November 1, 2010

Something not selling on Etsy? Maybe it's the photo...

"Happy Bag" by Rayela Art

I made several variations of the bag above a couple of years ago.  Most of them sold over time, but this one has been stuck in my Etsy shop.  Why?  Well, the photo I had there was pretty crappy:

 The same "Happy Bag" by Rayela Art

The other bags in the same series were photographed in the same way, so forgiving buyers must be thanked!  Almost everything sells in my Etsy shop, over time, but I have quite a few things that have been stuck there for at least two years.  In looking at them, I admit that all of the photos need improvement.  So, I started to work on it, and although the new photos are not perfect, they certainly beat the old ones!  Here is another before and after shot:

"Alien Bag" by Rayela Art

I've seen worse photos, but had also saved it in a rectangular size so that Etsy cropped it and it looked weird.  I just never bothered to fix it.  The new photo was saved as a square and has more dimension:
Again, not a fantastic photo, but definitely an improvement over the other one.  Can you see a difference in quality?  That comes from having a new camera.  I now use a 35 mm digital Pentax K110.  I bought it used on eBay and am still learning to use the functions.  I haven't found my comfort zone with it yet and am not in love with it, but it was the best camera I could get within my budget.  The seller got rid of it because it was too much camera for her.  The functions are a bit confusing, but I am definitely pleased with the improvement.  So, getting a decent camera is a definite consideration if you do a lot of product shots.
Another consideration is adding a prop.  I have a hat that has been sitting in my shop forever.  It's a simple, but attractive reversible cotton hat:
I actually did use a prop with that listing:

Both of those shots are with the old camera.  Here is the new image:

A big improvement, wouldn't you say?  Busy backgrounds do not help at all!
One last example:  This is a cuff I made last Fall.  
 Rayela Art Cuff

The photo in itself is not bad.  Nice, clear image, but it doesn't really give the viewer an idea of what it looks like when it is worn.  So, I used a prop and added it to the listing:
The prop is a plaster cast of my hand that I used to use at henna events.  I don't think the photo of the cuff is any better than the top one, in fact, it is worse.  The top one shows the details much more clearly.  But, because the hand and the rust background are so eye catching, I know the photo will end up in all kinds of treasuries and get much more attention than the first photo.  And, that should lead to a sale.  (!!!)  
However, ugly props can turn off a buyer just as quickly, so make sure that your prop really enhances your item.  One of my most hated props is this foam head that so many sellers use in their listings.  I just think it is the ugliest thing and automatically makes whatever is on it look cheap.  If that's what you use, cover it with paper machie and give it a face lift.
Etsy gives us five photos to sell our stuff.  The first one should invite the buyer in to learn more about the piece.  Whether it is a straightforward product shot or an artsy one, it should be beautiful.  
Photo Tips:
  • Invest in a decent camera
  • Get rid of busy backgrounds
  • Save images as squares
  • Use interesting props
What works for you?  What camera do you use and are you happy with it?  Are you having photo dilemmas?  I am not an expert, but we have several members on our Etsy Team who do a beautiful job with their images.  Perhaps I can get them to chime in on problem solving, too.  
Shooting and editing product photos takes patience and perseverance to master.  I have shot thousands of photos and spend a lot of time editing them and I am still learning.  I cannot emphasize how important it is to have good photos in order to do well with online selling.  So, if you are a seller, and especially if you are a member of our TAFA Team, stick with it.  I would love to see all of our shops be the best they can be!


  1. Here's an update: Within two weeks of posting new photos, two bags that had been in my shop for over two years sold. That tells me that I need to go over my images again and pull anything that has a bad photo.

    If you have shop, look at it critically, or have someone who is not afraid to be honest and have them point to photos that they think should be done again.

  2. What an excellant article on improving photos for our products. I like seeing the before and after. The tip about square instead of rectangular photos is really good as well.


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