This week’s post is all about creating and sharing images on social media that make people want to buy. Creating images that connect with your ideal customer, and making them feel connected to your products and to you, is how to grow a fan following that will buy from you year after year.
One of the reasons I love buying handmade is because it’s made by an actual human. It has a story. My purchase helps someone’s dreams come true. That’s why people buy handmade. If they didn’t care about the maker, they’d probably just go to Target.
So just how do you create and share these images?
Creating connections with your customers is all about quality images and storytelling.
With social media (Facebook and Instagram) and your Etsy shop updates, you have the opportunity to connect and share images above and beyond your product listing photos. Product listing images should be fairly simple and show off the qualities of your product. Social media images offer the chance for you to tell a story - about your products and about you, the maker.
Connect with your customers on social media and in your shop updates by telling the story of your brand/business through photos. This can include:
1. Your beginnings.
How did you start out in your business? When? What season was it? What are your business's roots? What was your first product? Share photos of your first product and reflect on how far you've come. Share your first rave review and reflect on how good it felt to receive it. Celebrate your business's "birthday".
2. Your "why".
Why do you do what you do? Is it to fund your travel addiction? So you can stay home with your kids? So you can have the freedom to go where you want, when you want? So your spouse can retire? Because you just can't stop creating? Any time you feel yourself grateful for your biz and life, take a photo and share it with your following.
3. Your inspiration.
Are you inspired by nature? Architecture? Fabrics? Patterns? Other creatives? Music? The weather? Books you've read? The ocean? Think about what inspires you and photograph it. Carry your camera (or smartphone) with you wherever you go and take a snap any time you feel inspired by something. Look for inspiration everywhere you go. Not only will it enhance your social media feeds, but also your creativity in general.- If using artificial light, ensure your bulbs are somewhere around 5200k-5500K.
4. Your creative process.
What do you need to start creating? A mug of coffee? Your favourite Spotify playlist? What is the evolution your product goes through from materials to shipment? Document and share the life cycle of your product, each step of your creative process, and everything you need to bring your products to life and ship them off to their new homes.
5. Your creative process.
What and where is your haven for creativity? Where does the magic happen? What are your favourite tools? How do you adorn the walls of your creative cave? Are you perfectly organized or functionally chaotic? Do you share your space with anyone? A furry friend perhaps? Share images of your creative space with your following so they can see where your products (and soon to be their's) come to life.
6. Your product in-action.
Lifestyle photos show your product in use. They provide real-world context and help customers see your product in their life. They evoke a desire to have your products. Lifestyle photos are images that turn customers into buyers - and fans. Add a living touch to your lifestyle photos by including an actual human being, or stage a photo so that it looks like a human has just stepped away. You can recruit friends, family members, or even use yourself to model. You don’t even need to show your face. A well placed hand, a shot from the neck down, etc can go a long way.
Sharing these special behind-the-scenes glimpses and lifestyle photos help you resonate and strike a chord with customers. Even though these photos may be more casual in nature than product listing photos, the same rules apply. Your photo must be clean, well-lit, properly edited, well composed and staged tastefully.
Note: Your Facebook and Instagram feeds should not read like a catalogue. That’s what your shop is for. People won’t follow you or engage with your posts if you just post your product images. Social media is a chance for you to interact with your ideal audience, grow them into fans, and convert them into loyal customers.
Editing your handmade product photos can be super frustrating, right? I mean there about a billion different tools, confusing terminology, and where do you even start? Photo editing programs are confusing with their oh so many different tools, and it can be extremely overwhelming to figure out just how to make your photo look awesome
But it really doesn't have to be. I’m about to give you three quick tips to make your
As a handmade seller DIYing your own product photos, you don't need to know all the things when it comes to photo editing. You just need to know a few, very important things. Once you master those things, editing is leaps and bounds faster, easier, and less stressful.
One of my students even used the word "exciting" once. Seriously!
Here are my top three photo editing tips that will help editing feel a little less stressful and a bit more enjoyable:
Using the Levels tool, increase the brightness of your photo until just before you start to lose detail in the highlights. In simple terms, drag the right slider toward the left just until you start seeing part of your photo have areas of solid white pixels - then move it back a fraction. That helps you make sure your photo is bright enough, but without losing important detail. Then, do the same with the darks by dragging the left slider toward the right until the darks are pronounced. In Photoshop you can find the Levels tool at Image > Adjustments > Levels...
When it comes to product photography, making sure your colours are accurate is reeeeally important. If your colours are off, that pink scarf you sell may look more like a peach or a coral. If your customer thinks they're buying a peach or coral scarf, but instead receive a pink scarf, they will not be happy. "Brace yourself for the bad review and/or returned product" kind of not happy.
