SELLER'S BEWARE! How Your Un-watermarked Photos Are Losing You Business
There's a supply chain when it comes to selling bottle caps, pendants, or charms made using bottle cap images. Of course, it might be a short one, but there's a chain nonetheless. It begins with the designer. This is my section of expertise in the business, and I pride myself in my work and being the first of the chain in creating a finished product that can be enjoyed by the end consumer. A good designer begins by hand-mouse drawing1, creating, laying out, and perfecting their 1" circle collage sheet. They then list their wonderful digital files for sale, like I do on Etsy. Then, a customer with intentions to craft their own finished products for sale browses possible sheets to create with and purchases the ones they like best. Then then list their finished pendants and charms to sell. However, some sellers have choose to not initially create the products they intend to sell using the collage sheets they purchased. They will choose to take the route of made-to-order, where when a customer orders the product, they begin work on creating the pendants based on the design and type of charm was ordered and ship it out once made. This is a great business route to take as it reduces unmoved inventory and less waste. But, there is a fallback to this option. If a seller isn't going to initially make the products they intend to sell, how do they list their product with a well represented photo of their product to attract customers? The answer lies with pendant and charm templates. There are a lot of sellers that offer digital photo templates such as this template from digitalcraftportal.blogspot:
The process is pretty straightforward, you purchase the template, open it up with a photo-editing software, select the design from your purchased collage sheet you want to display in the center, and save the photo. The template creates a neat 3D dome effect on the images, similar to how it would look in person with a glass dome on top. This allows a seller to easily display their products in a attractive fashion. Seems like a full proof strategy for listing items, right?
Don't Forget the Watermark!
Of course, my designs that are sent to customers don't include the watermark on them, but it is a great way to display images as a sample of what they look like. It is a very sad and unfortunate thing that the use of watermarks is important, but you would not believe how many people will snatch up an image that isn't watermarked. When I was first starting out as a collage sheet designer, I made the mistake of listing an item without a watermark, very soon after I found my exact design being shared and used on Facebook by a shady private group that I just coincidentally stumbled upon. Watermarks definitely make a difference.
So, back to the problem, one would assume that charm pendant templates' use of the 3D glass dome effect would be enough to act as a watermark to protect their work. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A somewhat popular trend in the collage sheet world is advertising bottle cap images as super cheap, big lots sold in bulk, where the sheets are less than $0.50 each. WOAH! Sounds like a super deal right!? Usually the people offering things like that didn't make the designs themselves and are selling other people's designs that they have stolen or are reselling illegally. I've come across many people doing that and some have had my work included in them. One day, while on a huge righteous hunting spree, I went through thousands of designs being offered to see if anybody was selling my images. What I found was unbelievable, many people were selling collage sheets that had been obviously taken from charm pendant templates. We're talking each 1" circle on the digital sheet still had the remains of the 3D dome effect blatantly there. They were selling the files for ridiculously cheap and people were buying them left and right! I was shocked. I am the type of person that strives to be a perfectionist when it comes to work, that includes having the highest quality of images possible. So, for people to be eating up collage sheets that were very low-quality, was a total surprise. But, I guess some people don't mind sacrificing quality for a steal, oh, and when I say "steal" I mean literally. The sellers of those sheets don't have permission to use those images and therefore are selling a bootlegged product and the customers that purchase that bootlegged product are also breaking the law.
1a term used to say that they draw their own artwork, not taken from a existing image found on the internet -- like some cheap sellers do