For today’s cutting business tip, we’re talking about product mockups. Four awesome reasons, in fact, why you would benefit from using them in your business.

So, without much ado, here is my list!

Reason One:
Product Mockups Save Your Business Money

One of the reasons why I just love the vinyl cutting & dye sublimation business is because I can create new products without any actual hard costs, by using digital product mockups.

By superimposing your new design in a realistic way onto a mockup photo, you are essentially creating a new product, but don’t have to go through the expense of actually making the physical product and truth be told, the photos are usually better.

(Caveat 1- you still need to know your craft… it’s really easy to dig yourself into a design hole if you aren’t intimately familiar with your equipment and how the cutting/printing/transfer process works)

(Caveat 2 – Please note that this applies to WELL MADE mockups. I’ve heard a lot of people say that mockups don’t do as well as real photos, and to that my only answer is… a well-done mockup should look like it IS a photo of a real finished item. Also, for Etsy, if you use a mockup it must be an actual photo of the actual item.)

You can create an entire product line for only the cost of the mockups themselves. This allows you to test out designs and put them out there for sale without risk.

This is important because I can tell you one thing – the designs you think will be hot, are NOT… and the designs you think are not so awesome will probably end up being your best sellers. It’s weird that way.

Reason Two:
They Improve Your Product Photos

Using product mockups that are actual, real photos taken by actual photographers is an awesome and affordable way to really improve the quality of your product photos.

While obviously we will still need to take photos of our products sometimes, this way the “main” photo can be a crisp, bright, professional photo.

Really good photos go a long way towards making your business look more professional and inspires trust with customers.

Or, in other words, you look much more “legit” if your photos are awesome.

Reason Three:
They Help Your Branding Be Consistent

One VERY important part of being in business is having your branding be very clear and consistent.

When I say branding I mean your business identity. The colors you use, the style of photos you use, your presence in general. Even the way you write your descriptions can be a huge part of branding.

A REALLY great thing that I’ve seen in the last few years is photographers that create mockups. Mockups used to be all digitally created and not all that awesome but now a lot of people are taking really awesome photos and turning them into mockups.

Since each photographer really has their own style, you can often buy multiple mockups from the same photographer that fits with your style and that makes it so much easier to find good photos that mesh with your branding.

Or even if you eventually hire a photographer to shoot your products, you can have them take lots of extra pictures of blank products for you to use as mockups. It’s very commonly done and helps you keep a consistent, branded image across the web.

Reason Four:
They Make Life EASIER!

I’ll admit, this is my favorite reason 🙂 As a woman business owner AND a single mother, anything that will make my life easier or more efficient is a verrrry good thing.

Mockups make the design process much easier. You can try out different looks, make new designs in a fraction of the time, and they are really great for custom designs when a customer wants to see what it would look like before it’s actually made.

Not only that, but it allows you to play around with various ways to place your designs on fiddly products (like phone cases that have cutouts that need to be accommodated).

I already talked above about the money savings because you don’t actually have to MAKE the products, but just think for a moment how much TIME you will save by not having to physically make the products, stage them, set up your photo stuff and lighting, take pictures, edit the pictures, and so forth.

How Can You Get Product Mockups?

You can buy them quite inexpensively these days or create your own. You don’t need expensive software to do it, either – I do mine with Gimp (free!).

DIY Product Mockups with PRICUTRAI don’t always do my own, but for smaller items it works great. However, for some items I do prefer to use purchased images.

My photography skills leave much to be desired, so anything that can’t be photographed flat I generally try to buy a mockup for.

Making your own is perfect for the more unique items that you can’t find an existing mockup for, so whether you buy one or make one really depends on what your needs are.

A lot of the time you can buy mockups that are full PSD files with Smart Object – a way for you to paste your design in and have the software automatically stretch, warp, and modify it so that it looks realistic. You can often insert your own backgrounds that will help your online presence to be THAT much more cohesive.

They will sometimes cost around $20 but in my experience are well worth it. You can also find mockups for as little as $5. Well worth the investment!

Where I’ve Found Mockups

Graphic River (by Envato)
I am a huge fan of Graphic River. While not the cheapest option, GR’s mockups are top-notch quality. Here are a couple ones I particularly recommend looking at:

  1. They have one seller (Colatudo) who sells fantastic phone case mockups for dye sublimators. They have a bundle of all the main ones – iPhone, Galaxy and Note, and when you buy them by the bundle it’s under $1 per mockup. I cannot even stress how thrilled I was to find this bundle – if you sell phone cases, you MUST check this out. The phone case image pictured here is one from this bundle. (click here to view)
  2. Something I discovered there are some photographers putting their skills to use and doing full-on professional photo shoots, and then editing the files so that you can quite literally add your design in via Smart Object (Photoshop only) and when you do this it really literally looks like the model is wearing your shirt – very realistic. A few of my favorites are here, here, and here.

Creative Market
Creative Market is another fantastic graphics website – not the cheapest option out there either, but similarly to Graphic River, very high quality graphics. Here’s what I adore about CM:

  1. One benefit of Creative Marketplace is that they often have HUGE bundles you can buy. I’m still waiting for the giant sublimation bundle!
  2. Creative Market has some REALLY awesome modeled apparel mockups which are perfect not only for product photos but also social media photos as well. Here’s one of my favorites!
  3. They also have lots of “scene creator” bundles which basically allow you to create your own scene in a room, on a desk, etc. These Wall Art Mockups, for example, are perfect for those of you who sell wall decals!
  4. One other thing I love browsing through is they have some absolutely gorgeous frame mockups, for those of you who do vinyl on frames, canvases or similar items. There are too many for me to really choose any specifically that stand out but I have to reiterate – they are GORGEOUS!

Placeit is one of the new guys on the market but I adore them, absolutely and totally. They have a TON of really great mockups (especially for apparel and hats) and a lot of them look like even just regular user photos.

Not only that, but they offer FREE images (small size) and they are so simple to use, just upload your image with a transparent background and their software automatically stretches and shades the design so it looks realistic.

Their free small images are perfect for Instagram photos or many other social media outlets… and they make great collages! And their larger images are super affordable. I love these guys and I use them ALL the time.

I’m a big fan of Graphicstock, for many reasons. They are a subscription service and while they don’t have a ton of uber-realtistic mockups yet, they do have some and combined with the beautiful photographs and stunning vector backgrounds, clipart, and more (all OK for commercial use, of course), that’s a subscription that’s worth every penny.

Etsy has some really great photographers who take a nice variety of mockups. I’m particularly fond of all the coffee mug mockups they have! They are modeled and realistic, but taken at such an angle that it’s easy to add a design and it really looks realistic. The prices range all over the place, but generally you will get what you pay for on these. They have soft floral themes, rustic wood backgrounds, coffee bean backgrounds, plain white, you name it.

Shirt Manufacturers
This isn’t one I’ll link to any place specific, but I wanted to also mention that I know most shirt manufacturers like Fruit of the Loom, Gildan, and more (of the basic shirts people usually use for vinyl transfers) have basic shirt mockups of their products that are available for free. This is something to Google depending on the brand and model shirt you use, but a lot of them do so make sure you check there first.

Those are the places I’ve bought graphics from – do you have any to add to the list? Put it in the comments and I’ll add it up here!



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