Ok, we have come to the part where I tell you where to get free stuff. But first, some discussion.
This is not a free hobby. Seriously.
The thing about freebies is they tend to give us an attitude of entitlement. It's easy to forget how much hard work designers put in to their kits.
I also need to mention here that just because you get a kit for free, that doesn't mean you can redistribute it to friends. THE DESIGNER OF A KIT IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DISTRIBUTE IT. PERIOD. Please read Bree Clarkson's article, "Why it's not ok to share freebies," over at the Stop Piracy blog.
Freebies, to my thinking, serve 3 purposes:
1. Freebies offered by designers are a great way to try out a designer's work to get an idea of their style and the quality of their product. Freebies can also be a good incentive to visit a site or participate in an event. (Designers: this is a GREAT way to really get people hooked on your work. While it's true everyone is out to snatch up anything free that they can, it gets your name in our minds and your stuff on our computers and helps us figure out who we really like!)
2. Freebies are a good way to let people try out digital scrapbooking stress-free. When you're starting out in digi-scrappin', you don't know what your style is and you need to be able to experiment with different kinds of patterns and elements until you've found your groove.
3. Some designers really just want to create and put freebies out there. Then again, I think some post freebies to get noticed and build a following, and then they will sell their elements at another site -- but hey, it's all good!
You really don't have to buy kits or elements if you don't want to. But don't begrudge designers who sell their work. When a designer has a good, quality product that they have put a lot of time and effort into, they DESERVE to be compensated. Don't get greedy and expect tons and tons of freebies just because you want them. Freebies actually cost the designer money, because in addition to the time and energy they have put into them, the bandwidth that all their downloading takes up really adds up. And honestly? You will come to a point in your digi-scrappin' life when spending $5 on a kit that you adore is SO worth the money. (Kind of like growing up you couldn't understand why someone would pay $50 for a great pair of jeans and now you're like "OH!")
If you say to yourself "But I could make something just like that -- for free! Why buy it?" then by all means, go ahead and try. (But don't blatantly rip-off someone else's designs, 'cause dude that's SO not cool.) You may decide that you don't need to buy elements, you can just design your own. But then people may start asking you to share the elements you create, and you'll realize that for all your work and the effort you've put into them, you don't want to just give them away. So . . . yeah.
Be grateful for freebies. Be appreciative. Be nice. Send the designer an e-mail and tell them thank you when they've put up a freebie you enjoy. When you enjoy a designer's freebies, take a look at their designs for sale if they have them. But don't feel like they OWE you anything. Freebies are a gift, not an obligation.
Digi-scrapping has changed since I first wrote about freebies, and at this point, I'm not sure where to point you to freebies, except for:
1. Shabby Princess
2. Miss Mint has a new free kit at Peppermint Creative every month!
3. Pixels and Company has a freebie section in their shop.
--> Many designers and stores include freebies within their newsletters or message boards -- so be sure to sign up for the newsletter when you register at a site!