There are several different ways to adjust the white balance (aka the thing that makes sure your colours are accurate), but the simplest is to use the colour balance tool (in Photoshop it's under Image > Adjustments > Color Balance...). Move the sliders around just a little at first and see the impact it makes on your colours. Adjust them until your product's colours look accurate.
Note: White balance as a whole can be complicated, especially when you use a white background as the background may appear a slightly different shade in each. This tip is help get you started in understanding colour balance, but you may very well want to learn more about how to adjust colour balance later.
This is perhaps one of the most important things to do when editing photos. If you've ever uploaded a photo to Etsy or your website and noticed the colours look different after uploading, that's because you don't have a colour profile embedded with your image.
Think of the embedded colour profile as a post-it note of sorts attached to your photo. When you upload your photo to a website (like Etsy), the website will read the post-it note and apply just the right colour to your photo. Without that post-it note, the website might just mess those colours up.
And there you have it! My top 3 tips for editing your handmade product photos. See, editing isn’t so scary after all!
Growing and running a business can be expensive, so finding free or cheap ways to enhance your DIY product photos can be a HUGE savings.
We all need to invest in our business if we want to succeed, it’s inevitable. But it’s also important to invest wisely and save where you can. Product photography can get really expensive, really fast, even if you’re DIYing it. Equipment can come with huge price tags, and often can be complicated to learn.
I’ve put together a shortlist of my favourite free or cheap tools for DIY product photos for handmade sellers. Check ‘em out!
Despite having quite a bit of lighting equipment myself, I always prefer to use natural light whenever possible. Because, if you can get it right, it looks the best.
Natural light tends to render colours quite accurately, and is soft and even (if your setup is right). Set up your shooting space next to a bright window without any direct sunbeams filtering through for that dreamy natural light.
To make the most of that bright window + natural light setup, use white foam boards to contain the light to your shooting area. You can add one or two white foam boards to surround your product (behind it and on the side opposite the window) to majorly brighten up the space and avoid those strong shadows that can occur on the side of your product opposite the window.
You can also use white foam board to block off surroundings to reduce reflections on shiny products, as a background for a flat lay, and to hold a piece of poster board for a seamless background. Hot tip: tape some L brackets (for shelving) to the back of your foam boards so they stand upright and can easily be moved around.
Yes, that stuff that goes inside of drawers.
Contact paper comes in loads of different colours and patterns, with marble being my favourite. You can affix the contact to a piece of foam board for an attractive background for your products. Make sure you select a pattern that’s neutral and not too busy. It should show off your product, not steal the show. Also be sure to get a matte finish and not glossy. Glossy finishes will create an unsightly glare in your photos.
Great news! You don’t have to buy a whole bunch of cute props for your product photos. First of all, you should only be using one or two props for your product listing photos. Any more and you start to draw attention away from your product. Second, I bet your house and/or yard is packed FULL of props you could use for your photos.
Some of my very favourite props are simply plants. I love to grab plant life from outside and bring it inside to add a little colour and life to my photos. A well placed sprig of lavender can go a long way! You may even have some house plants that would be a good fit. Succulents are perfect for product photos!
If plants aren’t your thing or aren’t a good fit for your brand, I’m will to bet there are any number of other things around your home that would be perfect, depending on your products. A cute coffee mug or pen, a piece of ribbon, a nice jewelry dish, and so on can all make great props for your product photos. For more info on where to find props for your product photos, click here.
Quite possibly my favourite free tool - a lux meter app for your smartphone. You can download them for free on your iPhone or Android device and, using the camera sensor, they detect the amount of light in an area (aka lux). For product photography, a reading of 1000 lux or higher is ideal.
My picks for free lux meters are Galactica Lux Meter for iPhone and Lux Meter (Light Meter) for Android. Simply download the free app, open it up, and place the camera of your phone near where your product would be when you’re photographing it. The reading should indicate 1000 lux or higher. If not, add some white foam boards to strengthen the light, take readings in other areas of your home at different times of day, or try moving your lights closer if you’re using studio lighting. Keep experimenting until you get a decent reading.
And that’s it, friends! My top 5 free or cheap tools for DIY product photography. Do you have any to add to the list? If so, drop them in the comments!
Hey there handmade sellers!
Today’s topic is definitely one of my most FAQ. As we discussed in our previous blog post, it’s not enough to simply snap a photo and upload it to your shop. Editing must be done! But, the idea of editing product photos is super overwhelming to a lot of you, and knowing what program to use is just the first step in figuring it all out. So let’s get started, shall we?
The types of programs we’ll be discussing today are strictly for computers. For photo editing apps for smartphones, check out next week’s blog post.
The Best - Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom
I’m going to just start right off with the bee’s knees. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom (they are two different programs, but you get both when you subscribe to the monthly photography package) are the industry standard when it comes to photo editing. Why? Because they are simply the best.
