As part of our Shop Makeover series, here we focus on photography.
The absolute best way to give your Etsy shop a makeover is to take the best possible photographs of your products, no question.
Why is it such a big deal? Photographs are the number one visual description you can give to a shopper when browsing on Etsy: they are the first step in attracting people to your items. Think about it: when you shop in a store, you like to look at an item, maybe pick it up, feel its weight and texture. These are all ways of shopping and making decisions during the shopping process, so you want to be on top of your game since you can’t physically hand your products to your shopper. You need to show them, through your photographs, what your product is at its best, what is feels like, how big it is, all sides of it, and how it might function in their world. The best part is, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to capture professional looking photographs of your products.
Questions to ask yourself when taking photos:
• What type of environment does my product live in?
Creating or “staging” an environment for your photo is a great way to market your items to shoppers; it gives them a sense of the function and also creates a feeling or mood that might be desirable to your shopper. To find creative staging ideas, flip through your favorite product or clothing catalogues and check out the different ways you can group items together to maximize the usability of your products.
Hot tip: Does your product function outside or inside? Photographing an item outside (that doesn’t belong in an outside environment) can throw your shopper off. You can photograph your items inside with great natural light next to a windowsill!
• What type of background works best for my products?
Photographing with backgrounds suited to your products is key. Backgrounds can be tricky, and if they aren’t done well, can distract your buyer from looking at your item. You can never go wrong using a solid colored background, at least to start out with. Make your products “pop” and stand out to the eye by using a lighter colored background for dark colored items, and vice versa. If you have a muted item, use a dark background. Experiment with different backgrounds until you find what works best with your products.
Hot tip: Hard cover books, cardstock, ironed flat fabric, wood, and scrapbooking paper are all great backgrounds to play around with. Stay away from using your floor, bedspread, carpet, grass, sidewalk, or other everyday items as backgrounds: they make your photos look less professional.
• What type of lighting works best for my products?
In most cases, natural lighting is the best type to highlight your products. You can achieve the look of natural lighting by setting your products near a windowsill and taking angled shots. Don’t forget to take advantage of using the” macro” setting on your digital camera to pick out those fine details. Also, set your EV white balance to enhance the brightness of your photos.
Don’t have windows where you live? Take your items outside, either in the morning or afternoon when the sun is not directly overhead, and set your products down on a solid background that you can crop. If you can’t work with natural lighting or it doesn’t maximize the look of your products, try making and using a light box with this simple tutorial.
Hot tip: Never use the flash on your camera for product shots. It washes out natural coloring and details in your products.
• Am I editing my photographs to maximize my sales on Etsy?
Believe it or not, you can edit your photos in a way to help your products stand out. When editing your photos, crop them the way you want them to appear in a square; this is how they will appear in your shop. Crop your images in a way that focuses directly on the image without too much background or space remaining to distract your viewer.
Cropping detailed shots of your images is an effective way to show off your product and make your shopper feel like they can see it up close (almost as if they are picking it up themselves). Photoshop and Gimp are both well known and effective photo editing programs. If you don’t already have a photo editing program on your computer or just don’t understand how your current program works, download Picasa. Picasa is a free downloadable photo editing program made by Google that is super user friendly; it allows you to crop, change color, adjust lighting, sharpen, and many other editing tools!
Hot tip: Scroll through the Time Machine 2 sold items or the Gift Guides and click on the pictures that jump out most to you. Take a look at the cropping and editing of these photos and use them as your inspiration.
Things you can do immediately to give your shop an instant photo makeover:
• Take all of your new product listing photos in natural light, next to a windowsill on some sort of a solid background, with no flash on your camera.
• Take several different angled shots of the item from close and far away.
• Once you have the photos loaded on your computer, you can edit them to your liking and delete all but the five you will use for your listing.
• Look over the items currently listed in your shop and take the time to re-shoot them using your new photography skills. Trust me, it will pay off in the end.
Still need some help? Watch this little video we made to help you along with the photographing process.
Now go retake your photos and see what a difference it makes in the way your shop looks!