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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #223: Presentation Makes a Difference

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-12-2011 02:50 PM 4290 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 222: Variations on a Theme Part 223 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 224: "The Project" »

Among the many hats I need to wear in running this business, photography is one of the most important and also one of the most intriguing. Although I realize that I will never reach the level of a professional photographer, I have seen a great deal of improvement in my photographs over the years and I am still learning to make my photographs better. This in itself can be a career, as many of you know. I look at the beautiful photography our own LJ member, tyskkvinna (Lis) does and her interpretations and presentation of the subjects she is showing is truly inspirational.

For my purposes, the photographs of our work is what is going to sell it. For many years I have underestimated the power of a good photograph in selling a pattern. However, with the new software that I am running my site on, I am allowed several shots of photos for each item and I believe that this is an important piece of the puzzle, as one photograph often has difficulty in showing all the details necessary to sell the idea to the customer.

Not only have I learned to take a better physical picture of the product, but I also have learned to set a better mood and for lack of a better phrase ‘dress the item up’ to look better and give the customer ideas for their own presentation. I find that many people want you to tell them how to use the item. They want to know how it can be useful in their own lives. That is what selling something is. By presenting my projects in a useful or attractive environment, I believe that it ups the “Wow!” factor and encourages people to purchase the pattern. (I want that too!) It also encourages them to create their own variation and make the item applicable to their own lifestyle and that leads to more sales.

The same is true for those of you who do craft shows. If you just laid your pieces out on a plain table cloth, things may do well depending on what you are offering, but I found that by showing the function of the items, you are teaching the consumer how to use the item and also how to display your work of art in the most attractive way possible.

I am also finding that learning to use my software program is a terrific asset to taking good pictures. I use Adobe Photoshop CS and it is simply incredible how you can use it to take a mediocre photograph and make it look amazing. Over the past several weeks, I have been watching some of the (many) tutorials about the different features in this program. I know it is quite expensive, but it is well worth the price, as it offers some of the most incredible tools and filters that you can imagine to help you make a better photograph. I also know that I am probably not using even 1% of its capabilities and it is quite exciting when I learn something new that I can actually apply to my own purposes.

I spent part of yesterday photographing the new candle tray that I finished, as well as several other new items. The other day, I showed you a couple of pictures of the tray, but they were what I call “snapshots” meaning they were not really retouched or worked on for presentation. They were mainly just to show you what I was up to.

The pictures I took yesterday however, were what I call presentation shots of the candle tray and charms set for the pattern packets and also to send to the wholesalers. Those are the pictures where I really take the time to get them looking as best as I can. As I said, I am now able to present each item on my site using several photographs. That is a wonderful addition to the software package as it allows me to show every detail that I need to. Not only do I show the full view:

From Honeycomb and Bee Candle tray

But I also show a detailed view:

From Honeycomb and Bee Candle tray

And then I show a top view of the tray and the charms, for perspective:

From Honeycomb and Bee Candle tray

For this tray, I also gave optional staining instructions. So in photographing it, I like to show those options too. The presentation picture:

From Honeycomb and Bee Candle tray

And then the detail of the bees:

From Honeycomb and Bee Candle tray

And finally the overall shot of the tray and bees again:

From Honeycomb and Bee Candle tray

This I feel, gives my customers a full visual description of the product and also suggests some ways that they can utilize it themselves. Clearly, this is a far better way to present and offer a product to someone. By giving many views and showing all options, I am increasing the value and also hopefully, showing the customer how they can apply this product to their own lifestyle. It goes beyond just selling an item to “marketing” it.

I also think that the longer that the customer dwells on the product, the more chance I have of making a sale. If, for instance he/she is considering the bee candle tray and I only presented one picture of the item on the site, the decision to buy or not to buy it would need to be almost instantaneous. If the customer were browsing my site and flipping through pictures, it could easily just get lost in the shuffle of products without a second thought.

However, since there are six photographs to look at, it not only gives the customer time to see the different versions that they can make the project (stained vs. natural) but it also shows it presented in attractive ways and also clear shots of the details and time for them to think of the many applications that this pattern can offer and make it more useful to them, thus increasing its value. I am by no means an expert on marketing, but I do know that this can only help things.

In any case, it seems that since changing over to my new software on the website, I have noticed a good increase in sales. Not only number of sales, but also the percentage of sales per visitor. I am sure that it is a multitude of factors that contribute to this increase, but logic will tell you that at least a part of it is due to the way the items are now presented.

So if you are looking to market your woodworking items – either patterns or finished pieces – I think it is very important that you consider this aspect of presenting your products in the best light possible. There is a lot of great software out there to help you do a great job of showing your work beautifully, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do so (my camera was under $200 – and it is also the one I use for videos!)

A little extra thought and time addressing marketing and presentation can go a long way.

Have a great Wednesday!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



5 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6648 posts in 2636 days


#1 posted 01-12-2011 03:14 PM

Hi Sheila;

I use CS5 also but I’ve been spending most of my time with Dreamweaver. I have been using the earlier versions of Photoshop, but will get around to this newest version fairly soon.

Great pictures.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1771 days


#2 posted 01-12-2011 08:09 PM

well spoken Sheila , great blog
presentation have to be top noch every time

take care
Dennis

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7663 posts in 1576 days


#3 posted 01-12-2011 10:34 PM

Thank you Dennis. It is something else that I have to work on.

And yes, Lee – CS5 has some awesome new filters. I just use the basic stuff mostly. :) Still learning, learning learning . . :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1646 posts in 1578 days


#4 posted 01-13-2011 01:36 AM

Sheila,
Before when I was still sailing, I was on SLR Photography.. I remember 3 things to make a beautiful photo.. f/stop (aperture opening… the bigger it is, the sharper it will be); shutter speed.. (the slower it is the best it will be but you need take a steady camera pods to avoid shakes.. using a tripod will be the best and include the extended shutter clik .. today we use remote control and timers.) and lastly the film ASA (light sensitivity… the higher the ASA the less light will be required.) On these 3 aspects, you need to combine correctly to your desired results…. I ended my SLR hobby so many years just because it was so expensive.

Nowadays, we have much technology to go with the digital photography aside from the editing softwares. I agree… it is a never ending learning process.. But Martyn is correct on one of his reply and advice to me…
“ALL IT TAKES IS PRACTICE” Keep it going… there is no cost in taking pictures as much as you can today. No more negatives and developing…

Additionally, I think video will greatly improve your presentation. You can move the eye angle 360 degrees using a lazy Susan just like somebody who wants to see the backside of the picture or even the details of it. However, it takes time and I know how precious is time for you. Good luck.

-- Bert

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3198 posts in 1494 days


#5 posted 01-13-2011 03:55 PM

My presentation is deplorable and I really should do something about it, but I just can’t bring myself to give a hoot about technology. I wish I had a friend in the neighborhood who would do the photo stuff for me. :) I just hate technology. It’s like a bad disease that there is no cure for. I admire your willingness to venture in and continually improve your skills. As for me I can’t wait for spring so I can go and cut some logs. Maybe one day I will find a cure for my technophobia? But I doubt it.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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