Product pictures can make or break your Amazon business.
Long-time blog readers will now that I’ve been stressing for years now how product photography is one of the most important aspects of selling online, and this applies more than ever with Amazon.
And don’t think I’m exaggerating here! For me product pictures and reviews are the two most important factors when it comes to being successful on Amazon. Even the listing and description, which some people agonise and spend hours over, are nowhere near as important.
Just think about it – customers can’t see or touch or test your product, so what are they relying on? Reviews and pictures!
If your product pictures are premium, then naturally buyers will assume your product itself is premium. So not only will you be able to get away with charging a higher price, you’ll also have a higher conversion rate.
And the importance of this can’t be overestimated – a high conversion rate increases the profitability of everything you do on Amazon!
For one thing it automatically means you make more sales and money off the bat as a listing with a 15% conversion rate will make 50% more sales vs a listing with an average Amazon conversion rate of 10%.
But this also has the knock-on affect of making Amazon love your product and bumping it higher and higher in the search results, meaning… more views and more sales!
And it doesn’t stop there. A high conversion rate can also be the difference between a profitable and unprofitable PPC campaign. Again, it’s all simple maths here – if you pay on average £0.10 per click for 500 clicks a day and make 50 sales from that (a 10% conversion rate) that gives you a PPC cost per sale of £1. But if you instead get 75 sales from your 500 clicks (a 15% conversion rate) that means you’ve lowered your PPC cost per sale to £0.67.
This all makes a HUGE difference when it comes to scaling your Amazon business.
So what am I getting at with all this? Well it’s simple really and the main point of today’s blog post – don’t cut corners when it comes to product photography for your Amazon FBA business – get the BEST pictures that you can.
And yes, that means NOT doing it yourself at home with a smartphone camera! The days where this was good enough are long gone and you need to use a professional for this.
How do you choose the best Amazon product photography company?
Now over my many years of ecommerce, eBay, and Amazon selling I’ve personally tried a lot of different product photography companies – ranging from big studios to small freelancers and even semi-amateurs.
And honestly I’ve had much more success with some of the “smaller” companies, especially local photographers who you can even meet with and discuss what you want to achieve with your product pictures.
For me the bigger photography agencies just don’t offer the level or service and customisation that’s needed for Amazon sellers to create a unique but premium look.
However, using local photographers and smaller freelancers, who are often one man (or woman!) bands, also has the problem of them not always being available, moving away or even stopping their business altogether.
And that’s exactly what happened to me. Margaret, of fineartimaging.com, who I had been using and recommending for years, retired and closed her business.
So last year I started searching for a new company to use for my own projects and also to recommend to my blog readers and Amazon Sharks members.
And from hours of testing and research – here are my recommendations:
This is my no.1 choice as when it comes to quality vs cost, you just can’t beat a good local photographer.
This is especially true when you have multiple products and go back to them often as once you build a good relationship and they know what kind of pictures you’re looking for, it’s plain sailing.
For me this is the main advantage of using a local photographer vs using studios where you usually need to give a lot of input in terms of ideas and copy for your pictures. Also the quality is way more consistent as it’s the same photographer every time. This was a big issue I had testing some bigger companies where the outcome was just too random.
Unfortunately the biggest downside to this option is that finding a good local photographer is sometimes easier said than done and it does require some work on your part as you have to look at local classified ads, check out forums etc. But don’t let that put you off as if you can find one you’re set and this is my no.1 recommendation for getting the best product pictures possible without breaking the bank.
Product Photography Studios
This is my second recommendation, which may be surprising after all the negatives I talked about BUT they can all be minimised by choosing smaller companies that specialise in Amazon product photography.
And this is a big point because never mind the technical requirements, the style of effective Amazon product pictures is different to even Etsy or your own ecommerce store.
Of course it’s not as simple as just searching for “best Amazon product photography companies” as you’ll be met with thousands of results – most of which are completely rubbish. Seriously, I won’t post pictures and attack businesses unnecessarily but so many of the options I looked at are just terrible. And if that’s what they choose to put in their portfolio then I’m scared to even see the normal results!
But thankfully you don’t have to go through this from scratch as I’ll start you off with a few recommendations for Amazon product photography studios in the UK:
Photography Works offer 3 different Amazon image plans, but for what we’re looking for we’re only really considering the Conversion Booster PRO as simple white background images won’t be enough to stand out against the competition.
This costs £299 and for that you get 7 branded images for your Amazon listing.
One important point to note here, you can’t have any branding on your main image and this will lead to your listing being suppressed so be careful with this. I’m sure Photography Works are well aware of this but I wanted to point it out just in case!
Overall I’m really pleased with the quality of their portfolio. That, along with some very reasonable pricing, makes them a solid recommendation.
Photograph My Product again offer 3 different packages for Amazon sellers:
And what I really like about their options is that they all include a lifestyle image! So actually in this case you could quite happily go for the Starter Pack as it includes 7 pictures in total in a variety of styles.
And for £225, considering the quality of their portfolio, it’s another a great option for your Amazon FBA product photography.
Now I wasn’t 100% sure about including this last option, for two reasons.
