3 Things To Consider When Selecting Your Primary Image for Your Product Listing

As more and more handmade sellers open shops on Etsy, the harder it may be to stand out to customers browsing Etsy.

Online shoppers nowadays expect high quality product photos when making online purchases which means you as a handmade seller need to invest time in your photography.

"Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings." -Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

First impressions matter in life whether it’s a job interview, a first date or shopping online. Your product photos are the first thing your customer (or potential customer) sees so it’s important to put your best foot forward when selecting the main listing image. 

If you’re not getting views on your listings, it may be because the main listing image you’ve selected isn’t attracting customers. 

If you’re unsure what type of photos may turn off customers, let’s go over some examples of what not to do and what you can do to stand out to online customers! 

Get your lighting right

I can’t stress enough how important it is for makers to work on their lighting when it comes to photographing their products.

Lighting is everything in photography and when it comes to selling products online, you want your product to look GOOD to customers. If you’re posting photos where the lighting is making it hard to see parts of your product or you’re using flash to take photos, it’s time to learn how to properly light your products.

One thing I’ve learned is using standard household lighting to light your products doesn’t result in good product photo. Often times you’ll end up with harsh shadows which don’t make your product or photo look all that inviting. In fact, it may be giving customers Facebook Marketplace vibes which is not a good look when selling quality handmade products.

So what do you do? Ditch the household lighting and photograph your products next to a window using natural light. Lighting can make a major difference in how you product looks and in fact, really increase the perceived value of your product. 

Select a simple background

Background matter a lot in product photography. Depending on the background you choose, you can make it easy or hard for customers to see your products, especially when scrolling through search results.

If you’re using a background that has a lot going on, it’s going to be difficult  to see what you’re selling which isn’t going to help you attract customers.

Instead of selecting a busy background that may compete with your product, select a simple, clean background. While a simple background may appear boring to you, if it helps customers see your product and gets them to click on your listing, then isn’t it worth it??

photos of a necklace against a plain background and 3 other photos of necklace photographed with plants behind it

Ditch lifestyle photos

There's nothing like a good lifestyle photo to help bring your product to life, but should you use it as your main listing image? I'm going to say no. Why? Because when you start introducing other elements in your product photo that are not your product, you're run the risk of taking the focus off your product which is what you don't want to do.

Often times when I see lifestyle photos being used as the main listing image, depending on how the photo has been shot, it can be visually too much to look at and it's easy to just scroll by and go to another listing. Plus, if other sellers are using lifestyle photos as their main image, do you want to do the same and blend in and run the risk of customers just scrolling past your listing? Yeah, probably not.

Instead, move any lifestyle photos to other spots in your listing and do your best to keep the main listing image as simple as possible and focused only on your product. 

Watch your cropping

One of the things I often seen when looking at listings on Etsy is products getting cropped off in the main photo.

Since the main listing image will be presented in square format, if a photo is taken vertically (or portrait mode) or too close to the product, the product may get partly cropped if you use that photo as your main listing image like in the photo below.

The drawback of this is customers will only see part of your product which isn’t good. While you may think, “Well they can just click on my listing to see the product …” you have to remember customers don’t want to put in much effort when shopping. This means you may be losing customers all because you’re not showing your product properly in your main listing photo.

Remember, this is the photo that can make or break them deciding to click or not click on your listing so don’t make it hard to see what you’re selling.  

Next time you take product photos, make sure you leave enough space around your product. Remember to take your photos horizontally (landscape mode). Doing this will make it easier to ensure your product isn’t getting cropped off in Etsy’s square format.

Final Thoughts

The photo you select as your main listing image greatly influences a customer’s decision to click on your listings so don’t underestimate its power.

Remember you only get to make a first impression once so make sure it’s a good one.

What type of main listing photos stand out to you as a customer? Leave a comment below and let me know!

About the author

Imelda Jimenez-LaMar is a product photography coach and former Etsy seller, who said goodbye to her corporate job to create a business teaching photography. She is on a mission to demystify product photography for makers who want to create product photos that sell their handmade products online and grow their handmade business.

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