Do you like the cha-ching sound of passive income?
Us bloggers live for it, don’t we?!
I think it’s safe to say that the idea of making money while you sleep is something we’re all sold on.
Only, passive income isn’t quite as passive as people make it sound, had to learn it the hard way. There’s always some overhead, some initial work, and often, and this is the part that I like doing the least, continued maintenance.
However, in this blog post, I’ll be talking about the part that I actually find enjoyable! Well… second most enjoyable to be specific.
I’ve written previously about creating a passive income stream from your blog by way of selling digital products. If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest you do! One of the things I had pointed out in that post is the importance of creating beautiful product images that hook the potential customers and sliiiiiiiide them down the not-too-slippery slope that leads to hitting the “buy now” button.
And in today’s post, that’s exactly what I’ll be showing you–the way to create product images to take the curious window-shoppers on a ride all the way to purchased-customerdom.
I made up quite a few words there, but oh well, you get the picture…
Tools and Resources You’ll Need to Create Product Images
Here’s where you’ll need to make some of your initial investments.
I use Photoshop to create all of my product images. It’s the most versatile software out there for the job and also creates the most professional looking end result. An annual Photoshop subscription costs 20.99 per month. Alternately, you can sign up for the annual photography plan for 19.99 per month which includes both Photoshop and Lightroom. You save a buck and get full access to Lightroom, which is pretty cool if you’re also into photography.
I love Freepik for a lot of things. It’s basically an all-inclusive platform for finding premium stock images, product mockups, patterns, and vectors, for a monthly subscription fee of 9.99 per month (or 7.50 per month if you pay for an annual plan). I use third-party mockups for my product images, so, a subscription to Freepik comes handy.
However, I’ll share links to some free mockups with you that you can use in case you’re in a budget when starting out.
Creative Market (optional)
Creative Market is yet another great place to get product mockups. If you don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee for Freepik, you can use Creative Market to find things you need for a one-time cost of the product itself.
Create Product Images for The Gallery
These are the images people see on the product pages. This is your chance to showcase and show-off your products to potential buyers and convince them to hit the “buy now” button. The goal of a product page is simple: Make your audience fall in love with your product, and convincing them that these products will be useful to them.
The convincing part you typically do with your copy, a.k.a. product description. As for the “make-them-fall-in-love” part, that’s where your product images come in.
Here’s a question you must ask yourself before you start creating product images: how do you go about creating images for your product (planner inserts) in a way that best showcases how gorgeous, yet totally functional it is?
Start with this question, and try to come up with answers for images that will best demonstrate the above.
In the following sub-sections, I’ll show you 3 types of product images that showcase the best of your digital and info products.
Product Image # 1: The Cover Image
The very first image in your product image gallery is the cover image. This is the first image visitors see. It is also the image that is shown on the shop page (the page where all your products are shown to visitors). Based on how well you “wow” your visitors with this cover image, visitors will either click on this product or pass.
Your goal is, of course, to have them click on it.
To that end, a cover image should have the following characteristics:
- This image should include photos of the product itself in a way that appeals to your ideal customers.
- This image should have a concise description of what the product is.
Here are some examples to get you started in the right direction:
As you can see, these products have a few things in common. They say, on the image itself, what these products are, and also, often what the format is (Canva, Photoshop or PSD, InDesign or INDD or IDML, Illustrator or AI, etc.)
Giving this information right on the cover photo itself helps the potential buyer know right away if this is something they’ll want to buy, need, want, etc.
Product Image Size
Typically all product images are the same size. Some platforms have specific size guides. For example, Creative Market requires that all product images be at least 1820px wide and 1214px long. If you’re on WordPress, you can create a custom size to suit your tastes. Personally, I prefer either rectangular (4:3 is a good size) or square images.
Product Image # 2: Size Guide
This image shows the size of the product. I like this as it gives the potential buyer an idea as to what kind of product they can expect. Whether it’s a US Letter size document, an A4 size document, or a 4″ by 5″ business card, or an 800 px by 1200 px Pinterest graphic — the size guide helps the reader know that this is, in fact, the right product they’re looking for.
Here are some examples of product image with size guides:
Product Image # 3: Wow Factor
Aside from the cover photo and the size guide, the rest of the images should be dedicated to showcasing your product as best as you can. The goal is to WOW your to-be customers. Create scenes, or lay them out in a flattering way, the potentials are unlimited.
Here are some of my favorite images of product details:
Photoshop Tips and Techniques
Now that you’ve seen the kind of photos you should be creating for your digital/info products, in the following sub-sections, I’m going to show you how you can create these types of images using Photoshop.
