Make your online shop look amazing for less

For many designers and illustrators, creating and selling products online can be a rewarding side project that brings in some extra income.

There are many options available, which we'll set out below – but when you're setting up your online shop, it pays to present them professionally.

In an ideal world, everyone would commission a studio photoshoot and art direct their product collection beautifully and consistently. But not everyone has the time or the budget to do so.

Luckily, with some smart and savvy use of premium stock images and a bit of time in Photoshop, you can do your designs justice – for a fraction of the price.

So read on for our guide to the best images to use to sell four common products online, complete with top recommendations from iStock by Getty Images.

Digital assets

Blank monitor on desk with lamp and plant

Click to view image on iStock

Digital wallpapers for desktop, tablet, or mobile are a great place to start, especially for illustrators, as there are no production costs involved.

Depending on your reputation, you're unlikely to be able to charge much for them –but it's a good way to spread your work around.

Blank laptop screen with phone and tablet

Click to view image on iStock

When it comes to presenting them in an online shop, a stylishly shot setup, featuring several blank screens, is a great way to show them off in context.

You simply need to take screen grabs on your various devices, and mock them up on the screens. This image is particularly effective, as it feels part of an aspirational creative work environment.

Prints and posters

Blank poster hanging on brick wall

Click to view image on iStock

When it comes to physical items, prints featuring your artwork are one of the simplest to produce, especially if you go for digital printing, which is much more economical for short runs.

Again, showing off a print in some kind of context is worthwhile here, as it helps potential purchasers imagine it in their own home or studio.

Blank poster hanging in modern studio

Click to view image on iStock

Premium stock images such as the one above, when carefully mocked up with your design, bring your work to life – without the need to splash out on a photoshoot.

If you have the money, high-end techniques such as screenprinting or letterpress will take your prints to the next level – and limited-edition, signed, and numbered versions feel much more collectable.

With more tactile products like these, especially if you're charging a premium, it's definitely worth shooting close-up details to show off the quality.

T-shirts and apparel

Six blank T-shirts in different colours

Click to view image on iStock

The next stage up for designer products is apparel, and one of the most accessible ways of making your designs wearable is to print them on a T-shirt.

At its most basic, this will involve screenprinting onto a blank, generic tee. These can be notoriously difficult to photograph without getting a model involved, and it's your design you're showing off here – not the shirt itself.

Blank T-shirt on mannequin

Click to view image on iStock

A premium stock image gives you the natural shape and feel you need to show off your design to best effect – it will take a little more Photoshop skill to make it look more convincing than a flat print, however.

Of course, if you're going the distance and creating your own range of bespoke merchandise, you'll need to photograph it properly to do it justice – especially if there are unique features to show off.

Books and magazines

Blank book cover

Click to view image on iStock

Any kind of printed publication – whether it's a self-published zine, or a full-blown book – will benefit from an image that shows it in all its physical, tangible glory.

As with T-shirts and prints, if there's a generic size, shape, and aspect ratio involved, premium stock images can be a great way to present a publication in a professional way, without the cost or hassle of shooting it from lots of different angles.

As well as page and cover dimensions, always consider the thickness too, if the spine is in shot. It doesn't have to be identical, but you need to present the product as authentically as possible.

Blank open book showing spread

Click to view image on iStock

Besides the cover, stock images of folded spreads are another great creative shortcut—and with a bit of Photoshop work, look much more appealing than a flat graphic of the page artwork.

If you like the look of all the images above, you're in luck: iStock by Getty Images is offering new customers 12% off all credits by using code 12CBLOQNEW at checkout. If you’re looking for product mock-ups specifically, check out their range here. So go on – give your online shop an overhaul!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.