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.

Camera

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.

Before-After-white-levels
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!!

 

The secret to selling on Etsy using Etsy tags

Have you been selling on Etsy and wondered what the secret was to get more sales? I think a lot of people wonder about this and I wanted to share what I discovered about Etsy Tags and how to use them.

This method I use seems to have made a big difference on how often my items are found, viewed, favored and sold. More importantly my revenue increased significantly!!

If you are not currently selling on Etsy, then open an Etsy store and get started selling on Etsy with 40 free listings.

Which words to use selling on etsy
Ever wondered what the big secret is to getting views and sales? It’s the words you use, and Etsy Tags are a big part!

What are Etsy Tags?

Etsy tags are different terms used to describe and identify your item and make them relevant to a customer search.

You can use single words or common phrases to describe an item as long as they are relevant. Be sure to read the House Rules in the Seller Handbook to make sure you know the do’s and don’ts.

I read the directions and helpful tips from Etsy on how to use tags, but the light bulb went off for me when I saw what was coming up in my Top Keywords section under Etsy Stats.

Addicted-to-Etsy-shop-stats

Top Keywords

These are words and phrases that customers have searched for and successfully found your item.

I don’t remember specifically which keyword in the shop stats made the “light bulb go on” for me, but it was something generic like “crimp beads” or “horse clasp” and I suddenly REALIZED that I had everything tagged totally wrong!

I was using words in the tags that I thought people would search for, but not really checking to see what words customers were actually using in their search. It is amazing that they found anything at all since my terms were so generic!

Search Etsy Bar
Use the search Etsy bar at the top of each page to see how people search for items.

Search Etsy for keyword tags

It suddenly dawned on me that the terms that people are really searching for are provided in the drop down search (as shown above).

I began the arduous task of double checking all of the tags on my items and comparing them to terms found in the Etsy search drop down. I removed terms that didn’t show up and changed to words and phrases in the search drop down.

I also used these terms in the title of my item and in the first sentence of my descriptive copy. You can also use the Google Keyword tool on adwords to help you come up with phrases people use on the web.

After just a few days I had a huge increase in views, favorites and orders, which was phenomenal. My orders increased by 60%!!

You have to continually check and update these terms as customers change the way they search. This also keeps your listings “Fresh”.

Other factors when selling on Etsy

There are still other factors needed to be successful when you sell on Etsy, which includes:

  • A nice variety of items
  • Great photos
  • Good descriptions
  • Good customer service

For more on photography check out my previous Blog Post “How to Take Pictures

I hope this helps to unravel the mystery of using Etsy tags and getting found on Etsy. Leave a comment below and let me know!

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 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
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