How to Edit Common Issues Out of Product Photos Using Pixelmator

February 26, 2015

editing with pixelmator | the merriweather council blog

Pixelmator is an app I’ve been using for about 4 years. I had been using Photoshop through high school and college but when I upgraded my computer after graduating, my version of photoshop no longer worked on the new operating system. This was before subscription based Adobe products.

I discovered Pixelmator and never looked back. I literally use Pixelmator for everything I used Photoshop for. It’s a brilliant alternative that I highly recommend and it costs about $30 in the App Store.

I put this little tutorial together to show you how to brighten, color adjust and otherwise level out the lights and darks in your photos. In many cases, those changes alone can drastically improve the quality of a photo whether it is of an item for sale or not. You can apply these tactics to any photo.

You know i’m all about the ease. (’bout the ease, no struggle.) This is SIMPLE. It’s easy. You can do it and it’s quick too which is of course, wonderful. You don’t want to be slaving away editing photos – you have important creative work to do!

Watch the video natively on Vimeo 

how to edit common issues out of product photos using pixelmator from Danielle Spurge on Vimeo.

Super easy + quick, right?

But what if you don’t want to buy Pixelmator? Or you are on the go more than you are at your computer? Okay, fair enough, I get that.

Learn more for free

mobile photo editing | the merriweather council blog

Tonight I’ll be sending the access info for my “mobile photo editing + bonus super quicky graphic making via iPhone” tutorial to my Empowered Creatives. Are you going to get it? Sign up now to be sure you get the access details. (Hot Tip: Empowered Creatives is different from The Council Members Brief, so be sure you are registered for both if you want both.)

This tutorial is a video screencast of my PHONE so you can see exactly the steps I take to edit photos on the go! I show you basics in 2 apps (1 free, 1 cheap) and a bonus super quicky graphic technique I use a lot via another free app. My tutorial shows: 2 photos edited, 1 graphic made, for $2 spent…  These are great foundations for mobile editing + graphic making.  Sign up now to be sure you get the access details tonight.

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I only like to do these things if they are helpful so let me know!


What Actually Counts as Good Exposure for Handmade Items?

February 24, 2015

exposure for handmade business | the merriweather council blog

I’m sure many of you who sell products online have gotten cold-call style emails or Etsy convos from various organizations, bloggers, charities, etc asking you to donate or otherwise provide a product to them for free. Yeah?

“Great exposure for your brand.”

Generally, these solicitors say that by providing your product free of cost to them, you will gain “exposure”. “This is an opportunity for your brand!”, they’ll say.

It can feel a bit hands-y grabs-y when someone writes to you out of the blue, swears up and down they LOVE your work, then asks you to send it to them for free in exchange for “exposure.” Better yet, when they don’t even address you by name (or worse, addresses you by the wrong name.)

The truth is that most of the time – nearly 100% of the time – these types of “opportunities” will leave you minus your product, angry, discouraged and feeling used. Why? Because they are empty opportunities – they provide no real exposure.

What counts as good exposure for handmade items?

I’ve specifically written this with handmade businesses in mind, but really, this could apply to any business. The reason I think it’s especially pertinent to handmade businesses is because of the time and effort it takes to create a handmade product – while I respect the effort that goes into other products as well, I do think that it’s a different situation for someone who is hand felting christmas ornaments one by one to send a product for free than it is for someone with a big back stock of say, prints. But again, I think the overall idea I am expressing here can apply to any sort of business: be careful where you send freebies and pay for “exposure.”

A collaborative effort between a brand (you) and an influencer (them) is always going to trump a sidebar ad.

A good collaboration with the right blogger can certainly do wonders for your brand! The blogger needs to be in touch with their audience and know what they are looking for and what they like – and the product designer has to know what they want to get out of the experience. There are plenty of very viable sponsorship opportunities out there, you just need to be smart + take the time to research. The sort of bloggers you probably want to work with won’t email you and ask for free product… probably. A genuine and well planned effort to promote a product aims to promote sales – a random shout out on social media doesn’t.