One, because they really specialise in clothing and jewellery, and two, because as I covered in our product photography test a while back, I find their images to be a bit too “clean” when we’re looking for something more lifestyle focused (think Instagram pictures here as that’s what really sells your product).
But there’s one thing I can’t argue with and that’s the unbeatable pricing they offer, with 3 product pictures starting at £15 + VAT and additional images only costing £2 on top!
So while it’s still not my main recommendation for all the reason written about above, 7 product pictures for your Amazon listing for £27.60 is a crazy price and a solid budget option for people that don’t have £300+ to spend here.
And there you have it!
As I talked about, I have had some great success using local photographers so I always suggest trying to go down that route initially. But if you’re having no luck there then here are some great options to consider.
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions so if you have a product photographer that you’ve used and recommend, please feel free to share them below for other blog readers to see as well.
It’s no secret how much importance I place on product photography – in fact anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while knows that in my opinion it’s one of the most important factors when selling online, be that on eBay, Amazon or your own eCommerce store.
Professional, high quality product pictures, combined with high end and creative branding allow you to charge higher prices to your customers and therefore make more profit!
I can’t stress this point enough, and I don’t care if I’ve said it a thousand times, I’m going to keep repeating myself.
But the problem is that most people find product photography very difficult – they simply don’t know how to take good pictures, never mind have the equipment or expertise required (a quick search on eBay will show just how true this is!).
So what’s the solution?
Well one option is to simply learn how! I’ve created an extensive 5 part guide to product photography on this very blog which explains everything you need to know, in simple terms.
To me product photography is an integral part of your branding and that all-important perceived value of your product – which is the difference between a small online seller making a little monthly profit and a REAL business.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and on eBay/Amazon that couldn’t be more true… you can hire a professional copywriter to create a perfect product description but at the end of the day most buyers use the product pictures to help them decide whether to purchase or not.
So I’m sure you’re now thinking something along the lines of “well that’s all well and good Andrew, but what point are you trying to make today?”
But what if you don’t want to invest time and money in creating your own product photography set up – after all to get good results you really need a lighting kit, a decent DSLR camera, a backdrop, somewhere to actually take your photos and the expertise and knowledge to do a good job, etc. etc.!
Well there is another option, which I’ve spoken briefly about before – product photography services! Yep, that’s right – you can always outsource your pictures to a specialist company.
What are product photography services?
Basically they are companies who take high quality product pictures FOR YOU that you then use to sell your product on eBay, Amazon or your own online store.
How do they work?
The process is incredibly simple – you send them the product(s) that you need pictured, they get to work doing what they do best and then deliver the final edited images to you, and return your product. Nothing more to it!
How much do they cost?
Aha, now that’s a very important question and one to which the answer obviously varies.
To put it blankly, the majority of product photography companies that you find online are not geared towards eBay sellers. They’re for big companies who need a whole professional team and studio and the pricing for this will of course be way over what the majority of eBay sellers are able or willing to pay. Read More…
Is there anything worse than seeing an eBay competitor take and use your product images in their listings? You have put so much time and energy into creating those pictures and then suddenly someone else just STEALS them for use in their own business!
In cases like these, you should immediately inform eBay about the photo infringement and in most cases eBay will pull those listings down.
Sometimes though you may be asked for proof that you’re the actual image owner and if your images are not watermarked, it may be hard for you to show eBay that these are actually your photos.
For this reason alone, I highly recommend you watermark ALL your eBay product pictures!
But what’s the best way to do it? How can you watermark your eBay product images so that they actually protect your intellectual property?
The easiest way would be to use eBay’s built in watermarking service, which is free to use.
However, in my opinion, it’s not the best way to do this because:
You can only use your seller ID OR a camera icon in watermarks created by eBay.
eBay watermarks are very small and placed near the edge of images which means that anyone can still easily take your image and use it, simply by cropping out the watermarked part.
Yes, according to eBay’s rules, watermarks CAN’T obscure the product BUT this is one of those rules that eBay doesn’t really stick to as everyone does this, including some of the biggest powersellers. So I don’t think this is an issue, especially if you follow my approach of placing the watermark so that it only covers a small part of the product.
Speaking of watermark rules on eBay – there are a few other things you have to keep in mind: Read More…
One from every two eBay listings I look at has some sort of issue with product pictures… in fact it’s probably even more common than that!
It’s unbelievable that so many sellers simply don’t understand the basics of image editing, re-sizing and saving correctly for web and eBay use. The most common problems I see are:
Wrong image file type
Wrong image size
Wrong image file size
Wrong image resolution
You have to get all 5 of these RIGHT to have perfect product images on eBay! By messing up only one of these things, you’ll do a lot of harm to your listings which will also affect your conversion rates and sales.
In today’s blog post I want to cover this problem once and for all and give you a clear plan to follow so you can FIX your existing product images and do everything correctly for all future listings. While this may sound like a complicated and overly technical subject, when you know the basics behind it, it’s actually very simple and straightforward. So let’s get started! Read More…
Finally, the fun part – taking pictures! We’ve covered cameras + background & lighting in the previous two blog posts so it’s now time to put it all together and start taking those perfect product pictures!
