Jun 3, 2009

Online Selling Tip #1 - A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

I know you have probably heard this a billion times before, but pictures really ARE worth a thousand words on the world wide web. Your customers do not have the same benefit as walking into a store - they cannot touch your product, see how big it is, look at the details, or see it three dimensionally.

We as humans are very interactive creatures - we love to completely SENSE what we are getting. We want to touch, smell, taste, look at, and listen to everything. If you have one shot at getting a customers attention, your pictures will certainly have a huge part in it. This isn't a photography lesson - obviously I cannot teach you how to use your camera, but these are some pointers that will generally help you to get the best results. A good example of the use of some of these tips is the photo off to the left that I took of my latest creation - Bertram the Mechanical Birdie.

  • Lighting is extremely important! You can't take your pictures in the dark, can you? If your lighting in the house is minimal and dingey, invest in a few inexpensive clip-on desk lamps -they can be found in hardware stores as well as big box stores. But don't go for soft light bulbs - go for Daylight bulbs. They give off the same type of natural light as the sun does. Colours are more true, and brightness is at it's best.

    The best light you will ever have is the natural light of the sun. If you live in a sunny climate, or it happens to be Spring/Summer where you live, take your pictures outside! There really is no comparison - the colours are their truest when the light is natural.

  • Show your product in it's true environment! If you are selling prints, you might want to stuff it into a frame and take a picture of it hanging on a wall. If you are selling bracelets, show the product on somebodies wrist. You don't have to do this of course, but it really aids in helping the customer visualize how it would look in their own environment.

  • Your product really needs to steal the show! Don't take pictures of it on top of a busy or clustered background. You need a background that will allow the product to practically POP off the backdrop! Say your product is purple - take a picture of it on a green, yellow, or orange background. You can use the "Color Wheel" to find some great colour complements and opposites. Another good tip is to take pictures of light objects on dark backgrounds, and dark objects on light backgrounds.

  • Keep your photos clean! I know it is extremely tempting to add huge borders and decorations while editing your photos, but it can be really distracting on Etsy. Try to skip out on adding names and words on your photos as well, as they can be very distracting.
  • If you do use watermarks on photos, add a disclaimer! Especially if you sell prints, most people tend to add watermarks to avoid having someone steal the image. If you use watermarks, make sure you add a disclaimer to your listing that says something along the lines of, "If you purchase this print, it will not come with a watermark on it." I know it sounds sort of obvious, but you'll be surprised how many people can get confused by this, and think that your photos really do come with "Copyright so-and-so on such-and-such date" plastered across the entire print!

  • Make sure your photos are large enough that customers can see all the details. If it's too small, people will be scared off because they can't see what they are buying.

  • Nobody likes blurry photos. Especially if you are taking pictures of smaller objects, use the Macro setting on your digital camera to get a well focused and sharp photo.


  1. :D this really helped me a lot. I think I have a better understanding of how to show off my products ^-^

    I don't actually have anything yet :/ I won't really start until later this summer; I want to be able to sell stuff by ACen 2011 ^-^

    lol, so I got this link from your DA and when it's an outgoing link they warn you that "there be monsters out there." Oh, they were right, Monster KOOKIES xDDD

  2. Hahaha! That is so true - there are many Monsters here! Muahaahahaha. I'm glad this helped you out! Yeay!

  3. These tips are a great help thank you very muchly ^-^

    When my lighting was dingy and I had no lamps around I actually used a Nintendo DS to try to light my piece lol - it was still a bit too dark but it gave off a nice mood to the piece I think :D

  4. thanks for that entry! i really need to leave out the whole name/title/frame etc. thing on my photos...

    oh...and what do you think about photos taken outside in the sun!??? i took one yesterday and it was soooo much brighter than all the photos i have ever taken inside the house.

    i think...what you did with bertram...like, using remnants as a background is really a great idea. but then i ask myself...what would a customer rather like to see!? bertram on such a background or bertram on a white background!?

  5. Kelzky: Moody lighting can be good, you're right! Just as long as you can see the details!

    Steffi: You're right! I ALWAYS used to take my pictures outside during the Summer, but Winter was always a different story. Thanks for mentioning that - I forgot to put that in, as I started getting used to taking my pictures inside, again. Haha!

    I personally think that things always look better on a subtle background. It shows excitement and a bit of a fun/playful edge to your pieces. White is good, but it's boring - and when you sell online, you have to EXCITE your customers!

    White is very sterile and very plain. Depending on what you are taking a picture of, it can also have a tendency to wash out your photo a little too much, as well. If I were a customer that had to choose between a boring white background and a subtle patterned or coloured background, I would go for the latter! Thanks for commenting, guys!

  6. Yeah...it's true. For winter you need an alternative to sunlight. :)

    I am still not sure whether I prefer subtle backgrounds or white. I guess both work...and then also depending on the age of the target group. Actually, I think this is a good "poll" question. haha

    Maybe you can checkout the last two photos I have in my gallery (www.k-r-y-p-t-o.deviantart.com) and tell me whether you think it looks to "washed out"!?! I would be more than glad to hear what you think!

    Next time I will try to use a subtle background and see what I like more!

  7. Yes, I think both work. Your pictures look lovely! I actually set up a poll on my Deviant Art page, so you can follow it here:


  8. Kookies!!! You are sooo great!! Thanks for that poll...I think it helps a lot to see what people prefer!! I put a small one in my blog, but my blog is private and has only like 30 readers...so this was just great!!! :)

    And thanks for you critique. I will try to play a bit with colours and see what "suits" me best. ;) Your colours/backgrounds are great always, so keep up the good work!

  9. No problem at all, Steffi! Keep an eye on the poll! :D

    And thankies!