Make your products a steal…not your images  I received an email earlier this week from a lady who had recently experienced a ‘theft’. This really struck a chord with me, because it’s something that I experienced myself when I first started selling online. To set the scene, let’s imagine that you’ve researched and sourced a product and then invested a great deal of time and energy into creating a fantastic description…which also includes plenty of photographs that you’ve taken yourself, sized correctly and added to your listing… Then, out of the blue, along comes a sneaky competitor who steals your images for use in their own listing descriptions. There is nothing worse – and quite frankly it’s frustrating, annoying and anger inducing! Well, first things first. If this happens to you, you should immediately let eBay know and usually, eBay will remove the listings with the ‘stolen’ images in straight away. It’s very likely though that you will need to provide proof that the images are yours, and not your competitors, which can be extremely difficult to do if you haven’t taken one very simple precaution. It’s simple, it’s quick and it can stop image thieves in their tracks All you have to do is ‘watermark’ your pictures so that they are protected. Watermarking is the process of adding a faint logo or other symbol to your image identifying it solely as yours. It’s important to note here that you should not watermark ‘stock photos’ as yours unless you have purchased them from a stock photo site. You should only watermark images that you have taken yourself with your own camera. So, how do you do it? Well, you have several options. The most simple way to watermark is to use eBay’s own watermarking service which will allow you to add your eBay ID or a little camera icon to your images, whichever you choose. Within eBay, as you complete your listing description you will see an area entitled ‘Bring your item to life with pictures’. Beside this heading is a link called ‘Add or remove options’ which you should click on to set up watermarks on your images. Now, I say that this is the most simple way, but actually, in my opinion it’s not necessarily the most effective way, simply because the watermark that eBay adds will be very small and it doesn’t always appear over the product, making it very easy for your image to be stolen, the watermark cropped out and your image used by someone else! A far more effective way of adding a watermark – and truly protecting your images – is to add a small version of your company logo, rather than just your eBay ID. You can do this easily yourself as long as you follow the rules; use a watermark that is no bigger than 5% of the image and has opacity of no more than 50%. In fairness you wouldn’t want any more opacity (the see-through-ness) than this, as you would be in danger of obscuring your product completely! There are plenty of free watermarking services online and you should consider these if you don’t have photo-editing software, as they will produce a decent watermark for you – it just won’t be of super high quality – but enough for your eBay images. To get started, try these free services: So, I mentioned using your company logo as a watermark and this is definitely the best option to choose – it’s unique to you and it gives you the extra advantage of promoting your brand or company name within your images. Remember though that you can’t use a watermark that is an email address or a link or anything that might be for marketing purposes. By using a logo you will stay within eBay’s rules! If you don’t have a logo, you can get one made up very cheaply from somewhere like Here’s how to protect yourself from sneaky online thieves! Taking Photos worth Stealing! Now, it’s all very well watermarking your images, but are your photos actually worth stealing? It’s quite easy to actually feel flattered that someone else has stolen and used your images as they obviously think they are good enough to steal. On the other hand it’s more likely to be simply laziness on your competitors part, and yours were the images found easily to hand.   Images get stolen because they are absolutely vital when it comes to your success with selling on eBay. They convey at a glance, exactly what it is that you’re selling. Your pictures will reassure a buyer that they’re bidding/buying a genuine product and that there aren’t any obvious flaws or problems that would stop them from purchasing from you. A listing description without any images at all will almost always sell for less than the product is really worth (if it sells at all). Most mobile phones today come complete with digital cameras of a high enough quality to take some pictures of your products, so there’s no excuse not to upload lots of images with every listing. And remember the following tips as you take your photos to really make the most of your products:
  • Keep the focus on the item you’re selling. Make sure there’s nothing in the picture that’s not actually for sale; a potential buyer should just see what they’re going to be buying so make sure it’s the focus of the image. The item should also take up the majority of the space available in the picture.
  • Make sure the background isn’t distracting. The only thing in your image that a buyer should be drawn to is the product itself. Make your background plain.
  • Light up the photograph as much as possible. A dark and dreary looking photo will do nothing to inspire a potential buyer to make a purchase from you, so try to make sure your photographs are well illuminated. You may wish to wait for daylight to take photos with light from a window, or otherwise grab a lamp to focus on the item.
Take great photos, remember to add watermarks EVERY time and make sure that you are the one that reaps the benefit from your efforts – not your competitors!