Does this Picture make me look PHAT?
A picture can say a 1000 words....and when it comes to buying or selling on the internet, you need to ask what the photos of the fleece are saying to you? Or, what do you what it to say about the fleece you are selling? Now this isn't just for fleeces, this applies to all aspects of fiber arts when viewing them on the internet. But for the moment, I am directly talking about the prospect of eCommerce for a raw fleece.
Now I'll admit, I am always looking for raw fleeces even though I own 12 alpacas. If it is alpaca I'm interested in, here are my reasons.
1) is it a color I don't have
2) is it a color that I could blend in with one of my current boys' fleece
3) is it a better quality then the current's boys fleece grade
4) do I have a project in mind where I need more pounds/ounces then I currently own
If I am looking at a sheep fleece, here are my reasons.
1) if I am going to blend with alpaca, is it like length and micron
2) if I am going to stabilize my alpaca project, is it a type of fiber that will do that
What I am going to talk about now, I am relating it to potential raw alpaca fleece purchases that I have run across on various platforms on the internet.
So here is one example I have mixed feeling about( it is copied straight from it's original source)....
Aplaca fiber (beautiful)
Selling Prime Huakaya Alpaca raw fiber, 1st(prime cut). Little to no VM. 9 animals fiber to choose from. Pictures will have info for each animal. Price is per oz. Which will be listed below with each animals name. Prefer to sell whole bag but will sell less. Seconds for each animal available also,PM me for more info. Pay Pal accepted. *Sarah(fawn)38.4oz.@$1.25/oz 2.4# =$48.00 *Ellie(trueblack)46.4oz.@$1.50/oz 2.9# =$69.60 *Marshy(white)54.4oz. @$1.25/oz. 3.4# =$68.00 *Niagra(white)64oz.@$1.50/oz. 4# =$96.00 *Persophonie(brown)34.4oz. @$1.50/oz 2.25# =$54.00
Gelded Males *Centuarus(white) 73.6oz. @$1.50/oz 4.6# =$110.40 *Zues(brown)57.6oz. @$1.25/ oz. 3.6# =$72.00 *SirKyle(light fawn)42.4oz. @$1.50/oz. 2.65# =$63.60 *Hawkeye ((grey)59.2oz. @$1.50/oz. 3.7# =$88.80 Prices fiber sold/oz. You pay shipping cost. PayPal accepted. No holds.
Let's look at this ad. Start with the positives..
1) I'm glad it starts right off with stating that this is raw, 1st or prime with little to no VM (vegetative matter).
2) I really like the separation of female fleeces from male fleeces and even stated, "gelded males". For some this may not be a big deal and that is great. I know females could potentially have issues with their fleeces due to pregnancy, nursing, stress of weaning a cria, etc.... And knowing that gelded males vs intact male, also has fewer hormones so maybe these are a more uniformed fleece (research and opinions are up in the air regarding this). Alpaca males don't have that "ram" musk scent like other fiber animals, so that isn't a concern for me here.
3) Using the true color as listed on the chart of alpaca fiber colors (can easily be purchased through the AOA-Alpaca Owner's Association). I love marketing and descriptive adjectives that we all use, but I like it when I know the true base color. After stating it, then use those colorful fun words to describe the hues of pink you can imagine in the rose grey fibers. It is still either a light rose grey, medium rose grey or dark rose grey firstly. This seller started to use the correct terminology with the true black and light fawn, but then didn't with the browns and grey entries.
4) I do like the breakdown of per ounce and then the total pounds and cost. This seller did the math for me, which is always a bonus!
5) And lastly, the photos of each individual animal's fleece sample with appropriate ruler are good and informative. Again, a photo says thousand words.
Now, let's look closer at the first option- "Sarah". It is a fawn and I would say it is more of medium fawn based on my AOA color chart. This is not the best pick of fiber for the photo shot as the white fibers are distracting as they are the front view.
It says that it is 3 inches plus, but...most of the body of the sample sits at 2.5 inches. Again this is not the best pick for the photo shot as this looks more like the outside edge of the fleece which could be more seconds then prime. If it is truly taken in the shoulder area of the animal, then I would say that this is a course grade and not viable for hand spun yarn (which is what most people are looking for).
