The California Crafters Club of Etsy (CCCOE) is a group of independent artists, crafters, & artisans from California who sell their wares on Etsy.com.

Friday, September 21, 2018

In the Background

There is a bit of a debate over backgrounds in listing photographs. Some say that backgrounds should be plain so that your item is the center of attention. Others say that a photo needs something in the background or it's too plain.

Whichever side you fall on is fine. The best thing is to be consistent. A set background that you use for all your photos helps to brand your shop. Or if all your photographs are shot with a plain white background, that will also define a type of brand.

One good way to ensure that you have a uniform background for all your product photos is to purchase a yard or two of fabric. You can pick whatever neutral color you'd like, and then you can throw that over whatever table you're photographing on.

But the best way to see what you prefer is to look at some examples. First up, some examples of plain backgrounds:

Let's start with supplies. When you're selling something that someone's going to use to make something else, we really want to get a good look at it. Close up and plain background is great for this.

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DMC 4245 Variegated 6 Strand Floss Mystical Midnight from Ancora Crafts

This little critter does well against a plain background...

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Sweater Scrap Prawn by Zazu Faure

And a plain background doesn't have to be white. The dark background helps make this silver necklace pop.

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30 inch .925 sterling silver 1mm snake chain necklace by Designs by Tami

Next, here are sellers that have more scenery behind their products:

Hollow Books' photos all seem to have this background. It makes it really easy to spot their products, especially in a random search.

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Book Safe - Ravenclaw Harry Potter by Hollow Books by Refined Pallet 

Here's a different way to showcase a pair of earrings--with a map for the background...

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Sealife earrings by jewelry N gemstones

And if you're showing off an item that can be worn, having a model is great. We can really see this product in use and imagine wearing it ourselves.

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Knee High Socks by pink candy studio

If these were your products, would you have chosen to shoot them against a different background? What sort of background do you prefer in your photos? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Shine a Light on It

There's a whole lot that goes into taking a "good" photograph. There are high school and college courses designed to develop students into competent professionals.

If you are deficient in this area, you might want to look into taking a class. However, there are a few things you can do right away to make your pictures better. And the more you practice, the better you're going to get.

A big thing is to take care of your lighting. Your photographs should be well-lit. Or, at least, deliberately lit. There are articles (and probably books) all about how to light photographs well. Today I can only scratch the surface. Here are three articles to get you started:

The best lighting is natural light. Sunlight. However, direct sunlight can be too much, especially the harsh sunlight of high noon. You want the sunlight filtered a bit, depending.

But not everyone can take pictures outdoors. And not everyone has a good place indoors that gets good sunlight. When looking into lighting options, look for white light. Lightboxes can also be helpful. And multiple sources of light can help to make a photograph pop.

(Yes, there's a lot that goes into getting good lighting. Take lots of pictures. See what works. That's the best way to get better pictures.)

Here are some photos from team members that show what you can do with lighting:

First up, this photo looks like it was photographed in a lightbox. It gives a very plain background so what you see is the product. Nothing else distracts.

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Barbary Belle Perfume Oil by Scent by the Sea

Here's a picture where natural light was used. See the window? It gives a bit more drama to the shot, highlighting how the vase will look in use.

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One Upcycled 1.5L Glass Wine Bottle Vase by Bottles & Wood

Here's an example with flood lighting. We can really see the necklace, and in a piece like this, we want to see detail. We can.

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Large Pave Diamond Evil Eye Medallion by Mooti Designs

The brightness of the light helps these crystals shine. When we're shopping for jewelry, we really want to see it sparkle. This sparkles.

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The Perfect Crystal Necklace by Beaded Treasure by Sue

There are many ways to do lighting. There are many ways to get it right. How confident are you in your photos' lighting?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Keeping Your Focus

When it comes to selecting pictures to use in your listings, there are a lot of things that should be obvious. But, if you take a look on Etsy, you will find listings which have pictures that aren't all that great. So, it's time to state some things plainly.

