We just came across a new photographer and his online resources that we are really liking alot. His name is Karl Taylor. You can check him out on Youtube. He has a free micro-training course for beginners that very good (Just look for it on his Youtube channel). Of course he’ll try to sell you his full course, but he gives a LOT of free information away. We think you’ll really enjoy it. Here is his Youtube channel link: http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatPhotographyTips
We thought we’d turn it into a little article to encourage you to consider upgrading your camera… Here is her story in her own words:
I bought a Sony Alpha 100 used on Ebay about 3 weeks ago. I paid $285, and a huge smart card (I think 8 GB) was included on the deal.
The deciding factor in going with the Sony was the reported ease of use for people not familiar with using a DSLR (which is 100% true) and also that you can use most older SLR Minolta lenses.
So after I bought the Sony, I bought an old 50 mm Minolta lens on Ebay for $59.
The difference in picture quality is shocking! I’m almost embarrassed to say what I had been using, which were a couple of Fuji FinePix point and shoot cameras. There’s really no comparison. It’s the difference between steak and hamburger. LOL. With the Fujis, I would go outside with the white tag boards for the best lighting, as I do now, and the pictures would turn out OK, but the new camera & Lens almost give the pictures a 3D quality.
My LJC experience has been so much fun and rewarding! I love the patterns, and really, everything having to do with selling on ebay. I’m remembering a lot of HTML I’ve forgotten, and now I’m getting hooked on photography. Oh, yeah, and my sewing skills have really improved too. LOL. Just the challenge of the sell is very exciting, and I’ve actually met a couple of fellow enthusiasts that I can talk shop with. I had hoped I might make a little extra fun money doing this, and this is happening, but I’m gaining skills that are way more valuable! So anyway, just wanted to tell you that because you really tapped into a creative outlet for a lot of people. This is way better than selling Avon. LOL.
Here is a picture showing before (left) and after (right):
If you’ve got a product that you think is attractive to customers, and you’re operating in a niche that you think has potential, and you have a brand that you think is exciting to people, then there are 2 critical tools that you need to focus on developing.
#1 Copy writing
Copy writing is the art of describing your product in the most compelling way possible. It is the single most important skill you can develop to effectively sell online.
Here is an example… Our daughter Libby has started to sew, and wanted to sell her outfits on Etsy. But she didn’t want any help – she wanted to do it all on her own. We thought that was admirable. So, she made a cute skirt, and took pictures herself, and put them on the computer, and after a bit of help with getting an Etsy account set-up, she listed the item herself. She wrote the description very acurately. It was a good and straight-forward description of what she was selling. But her listing didn’t sell. Days went by, and there was no action. So, finally, depressed, she asked me for help. We changed her listing description slightly to include the following openning sentences, (this is a paraphrase, we can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something like this),
“Hi, I’m Libby, from Liberty Jane Clothing – my mom named the company after me. This is my very first outfit I made to sell, and someday I’m going to be a big time designer. So, if you want to be able to say you bought my very first outfit, then you should buy this”.
The outfit sold the same day we made this change. What did we do? We created a story – that the buyer could be a part of. It’s a classic copy writing technique. An engaging story gives the potential buyer a reason to finish the transaction. Another example of storytelling is when we started our “International Collection” for our Fall and Spring lines. It was a ‘framework’ for the stories that allowed us to create ongoing small stories as we launched new outfits. Now instead of listing a “tan dress” we could list it as the “Outback Libby – Faraway Downs Dress”.
The best copy writers that we’ve found are 1) Bob Bly and 2) Craig Garber. They are true masters. If you want their tips just sign-up for their emails and you’ll get a TON of free advice every few days, (they publish their emails almost daily). And of course, every once in a while, you’ll also get a terrificly written ‘pitch’ for one of their books. And you should buy them if you need help with copy writing. And make sure you read all our articles about wrting.
#2 Product Photography
If you can take a very good picture of your product, then online selling will become almost effortless. I know, that’s a bold statement, but we’ve found it to be true ourselves, and seen it to be true for many other sellers. If there is 1 skill that most online sellers fail to fully perfect, it’s photography. But all things being equal, it’s a huge game-changer. When it comes to photography there are two basic issues:
Equipment. We’ve outlined what we use on this post. And we’d encourage you to seriously consider getting a DSLR and Portrait Lens. It will change your life.
