The Makers Guide to Great Photos

  •    Tim is a freelance business writer. He writes about the business of innovation, comics and genre entertainment on The Full Bleed.

Selling physical products online requires more than a good store or a compelling price. You need strong marketing, and that means showing off your products. Learning to take a good photograph is key to this process.

Amazing product images are not just for your catalog. You'll need them for social media and content marketing, which can drive valuable traffic to your website. It's undeniable that pictures significantly enhance engagement. In fact, BuzzSumo found that Facebook posts with accompanying images get 2.3 times more engagement than those without. Social Media Examiner's annual survey of online marketers found that 85% use visuals to enhance their posts.

So if pictures are a big part of the pitch for selling the products you make, especially on social media channels, what does it take to take a great picture? Let's review a few tips for highlighting your product's unique qualities.

1. Don't start with the finished product. The beauty of your work is in the making, so show that. If you create pottery like Heather Knight of Element Clay Studio, take photos of your setup from different angles. Take photos of your materials and your workstation, and try to include action. If you use an oven, show it turned on and let viewers get a feel for the heat. Whatever it is you make, use photos to let shoppers get a glimpse into the process.

Clays Studio

2. Highlight features and design. Every product has at least one unique feature. Maybe it's a unique design, colorful paint or a strange shape. Use photos to capture this particular element. Again, say you create pottery. Standing on a chair and shooting downwards at your oblong cooking pot will help demonstrate your sensibility as well as the utility of the finished product. Element Clay Studio's product pages, demonstrate a variety of photos that show products in different forms and situations.

Custom Plates

3. Put yourself in photos. OK, you may need help with this one, but it's important to show yourself doing the "making." After all, you aren't just selling a product. You're selling a product from the hands and heart of a craftsperson. Showing that commitment in your photos can make it easier for shoppers to connect the dots and click the buy button. For your pottery, getting a friend to shoot you working and molding clay at a wheel should suffice. Or, if you're more ambitious, use a tripod and set the self-timer to capture several shots of you inserting a new piece into your oven. In Heather Knight's case, the front page of Element Clay Studio shows her smiling against a backdrop of handmade work. There's no hiding the joy she's getting from making the products she sells, a signal to shoppers that she's worth buying from.

Heather Knight in her studio

4. Invite your customers to participate. Nothing sells products like a motivated fan base. Include a feedback form on your website and invite customers to send you photos of how they're using or displaying your work and then add them to a scrapbook portion of your site. Or, ask your fans to tag you when they post photos of your work on social media — and then be sure to like or comment on every interaction. Heather Knight does this about as well as you can on the Facebook page she set up for Element Clay Studio. (The video of her son laughing at sanded pottery is an adorable bonus.)

Dining room table

Your photos don't have to be complicated or overly polished. You can create professional photos with just a phone and a simple DIY setup. You can learn more from these articles:

The point is to show your stuff. You've put your heart and soul into your products, don't hide them! Put them on your website and make them easy to share on social media. The more people see your work, the more buyers you'll bring to your online store.