Save Canva Templates (or any other info/digital product) as Images
No matter which program you use to create your digital products or templates, whether with an Adobe product or Canva, you should be able to save these products as images. You need to do this because Photoshop works with images.
In Canva, saving any design as an image is straight forward. On the design window, click on the download icon at the top (see image below). Choose File Type as JPG from the drop-down, and make sure “All Pages” are selected from the “Select Pages” drop-down (this will show if you have more than one page in your design).
Create a Product Image Base in Photoshop
This is my way of saying that you need to create a new file in Photoshop. Use the following specifics:
- Open Photoshop.
- Go to File > New, and then create a new design. For this example, I’ll be using an image size of 1820px by 1214px. I’ll leave resolution and color mode to their default states, and choose “transparent” as the background content.
Create a Background
The background can really bring out the products. In this section, I’ll show you four different kinds of backgrounds that you can easily create on Photoshop.
Sometimes, a solid background is all you need. Simple. Straight-forward. Easy. Minimalist. What you do need to pay attention to is the solid background color you choose. Typically, a white or gray background is considered a safe bet. Black can also bring out the products and would be considered a bold choice. Done right, black is also very classy and elegant. All other colors should be used with caution and only when they compliment the product colors. See examples of solid backgrounds below:
Here’s how you create a solid background on Photoshop:
- Go to Layer (top menu) > New Fill Layer > Solid Color…
- Click “OK” on the dialog box. This will create a fill layer linked to your transparent layer (layers are shown in the layer panel on the right.)
- A new dialog box will open where you can pick the color of your choice. You can pick a color from the palette, or enter CMYK or Hex values. For this exercise, I’ll pick a light gray shade #f6fafa hex value. Click “OK” when done.
Gradient backgrounds can add sophistication to product images. They can be dramatic or subtle, depending on the shades you choose.
Here are some examples:
Here’s how you get a gradient background:
- Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient… Click “OK” on the dialog box.
- When the gradient dialog box pops up, click on the gradient itself to open the gradient editor.
- For this specific example, we’ll choose the first gradient option (as shown).
- Click on the bottom sliders (shown below) to change the gradient colors. You can choose different shades (such as a lighter shade and a darker shade) of the same color or two totally different colors.
- Play with the other handles to create different gradient backgrounds until you’ve found a pattern you like.
- Click “OK” when you’ve created a background you like.
Image/Textures as Background
Another easy way to create a stylish background is by using an image of some kind of texture or surface (like marble top, wooden planks, or grungy texture, etc.)
Here’s how you make these:
- The first step is to source the image itself. A site like Freepik comes handy if you have a subscription to it. Freepik has a ton of stock images that you can choose from. Alternately, many free stock photo sites (such as Unsplash) also have a decent collection of textures and backdrop images. Just search for the terms “texture” or “background”, and you’ll have plenty to choose from. You can also type more specific terms such as “marble” or “wood” if you’re looking for those.
- Once you have your background image, go to Photoshop, create a new file, and then go to File (top menu) > Place Embedded. Locate and choose the background image, and then click “Place”.
- Right click on the image, and then click on “Place” to place the image.
- You can extend the image to fill the entire background by clicking on the corners with the mousing, holding, and then dragging. Hold ‘shift’ and then drag the corner with your mouse to maintain aspect ratio.
Shapes as Background
The shapes feature in Photoshop can be used to create color-block backgrounds for product images.
Here are some examples:
Here’s how you achieve color-blocking with Photoshop shapes:
- First create a solid color background (or gradient, or image/texture) background just as shown in the preceding sub-sections.
- Next, create a shape with the shape tool (shown below). For the purpose of this demonstration, let’s create a rectangle. Right click on the shape tool from the left toolbar to bring out all available options.
- Choose the shape of choice. For this example, we’ll choose the rectangle shape tool.
- Then, simply use your mouse to create a rectangle. To do so, click anywhere in the image, and then holding down, drag the mouse in any direction to create a rectangle.
- Once you have the shape you want, you can click anywhere on the shape, hold, and drag to reposition it. You can also rotate a shape by clicking on any of the corners, holding, then moving left or right, depending on which direction you want to rotate the shape. To widen or shorten a side, simply click and hold any of the handles, and drag in the direction of change. To get a hang of this, play around with different shapes, changing colors, rotating, changing the size, etc.
Add Products Photos on Top of the Background
Now that you have created a background, it’s time to add products. This part is super simple. Remember when you were adding an image as your background? It’s exactly the same. As mentioned previously, your products must be saved as images (jpg or png format, jpg preferred to make the file size smaller). All you have to do now is go to File > Place Embedded, then locate the product image(s) and place them on top of your background layer.
