3 Photo Tips to Increase Online Sales

You don’t have to attend the Kentucky Derby to rock an amazing hat.  This is the message Michale Crooks of Mabel M Hatworks wants to get to her clients.  Designing gorgeous hats for everyday wear is Michale’s niche in the hat market.  She then sells them on her website. And like most small business owners, she’s a one-woman show. On top of creating one-of-a-kind hats, Michale manages her Etsy site and photographs her products. She knows how important the pictures are to making a sale but says sometimes she has trouble getting the color right.”  With her new website launch she wanted to make sure the photography was as pretty as her new web design.

For anyone running a business and sometimes playing the part of photographer, there are some simple tips that can help you improve your online results. We all have the technology in the palm of our hands to take pictures, but when you are relying on images to make a sale you need to make sure your photography isnt working against you. If you can’t hire a professional -- or even if you DO hire one -- here are 3 strategies to help you get the most out of your photo shoot.

1. Photos Should Reinforce your Brand Identity

Dont think of photography as a silo. You cant just go after great pictures. The images need to work in harmony with your brand identity. Mabel M Hatworks draws from the past to create fashionable hats for the woman of today. The brand’s colors are a warm antique red and ecru.  Michale had tried doing all her photography in natural light with no post processing. Because she lives and works in often-overcast Seattle, the colors in her pictures were too cold to show off the intricate details of her hats. We were going to have to use the crispness of artificial light to highlight the intricate details in the hats that she wasnt getting from Seattles soft light. 

She also needed a platform where she could build her look. We helped her comb Pinterest and fashion magazines for poses and lighting that seemed to inspire her brand. Looking at everything from Audrey Hepburn wearing hats to what contemporary hat designers were doing. Pinning everything she liked on Pinterest gave us a mood board. This collection also helped Michale make decisions on things like background and props. Since this was going to be the product photography for the website, she needed a clean look so that the focus would only be on the hats.  Staying with her brand colors we went for a natural ecru background. Now it would be easy to overlay her antique red logo for quick web promotions.

2. Photos Should Build Confidence in your Product

When you are selling products online it’s not enough to have pretty shots. You need to establish your buyers confidence so they will hit the buy button. A big piece of that is consistency and one of the easiest ways to deliver consistency in photography is with lighting.

Whether you are working with natural or artificial lighting, always remember that color temperature of the light will change your product color.  You don’t want to deal with returns because your customer thought the red hat they were buying was actually pink. Here are 2 keys to controlling lighting:

            -Each time you change lights, check the color balance. It’s as simple as using a white piece of paper and the custom color mode on your camera. (Dont know how to do this? Check your manual)

            -Light, shoot, repeat. You don't need expensive lighting gear to get good pictures. You can use window light, a $10 Home depot clip on lamp with a daylight bulb, and some white poster board. The trick is being consistent. Set up a system that works for you. Photograph the setup so you can replicate it again months later. This is how many professionals work when they photograph products for the same client with months in between.

With consistent images effectively showcasing your products, you can build a visual standard for your business. That consistency will give your customers confidence that you know what youre doing. Would you buy a $200 hat from a website with bad photography?

3. Photos Should Tell the Whole Story

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, make sure you showcase every element of your product to tell a complete story. In Michales case, she needed to highlight color, detail, construction, and quality. She also needed to show her hats from multiple angles to give customers as much information as possible over the Internet.  We photographed each side of the hat, front, back, left, right, even top. Think of all the views you get of a product on Amazon or eBay. Get every angle then consider photographing your product in use, against something iconic to show size, and of course in every color.

Whether you are hiring a professional or DIYing, you need sharp, well-lit images that tell the story of your product. Make your images work in harmony with your brand and give your customers the confidence they need to make a purchase.