Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Etsy Thoughts: Learning about Product Photography through Treasuries

I am (and have been) trying to ramp up my Etsy sales to the place they were before the existence of my little AJ about 2.5 years ago. A lot has happened in that time that has made keeping up a real challenge. Etsy’s search has changed from chronological to relevancy, which has thrown sellers for a major loop. New methods of promoting items are needed since the old standby of “renew, relist, repeat” is no longer getting the exposure needed to earn a reasonable wage.

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One method of promotion I am trying to improve on right now is curating more treasuries on Etsy. I am fortunate to have my items featured regularly in treasuries made by others, and I’m at the point of trying to reciprocate by featuring those same shops in my own treasuries. It’s good to have friends.

But sometimes… despite combing an entire shop for something I can work with… I just can’t do it! Some shops really have photos that are simply unfeaturable… including them would nix any shot of that treasury making front page. So it makes no real sense to include them, and that makes me sad. While not at all trying to sound “craftier than thou”, I would hope that every Etsy seller knows that there are some simple guidelines floating around the interwebs that will vastly improve the appeal of one’s shop photos. I am guilty of many many of the following missteps myself over the past 5 years, but practice and persistence has given me a much better “eye” for what looks right. One good way to quickly identify what has appeal and what does not is to make treasuries. Even seasoned veterans like myself can get inspired about styling shots, current trends and “what Etsy wants to see” by browsing for a purpose.

Some photographic faux pas are simply “a deal-breaker, baby”, in the immortal words of Liz Lemon. The following list are just some of the issues I have encountered recently while preparing treasuries. They illustrate a lot of common mistakes by “new” product photographers, as well as highlight some issues that can be easily solved by basic photo editing and artful cropping.

  • Harsh lighting with really dark shadows (you really do want natural daylight, not supernatural daylight)
  • Significantly gray-, blue- or orange-tinged backgrounds (white balance issue)
  • Images that clearly used flash (I’m seeing too many shiny babies… you just can’t hide the drool)
  • Images that are >90% BRIGHT white (item appears to be disappearing into a snowstorm)
  • Crazy, busy or just plain weird backgrounds (distracting; it’s hard to see what the item actually is)
  • Odd item placement (creative styling is good… in moderation)
  • Highly visible and/or centered watermarks (if you hold onto something too tightly, you strangle it)
  • Images with frames (misses the mark for meshing with Etsy’s aesthetic, and doesn’t mesh in a collection either)
  • Images of items whose design has clearly been “borrowed” from my shop (LAME-O!)
  • Collaged images with loud backgrounds (the magazine look gone bad)
  • Images that are not cropped well (key components can’t be seen in the main photo)
  • Black backgrounds (while not aesthetic delinquents by themselves, they just don’t play well with other photographs)
  • Fuzzy close-ups (two words: auto. focus.)

I wish I could show you some awesome examples, but since it wouldn’t be positive promotion, I won’t do it. But this stuff is important, and I hope that by identifying a few areas that could use improvement might help someone. One great basic, easy to use option for fixing the photos that are already up is FotoFuze. It’s not perfect, but it is designed to be used with Etsy and it effectively cleans up white balance issues and other simple fixes without being too clunky (but it’s still so much easier to just take better photos to begin with!).

I made up 3 treasuries yesterday to kickstart a promotion-heavy season. I use the Schmetsy treasury tool for making treasuries easily and sending convos (I’m not nuts about clogging people’s conversation boxes, but it’s how things are going these days). I used a Red Row Studio html tool to functionally link to each element of the treasury below. I am continually finding clever apps to fix challenges and time-consuming elements of being an Etsy shop owner, and I’m very grateful for that.

'Continuum in Warm Tones' by thejunebride

A collection of lovely things I've found while wandering through Etsyland today. Thankful for such a vibrant and beautiful place to be inspired!


Echinacea - 8 X 10 Photograp...
$20.00

Rustic Jute Twine / string /...
$20.00

Antique Mercury Glass Christ...
$22.00

Fall autumn gold hydrangea b...
$10.00

Wooden earrings jewelry wome...
$19.50

white birch forest topograph...
$140.00

Sweet Lemon Cream Soap Handm...
$5.75

Burgundy Red Entrelac Shawl ...
$46.00

Cranberry Soy Candle - Sweet...
$10.00

Yellow Prairie Flower Photog...
$30.00

Christmas Tree Ornament - Ra...
$28.00

Salacia -- A Royal Colar of ...
$165.00

Felted Acorns, moss nature ...
$12.00

Fruit Photograph Red Cherry ...
$15.00

Leather sandals. Ankle wrapp...
$168.00

ORIGINAL LINOCUT "Gemst...
$110.00

Treasury tool supported by the dog house

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