Before we do that, there are some additional important tips I want to share with you.
A tripod is a MUST HAVE accessory when taking product pictures. If you don’t have a tripod, then there’s simply no point in starting this process. If you absolutely cannot invest 10 pounds in a cheap tripod, then make your own (there are plenty of DIY ideas for this which you can Google)! However you do it, you MUST have something to hold your camera in a fixed position when taking product pictures.
You won’t be able to get sharp pictures if you hold your camera in your hands (unless you have a really good lighting set-up that allows working with low ISO settings and a high shutter speed at the same time). But just don’t over-complicate this process, and use a tripod.
All digital cameras these days have a built in LCD display where you can preview pictures BUT these displays are relatively small and you won’t see all the details of your items without extensive zooming in which isn’t very practical to do.
To fix this problem, I recommend connecting your camera directly to your PC/laptop via a USB or mini USB cable so that you can check the images on your computer as soon as they’re taken. Modern operating systems will automatically detect attached cameras and treat them as external USB devices (like memory cards) so you can access an image and open it right after you take the picture.
This set-up is also very handy for checking right away if you can fix a particular problem with your images in Photoshop. For example, you take a picture and see that there’s one small shadow around the product you can’t get rid of… what you do is open up that image in Photoshop with all your equipment still set up and see whether you can fix it. If you can’t, then you can just go right back and try to better position your lighting to get rid of the shadow (more on that later). Read More…
Following up on last week’s post (Product Photography, Part 1 – Cameras), today we’re taking a closer look at the lighting and background set-up needed to get those perfect product pictures.
In my opinion this is actually the most important post in this product photography series and it’s something most sellers completely overlook. But with just a little education on the subject, you’ll be able to create a mini photo studio that helps you create stunning product pictures! So without further ado, let’s get started.
To create beautiful product pictures, you need to use some sort of background. Why? Well to get rid of distractions and background ‘noise’ and allow your product to be the only feature of your pictures. Okay, if you’re selling something like a car, you won’t need to put it on a white background, lol, but in most cases you’ll want to use it – be it for small, medium or large products.
If you take a look on eBay, you’ll find plenty of amateurish looking pictures of products on wrinkled bed sheets and while this may be okay if you’re just selling some unwanted items from around your house, business sellers should really take more care in how they present their products. And the key to this is a good background set up!
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds are so called Lightboxes – you can get them on eBay and online shops in various sizes and settings – with the cheapest starting at just £20 or so and the most expensive, super-sized versions costing several hundred pounds.
That’s right; you don’t need to purchase a lightbox to take outstanding product pictures. I’d actually recommend you stay away from them as they will only complicate your life, seriously! Theoretically they work ok BUT only if you have very powerful lights to get the box well exposed. And even then, I can’t see any reason why you would want to use a lightbox at all. Read More…
Product photography is a topic many eBay and eCommerce sellers struggle with and for good reason – it’s a highly technical task that requires you to have a good background knowledge to get it right.
In this series of blog posts I’ll take a closer look at product photography and share with you some tips on how to create great looking product images for your eBay listings or online shop.
We’ll start with the camera – as without one, there are no pictures, right? And even though lighting, which I’ll cover next week, plays an integral role in the quality of your pictures, the camera is still of course the most important element.
Luckily these days we have digital cameras which are quite affordable and even with some lower end models you can get very good results if you know how to make them work for you.
Digital cameras can be categorized into three large groups:
1) Point & Shoot Cameras – these will be your everyday cameras most people already have and use for travel or birthday party pictures. Small, lightweight and relatively cheap – such cameras can be bought for as little as £30-£40 with the higher end models running into hundreds of pounds.
With the cheaper digital cameras you’ll really struggle to get good quality pictures as they won’t have the necessary functionality, especially in low light conditions. Also, they usually don’t work that well for highly complex items, such as jewellery, glass products and super small products where a good macro mode feature is a must have.
2) Compact (bridge) cameras – prices for these start at around £200 but can go up to £1000 or more for the best models. Compact cameras will give you much better pictures in comparison to small digital cameras as they have better optics, a larger sensor and overall their functionality can be compared to more expensive DSLR cameras.
Many bridge cameras nowadays come with interchangeable lenses too which is great if for example all you need is macro shots. These will also be perfect for people who want to get functionality of a DSLR camera but can’t afford the higher price tag.
3) DSLR cameras – the best of the best! DSLR cameras offer the best image quality, interchangeable lenses, great pictures even in limited lighting conditions and the widest options of available settings, all of which can be manually adjusted. Prices for DSLRs start at just below the £300 mark and can go up as high as £5-£10k+ for professional models.
When it comes to product photography, DSLR is the way to go! Product pictures are crisp, highly detailed and look very professional EVEN if you’re not a photographer!
Just to make a quick comparison – here are two images taken by a Point & Shoot type of camera and my Nikon D300 DSLR:
Point & Shoot type of camera
Same product, same lighting conditions but the results are so much better with my Nikon D300, which is a DSLR camera!
So which camera is best for product photography? Read More…
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