It is interesting to note that many fiber artists, including many of those taking the Golden Fleece Creativity Certificate course, are also in business AS fiber artists. For many people it is a natural progression, from passion to expansion to excess product, often selling locally at markets, but even more often selling fibers and yarns online. And yes, this online market world is a big place! Easy to get lost in the crowd, to feel a bit overwhelmed. What do you do to stand out from the rest? Well this is one of the focus points of the creativity course, identifying your uniqueness, the things about you that make your work different from anyone else’s. It is also something that we thought might be interesting to discuss here on the blog, where we can focus more on the direction of selling your fiber.
So every once in a while Arlene and I would like to share with you some of our ideas about enhancing your online business, we hope you might find something useful to apply to your current activities, or even just find a confirmation that you’re already doing things that are going to enhance your online visibility.
So we are going to kick this off with an excerpt from one of our E-books, this is one I wrote about photographing your products, and although it is about my current photography setup and how you can make your own, the first half of the ebook is also about branding, and finding the ‘you-ness’ that makes you and your brands unique and special. Its great if you can express this in your photos, as they are part of how people get to know you. (If you are interested in the rest of the book its available in our ebook store and its free with any other purchase in our store.)
So why is your online re/presentation so important and why are your photos a vital part of your online presence for your potential customers? The first consideration is, what do you want to achieve?
1. We want to present our products in the best possible way
2. Provide accurate and reliable images so customers can trust that what they see is what they get.
3. Offer a shopping experience that matches a ‘real life’ experience as much as possible and inspire people to want to buy your items.
First impressions, you know how important they are, especially when you find yourself caught out wearing your baggy sweatpants, holey painting shirt, you’ve just been up to your elbows in a distinctly dirty fleece, and your bad hair day is having its own party up there. It sucks. And it can be scary for others. You do your best to avoid this situation in your own presentation (worst case scenario – diving for cover and not answering the door), so you don’t want to inflict bad presentation on the beautiful handcrafted item that you’d like people to love, cherish and BUY! Presentation, thats the thing. You’re not looking for plastic surgery, you’re not trying to over-pimp your stuff, or morph it into something its not by using the magic of photoshop, but you do want to make it look its best and smile for the camera. No more scared customers or unanswered front doors!
My understanding of the keys to good presentation are, present your product with minimum clutter around or behind your image, you only want the things you consciously place in the staging area to be visible in your photo, so look out for unintended backdrops like stray socks, empty coffee cups, or discarded toys. You also need good sharp focus, good lighting, and a photo that shows your item from its best angle. Don’t be afraid of white space, and be confident about showing some of your personality in your item presentation. I think the most important thing is to let people see that this is handmade by you, that it hasn’t just poured out of a soulless factory untouched by human hands. Let your photo tell the story of your product.
To present your product well, it needs to look: uncluttered, fresh, stand out from the background, be sharp and crisp, and have a personal touch to it. Remember, in a ‘real’ environment your potential customer could touch and feel your product, so you need to make your photographs the next best thing to the ‘actual’ shopping experience so your customers can feel confident about their purchase as well as be inspired to buy it!
The shopping experience isn’t just the nuts and bolts, its not just the colour, or the size, or the drape, its also an emotion. People won’t buy your product if they don’t feel it in some way. This is tough online! So we need to actually inspire people to want our yarns and products, to get them past the ‘admiration’ stage and into the ‘I have to have that!’ stage.
How? Feed the imagination, tell a story, create an atmosphere, trigger an emotion; romance, nostalgia, childhood, the love of a parent for a child, things that give people a connection with your product. Its not enough that you love what you make, if you want to sell it, you have to find a way to have other people fall in love with it too! Preferably, you want to create ‘love at first sight’ 😀
You can do this in lots of ways, I mean, you might think ‘but its just yarn! How can yarn trigger an atmosphere!?’ Imagine you have some funky Halloween yarn, for example, how many ways can you set this up to create a creepy ghoulish atmosphere?
Backgrounds can be used; a simple black card, using your lighting to create dark shadows, you could suspend a cut out cardboard moon in the background, add your blood stained hand with pointy black nails reaching into the image.. You’re telling the customer that what they are buying is the ultimate halloween yarn! If you want to create romance, for a yarn that could make a bridal piece, you might use a lot of white around the image, use your software to create a soft focus around the outside edges of the photo, take extreme close ups of the gentle fibers wrapping around each other dreamily..
These are some ideas about story telling with your product photos! Next time I will share some ideas about branding and creating a recognisable ‘look’ to your website, Facebook page, and online store.