Small Business Guide: Product photography and copy that sells

2nd August 2021

Ecommerce is a lucrative but challenging field. With so many stores now online, it takes a special setup to stand out from the crowd. Effective product photography and copy are essential to the success of your online store.

But how can you ensure both are optimized with sales in mind?

Here’s a rundown on product photography and copy: what they are and how you can ensure yours are pulling their weight.

Product photography guide

Product photography is the process of shooting, editing, and publishing photos of your ecommerce products. Humans are visual creatures, so photos of your products are an essential piece of the sales puzzle.

Nailing your product photography is essential to the success of your ecommerce business. Here are six quick reference points you should pay attention to when shooting and publishing your product photos.

1. Equipment

You don’t need an expensive setup to successfully take product photos. These days most smartphone cameras have all the tech and settings necessary to be able to take stellar images. It’s just a matter of learning how to use them correctly.

You should, however, invest in a tripod. This will keep your shots consistent and stable. The size and build of your rig will depend on the photos you’re taking. Full-body fashion photos will likely require a taller, more structured tripod. Smaller products that require more close-up shots will work best with a small, squat tripod.

2. Lighting

The best lighting for most photography is going to be natural – and free! When possible, position your products in indirect, bright, natural light before shooting.

Shooting something small? It might be worth investing in a lightbox rig. Premade setups are available online for reasonable prices however it’s quite easy to build your own should you be so inclined.

3. Positioning

Different products will require different positioning. The key is to ensure your product is evenly lit. Avoid harsh shadows and glare where possible. You want your customers to be able to see every detail of your product.

4. Backgrounds

Your product background will again depend on the product in question. Are you aiming for a more authentic look? Or are you wanting the products to stand on their own? Your website design may dictate this decision for you. If your design is clean and minimalist your photos ought to follow suit. More ornate designs will probably benefit from similar photography.

Just remember, when choosing a non-blank background, ensure your product is still the focal point of the photo. Avoid overly busy backgrounds and ensure your product doesn’t accidentally blend into the wallpaper, so to speak.

5. Retouching

Your raw photos will look pretty good if you follow all the above tips. That doesn’t mean you can skip the retouching phase.

Retouching your photos ensures they’re slick and polished for publication. Errant wrinkle in your skirt? Retouching can get rid of that. It’s also the stage at which you ensure all your photos are stylistically consistent.

When retouching, focus on making sure your product is as close to life as possible. Avoid obvious filters or stylistic color correction. You want your customers to know what they’re buying. If their product arrives and doesn’t look like its photo you’re going to have trouble.

6. Publishing

When publishing your product photos, ensure they’re optimized for the web. Taking beautiful product photos will mean very little if your audience can’t load them.

Read up on online vs print specifications. Your images should generally be either PNGs or JPEGs for use online. You should also pay attention to your file size. If your website displays your images at 1500px but you’re uploading 8000px, that’s going to be overkill and result in slower load times.

Product copywriting

Now you have beautiful photos, you need beautiful words to go along with them. Your product copy is essentially any words that tell your audience about your product. It will include:

  • The product title
  • The product description
  • The product specs

Skimping on your product copy is one of the easiest ways to fail at ecommerce. Here’s what you need to know to write great product copy.

1. SEO

You’re writing your product copy for two audiences: your customers and search engines. As such, you have to ensure it’s effective for both.

Pay attention to your SEO. Do keyword research ahead of time and make sure to include the relevant words in your product description. Just make sure not to go overboard – keyword stuffing will have your copy penalized by search engines (and it’s not very nice to read too).

2. Headlines

Choose your product names and headlines well. This is the first thing search engines and customers will read when reaching your product page.

Your product headlines should be SEO-optimized and descriptive. Your audience should know immediately what your product is from your headings alone.

3. Product specs

Your audience wants to know exactly what they’re buying, so don’t skimp on the product specs. Where possible include materials, manufacturing processes, and makers in your product specs. The more information you can give them, the easier your customer’s decision to purchase will be.

4. Format

Your ecommerce store is an online store and thus your product copy should follow certain rules for presenting online copy. If in doubt:

  • Keep your sentences short and snappy 
  • Vary your sentence length
  • Keep your paragraphs short 
  • Break up large chunks of information with headings and bullet points

If you’re not comfortable writing your own product copy it may be worth investing in a professional copywriter. Their job is to ensure your copy is optimized with sales in mind.

5. HTML

As previously mentioned, you’re writing your product copy with two audiences in mind. To make life easier for search engines, ensure your HTML code is on point when publishing your copy.

You needn’t be a developer to understand basic markup. You just need to ensure you’re using heading, article, and paragraph tags effectively. Your SEO efforts will thank you.

Nail your ecommerce product photography and copy

Succeeding in the world of ecommerce isn’t easy. Among other things, it requires great imagery and optimized copy. Now you know a little more about both: what they are, what they entail, and how you can create sales-worthy content.

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