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Paint A Picture

Shoppers can't use their five senses online, so make sure your product photos say it all.

This story appears in the May 2008 issue of Start Up.

Craft sites are like the of the online world: is everything, and a bad photo can mean the end of your career.

"Because your [customers are] shopping on the web, having good pictures and a good description is key to building up a good feedback reputation," says Robert Kalin, co-founder of Etsy.com. "Offline, customers are able to go into a store and hold the product up, stretch it out, try it on. You need to have things that mimic those elements in the online world."

HomeGrownMarket.com provides links to a few product-photography help sites, such as tabletopstudio.com, which offers advice ranging from how to avoid dark images to determining if your photographs are up to snuff. In general, several clean, up-close, detailed shots are best.

It's also worthwhile to invest in basic photo-editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, which is often included with the purchase of a digital camera. Skilled photographers and techy crafters might look into 3D Photo Builder software, which turns photos into an interactive viewer so visitors can look at a product from several angles.

If all else fails, says William T. Lasley, a guide for arts and crafts business for About.com, hire somebody to take great photos of your products.

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