deleted them).

Just to give you a bit of what my "organization" looked like before I really got organized, here's what you would typically see: a folder named "Jewelry Original" for all my original photos (photo straight out of the camera) which would then store 2 sub-folders, with the labels "Copper Jewelry" and "Silver Jewelry". Then, those folders each had their own sub-folders. Under the "Copper Jewelry" folder I would have folders labeled "Copper Rings", "Copper Earrings", "Copper Necklaces", etc. And the same for the "Silver Jewelry" folder. Then under, say, "Copper Rings" I would have folders for each and every one of my copper rings. I would even have another folder after that for the original edited photos of that product (so, photos that are the original size straight out of camera but edited).

Sounds crazy just reading that right? And I probably lost you at "Copper Jewelry" right? Well it didn't stop there.

Then, I had another folder labeled "Jewelry Shopify" which housed all the photos I have listed on my website. This main folder had the exact same folder system as mentioned above. So there were multiple folders for the same exact product! Don't ask me how any of this made any sense. 

Side note: I make all my product listing photos Pinterest sized so that if someone wants to pin an image it would be the perfect size. So I labeled these Pinterest sized photos as "Shopify Photos." Later you'll see that I change it to have a code "PIN" for Pinterest. 

So I took stock of all the categories my jewelry went into: original photos (coded ORG), edited photos (coded EDT) and my Pinterest sized photos for my website (coded PIN). That's it! When I realized this I started to understand a better way for me to organize all these product photos and condense all these duplicate folders! 

Let's take a look at this new digital file organization system!

Organizing Files

This is all the folders I have on the homepage Before I had easily over 30 folders plus 50 more random homeless photos, downloads, PDFs and whatnots hanging out on this page.(not sure that page is actually called. It's all you see when I open my documents). For the sake of reference I'm going to call this front page "homepage" and write out the breadcrumbs as I'm giving you the "tour" of my digital file system.

First I'll take you through my Archived folder.

Homepage > Archived

Organizing Files

I have a folder for my jewelry business and one for Maker Monologues. Since this blog is still quite new and it's not as big as my jewelry business I don't have any archived photos or documents yet. So I'll let you take a peek into what categories I have for my Pineal Vision Jewelry archived folder.

Homepage > Archived > Pineal Vision Jewelry

Organizing Files

There's some discontinued jewelry, old marketing and promo material, lines sheets, etc.

Next we'll take a look at my Education folder.

Homepage > Education

Organizing Files

So over the past 3 or 4 years I've been running online businesses I've taken a lot of classes and courses and have stocked up on so much valuable material, clearly, you can see there's a LOT! The way I decided to organize all my educational content was in order based on what you would typically learn or do from the beginning of starting an online business.

So you would first start with legalizing your business, so that's "01." Then you'd probably move into learning how to do your bookkeeping, then business planning and so on. This order might be different for you but this made most sense for me.

Next we'll take a look into my Maker Monologues folder.

Homepage > Maker Monologues

Organizing Files

I have things like my branding material, content, finances, inspiration, etc. Some of these folders have nothing in them but will have things stored eventually, so they sorta act as a reminder to get those things done.

Let's take a look into the Brand Elements folder.

Homepage > Maker Monologues > Brand Elements

Organizing Files

Not much going on in this folder, when we take a look at my Pineal Vision Jewelry Brand Elements folder you'll see a lot more categories since it's been around a lot longer. I just wanted to show you the categories and how I'm organizing these things.

Next let's look at the Content + Products folder

Homepage > Maker Monologues > Content + Products

Organizing Files

I have my blog posts, lead magnets, graphics, etc. Again, more empty folders, like the Email Course, which is something I want to create in the future, so it's there as a subtle reminder.

Next is the Blog Posts folder.

Homepage > Maker Monologues > Content + Products > Blog Posts

Organizing Files

Just two categories; In Progress + Published, which are self explanatory. But let's open the Published folder so you can see how I organize my posts.

Homepage > Maker Monologues > Content + Products > Blog Posts > Published

Organizing Files

Now, this folder does not house all the blog posts I've ever written for Maker Monologues, but these are just the ones I had a lot of corresponding photos for, like my tutorials, that I want to keep on hand. I put the publish date and then the title, or a shortened version of the title. I also house my blog graphics inside each blog post folder.

Now let's take a look at my Personal folder. So we're no longer in my Maker Monologues folder.

Homepage > Personal

Organizing Files

So under Personal, I have 2 folders, one for myself and one for my boyfriend. I'm not going to take you into his but I'll take you just one step further into mine just so you can see how I organize that.

Homepage > Personal > Brittany

Organizing Files

Yes, I'm the crazy cat lady with 5 cats (really just 1 is mine, I swear!), so I have a folder dedicated to all my cat photos and videos. A tip if you want to delete a bunch of embarrassing Facebook photos but don't want to lose them forever, just download the Facebook album and you can store them on your computer and then delete them from Facebook.