You can resize the product images by clicking then dragging any of the corner handles. Remember to hold the “shift” key as you drag to maintain aspect ratio.
After placing the product images, move them around to reposition them as you wish until you have a final image to your liking.
Here’s a tip to make a digital/info product stand out: Add shadow!
Typically, just placing an image of a flat product is kind of boring. However, by adding some shadow, you can instantly add some oomph to your products as well as depth.
Here’s how you add shadow:
- Start by placing a product photo.
- When you add a photo, it appears as a new layer in the layer panel. (Make sure the product image is on top of your background layer in the layer panel. If not, you can simply click on a layer and drag it to reposition.)
- Right-click on the product photo layer in the layer panel on the right, then click on “Blending Options…”
- This will open up the Layer Style dialog box. In this box, click on “drop shadow” from the list on the left. And then set the shadow options on the right. You can do quite a bit here, and the best way to learn is by playing around with different values and options to see what you like best. For the purpose of this demonstration, set the values as shown:
Set the opacity to 30%.
Set distance to 10 px.
Set the spread to 30 px.
Set the size to 40 px.
Leave the rest of the settings to their default state.
Click “OK” when done.
Repeat for all the photos.
Another great way to showcase your digital products is by creating a scene. This doesn’t have to be too complicated. Adding things like shadows, or small items (images) like plants or stationary, you can create something unique. Another great way to make your items pop is to add the product photo on a device. Like shown in one of the examples below where a media kit is shown on an iPad.
Now, you may ask, how does one create these scenes? Good news is that someone out there has already done the hard work for us! There are plenty of premium and free scene mockups out there that we can use to create something we like. For example, the iPad scene you see below isn’t something I made. I simply used a pre-made Photoshop mockup. The same with the shadows. I used pre-made shadow PSD files that someone had already made.
In this section, I’ll walk you through creating a simple scene. I’ll add a product photo on a mockup and add some shadows.
The very first step to creating a scene is to procure the required mockups. As mentioned before, Freepik is a great place to get these mockups. A monthly membership will give you access to an unlimited number of premium mockups, icons, vector graphics, stock images, and more!
Creative Market also has mockups that you can purchase. This doesn’t require you to have a membership. You pay once, and the product is yours to use. This is a great way to get premium products if you don’t have continued need for mockups or vectors or stock photos.
There are also some free products that you can use. For example, Mockupworld has a huge collection of free mockups.
For this portion of the tutorial, I’ll be using the following products:
Here are the steps to creating the final product image:
- The first thing I do is download all the products, unzip them (if they’re zipped).
- Next, I open the mockup (the very first) in Photoshop.
- Now, while I like this mockup in general, I don’t really care much for the burger or the pencil. They look animated and personally, I think they take away from the quality. I only want the three pages. So, I find the burger and pencil layers on the layer panel and hide them by clicking once on the “eye” next to the layers.
- See the red layers? These are the editable “papers” where you can add your digital product photo. Double-click on the first red layer thumbnail to open it in a new window, and then add your product photo. Then delete the placeholder photo (or hide it). Make sure that your product photo is the top-most layer on the smart object. If the product photo does not cover the entire area of the smart object, drag the corner(s) with your mouse until it does. Then save the smart object by clicking CTRL+S on a PC or CMD+S on a Mac.
- Repeat this for the rest of the smart objects.
- Now, we’ll add the pretty background picture we chose, instead of the dark pink one. To do this, hide the current background, and simply add the image we want by going to File > Place Embedded (like we’ve done before). Make sure that the background is BELOW all the smart object layers.
- Now we’ll add the shadows. This is also very similar to adding an image. The shadows come in different formats. We’ll be using the transparent back PNG formats for this. Just like placing any other image, we’ll use File > Place Embedded to place a shadow image of our choice. This time, making sure to have the shadow layer on TOP of the smart object layers (the shadows should be on top of the product photos). Drag the corner of the shadow image to enlarge or shirk. You can also make the shadow lighter by using the opacity bar (as shown).
And that’s it! Here’s the finished image:
So, what do you think? Doable?
If you’re new to Photoshop, this may seem like rocket science to you, but trust me, it’s really NOT! Once you know the steps, it becomes routine. The best way to learn is to follow along with this tutorial, and repeat a few times to know what you’re doing.
If you end up using this tutorial or any of the products I’ve mentioned here, I’d love to know (and see the products!). Feel free to share your product links in the comments. Also, feel free to ask any questions you may come across while working on this, or any concerns that are raised. I’ll be happy to clarify and answer your questions 🙂
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