(A series of essays about what it is like to sell stuff on EBay)
When I first started selling on EBay I would spend hours taking photos, evaluating which ones where the best and then I would spend even more time editing the photos and uploading them to my listing software for use in my listings. But time is money and somewhere along the way I figured out I was wasting a lot of it trying to make my picture so pretty.
Lesson 1 - I am not shooting pictures for the cover of TIME Magazine. It is true that you should try to have a clean background and you want to display what ever you are photographing in an attractive manner but it really doesn't matter if the photo is perfect. Here is an example of a not so perfect picture that worked just fine. This item just sold.
When I am shooting photos I try to keep the background clean but that doesn't always work. This item was a little to big for the background that I use. Those are my kitchen tiles in the lower right hand corner. I used to spend a lot of time cropping my pictures now I just try to fill the frame when I take the photo and if my kitchen floor shows a little bit so be it.
Lesson 2 - A picture is worth a thousand words but nobody likes a blabber mouth. I use Auctiva as my listing software and they allow you to have 24 photos of your item. Now if you are listing a complicated whats-a-ma-thingy for hundreds of dollars I think it could come in handy to have 24 photos but I have found that for my items in the price range that I sell in 3 to 5 photos is plenty and it is usually closer to 3 than 5.
Lesson 3 - Anything you can do to minimize your editing time matters (if you don't have to edit your photos please let me know how you do it.) Almost everything thing I list is one-of-kind which means it requires it's own private little photo shoot. I used to take pictures both horizontally and vertically. Now I take all my photos vertically. I do have to rotate all of my photos but I don't have to switch back and forth in my editing software anymore.
Lesson 4 - Hanging items to photograph is faster than laying items flat but laying them flat often looks better. I used to layout my items on the floor or a table to photograph them but it was quite tedious and it was also some times difficult to get far enough away from the item to get all of it in the photo. So I abandoned crawling around on the floor and climbing up on chairs and tables and started putting the items on hanger to photograph. This worked fine for most items but there are certainly some things that have zero hanger appeal. Like this little gem.
My solution is my handy piece of I think it is formica that I found in the garage. I started using it because it had a nice shiny white side to use for a background. This did not solve the no hanger appeal problem but, through just plain old dumb luck it did pave the way. One day I had a white item that I needed to photograph so my white background was not suitable. I happened to notice that the back of my white board was brown so I flipped it over and took a photo of my white item but here is where the crazy break through happened. The brown side was kind of rough and not at all slippery like the other side and I found that with the slightly tacky side of the board I could get the garments to lay out better. This is even more effective when the board is placed at an angle with the bottom farther away from the wall.
As you can see this greatly improves the items hanger appeal.
Lesson 4 - Batching like items speeds up the process. My shopping is kind of all over the place I see something I like or that I think will sell and I grab it and put it in my cart. But once I get the items home I start to group them by categories, shirt, pants, jackets etc. Once they are grouped they are photographed, edited, listed and put away as a batch. This save time at every step.
Lesson 5 - Lighting matters but I still suck at it. Maybe I just haven't had the patience to figure out good lighting. I have read that natural lighting is best and I do use mostly natural lighting. I have learned the best time of day (mornings) to take photos based on the direction that my windows face. I always take my photos in the same place but inevitably some things look better than others. Black is particularly difficult and always comes out very washed out.
Lesson 6 - Thank God for Photoshop. As I said before I would love to know how to avoid editing my photos but so far my camera and or my photographic skills have not allowed me to do this. You don't need to invest in Photoshop but some sort of photo editing software is helpful. Once again when I am at this stage I have to remind myself that I am not submitting my photos to TIME Magazine. I want to make quick color corrections so that my black sweater doesn't look gray or my red dress doesn't look pink but it is important to note that every ones monitors look slightly different when it come to color so perfection is not required.
If you photograph clothing for your EBay shop and you have other suggestions please feel free to comment.
Thanks for stopping by.