Another cool side note, I'm a Vision Board junkie so I created a secret Pinterest board filled with things I want to do, buy or achieve, then I screen shot the entire board one scroll at a time (you obviously can't screen shot the entire board is it's too long) then I just created a cool slide show as my lock screen on my computer so everyday when I get to work I take a minute to look at the vision board. Let me know if you do something similar! 

That's enough of the personal stuff, now let's look at my Pineal Vision Jewelry folder.

Homepage > Pineal Vision Jewelry

Organizing Files

So I have a lot of the same categories as my Maker Monologues folder but there's just a few extras, like my Wholesale folder where I house my line sheet, order form, thank you letter templates, etc.

Let's take a look at how I organize my Brand Elements.

Homepage > Pineal Vision Jewelry > Brand Elements

Organizing Files

I have Headshots which actually cross over because I use the same headshots for both my jewelry business and Maker Monologues, but I use them more for my jewelry business so that's why I store them here. I also have a PR Submissions folder which is where I store my submissions I've turned in for magazines and blogs.

Next let's look at my Content + Products folder for Pineal Vision Jewelry.

Homepage > Pineal Vision Jewelry > Content + Products

Organizing Files

It's pretty much the same as my Maker Monologues Content + Products folder except I have a Jewelry folder, which was the whole motivation for getting organized so let's take a look at it, shall we?

Homepage > Pineal Vision Jewelry > Content + Products > Jewelry

Organizing Files

I have my Rings, Bracelets, Earrings, etc, but you'll also see some other random folders so let me explain. The Clean-Out Sale houses all the products that are discontinued but I'm selling off all the stock from those products. It doesn't really fit into the Rings or Necklaces folders so it gets it's own home.

Next you'll see Informative. These are things like my necklace size chart I like to include in my necklace listings so customers can see where the necklace will fall on their chest. I also have a patina finish chart that shows 4 pieces with 4 different patina finishes that I'll use as a reference when a customer wants to see my different finishes.

I'm running a Mothers Day promotion right now where I'm giving away a free pair of earrings with purchase of $50. So I created a listing on my website with this pair of earrings and the price at $0.00 that customers can add to their cart (with a total equal or exceeding $50). So that doesn't really have a home. It'll get archived after the promotion.

Last I just have my Express shipping graphic because that's a separate listing on my website that people add to their cart if they want to upgrade their shipping. So that get's it's own folder.

Ok, now let's take a look at one of my jewelry categories, let's do Necklaces.

Homepage > Pineal Vision Jewelry > Content + Products > Jewelry > Necklaces

Organizing Files

Pretty self explanatory, each individual necklace I carry has it's own folder. You'll notice a folder labeled "Necklace Groupings" which houses photos that have more than 1 necklace in it. For example I have a photo with the Eclipse Necklace, Orbit Necklace and Sunrise Necklace. I wasn't sure which of the three folders to put that 1 photo into so I created a separate folder for this purpose.

Let's dive deeper into the Aditi Necklace folder.

Homepage > Pineal Vision Jewelry > Content + Products > Jewelry > Necklaces > Aditi Necklace

Organizing Files

We have the Aditi Necklace ORG (Original) photos and the Aditi Necklace PIN (Pinterest) photos - remember, I make all my listing photos Pinterest sized. Let's take a look into the Aditi Necklace ORG folder.

Homepage > Pineal Vision Jewelry > Content + Products > Jewelry > Necklaces > Aditi Necklace > Aditi Necklace ORG

Organizing Files

So within the ORG, original photos I have the Aditi Necklace EDT (Edited). The reason I keep them stored under Aditi ORG is because these are still the original size, just edited, so it makes sense for me to store them here instead of directly under Aditi Necklace.

Lastly, let's take a look at how I organize my Inspiration. If that even makes sense, because inspiration should be spontaneous, right? Ha!

Homepage > Pineal Vision Jewelry > Inspiration

Organizing Files

That's it! I have inspiration for my branding, packaging, product photography, etc. Of course I could store all these into a secret Pinterest Board but often times I'll be on my phone and see an image I like and I'll screen shot it and every now and again I'll have to de-clutter my phone so I'll send all those screen shots to my Dropbox and organized in these 6 folders.

Oh! One more thing, my spreadsheets! I keep all my spreadsheets in it's own folder which is under my Dropbox documents so it doesn't show on the homepage with all my other folders. I just have a few important folders on Dropbox right now because all these folders take up too much space and I would need to upgrade my plan. I found out that my computer comes with Microsoft Drive so I'll be transferring everything there which has more free space. But I wanted to go through and delete anything I don't need, which I've yet to do, I just wanted to get organized first, see what I have, then delete things like duplicate images, etc. 

Whew! That was a lot of explaining! I sure hope this has helped you to organize your digital life because it's been amazingly freeing for me knowing exactly where to find anything I need. You don't have to use this exact system but hopefully you're a lot more clear on how you can begin to organic your digital files.

If you'd like me to go deeper in a particular folder or need me to explain anything behind my logic of doing this then please just leave a comment below and I'll help you out!