Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Path To Better Online Photos

I have read a TON of good advise on taking great online product photos. I don't claim to have any magic solution that will suddenly transform you into a world class photographer but perhaps I can share with you some of the tips that will lead you in the right direction.
Number one seems to be learn your camera. I've had the same camera for 5 years and learned more about it in the past month than the 4 11/12 years I've been struggling with product photos. Cheapo or pro quality cameras are both capable of good online photography IF you know how to work the camera, or at least how to work around it's limits.
#2 Seems to be lighting. Daylight or equivalent bulbs are very helpful as are led flashlights to create some controlled highlights. Play around with different angles of light and camera placement.
#3, Get artistic. Whether with props or camera angle and or zoom in on a detail. Try for at least one photo that does more than just show the product. The more you experiment the sooner you'll find something special to pull in those customers. Sell more than the item itself, sell a look or mood. Go look at professional advertising photos with an eye towards how you could stage the scene similarly for your product. Watch your view counts for what works.
#4 learn whatever photo editing software you are using. I've used PhotoShop for years and thought I could manipulate my images fairly well.... HA! My 15 yr old daughter has been helping me clean up my photos and between the two of us (and advise from several online forums) we both have learned a lot. ALL photos need SOME editing.
#5 (my own lesson) Don't be afraid to retake your photos. Yea, it's painful and time consuming and we all would rather be in our comfort zone of working on our chosen art/craft, but we all know a few photos and words are all our customers have to use to decide to click on that all important "add to my cart" button.
My photos come a long way in the past year, and I still have a ways to go. It's all about time, but all the inventory in the world is not going to help me if I can't sell the stuff.
Here's some links to some very helpful posts:
I'm sure there are more tips out there, but these have helped push my photos to a higher level .Hopefully some of these tips will elevate your photos too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Online Auctions During a Heat Wave

Not a great idea.
I had been checking Craig's list daily looking to score a pair of storage cabinets to keep some of my inventory clean and organized. One posting led me to an auction company running an online auction for a large office that closed. I found just the items I wanted and placed a pair of bids on 2 steel storage cabinets that would be perfect for my needs.

All went well till the auction was about to end. The auction rules were that if a bid was placed in the last 2 minute of bidding, they would add 2 more minutes to the closing time, and another 2 minutes if another bid was placed, and so on. GREAT idea, stops all the blasted sniping that goes on over on Ebay.  Also the closing times for the 91 items in this auction are spaced @ 1 minute apart so you can easily keep up with numerous lots that you are interested in. All in all this auction was well put together.

Now comes the problem. We are having one of the hottest, most humid days in Chicago this August. probably about a gazillion A/C units are all straining to cool off every enclosed space in the area. Just about 10 minutes before my first item was to end we have a little blip in the electric service...and shuts off my computer.
RATS! So I start going through the steps needed to get the computer back online and BAM the power dips again! Now I'm getting frantic...and ....upset ( I'll use the nice word to describe how I was feeling). SO 3/4 of the way getting back online ... yep... the #$&&@!! power dips AGAIN!! Now I'm livid, I'm ready to jump in my truck and look for an electric service truck in the neighborhood and let the guys know what I think of their service! GRRRRRR.  I finally get logged back in and I've been out bid...but it's not closed yet so I slam in a bid and wait the two minutes....YAHOO....I won!  But wait .... my tale is not over.... I still have one more item coming up to close, in 28 minutes.

Now what are the odds that approximately 10 minutes before the close of my second item is to close that ANOTHER power dip shuts off my computer? Well it happened......and AGAIN half way through powering up the computer. COME ON!!! What did I do to deserve this?? Only 2 shut downs this time and I managed to fend off another bidder and win the second of my cabinets.

Now that a day has passed I'm a little calmer, but still in disbelief that five times yesterday my computer shut down at a critical time, and those were the ONLY times it did that.