I love making digital photo albums on Shutterfly and then having them printed into hardcover books – having cherished memories captured and organized all lined up on my mantle in my living room brings me serious joy.

Now like you, I am busy and I totally get it if you are thinking, “That’s cool and all, but I don’t have time for that” – it can seem daunting to organize all of your pictures for sure. 

That’s why I have some super simple hacks to share so that you can make beautiful Shutterfly albums too without adding stress to your plate.  In as little as 30 minutes a month, you can have professional looking photo books that you will cherish for years to come so stop looking at 5 years of photos wishing you had done something with them and read this post instead 😉

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While I make photo albums for various occasions, my favorite ones are our annual family photo yearbooks; these includes pics of our family by month for the entire year and my husband and I love to flip through these with our kids.  I also made both our kids’ baby books digitally and then had them printed and they LOVE to see themselves as babies.  You can make a photo book for absolutely anything you want, and it is easy with all of the themes Shutterfly lets you choose from!  Let’s walk through step by step how to do this:

Download the Shutterfly App

This is KEY.  I make the actual albums on my computer, but being able to upload pics from my phone directly to the Shutterfly app is a HUGE timesaver.  You can download for your iPhone here and for your Android here.

Once a month, I go through my phone and upload my favorite pictures from the previous month and save it to a new album (ex: April 2018).

I’ll add pics from my camera gallery, pics I’ve downloaded, pics family members have texted me, etc.  This is something I can easily do in line at a store, while catching up on a TV show, or whenever I have a couple extra minutes.  So simple.  Download the app and create your first album now to see for yourself!

*Bonus tip: Shutterfly lets you order FREE 4×4 or 4×6 prints of your pictures if you order directly from the app! How cool is that?

Click “Photo Books” and Select “Custom Path”

Log into the Shutterfly website on your computer; there are 3 options you can choose from, depending on how much control you want over the design of your photo book.  Since I love customizing my own photo books, I choose “Custom Path” and that is what I’m going to teach you about in this post.

However, if you prefer to go with “Simple Path” which means Shutterfly automatically lays out your pictures in a photo book that you can then manually edit, that is an option OR you could even choose the Make My Book Service where you basically pay Shutterfly to do everything for you.  But, where is the fun in that?!

Hang with me a minute and read about how easy it is to use “Custom Path” but ultimately, you do you 🙂

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Choose an Album Template on the Shutterfly Website

At the beginning of the year (or whenever you are starting your album), I choose a new template.  Shutterfly has the CUTEST layouts to choose from and even if you have no design skills whatsoever, it doesn’t matter at all because Shutterfly does so much of the work for you!

They even have the templates organized by event for you, such as Family Yearbook, Wedding, Baby, Seasonal, Travel, etc.

Choose your template and select the size/cover (this can be changed later as well – I always pick 8×11 Hardcover, because I love for them to be the same size when lined up….I’m so fun, I know lol).  If you are working on a family yearbook for example, you are only doing this part once at the beginning of the year.  The rest of the year, you will just log in each month and pick up where you left off – your photo book will be stored in the “My Projects” section of your Shutterfly dashboard.


Start Adding Your Photos to the Photo Book

I do this once a month, and I add pictures from the PREVIOUS month.  So for example, I am writing this in May, which means I am working on the April portion of my photo book this month.  I don’t have all of our May pictures gathered yet because the month isn’t over – I’m JUST working on pictures from April.  It doesn’t matter if you do this on the 1st of the month, the middle of the month, or the last day of the month – pick whatever time works best for you, and that might be different month to month.  Your only goal here is to get it done before the last day of the month ends 🙂

This is the part that I think is KEY to making this a fun, easy process instead of a “trying to catch up on 5 years of photos and giving up” process.  

Try it out – add some of your photos to your Photo Book and don’t worry about organizing the layout yet; we will go over that next!

Use the Storyboard Feature to Organize your Photo Layouts Easily

This is another hack that makes creating Photo Books much simpler.  You can go ahead and select the layout for each page by clicking “Layouts” on the left hand side and choosing the number of photos you want to include on each page, but using Storyboards is easier.

Click “Storyboard” at the top of the page and it will take you to a screen that shows all of your photos, and then all of your pages.  Simply drag and drop photos to each page, and Shutterfly will automatically choose a layout for that page that will fit your photos.  You can edit this afterwards if you do want to make any changes, so there is still flexibility there, but for the most part the automation is fantastic!

When I’m working on our family yearbooks, I like for each month to not just be a random compilation of every picture we took.  I try to organize each month so that some pages include special events of holidays, some pages include just the kids, some pages include my husband and me, some are family pics, etc.  For example, in January we went to Costa Rica so when I was on the Storyboard screen, I dragged every picture from Costa Rica and dropped into onto 1 or 2 pages.  Make sense?

Go ahead and try the Storyboard feature out and drag and drop the photos that you want to appear on each page.


Edit your Photo Book by adding Text and Embellishments

This is the fun part!  Add your personal touch to your photo book by adding text to describe your events, or embellishments (graphics).

For example, I like to include a pretty graphic that says the Month on the first page of the new month of the photo book (January, February, etc.)  If you click on “Embellishments” all of the graphics that are included in your photo book style will appear for you to add (drag and drop) but you can also search for whatever you are looking for and add other graphics (example: search for “St. Patrick’s Day” and themed graphics will appear that you can add).

I write a little blurb describing what the page is about (example: We went to Costa Rica and had a blast!), add some embellishments (don’t go nuts here – keeping it simple will be more appealing to the eye and saves time), and then I click save (Shutterfly auto-saves your work as well!)  I’m done for the month and I don’t think about my photo book again until the following month!

*Bonus tip: You can also edit the layout here – let’s say you don’t like how Shutterfly arranged your pics on the Storyboard; you can select new layouts here and make any changes you want!

Try it out – play around with the text and embellishments to get a feel for what is available.

When Done with Your Photo Book, Select your Printing Options and Place your Order!

I love hardcover books so that is the finish I stick with but you have several different options so choose what you love!  Hardcover, cloth, leather, crushed silk – Shutterfly has it all!

You can also customize the finish of the pages when printed – standard, glossy, or layflat pages.  Again, this is just a personal preference so choose whichever one you want.

Your gorgeous photo book is ready to be ordered, printed, and delivered right to your house!  I keep the book in my cart until I see a Shutterfly special appear – they are ALWAYS offering huge discounts such as 40% off photo books with a code, so I typically wait until an offer is available to that I can save!


You are going to be sooooo happy when you receive their signature Orange box in the mail containing your photo book – I hope you love yours as much as I love mine, and that this little tutorial was helpful in some way.  If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you – shoot me a message below!  And if you share a pic of your photo book on social media, tag me @lipsbynic so that I can admire your work 🙂

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XOXO, Nicole




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