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10 Secrets for Creating Screenshots that Sell

RetroSupply March 31, 2021 · 7 min read

I’m going to share 10 secrets for creating screenshots that will instantly improve your product sales.
I learned some of these tricks while doing online marketing work for 3 different companies. Through hundreds of A/B tests and lots of training, I discovered some simple techniques that are guaranteed to help you communicate with your customers (and as a result make more money).
These simple techniques will increase your sales. But they’ll do a lot more than that. They’ll also build trust in your shop and have customers coming back over and over to look at your products.
So if you have ever banged your head against your computer screen trying to figure out how to sell more products keep reading. Grab the tips that you find useful and discard the others.
Note: I’ve used a few examples from my own products. This isn’t because they’re perfect examples. I just know my products better than other peoples so it’s easy to refer to. : )

1. Your cover must grab their attention in 1.7 seconds.

Close your eyes and imagine the last time you were shopping on Creative Market. You probably quickly scanned the page. You looked at each product cover and title. In less than 2 seconds you decided if you liked a product and moved on.
This is where 95% of sales are won and lost. It would be hard to exaggerate how important a good cover is. Why? Because if you’re cover does’t get your customers attention they won’t click on it, if they don’t click on it they can’t read more, and if they can’t read more they’re not going to buy it.
Your cover should do two things: Get peoples attention and communicate the main benefit of the product. That’s all.
If you are not sure your cover does this use the 2 second test. Grab a friend and show them the cover of your product for 2 seconds. If they can tell you exactly what your product is, you’re on the right track.

Doing It Right

Old Movie Styles – Vol 2. It’s clear from across a room what this product is. Bonus points for integrating the product in action.

 2. Show results, not products.

If there’s one thing you take away from this article it’s this: Customers don’t care about your product. They care about what it can do for them.  Show examples of what your product can do to make your customers life better and they’ll buy it.
For example, let’s say you’re selling a pack of grunge textures. Don’t just show pictures of the textures in the screenshots, show them an old weathered movie poster created with the textures. Make it clear how much time your textures will save them and how cool it will make their design look.

Doing It Right

Texture Armory. It would have been tempting to get the textures in this pack and just put a picture of each on the cover of this. Instead, Ian has integrated it into a final design that shows customers the kind of results they can expect with the product.

3. Use before and after images.

Ever notice advertisers use before and after images everywhere? From weight loss products to car wax. Why do so many companies use them? Because they work REALLY well!
Especially if the results are dramatic. This won’t work for every product but use it when you can.

Doing It Right

HDR PRO Action Set. These stunning examples show the dramatic results the actions have on photos. Imagine how hard it would be for customers to imagine how great these actions work without seeing a before image.

4. Keep It Simple.

People will only buy your product if they’re 100% sure of what they are getting. Never assume people know.
You’ve spent hours creating your product. You know what your product does inside and out. But viewers are seeing it for the first time. Try to communicate what your product is in as simple and concise a way as possible.
Tell them the name of the product and exactly what they are getting. Bonus points for including specific details.

Doing It Right

Megapack: 90+ Art PS Brushes. This cover is brilliantly done. Kyle has covered all his bases. In the cover screenshot he’s told us exactly what we’re getting:

  • Brushes (90+)
  • Kind of brushes (oils, inks, watercolor)
  • What program they work in (Photoshop)

He’s also reinforced the fact that it’s a brush set with a picture of a brush on the cover.
I know this sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how often people forget to clearly explain what they’re selling.

5. Your screenshots should stand on their own

If you are like most people surfing the web, you look at pictures and scan headlines most of the time. We’re overwhelmed by information so we’ve learned to scan.
When I look at products on Creative Market, I mostly look at the screenshots.
Play it safe and think of your screenshots like a mini presentation. Your 5 slides should be enough for viewers to clearly understand what you’re selling.