Good exposure promotes the sale of your item to a compatible audience.

Here’s an example: a well known and liked lifestyle blogger with a highly engaged audience of young moms dresses her baby girl in your super awesome baby clothes. She then posts a photo of her little girl wearing one of your designs on instagram – the photo is lovely, prominently shows your product, fits in with her other posts, engages her audience, tags your brand’s account, mentions the time in the caption and refers her readers to a full post on her blog about how much she just loves dressing her baby in your designs. Perfect.

The size of the audience isn’t as important as the quality or engagement of the audience. There are some Instagram accounts that reshare images from a lot of different accounts – sometimes for free, which obviously I have no issue with (free positive exposure- no money or goods changing hands- is never really a bad thing.) But be wary before paying for a “feature” on an account with an audience primarily made up of just people like you: product makers hoping to be featured. Even if there are buyers in the mix, accounts like these feature such a wide array of items across a number of categories that the overall feed is not cohesive enough to engage a quality buyer of any one specific sort of item. That’s why the lifestyle blogger example I used earlier is a better bet nearly 100% of the time. It might cost more, but it’s higher quality exposure.

When people buy products, they are enticed by the promise that this product will improve their life – good feelings, lots of benefits – they don’t buy for the features, they buy for the results. So working with someone who can present these benefits and feelings that come from your products will always garner more attention than a repost of a flat product image that’s already in your shop.

Exposure is not your brand name on someone else’s work or in black and white text in the back of a magazine.

Remember: exposure doesn’t pay the bills – sales do. The exposure is worthless if it doesn’t put your product in front of interested buyers.

Exposure is when your product or brand name makes a meaningful connection with someone who could love and appreciate what you do, that hasn’t heard of you yet.

When I was contacted by Cool Mom Picks about the opportunity to be on the Today Show, they told me I would have to send eight or so pieces (unpaid) over to Rock Center asap. That’s no joke. This was a legitimate opportunity and I was happy to “work for free” over it. The possibility of being on national TV, 13 days before Christmas, in a gift guide segment … no brainer, you guys. The money I made from this was many, many times to value of the pieces I sent for free.

When I get a message from a YouTube channel producer with 22 subscribers, whose target audience is teenage girls with no expendable income…this is also a no brainer.

Products = Money. You must be wise about how you make use of both.

Free exposure – always welcomed, sometimes better than paid exposure

When I say free, I mean no money or free product involved. An example of free exposure is when someone blogs about your item just because they really genuinely like it – with or without buying it. This happens a lot and it’s wonderful no matter what sort of audience they have for a few reasons: 1. it generates back links to your product 2. it creates shareable content 3. blog posts endure longer than say, tweets which move so quickly. Free positive exposure is always great and appreciated 4. you have nothing to lose.

Free exposure might put your items in front of buyers, or not, it doesn’t matter since you didn’t pay for it with money or products.

I’ve had totally unsolicited blog features that garnered more traffic and sales than paid advertising. Like, a LOT more. That’s partly because I was an idiot and didn’t investigate closely enough before paying for certain things, so don’t be like me –  learn from that mistake. :)

Was your best bit of exposure paid or free?


My Interview on She Percolates

February 19, 2015

listen to my interview on she percolates | the merriweather council blog

I’m so delayed in posting here about the official She Percolates launch. I feel like I’ve mentioned it a hundred times – everywhere – but nothing really official here.

She Percolates is a podcast project I’m working on with my friend + Co Percolator, Jen Hatzung.

It’s an interview and discussion based format. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback about it so far and we are blown away! And thankful! And amazed! And so happy!

danielle on she percolates | the merriweather council

I’m sharing this with you all because I think there is a lot of value in this content – and I am trying to be modest here. Specifically in my interview, if you aren’t familiar with the backstory of The Merriweather Council, it’s all in there – and if you are a creative entrepreneur, you might find something interesting or relatable in there as well.