All your listing photos should be in focus.

The best way to ensure that you don't make this error is to take a lot of pictures when photographing your items. I mean, a lot a lot. If we assume that you're planning on having ten photos in your listing (which should be the goal), then, at minimum, you should be taking thirty pictures of your item. Although, it would not be a bad idea to take fifty shots or more when doing your photography.

Yes, this is overkill, but the idea is to select the best ten pictures. You should have a lot to choose from.

If you've been at this a while, you might know exactly what angles and views work best. But you're taking at least two of each "pose", right? That way you still have plenty of pictures to choose from.

There are photographers who deliberately choose to blur things in their photos. When you know what you're doing and you're getting the intended effect, that's fine. But those of us (like me) who aren't all that confident in their photographic skills should stick to making sure their pictures are in focus.

I will not be calling out any sellers for this, so I have some beautifully focused photos to share today.

First up, notice how this soap pops in the image:

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Whipped Soap VEGAN Hot Coffee 8 oz Creme Fraiche by savor

Even in a smaller size, you can clearly see the musical notes on the plate:

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Fused glass art plate by Caroline4art

We can easily see how this piece is assembled:

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lidded pine needle basket with a driftwood root top by Heart of Almanor

For smaller items, like keychains, it's vital that the item is clearly photographed:

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Personalized Keychain Edward Gorey by Tresijas

And see how clear this scarf is:

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Silk Scarf Handpainted in Copper and Brown by Ocean Avenue Silks

How well focused are your pictures? How many photos do you take when photographing your items?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Listing Photos

Etsy allows ten photos for each listing. But do you really need ten pictures?

Selling online isn't like selling in person. Your customers can't pick up and touch your wares before purchasing. They rely on your photos to give them an idea of what they're getting.

Depending on the item, finding ten different views can be easy or hard. You want to give a good view of it. Show it in use. If it can be worn, have someone model it. Put it in context, and let customers see how small/big it is. A good closeup showing how well-made the item is will definitely help sell it.

A browser just checking out their options probably won't look at all the views of your merchandise. But a customer who is ready to buy will. That is who you want to consider when taking the photos you'll use.

But what if you can't do ten pictures of your item?

You will not be penalized for not having ten views. The live listing will look like it's meant to have five or seven photos only.

However, there are a few things you can add to the later photo slots. (You can shift the photos around, so make sure you order them in a manner that makes sense.)

Do you have other variations of the item? Do you have a gift wrapping option? Is your packaging worthy of a shot?

People, generally, are notorious for not reading through things. They ignore signs in public places. And there's a good chance they'll not carefully read your product's description. So, those final photos are a good opportunity to highlight any information you want your customers to see.

The pictures are your best way to sell your products. Give them the time and attention they need.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Product Photos

What is more important in a listing on Etsy, the tags or the pictures?

Alas, the answer is both. They work in tandem.

If your tags aren't working, you won't be found in search. Your pictures can be amazing, but no one will ever see them.

If your pictures aren't good, you won't get much interest. Your tags might get you on the search page, but buyers are going to skim right over your items in favor of the better photos.

The good news is, you can get good at taking pictures. It just takes some practice. And there's all sorts of advice to be found online.

What does a good picture look like? It's well-lit. It's in focus. It has a background that doesn't distract from the item. (There is a debate as to whether it's better to have a blank background or not.)

Let's take a look at some good product photos:

3/4 inch Blank Leather Wristbands Bracelet Cuff by Flores Tanis Supplies

Fruity Soap Cherry Whip 2 oz by savor

Knit Flower Instant Download PDF Pattern by ohmay

classic oval hoops in hammered 14k gold by 2 Trick Pony

Drinking Glasses Set of 2 by Bottles & Wood

Hand Spun Yarn by Epicurius

Hammered Disc Earrings by NansGlam

See how the products just jump out at you? This is the goal. And my next series of posts will delve into some tips on how to make your product photos better. 