For the fibers that stick up from the 2.5 inch mark to the 3 inch mark are guard hairs and should not be included in the staple length measurement. Plus, you can see that there is no crimp and the fibers are relatively straight and if you look closer, you can see a lot of the individual fibers. Again, this picture tells me that this fleece is a courser grade and I need to move on.
This is "Niagra" fleece option. White is always on my list as I can dye it and add to everything I make. I only have one white boy, so until I purchase another one, I scour the internet for it. This picture used a good sample of fleece for the photo shot. It is a nice section of uniformed fibers and the main body of it does sit at 3 inches as advertised. I can see a larger crimp waveform and the cut end could have a nice sheen to the fibers, but the light of the photo doesn't show it off well if it is there. I can see that there are guard hairs present, but in this form, could easily be pulled out if I wanted to spend the time doing so.
*Niagra (white) 64oz.@$1.50/oz. 4# =$96.00
At this price, I would contact the seller and ask more questions and a more specific picture of the fiber pulled apart, on a black background to see more of the individual fibers. This would give me a better idea of the grade, especially if the seller didn't test it or grade it themselves.
So let's review the negatives of this listing..
1) not stated that it is skirted or not. I'm thinking "how much of the fleece will I lose after I skirt it?" as this drives my per ounce cost up. Should I assume based on pound weight that it is unskirted? Should a buyer assume at all?
2) What grade are the fleeces? Or at least, how old is the animal. Age can give an idea of quality of fiber-again, buyer is assuming.
3) pictures could use better lighting and at least one more shot of the fibers close up. I would also like to see the whole fleece as this gives me a good idea of the whole package. This would be a lot of pictures for this listing as the seller has 9 fleeces to sell...
4) So maybe break it up into two or three listing to be able to fully show what each fleece is. I know this will potentially make it harder to keep track of inquires, etc as the seller, but it might make things sell quicker too.
Speaking of the whole fleece photo shot....
Alpaca Fiber $10----This was another post and yes, that was all it said. Ten dollars for all of it? What colors do they have? Are the bags lined up per animal, prime-seconds-thirds? Is there 11 fleeces for sale? What's the wood in the back for? Is that hay in the front? There is no spit on that wall; how do they keep that space so clean?
Squirrel! This one boggles me. If the person doesn't care enough to post a little bit more detail, then I don't care to spend any time asking. Why? Well for starters, if each bag is 10 dollars, then they don't know what quality or quantity they have. A better/finer grade isn't the same price as a lower/courser grade. Is it huacaya or suri fiber? If the 10 dollars is per animal and the pic does show prime-seconds-thirds of each animal, I don't want seconds or thirds. So am I paying for shipping of stuff I don't want? Are they even shipping or is it pick up only? Is the seller assuming that I the buyer, knows what I am looking at? Not based off this picture. Move on.
Other examples of no description, no words, no nothing posts....
I love this one! Now let me go find a sharpie and a measuring tape/ruler to figure out how long this is.
This post isn't about pointing out the flaws of other sellers posts, it really isn't. It's about knowing what and how to sell or buy the fleece that you want for the price that is appropriate. Nothing destroys an industry than the lack of correct information when selling a product. You don't have to have a degree in marketing, I work in Healthcare.
So, how can we be better at giving the answers to the questions that needs to be asked? If pictures are driving our sells, then we need to have those 1000 words in our pictures to be the right words. Our hands can not touch in eCommerce shopping, so we have to get the right and full information relayed somehow.
I am a Healthcare professional and an alpaca owner, but I am a fiber artist firstly. My values are to 1)promote alpaca fiber as a competitive fiber animal, 2) educate on correct alpaca fiber knowledge to positively support the alpaca industry, 3) respect for all fiber industries and 4) commitment to the excellence of the fiber arts future.
I write this thinking back to some internet purchases that I have made and the lessons I have learned. And trust me, I have made some silly mistakes that I can laugh about now. Alpacas are becoming more and more popular and easily obtained, they are supper fun after all. Which means more people are selling their fiber. And yes, every grade of fiber can be used for something.
It is our job as sellers to know what we have so that it can find the hands of the right person. And for buyers, it is our job to know the questions needed to ask to find the right something for our project.
And it all starts with the first thing we see, the picture with it's 1000 words.