How to take pictures for selling online

If you are wondering how to take pictures to improve your online sales but have no photography background, look no further and check out my photography tips below.

I have been selling online since 2001 and have learned quite a lot about how to take pictures of products so that customers can see the detail and not be disappointed when they receive the item.

I often get compliments on my product photography and comments about how detailed and professional they look.

I decided to write this blog post as a sort of “Photography for Dummies” and share how to take pictures so that others can learn my process and get excellent pictures without being a professional photographer.

How to take pictures for Etsy, Ebay, etc.

When I began selling online I would take a picture on a textured surface but I have since learned how to give it that photo studio look using a white background, and I have been re-shooting everything. You can check out some of my new photos in my Etsy Shop.

Texture vs white background
Textured vs White Background Before and After

I have read many blog posts on photography, and most of them go way deep into stuff I didn’t want to know. They suggest special light boxes, lighting and other fancy gear. That wasn’t for me.

I have NEVER read my camera manual and do not know any of the technical stuff about light, shutter speed, blah, blah, blah…. but I DO know that natural lighting is THE best way to photograph beads, jewelry or just about anything.

Check out my photo studio below.

Outdoor photo studio
My outdoor portable photo studio, nothing special

Photo studio set up

My photo studio set up is in my driveway!! I always try to take advantage of the natural light outdoors. I currently use an orange storage box with a piece of tile on top to make it a flat surface, and a piece of white paper is covering the tile (see photo below).

Many items that are seen online have a white background or something really light. Ebay encourages a clean white background and Amazon requires it. In fact Amazon even patented their technique. Maybe I should patent mine!! No seriously, my process is simple and is not patented!!

The beach towel is there to keep me from getting dirty, and the concrete is really not friendly on the knees so the towel helps 🙂

This set up is portable, keeps me flexible (having to get up and down), and was totally FREE since I already had these items. No expensive light-box, lights or other fancy equipment.

Taking Pictures of beads outside in natural light

Indoor pictures need special lighting or they might turn out yellowish, have reflections of the surrounding items, flash or annoying shadows.

I take nearly all of my pictures outdoors on a cloudy or overcast day, sometimes I get good shots first thing in the morning before the sun comes out, but many times that is too blue. Light cloud cover is the best.


I have an Olympus C-4000 Zoom, 4.0 Megapixel, Optical 3x Zoom/Seamless Zoom 10x Optical x Digital. Not sure what all that means, but the optical zoom gets super close and super resolution! When I download the pictures onto my computer I can then zoom further with Photoshop.

Let me repeat my previous statement above:

I have NEVER read my camera manual and do not know any of the technical stuff about light, shutter speed, etc.

I only read the quick start guide and I have never had a photography class.

When I bought my camera it was set to take pictures on a really large format (like a poster), and I have never changed anything. This way I can have a really large picture with high-resolution at then resize it as I choose.

I spent about $500.00 on this camera and have had it for over 10 years. So today you can probably get an even better camera for less money. In fact many of the smart phone cameras are pretty good!

Photo Editing

Photo editing is a very important part for me. I have Photoshop, which was quite expensive when I bought it, but all photo editing programs have some sort of brightness and color features to edit photos.

This is what I do for pics that are a little too gray or blue. In Photoshop I use the levels tool to set the white point which will adjust the picture.

Photoshop leverls
Setting White Levels in Photoshop

To set the white levels in Photoshop you select: image>adjustments>levels and then you will see the setting box like above. The eye dropper on the far right is for white.

Using White Levels in Photoshop

Select the dropper for white and then touch the area of your photo that should be white.  See what a difference that makes??

You can then clean up any dust or particles surrounding the item with the paint brush. Crop your photo and then make it any size you need!

I hope this information on how to take pictures has helped simplfy things for those who want to keep it simple. Happy Photographing!!


3 Reasons to downgrade my Ebay premium store

My Ebay premium store renewal date recently arrived, below are 3 reasons why I decided to downgrade my Ebay premium store to a basic store.

Beads and jewelry components used to sell on Ebay like mad! I was always very busy selling and making money on Ebay in my Ebay store. I did this successfully for over 12 years, and had lots of fun selling on Ebay.

But increased rules for Ebay sellers have made it not such a fun and friendly place to do business anymore.

Why I downgraded my Ebay premium store

  1. Ebay is overcrowded – For my main product and category, a quick look shows 350,000 listings on Ebay as opposed to approximately 51,000 on Etsy.
  2. DSRs (Detailed Seller Ratings) and Defects – I was not against the Ebay DSR until the recent inclusion of defects and making sellers responsible for the post office or delivery services. Additionally, if a buyer asks a question it’s a potential defect automatically. You are much better off if the buyer does not contact you, which is totally backwards since communication is a big part of relationship building with customers.
  3. Ebay slow sales – Over the past few years the sales volume has rapidly declined, either from the overcrowding or the newest skewed search engine.