Photoshop and Lightroom do everything you will need (and more), they are effective, reliable, and there have been a vast amount of tutorials created around them, leaving it pretty easy to find answers to any of your question online. Even better, Photoshop and Lightroom allow you embed a colour profile with your product photo which is a necessity as it ensure your colours are rendered a true to form as possible (to read more about that, check out this post).
Photoshop and Lightroom used to cost a small fortune, leaving them really only accessible to professionals. But these days, Adobe has wised up and found a way to make their programs more accessible for the masses - through a subscription-based service. For $9.99 USD a month, you get both Photoshop and Lightroom, including all updates. For less than it would cost for two grande Starbucks vanilla lattes, that is a downright steal for this high-end, professional program.
Oh, and don’t let the fact that pros use it intimidate you. While these programs have loads of features, as handmade sellers you really only need to know a few. It’s just a matter of knowing what tools those are, and how to use them (just so happens I have a course that covers exactly that - check it out here).
Decent - Affinity
If subscriptions aren’t your thing but you still want a decent program, check out Affinity. Affinity also has a wide array of tools for photo editing, including the ones you need as handmade sellers. And it still allows you embed a colour profile.
Affinity’s design is aesthetically pleasing and looks very similar to Photoshop. The Affinity website has tutorials to get you started, and after that a lot of the Photoshop tutorials will likely translate.
Free - Gimp
I’m going to be straight with you - I don’t love Gimp. But, it’s free and it allows you to embed a colour profile with some complicated trickery.
The reasons I don’t love this program is because of the challenges with embedded a colour profile (you have to find, download, and install the colour profile before it’ll embed it with your images) and because it’s just not user friendly or intuitive. It’s clunky. But again - it’s free. And it does contain the tools you need as a handmade seller to edit your product photos.
There are fewer tutorials available for Gimp, but a lot of the tools do mimic Photoshop’s tools so you might be able to generalize some of the Photoshop tutorials out there.
It’s also imperative to note - there are other programs available out there. Some popular ones are Pixlr and PicMonkey. I don’t recommend these programs. Why? Because they don’t allow you to embed a colour profile. In fact, it strips images of their colour profile.
This is a big deal because, as I discussed in this post, if you don’t have a colour profile embedded in your photo you may find that the colours of your products are wayyy off once you’ve uploaded them to your online shop. Off colours = unhappy customers. Not good.
So, stick to the programs mentioned above and you will be well on your way to beautiful, professional-looking edited photos before you know it!
Let's talk about how to make sure that the colours in your Etsy product photos look right. It's not a super sexy topic, but I'm here to tell ya, it's an important one!
Have you ever uploaded an Etsy product photo only to find the colours way out of whack? Your product's colours don't look right on Etsy at all! What gives?
Here's the truth - it's those free photo editing programs! You know the ones I'm talking about. Pixlr, Picmonkey, Snapseed. Those ones.
They edit a decent vacation photos of your family, but your product photos? Heck no. Those colours are going to totally misrepresent your product and you can expect some unhappy messages from customers coming your way.
So here's the thing. The best photo editing programs out there are Photoshop and Lightroom and they're only $9.99 a month. They're sooo worth it. You can do this little thing called embedding a color profile with your image and that's what tells Etsy and other websites how to convey the colors of your image (and thus, your product). Otherwise Etsy tries to do it on its own and it's less than pretty.
I explain all about it in this video and I show you how to use Photoshop or Lightroom to embed a colour profile so your product's colors look perfect on Etsy. Check it out here >>
To summarize, if your images are showing weird coloring in your Etsy shop or on your own handmade shop's website, it's most likely because there's no color profile embedded in the image.
As handmade sellers selling online, having the colors of your products portrayed accurately is SUPER important to avoid your customers being unhappy with products arriving a different color than they look online, and in reducing your rate of returns.
Unfortunately, most free editing programs don't embed a color profile. In fact, they strip your images of any pre-established color profile. But, I know you're a handmade seller trying to make a go of it so everyone dollar counts - so I have dug up a free option for you. More on that in an upcoming post!
Don't have Photoshop or Lightroom? Grab it here for $9.99/month >> https://amytakespictures.com/photoshop-lightroom
Just to really drive my point home, here are some examples of the same photo - one saved in Lightroom with an embedded profile, and one saved in Pixlr without a colour profile.
With colour profile embedded
The colour of the card is correct, as are the rest of the colours in the photo.
No embedded colour profile
The colour looks blah, the red is off, and the photos has a cool, greenish tinge.
And that, my friends, is the story of the embedded colour profile.
Go. Embed. Sell your stuff with kick ass Etsy product photos.