What if you could create beautiful photos… of 100 products…in minutes? No, you're not dreaming! Using Photoshop and Smart Objects makes it possible. Sarah Guilliot has worked with these tools for years as a User Experience Architect (how cool does that job sound?!) and now she has her own side gig helping Mamapreneurs like you and me use Photoshop for business to make our lives easier and faster.
On the Podcast
00:52 – Architecture for Users
04:26 – Solving a Real Problem Inside a Make-Believe World
08:57 – Not all Mock-ups are Made Equal
14:02 – What Makes an Object Smart?
24:12 – Photoshop Perks
29:23 – Help for Photoshop Newbies
31:44 – Silhouette Studio
34:00 – Sunshine Sticker Co.
38:24 – It's only a Season
39:57 – The Most Requested Podcast… (for 5-7 year-olds!)
Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to Learn how you can use Photoshop for Business
Architecture for Users
In October of 2014, Sarah Guilliot launched her first side gig. But she's still working full time during the day as a User Experience Architect (UX Architect for short) Essentially, Sarah helps big companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and GoDaddy figure out how to create the best possible experience for users traveling through their website.
She works on user flows, wire frames (a demonstration of how a website will look and function) and works on landing pages to optimize them for sales or other conversions.
Despite her brilliant day job and experience with the online world, Sarah says she had all sorts of fears that held her back when it came to starting her own business. There were so many unknowns she'd never dealt with before – getting a business license, figuring out taxes, and lots of other little details.
Although friends have been raving about Sarah's crafty presents for years and encouraging her to open an Etsy shop, she didn't drum up the courage to do it until her kids came along. Sarah has two little girls, age 5 and 7 years old, and she knows how precious her time with them is. She wants more time at home with them and less time answering to a manager!
In October of 2014 Sarah purchased an online course for writing and publishing e-books. She followed it step-by-step until she learned about marketing her book and getting reviews. Unfortunately, Sarah felt that the course creator was encouraging her to get reviews in a way she thought was unethical. So Sarah didn't have the huge book launch she wanted, but she did get her books out into the world.
After that iffy experience, Sarah shifted directions and started making printables in the Fall of 2014. She thought it was the perfect time to jump on board since everyone would be buying Christmas printables to decorate their homes. Despite her best efforts, over the next six months Sarah wasn't getting much traction on her printable sales. The niche is so crowded already, and there are many beautiful ones available for free online. Sarah realized she'd have to drive a ton of traffic to her shop to really make a living selling printables. In the meantime, Sarah realized there was a big problem in her niche that she could solve!
(Ever notice how the path to business success isn't always straight and smooth? Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find the right niche, or a problem that demands a solution. Don't give up, Brilliant Business Mom!)
Solving a Real Problem Inside a Make-Believe World
When Sarah was setting up her printables shop, she used Photoshop to make mock-ups so she could quickly and easily show case her printables.
Sarah quickly realized that there are many Etsy sellers in all sorts of field who can benefit from mock-ups to showcase their work in a realistic way.
So What's a Mock-up?
A mock-up means taking an image, such as a frame, mug, book, or t-shirt (often with beautiful props alongside it!) and putting your digital design right onto that image to show how your designs or creations will look in real life.
Mock-ups are perfect for T-shirt designers or drinkware designers who don't want to do a photo shoot for every new design they create. They use their digital design (without even making the product) and place it onto the beautifully styled photography scene.
Not all Mock-ups are Made Equal
Sarah looked around at the styled stock photos currently available and realized there was a big gap for sellers who create more unique items. There aren't nearly as many mock-ups for products that don't go into a frame. Mason Jar Mug sellers, glass sellers, mug sellers, and other vinyl decal sellers didn't have as many beautiful photos to choose from, and if they did find a great photo, they weren't sure how to get their designs into the photo and have them look natural.
One great way Sarah researched this niche and knew which problem to solve was by participating and listening in many Facebook groups. Sarah joined many groups for Etsy sellers and noticed that 5-10 people every day were asking about mock-ups. They'd wonder, “How do I make a mock-up? What are mock-ups good for? Who can find styled stock photos that fit my product?”