In my humble opinion

There is no point in paying premium Ebay store fees for sub-premium sales, while also being held responsible for things I can’t control (a shipping business and customer questions).

I did not wake up one day and suddenly decide to make this change, it was made gradually over the past few years as I watched my Ebay sales decrease while my Etsy shop and my independent website had growth.

Want to try selling on Etsy? Get started selling on Etsy with 40 free listings.  It’s a great community and they give you tons of information on how to be successful.

Do I really need the Ebay store anymore?

Yes, I want to keep a presence there since some customers really enjoy making online purchases via Ebay. My Ebay listings will be a small portion of my top-selling items or recently found “treasures”.

Perhaps with a smaller store inventory I will be able to figure out the Cassini search engine and implement changes that will work better for the future.

For those Ebay store sellers scratching their head about having slow sales on Ebay, here is an article that might help to get your inventory seen on Ebay.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Ideas to increase website traffic when selling online

Being an entrepreneur can be a real challenge, coming up with ideas to increase website traffic when selling online is something to constantly think about.

Whether you have an Etsy Store, an Ebay Store or sell your cool handmade gifts at local craft fairs, getting shopper traffic to see your cool stuff is a dilemma.

Last year I made the above chart and shared it on my Facebook Fan page, I revisited the key points to see what might have changed, and wanted to share these results.

Lots of work on

Increase website traffic by building your website

Over the past year I have learned a LOT about blogging, SEO and my Shopsite shopping cart.

I changed my hosting to a company that is a Shopsite expert and upgraded the software to the most current version. This fixed a lot of things that the original ad agency who set up my website did not do correctly, and also made it possible for a few other important things:

  • Mobile browsing with a simple mobile checkout
  • Move blog from Blogspot to Word Press and link to website
  • Insert products into Google Shopping

All of the above improvements have increased the orders on my website from like one or two a month to nearly one a day! I am slowly inserting more and more products, so I expect that number to increase over the next year!

Selling My Cool Stuff outside in the hot sun, no thanks!

Set up at local craft fairs

My opinion hasn’t changed on this, no sense in using my energy to set up tables under the hot Central Florida sun or in a tent so that people can look at my beaded jewelry and say “Oh how pretty, I can make that!”


Put it on Ebay

I made all the changes Ebay wanted last year, and now again this year there are more changes, although not as drastic.

I have decided that the “Variations” option is only good if your product is selling, otherwise the item just sinks lower and lower in search.

I changed many of my titles for the Cassini search engine and I do think that helped somewhat. Even though I don’t spend much time working on the Bead Lovers Korner Ebay Store, Ebay has a lot of traffic and somehow I manage to have a good volume of sales.

List on Etsy

Not much has changed here, I keep a lot of popular items there as well as new handmade creations.

The great things about Etsy are the teams and the awesome tips and ideas they give to you to help you be successful, not to mention the fact that the fees are lower.

I get a fair amount of traffic to the Bead Lovers Korner Etsy Shop, and the sales are steady.


Facebook fan Page

I officially quit giving Facebook any advertising money at the end of last year. I did not see much of a return from the money I spent with them in recent years. I do keep my Bead Lovers Korner facebook page updated, but I am not wasting any more money on advertising there.

Even though I am no longer advertising for likes, etc. I still keep getting new fans, and it is weird because a lot of them are from foreign countries and I can’t even read their names!!

In closing, lots of work on updating and building my own website and blog has proven to be the most beneficial this past year.

Leave a comment and tell us what has helped your online sales!

Top 5 Selling Tips to Make Money Online

Top Selling tips take great pictures
Take great photos to represent your product

If you sell on eBay or are learning how to sell on Etsy, your own website or any other online selling sites, these selling tips will help you get started in your quest of making money online, or at least give you something to think about. I have been selling on the internet since 2001, and have found these 5 tips to be the most important.

1. Take Great Pictures

It isn’t hard to take great pictures, but like anything it does take some practice and a little bit of knowledge. You don’t have to be an expert at photography, and if you don’t have the money to hire someone to do it for you, it is absolutely possible for you to have high quality images of your products.

  • Use a good camera. The prices today are much less than they used to be, but it is worth the investment to get a good camera, for good close up shots get an optical zoom
  • Use a photo editing program like Photoshop or PicMonkey, or another photo editing program to help with color, contrast and cropping out things you don’t want in your images
  • Check out my blog post on “How to Take Pictures“, it is almost like a “Photography for Dummies” because I know nothing about photography and can still take great pictures

2. Sell Top Quality Products and Keep Them in Stock

A top quality product = happy customers!