Do you need help with photos? Do you have any advice for those of us who need it?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Your Product Titles: Large Ruffled Laundry Bag

Have you seen those items on Etsy with titles that are just packed with keywords? Why do people do that?

Search engine optimization.

Depending on what you read, this is either a good idea or a bad idea. It's good because the search engines "see" the tags you're targeting twice. It's bad because some search engines want more natural sounding (read: written by a human) titles.

But we can actually do both. So, why not? (I discussed this a bit before.)

Let's take a look at this laundry bag from Vintage Encore:

Large Ruffled Laundry Bag

Some of the tags are: storage option, dorm room, nursery storage, retro bag, laundry bag, handmade laundry bag, baby laundry bag, dorm laundry bag, dorm storage, nursery laundry bag. 

(There is an opportunity here to adjust a couple of these tags, removing "laundry bag" as that's already in several other tags and adding "large ruffled" as well as the color of the laundry bag.) 

Since there are only 20 characters allowed in each tag, we're not going to hit any of those coveted long tail keywords (the keywords that someone who is pretty close to buying something is more likely to use when searching). But we can hit those in the title. And that's what we're going to try to do. 

(When researching what tags to use for an item, make note of any long tail keywords that might come up. You're going to want to aim to get those somehow in your tags and title.) 

Two other things to keep in mind. First, search engines tend to prioritize the first part of the title. Second, most search results are going to cut off the title after so many characters. So, we're going to want to focus on keeping the first 40-50 characters sounding like a human wrote it and using the keywords most likely to be what people are searching for. 

There are 140 maximum characters for this title. How can we title this? 

Let's start with Large Ruffled White Laundry Bag (31 characters). Including the color is kind of a gamble. Some people are specifically searching for color. If we want an exact match, we could put the "white" first or last ("in white"). Exact matches are going to rank higher, but the more words you match, the better.

Then we can combine two of those tags that sound natural together: Dorm Room Storage Option (24 characters). Or: Retro Bag Dorm Storage (22 characters). Notice how those sound like a description of the item. That's what we're going for. 

All three of those sequences contain 79 characters. We still have 61 characters to use. But towards the end of the title, we can kind of jam in the rest of the tags as no person is really going to read that far. Only the machines... 

So, this title looks like (at the moment): Large Ruffled White Laundry Bag * Dorm Room Storage Option * Retro Bag Dorm Storage *... 

Wait, do we need to put those *s in there? Actually, it's better if you don't. The search engines will look for exact matches (to rank higher), so if someone searches "white laundry bag dorm room storage", that * will take away the exact match. (Although, it'll still match. It'll just match with a lower rank.) And we've lost 2 characters per * (the * and the space after it). 

It's kind of a puzzle that you're constructing from the tags you already have. (Yes, write your title after you're already selected your 13 tags.) 

How are your item titles?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Fall Is in the Air

You wouldn't know it by the weather in southern California, but fall is coming. September is tomorrow. No, really.

So, here are a few things from the team to get you in a fall mood...

From Lulu's Creations1: Sale, Save 25%!

Mocha Brown Hand Bag with Silk Lining in Fall Colors

Great way to start out fall with a set of kitchen towels:
Scarecrow Kitchen Towels

From Ocean Avenue Silks:
Such a pretty scarf. Certain to add a touch of fall to any outfit!
Hand Dyed Small Square Silk Scarf Bandana in Golden Yellow and Brown

From Epicurius
Beautiful handspun yarn. What can you make with this?
Hand Spun Yarn - Alpaca and BFL Wool

From Leah's Heart:
We all need to celebrate Fall!
Fall bib

And finally from OhMay:
A stunning hat pattern for any season but perfect for Fall and those chilly days.
PDF Knitting Pattern - Hola Fiesta Cloche Hat

I'd like to extend a special thanks to Annie from annie k designs for finding most of the wonderful items in today's post.