Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Promoting Tips & Tricks Part I: Descriptions and Photos

I decided to do a post on how to promote whatever you’re selling online. It quickly became apparent that it’s not going to fit into one post — or even a few. So I’ll split it up, and here’s part one.

So you've opened your DaWanda shop. You have an avatar, you've written your profile and shop introduction, time to start taking your products and flinging them online!

Not so fast.

You'll need descriptions and photographs for each of your items, and since your customers can't pick up what you sell, try it on or smell it, they depend entirely on what you're saying. Getting your descriptions and your photos right is vital.

First off, your descriptions need to be accurate and thorough. What stones you've used in that necklace, how long it is, what type of clasp. What the fabric that dress is made out of as well as what size it is -- and best to use actual measurements instead of saying 'it's a size 12' because we all know how much that can vary. All of the ingredients in anything edible or anything your customers are going to smear on their skin, because allergies really suck. Don't stint with this part of your description, and most especially don't lie.

Grammar, spelling, punctuation. Yes, I sound like your freshman year English teacher. He was right, though. Poorly constructed sentences and badly misspelled words send your customers fleeing to the Land of Things That Make Sense -- which, if you don't get the basics right, is not where you are.

But amidst all of these concerns you also need to make your items sound tempting. That's more an art than a science and one I freely admit I have little expertise with. I can do no better than to point you to In the Night Kitchen and her once-a-week writing critiques. You can volunteer to let her tear your descriptions apart (don't worry, she'll put them back together and they'll be even better!) or just read through what she has to say to others -- she's brilliant.

That said, let's move on to photos. You need the right tools and the right techniques, and I'll tell you a little bit about both.

First off, if you don't have a digital camera, get one. It's simpler than getting film developed and then having to scan it, it's cheaper than buying enough film to take the zillion pictures you'll need to get the right shot, it's faster than waiting for the film to get developed. It doesn't have to be a great digital camera, but you're going to need one.

Next, read the directions. No, really. Yes, they're boring. Accept your fate.

You're also going to want a tripod. Your hands may be steadier than mine, but try holding the camera in the exact same spot for a series of ten pictures when you have to adjust the settings in between. You may want a light box -- I find mine indispensable, others don't use them at all. You may (or may not) want a couple of small lights. And you're going to want something to use for backgrounds.

Some swear by natural light; I prefer my lightbox and lights. I use small pieces of batik fabrics for my backdrops; others use plain white, or plain blue, or music sheets, or any number of things. It's a matter of experimenting until you find something that works for you and for your products. Once you've found a theme, stick with it -- you want people to know that a new item is yours by the way you shot the photo, without having to look at the name on it.

Props can be invaluable. I use a necklace display for a lot of my photos. There are a lot of possibilities -- a cool piece of wood to hang earrings from, adorable small children to model adorable stuffed bears, a simple turned wooden bowl to pour bath salts into. Some prefer to keep their photos as simple as possible and eschew props entirely. Find what appeals to you, and what works for you.

Find a piece of photo editing software and learn it well. Yes, this means more reading. It's good for you. Learn to adjust brightness, contrast and colour. Learn to cover over small flaws in your photo (though never in what you're selling!). Learn to crop out extraneous things. Learn how to make your file the right size for uploading.

Use all four of the photo slots DaWanda gives you. Use closeup shots, long shots, detail shots. Get a picture of someone wearing or using the item. Get your girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, UPS guy to model for you (pay them in stuff). Drape necklaces over your kitten. Take a picture of the clasp, the seams, the binding. Open a jar of the bath salts and spill some out into a bowl. Use your photo slots to show people as much as you can about what you're selling.

Experiment. Practice. Learn how to use your camera, your backdrops and props, your software. Keep at it. You can get everyone in the world to look at your shop, but unless they can tell what you're selling, they won't buy a thing.

Next up, get the word out! List your DaWanda shop in online directories.

Written by Kate of http://en.dawanda.com/shop/omshantihandcrafts

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