I hadn’t been selling online too long when I received some merchandise I thought was a great deal, but it was cheap and low quality, and guess what? The customer thought so too… needless to say I never brought it in my store again

  • You get what you pay for. Cheap or low quality products will guarantee returns and customer complaints
  • Keep items in stock for fast shipping. I always keep what I sell so that I can control how fast it gets shipped, relying on a drop shipper is asking for trouble if you sell on eBay, or anywhere online where fast delivery is important
Selling tip offer variety of Price Points
Offer a variety of Price Points

3. Have a variety of price points

You have to keep a balance of low, medium and high prices so that there is something for everyone. I think there are still people who are leery of shopping online, and maybe even more so after the Target incident this last holiday season. Having all ranges of product pricing will accommodate the skeptical online shopper and the seasoned one.

  • Low, Medium and High Prices for different levels of customers
  • Competitive pricing You have to be somewhat in line with competition, so search out other sellers of your product and compare pricing frequently. Selling too cheap will hurt the value of your brand, and of course you can’t gouge customers either
  • Ability to offer sales  This is a no brainer. Everyone is looking for a deal, so you must have enough product and enough profit margin to offer sales and still make money.
Be Everywhere, Be Social

4. Be Everywhere

Don’t rely on one selling site or your own website, people who surf and shop on the internet are diverse and you should be too. I personally sell on several sites as well as having my own website. Not all people like eBay, some have never heard of Etsy, and your private website may get lost on the internet the way changes occur all the time with search engines.

  • Be established on several online selling sites – eBay, Etsy, Zazzle, Amazon, Bonanza, your own website, etc. Yes, you will have fees, but each selling site has a different clientele and they also advertise for their site and you.
  • Social Media Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others help you to find new customers and let them know about your business
  • Join groups This is a great way to network and also establish your online reputation. There are groups on facebook, Linkedin, and other online communities. Etsy has teams that are a great way to share knowledge and support each other through activities, treasuries and more.
Don’t Give Up!

5. Don’t Give Up

One of the top reasons people fail is because they just quit trying, so don’t give up. I know there are stories about how people became millionaires practically overnight by selling online, but those stories are rare. Most of us entrepreneurs get up every day and work tons of hours, then become successful over time. Being successful doesn’t always mean being rich.

  • Success shouldn’t be measured in dollar figures because there is so much more to life
  • If you give up, then you never know how far you might have made it.
  • Success is a journey to be enjoyed, it’s not about the money!

“There is no failure except in no longer trying” – Elbert Hubbard

“It’s always too soon to quit” – Norman Vincent Peale

Awesome business cards for a fresh new look

Creating awesome business cards can give your company a fresh new look! Make an impact the first time someone receives your  business card.

Bead Lovers Korner launched a new website last year, with a new banner and color scheme, but the business cards remained the same old cards.

I spent a small fortune on the new website and updated the Etsy Shop and Ebay Store to match the website look, but never updated the business cards. Silly huh?

Old Business Cards
Bead Lovers Korner OLD Business Card Design

It was just too easy to hit reorder at Vista Print and keep using the same old cards.

Not being a graphic designer (I only know enough to be dangerous) attempting to update the business cards was something I needed to have done by a professional.

Procrastination could have been my middle name, because I just kept reordering the same old business cards.

Artisan Group Member
An Exclusive Group Representing Artisans at Hollywood’s Best Celebrity Gift Lounges

Hire a professional Graphic Artist to design your business cards

This year I was accepted into The Artisan Group and will be participating in events as well as selling online. I wanted my cards to match the new web design and really make an impact so that if a celebrity or influential person happened to see my card they might take notice and not just throw it in the trash.

I finally broke down and hired a friend who is a Professional Graphic Artist to design awesome new business cards for Bead Lovers Korner.

New Business Cards
Awesome NEW Business Cards

Jennifer Remias and I worked together for many years at a Catalog Publishing business, she was the Senior Graphic Designer and very talented in her trade. I contacted her to see if she would help me with the update to my cards.

She did an awesome job with the design of these NEW cards and they will be rolling out this summer!

p.s. She gave me print ready pdfs and now I hit reorder at Overnight Prints, who also has great pricing.

Let me know what you think?

Making it to the Etsy Front Page

Pine Cone Dangle Bead

I had been on Etsy for about two years before I was finally successful at making it to the Etsy Front page. It was a wonderful thing, lots of views for my shop, but nothing magical happened nor did money fall from the sky in a windfall.

A Crisp Morning Etsy Front Page

Since the moment I opened Bead Lovers Korner shop on etsy, I have been trying to figure out:

  • How to improve traffic and get noticed
  • How to make the front page of Etsy
  • How to become a featured seller on Etsy or Ebay
  • Etc, etc.

So over the years herw is what I have discovered about the above:

  • Improve Traffic: Learn more about how to take pictures that will get noticed
  • Etsy Front Page: Making it to the Etsy Front Page does not equal tons of sales
  • Being a featured seller: Not sure exactly how you manage to become a featured seller on Etsy or Ebay, I gave up on that one!

I think to be successful you just need lots of followers and people sharing and favoring your items. Great product and customer service will keep them coming back.

Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below? What are the tricks you have discovered to get more sales on Etsy or Ebay?