Sarah began solving their problems and answering their questions by recording Youtube tutorial videos and posting them on her blog.
Finally, Sarah created a Mock-up Design Essentials Course. The course has short videos that add up to about an hour of tutorials along with photoshop template files that have pre-styled scenes.
Sarah differentiates herself from other styled stock photo sellers in two key ways.
- She offers tutorial videos so that a seller can turn any lovely stock photo into a smart object where their designs can be easily overlaid. So, they're empowered to be as creative and unique as they want to be!
- Sarah's templates all include smart objects, so the colors and placement of the objects in her scenes can be altered. You can't do this with a regular stock photo!
What Makes an Object Smart?
So… we're pretty sure these objects in photoshop don't have an IQ of 145. What makes them smart?
A smart object turns a layer in Photoshop into something that can easily accept a new design element without changing its basic structure. (Sounds a little confusing, right?! It's easier to give an example than to talk about smart objects in theory.) Here we go!
If you have a styled scene full of cute little desk accessories and you want to lay your printable (pretty piece of paper in digital form) on top of a desk, this is very tricky to do because the angle of the image will be quite different than your flat-rectangled printable.
You'll have to stretch, tweak, and mess with Photoshop for a while to get your printable design to look just right laying on the desk in the photo. But that's not the case if you turn that piece of paper into a smart object.
THEN, adding your printable design to the desk goes like this:
- Double click on the smart object layer in Photoshop
- A new tab will open up. You'll see a blank rectangle on this tab. You can past your printable design onto this rectangle.
- Hit save and close the tab.
- Your printable is automatically placed into the image on the table at exactly the right angle. No weird distortions necessary!
Smart objects are perfect in this instance for two reasons.
- Not everyone knows how to stretch and distort the perspective of an image to make it look natural in a photo.
- Smart objects allow you to work much faster. You can take 100 of your fabulous designs and plug them into your beautiful styled photo scene in no time. Voila! 100 new listings are ready to go in your Etsy shop, and to your customer, they look just as they would if they were photographed in real life.
An added benefit to using smart objects:
You can also use one smart across multiple Photoshop files. So then, if that object needs to be changed, Photoshop will automatically change all the other files that include that object for you.
Again, let's use an example so this makes more sense! If you're designing a website with a team of people and everyone is using the same header. (It's a smart object) Then one day someone says “we're going to change the header color” The team doesn't have to go in and edit 100 files that all include that header. They simply change the smart object for the header, and all the other files are automatically updated. (Is it just me or does that sound amazing?!)
To create a smart object, take that layer you want to turn into a smart object and save it as a.psb (This is the extension for a smart object versus .psd which is the typical photoshop file extension.)
Now, when that object is altered and saved, it's updated everywhere it's used.
(If you're wondering if Adobe is worth the price, you should know that you can get a 1 month free trial, and after that you can get Photoshop and Lightroom for $10/month. We're not affiliates, we just use Adobe products regularly. Check out our interview with Kim VanSlambrook to hear how she uses Lightroom to save her loads of time when she takes real product photos.)
So how does Photoshop stack up to the other great photo editing tools out there, like Canva and Picmonkey?
Sarah hasn't used Picmonkey in a while, but Beth Anne says adding your own fonts is easy, and arranging transparent pngs to get the perfect graphic design is a cinch.
Canva is great for typography. They have so many creative templates that you can plug your headlines into. They also have social media image sizes ready to go so you can save time.
Photoshop has some unique features that you can't find anywhere else. For one thing, their color correction tools are powerful, and you can color correct just one aspect of your photo while leaving everything else the same.
Working with layers in photoshop also means you can customize which aspect of your photo you edit, and you can shift layers around (like the png overlays I use in picmonkey).
Photoshop has powerful editing tools for other aspects of a photo as well, such as smoothing out blemishes, adding shadows, or erasing something.
Adobe products also work nicely together, so if you use Illustrator for graphic design, you can drag layers over into Photoshop for more editing.
