Thursday, January 21, 2010
When I opened up my soap shop on Etsy last June I was struggling between artist and crafter. I found myself desiring greatly to have an artistic venue and yet realizing that at this point I needed to focus on trying to sell my craft. So I took some shots of my soap using the tips that Etsy so freely gives to us newbies and started my venture. It did not take me long to realize that there were close to a billion more soapers on Etsy with pretty much the same photos and wonderful soap that I had.
So I started brainstorming. What could I do to make my soap stand out against the other barrage of soaps out there? Well, I have always wanted to be a photographer but had such meager amounts of money to put behind the desire that I have had to content myself with my regular Digital Point and Shoot camera. (I do find myself staring off into space dreaming of the day when I will be able to afford an SLR but alas that is not for now...sigh)
As I was musing on what I could possibly do to stand out I was struck with one thing that seems to be emphasized over and over on etsy and that is the wonderful use of models to help bring personality to your product. Well, mostly they are referring to things such as clothing, jewelry, etc. But in what I considered a brilliant move (at the time) I decided to use my lovely sons to hold and smell the soap for my photos. Thus my artistic outlet began. We would have photo shoots, I would spend countless hours editing, cropping, and adjusting and finally with a sigh of contentment post them on my etsy site thinking, "this is going to set me apart. I have found it!"
Well, lately internet sales have gone down a bit (yes, I know that most of us are still reeling from Christmas) and so I decided to open my shop up to some critique from other successful etsy sellers. I think even though it is easy to think that I can manage anything people sling at me (after all I want positive critiques and I want to be better right??) the critiques I received were something I was NOT expecting.
The resounding opinion seemed to be..."Kids are creepy." "What do kids and soap have to do with one another." and "They look like they are going to eat the soap." I am definitely not upset at the critiques by any means but it was all so shocking to me at the time. It is so hard to step out of myself and look at my photos, etc. from other eyes. These comments spurred me on to get even more opinions. People did help by telling me that some of the darker shading I used made the kids look like they were from the depression era, and some people did not like the idea of their soap being handled by other hands (rest assured that I do not sell the bar of soap I use in the pictures but still, point well taken..)
After all this and an intense session of introspection I had to consent that what I am trying to do is sell my soap and if people are grossed out or creeped out by my photos than I am shooting myself in the foot. The artist in me wanted the kids to be a bit morose, not smiling and posing but looking off, feeling abstract, etc. The artist wanted to be edgey and different but the crafter realized that is not going to sell soap and that is my objective after all isn't it??
So, I am still musing over all the comments and wondering where to go from here. How do I avoid taking photos of soap that look like EVERYONE else's photos and still not turn people off? It is a quandary that I am still sorting out. I have also had to die a bit more to the artist who wanted to use my soap site as a photographic venue as well and realize it is not meant to be.
If you out there reading this have any critiques or opinions I would love to hear them. I want to make it a better shop and I also want it to stand out, be different and original.
So I muse and get over myself a little bit more...