Technique. Once you have the right gear, you can learn the basic functions of your camera and lens pretty quickly. There are tons of free as well as paid online resources. Here is a post.
These two powerful selling tools will be a huge benefit to you if you learn to do them well. Go ahead, get obsessed with them. Spend a little money, and become a pro. You won’t regret it.
Our mentor, (Chris Farrell), has written a nice ebook about making money with your digital camera. He has given us permission to share it with you – Nice right!? It’s entitled ‘earn $300 a week with your digital camera’. We hope you enjoy it, and let us know if you use this technique and make money with it.
As we’ve said in our photography posts – upgrading your camera is a key to success. And the funny thing is, you really don’t have to spend very much to get a good product photography camera, (like the 300D), and a good product photography lens, (like this one).
Let me know if you have any questions about camera decisions.
Cathy asked a great question about how to add photobucket pictures to Ebay listings, (in response to our post “3 Ways to Add Wow”). So, here’s a screencast showing you how we do it. Why do it this way? Well, this allows you to add as many pictures to your listing as you want – for free!! And it’s within Ebay’s policy guidelines, so it’s a great way to save money and improve the quality of your listings. Enjoy, and leave comments below if you have questions…
Let’s talk photography! We are going to break it down for you and share exactly what we use and why. Since there is sooo much photography information on the web, just Google any of the terms we use to see a wide array of articles, pictures, definitions,etc.
Let’s talk photography. This post will be about the ‘how-to’ stuff. The next post will be about specific equipment recommendations.
Intro: In some ways it seems silly to write about picture taking skills, because it’s so commonly written about on the internet. But sadly, lots of folks selling doll clothes have decided not to focus on this important part of the presentation, and we believe that’s a big mistake. So, we have a few things to suggest. Our top 10 tips…
1. Google, “taking great pictures” or something similar, and then read 10 articles, with a note-pad at your side.
2. Take notes and make a collection of all your favorite ideas.
3. Take 100 pictures trying out the various techniques. When it comes to photography, like with any other art, practice makes perfect.
4. Natural Light! Go outside! The best pictures will be in warmly lit, (but not harshly lit). Obay this rule and your pictures will improve tremendously. We never use a flash, and you should avoid it too. Our lenses allow us to operate this way, (read the post about our equipment). Natural light with no flash! It’s best.
5. Want A White Background? A simple way to shoot on a white background outside, (if you want to have a white background), is just to use white foam-core board from the art supply store. Use one piece for the ground, (setting your doll on it), and one piece immediately behind the doll. We use our patio table for this all the time. The effect will be a fully ‘white’ background, but shot in warm light. (I realize this can be a bit hard to visualize, so I’ll take a picture of it sometime soon and insert it in this post).
6. The Golden Hour! Take your pictures an hour, or so, before sun-down. This is well-known to be the absolute best light of the day, and photographers call it ‘the golden hour’. You can shoot outside earlier if it’s overcast, but if it’s sunny, shoot during this specific time. There is a reason it’s called the golden hour. Photos come out amazing! Glowing, warm, beautiful.
7. No clutter! More important, (almost), than the item you’re shooting, is the background. Remove all clutter. Find a solid surface, ideally one that people won’t recognize, and use it as the backdrop. Place your doll 4 or 5 feet in front of the backdrop, (not right up next to it).
8. Get closer to your doll, (or outfit)! Why do so many Ebay sellers take their doll, set it against the kitchen cabinets, and then back up 10 feet and take a picture, (just one of course). You can do better. Get close, and then get closer! You don’t need to take a picture of the entire outfit every shot. Some can b extreme close-ups.
9. Crop and saturate. If you open your pictures in Windows, (desktops anyway), you can generally edit the images. Crop them. Then saturate them, (but not too much). Saturation warms up the image. Just be careful not to affect the color too much. You don’t want it to be an inaccurate representation of the original.
10. Take a lot! There is no substitute for taking a lot of pics. For any given outfit we are going to sell, we usually take over 100 pictures or more. We sort them into “good ones” and save those as a separate folder, (our folder structure ends up looking like this - ”Spring 2010″ then ”U.K. Holiday” then ”Good Ones”. Then we look through those for the absolute best 5 or 6.
Okay, next post will be all about the specific camera we use, and the lenses, and the software. Stay tuned…