If you're not sold yet, Smart Objects will put you over the edge. No other photo editing tool on the market can so quickly and easily take your design and place it perfectly on the right object in a photo.
Help for Photoshop Newbies
Sarah Korhnak mentioned in the interview that she probably wouldn't give Photoshop a try, because it just seemed way too complicated, and Picmonkey works great for her!
But… she may have been persuaded. Sarah Guillot says the beauty of Photoshop is that you don't have to know how to use every single feature in order to benefit from the program.
Sarah's course teaches sellers just what they need to know. You can get started and save yourself tons of time while simply ignoring the 100 other tools that you don't need at the moment.
For her course, Sarah focuses on helping sellers get their designs out the Silhouette program and into Photoshop, how to add those design to your smart object, and how to change colors, shift objects around in the mock-up scene.
One of the most common groups of people who can benefit from Photoshop Mock-ups are those designers who use a Silhouette. What exactly is Silhouette, and what can it do?
Silhouette Studio is the name of the design program that accompanies Silhouette printers. The Silhouette Cameo is a printer that can print 12 by 12 inch sheets of vinyl designs, stickers, or other items. The Silhouette Portrait is a smaller printer that can work with letter-sized sheets of material.
Sarah says that Silhouette Studio tries to mimic Adobe a little bit. She says it's not too difficult to figure out the basics of designing with Silhouette, but even as an experienced designer she often turns to Youtube to learn a new trick!
A Silhouette costs about $200 to $250 for the machine and a few tools to print designs.
Sunshine Sticker Co.
One of the things we love about Brilliant Business Moms are the genuine friendships we make with brilliant women who are growing businesses. Our private Facebook group is such a positive, encouraging place, and for many women, it can be a jumping off point for developing their own masterminds or partnerships.
Sarah Guilliot and Ashley Monda met through our private Facebook group and teamed up with a few other women to form a Mastermind. They hold weekly Google Hangouts to encourage each other.
When Sarah came up with her idea to help Etsy sellers with photography mock-ups, she turned to Ashley for feedback, because Ashley uses her Silhouette often to make party supplies.
After getting to know each other well, they both came up with the idea to get into the planner sticker market. (Planner stickers are huge these days!) Sarah could bring her design skills to the table, and Ashley could print and ship the stickers.
The more these ladies researched their new idea, the more excited they got. They got together on Google hangout and said, “Wait… are we really going to do this?” The answer….”Yes!”
Sarah and Ashley have never met in person, but their planner sticker business, Sunshine Sticker Co. has already launched! Sarah says she already knew Ashley well and developed a friendship with her. She knows all about her family, her business, and she knew Ashley had a great work ethic. They both live in Washington state, so in-person meetings are possible down the road.
We're so excited for Ashley and Sarah and can't wait to see how their business grows!
It's only a Season
Sarah is in an interesting place right now when it comes to combining business and motherhood. She's still working full-time, and she's also working like crazy to grow her new businesses.
She doesn't want to work 40 hours a week for someone else forever, but…. right now she's working 80 hours per week trying to grow her biz and work her day job! Sarah is often up past midnight working hard on her business.
She says it's a lot of juggling, and some days it just feels like way too much to take on. But Sarah is keeping the end goal in mind. It's just a season, and working 80 hours per week isn't the way her life will run forever.
(You got this, Sarah! We can't wait to see you kiss that day job goodbye!)
The Preferred Podcast for 5-7 Year-Olds!
This funny mom moment made our day! Sarah says she listens to a lot of podcasts while she drives her girls to school. Among her favorites are Pat Flynn, Flipped Lifestyle, and Brilliant Business Moms. She didn't realize how much her girls were paying attention to what was said until one of them asked if she could start a business someday. Sarah said, “Sure!”
Here comes the best part: Sarah turned on Pat Flynn one day and her daughter said, “I want to listen to that other podcast ..you know ..the mom podcast!”
Pat Flynn, we love you, but apparently Brilliant Business Moms is a little more popular among the elementary school crowd 🙂
(Pssst – that's not the first time we've been requested by little kiddos. Cheri Tracy's girls love us too. How fun!)