Monday, November 30, 2009

Succeeding on Etsy Photography

In order to have any success on Etsy, good photographs are a must. You can not expect to sell a stranger your widgets if the photographs don't show them off to the best your ability. The best SEO, the best tags, the best descriptions are all for naught if your photos are blurry or dark.

I am fortunate enough to have a hubby who spoils me rotten and got me a Canon Rebel XSi DSLR to play with. Would I buy one just for Etsy? No, not at my price point. If I were selling $100+ widgets then yes, I would seriously consider it. Selling $2-20 items, no, it's not worth it.

Wanna know the best kept Canon DSLR secret? The EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. Under $100. Regular price. Srsly. But, Cari, how great can it really be? It's amazing!! It's a plastic body so be careful with it. I've had mine for 10 months and it's been on my Rebel for about 90% of my shots. I take all of my product photography with that lens. The 1.8 gives me a great DoF. Yes the 1.4 would be better, but I can't complain at all.

The other important thing to remember is that you will need great light. Natural sunlight is best but only during the 2 hours after dawn and 2 hours before dusk. That's when the sunlight travels through all that atmosphere and gets filtered and gives a great natural glow without being harsh. It's best to have the sun behind you or to the side behind you.

Getting outside during peak hours isn't always possible. Enter the light box. There are many tutorials on Etsy to build one. You don't need an expensive one, just something to control the light. My hubby happens to be pretty handy so he made me a 15" cube with ceiling light tiles. I'm sorry, I bing-ed (is that a word yet?) and can't find a photo or link. It's the tiles that you install in drop down ceilings to filter the light. They came in huge sheets; something like 4x6 feet? It's textured and made of plastic. He made a cube by cutting those and using corner moulding for the edges. He just used silicon to adhere the moulding to the plastic. I then bought a 59 cent piece of posterboard and voila instant light box! Total cost was about $40 but if we'd have made it just a hair smaller we could have used one panel and saved $15+. It's lasted over a year.

I used to take the box outside or put it on my kitchen table in the afternoon (nap time) and open all the blinds in the bay window. This worked wonderfully! Now I have a portrait lamp because I do portrait photography. For a cheaper alternative to a portrait light, try the Ott lights. They are a natural looking bulb.

To finish my shots I use Photoshop. There are free things to use like GIMP, Picassa and more. I just happen to own an old version of Photoshop. I crop, resize, and adjust the levels to make the white really white.

Since I've improved my photography my sales have increased dramatically. If a buyer can't touch it and inspect it, you need to show all sides of your widget and show it the best way you know how.