One of the questions we get asked the most at Folksy HQ is how we choose items or shops to feature. These are the ways we currently feature work: Folksy Weekly buyer email, Favourite Finds, Featured Shops, Gift Guides, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, The Folksy Blog and when we suggest items or sellers to the press and bloggers.
There are actually so many things we take into consideration when picking products or shops that we thought it would be useful to do a blog post explaining what we look for and tips on how you can grab our attention. But one of the key things to get right is your product shots, because however beautiful your work, however special or well-crafted it is, and however much we love it, we won’t be able to feature it unless it’s well photographed.
How to be featured on Folksy
Tip 1. Brilliant product shots are the secret to being featured
Fundamentally, the better your product shots, the more likely you are to be featured on Folksy. It’s a huge shame (and really frustrating) when we find products we want to feature, or whole shops, but we can’t because the images aren’t good enough.
In a nutshell here’s what we’re looking for…
- a sharp, well-lit product shot
- a product that is in focus
- good composition
- an image that fills the whole thumbnail (no gaps or borders around the sides)
- a background that doesn’t distract from the work
- simple styling
- if props are used, then they should be well-considered
- a shot we’d be proud to have on the Folksy front page
- a photo that makes us want to click on it!
And here are some of the things that put us off…
- out-of-focus shots
- blurred or grainy photographs
- very low-resolution images
- poor lighting
- flat, lifeless images
- reflections (often from the glass on framed pictures or cellophane bags)
- filters or effects
- collaged photos
- objects accidentally in shot (like feet!)
- a website/shop name on the image
- large watermarks that mask most of the product
- crumpled/creased backgrounds (especially fabric)
- carpets or bedding used as a background
- badly done cut-outs
These aren’t hard and fast rules, but they’re a general guide to what we’re looking for. If your photos do the things we’re looking for and not the things that put us off, it’s easier for us to feature you.
Here’s an example…
We love this shot of Lisa Watson’s patchwork quilt. Quilts are notoriously difficult to photograph because of their size, but here this is dealt with by hanging it on vintage clothes rail leaning against a beautiful wall. You instantly know it’s a quilt and get an idea of its size. The setting is pretty, so you’re not distracted by ugly washing lines, parked cars, dustbins, or even domestic mundanity like plug sockets. Because the image is well-framed and the quilt is centred, it also works well when cropped to a thumbnail so it will look good when seen in search, in our favourites or in a gift guide. Photograph by Yeshen Venema, styled by Hilary Lowe.
Tip 2. Choose the right image as your main product picture
You can choose up to five photos for each listing, so it makes sense to use them. Having more images gives us more options, and means that even if we can’t feature your main image, one of the others might be perfect and we can pull it out for a Facebook post, Pinterest pin or a buyer email. From a buyer’s perspective, having different images is really helpful too. There are no rules about how you use these picture slots, but here are a few tips that might help…
Pick a main image that…
- immediately shows the viewer what the product is
- shows the whole product (or enough of it to give a really good idea of the piece)
- still works as a small thumbnail (check the product doesn’t become too tiny to be seen)
- crops well to a square
- is the best one!
Use the extra images to show things like…
- anything else a buyer might want to know about that piece
- close-up details
- texture / material
- the scale/size of the piece (in relation to something else maybe?)
- different angles
- how it will be packaged
- any press coverage it has had
- a lifestyle shot showing the work in situ (if it’s a print, for example, show it framed)
- other pieces that make up that collection
- the work being made
- a cut-out shot/flatshot against a pure white background without shadows (especially if you’d like to appeal to press)*
When you’re listing a piece, it can help to test how the main image works by viewing it as a thumbnail in your shop view. If it’s a portrait-aspect photo, how has it cropped to the square format? If it’s a landscape-aspect photo, is the product where you want it to be in the frame, or has some of it been cropped ? Does the product disappear when seen as a smaller thumbnail? Is your image too cluttered for the product to be seen clearly in the thumbnail view? How does this image sit alongside your other work? If it doesn’t work, either edit it or pick another shot.
Here’s an example…
We love this product shot by one of our featured makers, Ruth Robinson. The main image she has used in her listing is well-framed, with the whale pin right in the centre of the shot. The product is the point of focus, and a good depth of field gives the pin a sense of three-dimensionality. It’s photographed against an interesting but simple background which complements rather than distracts from the piece. The whole piece is visible in shot. She has used the extra images to show the packaging, the back of the pin, other pieces in the collection and the size of the work relative to her hand.
Tip 3. Think about the bigger picture
Investing in good product photography can be time-consuming, and if you choose a professional photographer it’s an extra expense too. So we understand the temptation to post a quick ‘that-will-do’ photo, but if you’ve spent time and effort making a beautiful piece of work, why ruin it with a bad product shot? Plus the assumed time and cost-savings aren’t always worth it. Bear in mind that as well as giving you a better chance of being featured across Folksy, good product shots have other advantages too:
A brilliant product shot:
- is more likely to be shared/blogged/pinned/regrammed and therefore bring more people to your shop. So ultimately a good photo that gets shared will generate more revenue than you would from simply selling that one item.
- tells buyers instantly that you’re professional, and gives them confidence to buy from you.
- makes it easier to charge the proper/fair/artisanal price your work deserves because it says ‘quality’. It’s hard to ask a good price for something if it’s badly photographed.
- gives you a greater chance of being picked up by press or bloggers, which gives you more exposure.
- can be used when applying to markets, fairs and galleries.
- can be used for your marketing material like business cards and postcards.
- can be used for social media.
- can be used if you send out press releases.
- is appealing to retailers thinking about stocking your work (it shows them you’re professional, and that they won’t have to pay to rephotograph your work).
- shows people you really care about what you’re making and selling.
- makes you feel good about what you’ve made, your shop and yourself (invaluable!)
Here’s an example…
Editor Amanda Robinson says there were several reasons she chose this product shot: “It was high resolution for starters – that’s always the first consideration. However beautiful, perfect, gorgeous an image is, if it’s low resolution we can’t use it. It’s also a clean, uncluttered image – photographed on a plain background. It presents the tassels in a dynamic way, as you would use them if you were to buy them (always think of your audience). It’s in focus and uses good perspective to show the product off at its best. Plus it looks fresh and contemporary.”
She adds: “Some of the other images makers sent over were too dark, too shadowy, photographed on fussy backgrounds, or had no focal point in the image (too much going on). They would have been better as flatshots – photographed on a white background and directly overhead. Even when you have several similar products in your range, flatshots are a great option, as the art editor can group the cut-outs to fit the space in the magazine.”
So, having the right product shots is the first big secret to being featured across Folksy… and elsewhere too! If you need more advice on how to take brilliant product photographs there are lots more articles with practical advice on this blog, including lessons on picking props, composition, lighting, and getting sharper photos.
* A note about cut-outs/flatshots: Flatshots and cut-outs are product shots where the work is photographed against a pure white background without any shadows. They are incredibly useful to have because, as Amanda says, journalists and retailers often request high-res flatshots and find them easier to work with. Although we often feature lifestyle shots rather than white-background shots on Folksy, we would highly recommend including a flatshot/good cut-out as one of your extra images, because they show press (and us!) that you can provide images they can use quickly.