Starting an online shop, part 6: photography & presentation

One of the most important parts about running a successful online shop is the presentation and photography of your products. For every article I've ever read on running your own business, this easily comes up in the top three things to get right.

But why is it important? Well, good product photos mean your products are 100 times more appealing and inviting; your shop looks more professional and you're taken much more seriously as a business person.

You are way more likely to be taken seriously with good product photos and who knows where that might lead. I've certainly found that good photography brings in other opportunities, such as magazine interviews, freelance writing and photography opportunities. And well, this brings you that little bit closer to running your business as a full-time venture!

So, here are some top tips on photographing your products:

  • LIGHT! Unless you're purposefully going for that dusky shot, I personally think that all product photos should be taken in day light. The brigher the day, the better.
  • If you're struggling with lack of light (especially, since Autumn only just went and turned up at the front door!), try using a light box. And don't panic! You can easily make one yourself if you don't want to break the bank. Take one large shoe box, cut out the top and one side panel, cover the remaining sides in white paper, pop a bright side light near by, in goes your product and start snapping. Easy peasy lemon squeasy!
  • Props are useful but don't crowd your product. You don't want to distract your customers from your beautiful product now do you.
  • Plain/white backgrounds work better than brightly coloured or highly patterned backgrounds. Again, don't distract the customer.
  • Photo editing tools are great for cropping out the pet cat that just happened to sneak into your perfect shot. They're also great for zooming in and straightening your photos up.

The presentation (i.e. packaging) of your product is just as important as the product itself. Lovely packaging/presentation shows that your product is special, has been made with love and attention to detail and is not manufactured on mass! Think about the times you've purchased something from a shop and it's been wrapped up in pretty paper and popped in a lovely paper bag. Not only does your product feel special, you do too!

Have a think and jot down some ideas for beautiful ways in which you can present and package your products and don't forget, it doesn't need to be expensive. Tissue paper and baker's twine is inexpensive, especially if you buy in bulk (e.g. Ebay) and it's amazing what you can do by simply decorating brown parcel paper yourself with a stamp, paint and imagination! In fact, there are so many ideas out there, so have fun, play around and show your friends and family for valuable feedback.

When you've got a presentation style that you're happy with (don't worry, it doesn't have to be THE ultimate presentation, it can and most probably will evolve over time), don't forget to include it in those great product shots. This gives potential customers an idea of what they can expect and will certainly make your products more attractive.

Before I wrap this post up in tissue paper and twine (ha!), don't forget to include the costings of your presentation/packaging in your price. You're running a business remember, not giving things away for free! If, however, by including this cost in the overall price your product seems too expensive, then offer your bespoke gift wrapping as an extra, optional cost to the customer. Just remember to provide a less expensive or free alternative.

I hope this helps but please feel free to post below any additional tips and advice you have or drop me a line if you have further questions.

Have photographing!