I have been asked to cover some of the aspects of being a successful seller on Etsy.com. Since we are a geeky crafters site, and I am a seller, I thought I would take a stab at what I think are some of the most important things to learn in order for your shop to even have a fighting chance.
The first thing that came to mind is actually the first thing that draws customers into your shop.First impressions are everything, and the quality of your photos is key. Believe it or not, having dark fuzzy pictures will make people look past your shop without even blinking an eye. You could basically have a picture of Elvis holding the Holy Grail in 2011 and if the quality is bland and dark, people wouldn’t even think twice. Yes, its that important! This article is here to prove that you can be on a budget and still take amazing photos of your work!
I purchased The Handmade Marketplace and How to Make Money Using Etsy, a while back, basically to see if I was doing it right, and to see if there were any secrets that were withheld from me. They both screamed out to me ” HOLLY! FIX YER DAMN PHOTOS!” Basically, both books had chapters laying it on thick emphasizing how important it is to have quality photos. If the pros are trying to drill it into our brains, maybe there is something to this picture thing..
Now, bare with me, I’m going to reference my World of Warcraft playing Dad on this next part. (If you’ve played Wow, or have any obsessed friends, you may know what I’m talking about.) Back in the day, my Dad rolled up on a group of people running a Raid. He was there, ready to kick some ass, and super excited. The other guys took one look at the gear he was wearing and basically laughed him out of the Raid. ( He even had his riding crop equipped.. yikes!) Well, he went and grinded the hell out of the PvP badges and was one of the first players on his server to get a full set of PvP gear. ( Back then, that was the shit. ) Let’s just say those guys were more or less BEGGING my dad to join in on the reindeer games. — What am I getting at?
When I started Etsy, I didn’t really know much about photography. I did notice right off the bat that people had PROFESSIONAL looking photos of their items. I had NO idea how they achieved that sort of look. I was super confident in my pieces, so I wasn’t too worried about it. I set up my shop, took pictures of my wares with my CAMERA PHONE, beautiful! I was so proud. I waltz’ed on into the Etsy Chatroom and showed off my shop like it was a cure for the common cold. Within seconds I was getting whispers and e-mails offering their photo editing services for a hefty fee. People were critiquing and pretty much laughing at my store. I was MORTIFIED! I then, felt like my Dad. I had a fire in my belly. Time to prove to people that this Noob was not one to mess with.
Click the jump to see a tutorial for a home made light box!
I searched online and found people with blog posts about expensive cameras, photoshop and light boxes. I’m just a starving artist, and I knew I wasn’t going to go blow a bunch of money to take pictures of my items. So, I improvised.
My boyfriend and I figured out the basic structure and purpose of a light box. So, that’s where we started. We hopped in the car and drove down to the DOLLAR store for our materials.
Here’s what you will need for your basic light box. ( To be honest, all you need is a basic one if you have items on the smaller side )
Light box Materials:
1 Medium to Large everyday cardboard box
1 Straight edge razor
1 white sheet/pillow case
1 Piece of Science fair board, the thicker white poster board
1 Thin regular white poster board
A desk lamp with a positional neck ( We got ours at the thrift store for 3 bucks )
1 NATURAL LIGHT light bulb
Clear packing tape
How to construct your light box once you have all of your CHEAP materials:
Step one: Take your box cutter and cut the top flaps off of the box. This will leave you with a clean opening on the top. Then, on one of the sides of your box, cut almost the whole side off of it. Be sure to leave a little left on the top so you have some support for your sheet later on.
Step two: Cut your thick science fair board in three pieces big enough to fit the left, right and bottom of the inside of your box. Position them inside, and you might need to tape them in from the sides and the top.
Step three: STake the white flexible poster board and cut it so you can make a ramp from the back of the inside of your box to the front of your box. If you are smarter then me, you should be able to cut it long enough to make it the full size of the bottom. ( see picture ) – If you have larger items, some people find it important to make this slope in the corner of the box, and they cut the opening of the box from an opposite corner, so you can’t see where the poster board connects. My items are on the smaller size, so this box works perfect for me.
Step four: Place your sheet or pillowcase over the top opening of your newly made lightbox. Position your light shining into the sheet over top of the box. The reason we use the sheet, is to eliminate shadows and glare.
BAM! You now have your very own cheap as cheap can be – Light Box!
As for the camera to use to take pictures of your beloved products, I am 100% guilty to say, I still use my camera phone!!! I was in the market to buy a simple point and shoot camera but, when I strolled back into that Etsy chatroom and everyone raved about how awesome my pictures were, I didn’t feel the need to go out and buy one. ( The best part is telling people I use a camera phone teehee! TAKE THAT! )
Also, I always edit my pictures to make sure the colors pop as much as they do in person. Even though my light box gives me a night and day difference in the quality of my photos, I do like to crop the finished photo and fix the exposure a tad. What I use to edit my pictures is a FREE site called Picnik. In about 5 clicks, my pictures are ready to go up for the public to see.
To edit your photos using Picnik — fast and easy 5 clicks-ish..
Click one- Upload
Click two- Auto Fix button on the far left.
Click three- Crop
Click four- I fix the exposure using the sliding bar they provide
Click five- Save and share!
It seems like a LOT of work, but think of when you have been browsing around Etsy. You click on the listings with the pictures that pop and draw you in, wanting more. So, give your shop and your items a fighting chance and do them justice by taking some decent pictures. I hope this post has helped those of you who felt overwhelmed with all of the competition and their high tech gizmos. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask them in the comment section below!
To see more samples of my pictures, you can click .. HERE!
Keep on geekin’!!