There have been a lot of hard realizations over the past year.

These realizations, specifically about Merriweather and my work and lifestyle, have changed the way I define success for myself. and the trajectory of my work moving forward. You’ll hear me talk about them here. If someone can learn from that, bonus.

I also chatted about art school, my post college plan that totally fell through and how I was more excited about getting into renegade craft fair than I was about getting into graduate school.

So come over and check it out? I would love to hear your thoughts on it all if you have any!

PS… I’ve been working the photo editing tutorial, I’ll have that up next week! If there are any subjects you would like to see covered here, please leave me a comment or email me! Or check here.



Hashtags for Sharing Creative Work on Instagram

February 17, 2015

six hashtags for sharing creative work on instagram | the merriweather council blog

There is no denying that nearly everyone loves Instagram. Basically, it’s the greatest app that’s ever been.

Instagram is a wonderful way to share your work in any field, but specifically the visual arts because it is a visual driven platform.

No matter what stage you are at in creative work, you should consider sharing your work on instagram! If you are just a dabbler or hobbyist it can be a great way to connect with others and learn about new resources or even supply sources. If you are in business selling your creative work you can connect with customers, bloggers, other brands or even shops that might want to carry your products.

But how do you get eyeballs on your work? And how do you find other people to follow?

There are a few ways but one of the best is through hashtags! There are basically fifteen zillion hashtags out there and of course there is the opportunity to create new ones. But using the right hashtags – ones that are specific, smallish and aren’t overrun with nonsense – can make all the difference.

I’ve rounded up 6 great hashtags you can use to give your work more reach.

I chose these because they are just popular enough that your work will be seen by many, but won’t be gone from the first twenty images within 30 seconds of tagging. (The most popular hashtags on twitter have millions of images and it’s barely worth it to share your work within those collections because it’s just moving so fast, no one will see it!) Also, these will help you connect with other accounts you might find inspirational or want to follow!

Some of these even include the opportunity to be featured, meaning the person or entity that established the hashtag uses it to curate images for sharing on their own feed. Some of these can be super scores because the original account has a huge following.

Some of these I was able to track down the origins of, others I wasn’t. I’m not sure all of them have official origins or if it matters, but that’s the story.


If you would normally tag your work as “colorful” – which has over 62 MILLION photos in the feed, try this one instead. The ladies over at A Beautiful Mess invite you to share your colorful images on instagram with this hashtag. They are consistently sharing images from the feed on their account which can really be a fun way to reach new people! They’ve shared a couple of mine and each time it was such a thrill!


A very small collection still, less than 1000 images at the time of this posting. This is great because not only will it continue to grow but it’s still small enough that your images will stick around in the most recent postings for a while. This tag collects images of studios, little messy moments, works in progress and genera behind the scenes/ fly on the wall in artist’s studio type images. I’ve found some wonderful feeds to follow through here.

#homeinthestudio | the merriweather council blog


Still a relatively small collection in this hashtag with less than 4,000 images at the time of this writing. Weavings, textile art, paint palettes, beaded garments… all of these are beautiful textures! Capture a beautiful image of your textured work and share it with the #dstexture hashtag. This hashtag is brought to us by Grace over at Design Sponge – check her feed to see the photos she has pulled and shared from this hashtag.


Brought to use by Emily Lindbloom, this hashtag is for “showcasing the passions & stories of today’s creatives.” Some really lovely imagery happening in here.


More of a place for photographers to share photos or their travels near + far. Beautiful images in this feed include everything from neighborhood shots and cityscapes to underwater photos.

#exploremore | the merriweather council blog


This seems to be a catchall for creative works, experiences and spaces. There are photos of works in progress, finished pieces, and other pleasing imagery. Check it out here.

Want a few more?

6 More Hashtags for Sharing Creative Work on Instagram | The Merriweather Council Blog

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