Thursday, October 23, 2008

Taking Product Pictures

First off, I have to apologize for the delay in the release of this post. Honestly, the ACT was given on Saturday and I was trying to focus on it. Now that it is over, I can get back to doing what I really love…helping out small businesses. Below is my tutorial on taking product pictures. Here is my disclosure: I am not a professional photographer. I am simply giving you tips from one artist to another as to what might work when taking product pictures. Keep in mind that while my products may look great on a certain camera setting, yours may not. The same goes for backgrounds, etc. All in all, you will just have to experiment, keeping these tips in mind, and see just what works for you.

As the owner of an online store, you run into lots of barriers. One of those barriers is the lack of the hands on experience for you customers. This in mind, it is important to take quality product pictures that show exactly what you are selling. You put lots of time into your business….don’t “skimp” on the photography. Put lots of time into it as well. Ultimately you are selling that product picture….

Pointer One~ Your Equipment
* Get a Newer Digital Camera
While you may have paid $400 for that 2.1MP Camera in 2001, it is outdated. I know that you (and me for that matter) hate to go out and spend money on things that we already have but honestly, you can get a great digital camera (<4mp)>Pointer Two~ Your Equipment’s Settings
You want your camera’s resolution as high as possible. Don’t worry about file size. Your pictures can be resized later. Right now we are focusing on getting quality images, not small images. We also suggest using your macro setting so you can get close up shots.

Pointer Three~ The Background and Lighting
So, you have the camera, you have your product, you have your settings correct. Lets move on to the background.

When selecting the background keep in mind that your are selling the product. Using a background that is too busy will distract the buyer from the product. Use a wall or make a backdrop for you item. Try not to use solid black or white unless those colors really compliment your product. Put lighter objects against a darker background and vice versa. If you use cloth backdrops, avoid wrinkles.

If you can, take your product pictures outside using natural light. This helps keep you from using that flash which can cause lots of color distortion. The best days to take your pictures are the ones that are slightly overcast, the light is better balanced. Can’t get the lighting in just the right places? User white poster board, papers, etc to reflect the light onto your product.
If you have to take the pictures inside, take a few minutes to set up some lighting. Use a desk lamp or side table lamp. Anything that can get the right lighting in your pictures. Now, I know I just said anything but if you can get halogen light bulbs, it will help with the coloring of your product.

Use a piece of coffee filter on your flash to help diffuse it if you must use your flash.

Avoid Glare at ALL Cost!

Pointer Four~ The Technique
* Move in. The close the picture the better. This allows the customer to better see the detail.
* Keep the product in the center of the frame.
* Make sure the focus is perfect. Out of focus pictures are worth absolutely nothing to your customers.
* Take pictures of one item at a time

Pointer Five~ The Amount
Take lots of pictures of each angle. What you see in that view finder may not look the same on your computer screen. Use different settings and different angles.

Now, hopefully you have lots of pictures that look absolutely amazing. Go through them and pick the very best one. Found the one you like? You don’t want to upload that huge 2MB file so you are going to want to resize it. Here is the best free software for resizing images that we have found.

We suggest 600 Pixels being the larger side.

Hopefully we have given you some tips that will help you out. If you have tips you would like to add, email us. We would be glad to add them to our blog.

Adam Grace

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Public Speaking Tips

Public Speaking Tips
So, public speaking is one of those things that comes natural to some and not to others. It DOES NOT come natural to me. This in mind, it takes a lot for me to speak publicly and manage to keep everyone awake. Below are a few tips that might help those who do not have that public speaking talent and there might even be some tips below that help out the most proficient public speakers.
1. The most important part of public speaking is having something interesting to say. You need something that is going to keep people listening but something that in turn represents you.
2. Don’t just talk about you and your business unless that is what you were invited to talk about. You are probably there to entertain and teach more than anything, not talk about yourself and your new items.
3. You need to be entertaining. You can still slip some valuable info in your speech….you will just have to work hard to keep it entertaining.
4. Understand who you are speaking to. Keep your speech interesting to that group. For example, you would not speak on market trends to a group of High School Students just like you wouldn’t talk about your experience in high school to most adult groups.
5. Look nice. You should always be dressed nicer than the audience. By not dressing nicely, you are conveying that you really could care less.
6. Integrate stories. You will feel more comfortable speaking. (Don’t go too far off the path with your stories, however.)
7. Before you give a speech, speak with a few people in the audience. Then, you will know someone in the crowd. You won’t feel like you are talking to just strangers…you know some of them.
8. Don’t talk bad about anything or anyone. You don’t want to upset someone who may feel otherwise.
9. Try to speak earlier in the event. People will be more attentive if they have only heard one speech before you than if you were the last person out of ten that day.
10. Shoot for a smaller room. You will feel more comfortable and when people are talking about how great your speech was, they will remember how packed the room was.
11. Practice speaking. Say your speech to yourself in the mirror, in front of friends, anyone…
I hope these tips will help you with your public speaking. They sure helped me.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Money Saving Tips for PayPal

You’re a PayPal person, huh? Who isn’t these days. Near every person who has been on the internet more than three times has taken the few minutes registration requires. This in mind, it makes perfect sense that a retailer would accept PayPal payments. Only issue is, the fees are expensive if you don’t have the right account. Being a PayPal person myself, I have learned a few lessons since I signed up.

Go for the personal account. If you are a small business who won’t be accepting that many payments every month, sign up for the personal account. It will save you all of the fees that PayPal charges per transaction. Are you a larger business who exceeds the personal account’s limits? Just accept the fact that you are going to have to pay fees and just sign up for the business account…skip over the premier. If by some chance you have already signed up for a something higher than the personal account, we have tips coming. If you signed up for the personal account, you can stop reading here. You are pretty much set. If you have the personal account, we suggest upgrading to the business account. The business account has more features than your premier account and the fees are about the same. Now, you signed up for the business account…..First step, sign up for the FREE PayPal security key. It gets annoying having to use the key every time you login but it helps prevent you account from being hacked which could save you thousands. Next step, go for the FREE PayPal debit card and put your bank issued debit card away. With your PayPal debit card, you will earn %1 on every purchase that you run as a credit card. Yeah, laugh all you want at 1% but when I am paying them 2.9% per payment I receive, that 1% looks really nice. Another great feature with your PayPal card is that it will pull from your backup funding source, such as your credit card or banking account. Now, you never need to carry another card. I do suggest you use your bank issued debit card for getting money from ATM’s to avoid that $2.00 processing fee. Also, check your PayPal account every so often. PayPal will sometimes have deals where you get a percentage off your order through certain companies. Next money saving tip with PayPal is take advantage of the investing options they offer. You are allowed to move your money freely all while earning close to 2.5%.

Maybe these tips will help you save a little money all while earning money. Please remember that we are not financial experts and we are simply making suggestions. Any fees, expenses, losses, etc, that you may incur from the use of our advice comes at your own risk.

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