Doing It Right

Retro-Matic. This single image tells the whole story. You’re getting a clean offset effect and super fine print texture brushes.
Plus, I’ve included before and after images. If someone was to come across this image in a Google image search they would understand what it was without supporting text.

6. Use all your screenshots

It always surprises me when people work for hours on a product and then only post 1 or 2 screenshots.
You MUST use all your screen shots! : )
It’s your biggest opportunity to sell your product. Remember, most people will look at pictures and scan your text. Every image is an opportunity to show customers why they should buy your product.

7. Use short sentences.

Add short punchy sentences to your screenshots. Short and simple sentences are easy to read and give your viewer information that helps make a purchase decision. As a general rule, use no more than 12 words per slide.

Doing It Right

RetroSauce. Every screenshot for this product uses short snappy sentences. By adding brief nuggets of useful information to compelling images, it makes it easy and enjoyable to learn about the product.

8. Have a unique voice.

My dad was a huge fan of 60’s and 70’s rock. He always told me that a great guitarist can be identified from just a few notes. I like to apply the same rule when making screenshots.
Follow best practices for making clear screenshots, but don’t forget to be yourself. It makes you more memorable and differentiates your products.

Doing It Right

Kyle Wayne Benson. Kyle does this better than anyone I know. Not only does he make a great font, but you can recognize his screenshots anywhere.

9. Be a stickler for details.

The little details on your screenshots are important. Poorly cropped images and spelling errors are just a few examples of things that tell your customer you don’t care.
If you want your customers to trust you, get the little details right.

10. Have fun.

The great thing about being a Creative Market seller is that you have 100% control over your product. If you have a really unique idea for how to present your product do it! That’s what makes Creative Market different than other marketplaces.

Doing It Right

Industry. This has got to be one of the coolest screenshots ever! At first glance it could be argued that it isn’t clear what the product is. However, that doesn’t matter because Mattox’s screenshot is amazing. You can tell he’s passionate about the product. The beautiful design and craft that went into his work draws you in.

Final Words

Creating a great product is priority #1. No amount of great screenshots will sell a product that nobody wants.
But your screenshots are crucial to getting sales. They give you a chance to get your customers excited about the product you put so much work into.
How about you? What tips and tricks have you discovered for creating great screenshots? Let me know in the comments below.
About the author. Dustin Lee is a graphic designer and owner of RetroSupply. He creates time saving and easy to use design resources. Learn more here.

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About the Author

RetroSupply makes brushes, textures, fonts, and templates for retro-loving illustrators and designers. Our products are made by a full-time team of creatives for use in Procreate, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Affinity.

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  • Great article, @Dustin Lee ! This is very timely, as I've got a couple new items on the horizon. Thanks for sharing these extremely helpful tips. 8 years ago
  • Is there any hard numbers and stats proving that better preview images leads to more sales? I say this because I want to update some of my preview images using these tactics on products that have low number of sales but then I realized I'm using the same preview images for other products that have A LOT of sales. So don't want to make adjustments without there being sufficient analytical evidence proving that better preview images / screenshots sell. Secondly, I'm a bit skeptical about this section of the article: "I've included before and after images. If someone was to come across this image in a Google image search they would understand what it was without supporting text." I looked at the image in question and it's going to be tough for a consumer to find your product on Google Images because the file extension is named "example-7-o.jpg" Your preview images should include keywords and search terms that relate to your product. If you need help with generating keywords / search terms, you can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner and you can also use Google Trends. Personally, I'd like to see an A/B split test for product titles in listings. Right now all titles are being truncated around 24 characters and I'd love to know how not truncating the titles will effect the user experience. I'd suspect it may increase conversion rates because consumers will have a better understanding of what they are clicking on prior to viewing products. Anyhoot, great article @Dustin Lee - a lot of really useful information here! Going to try these tactics out on some of my old products, fingers crossed that it increased conversion rates! 8 years ago
  • Thanks @Beth Rufener I'm glad you found the post useful! 8 years ago
  • Top tips @Dustin Lee and thanks for the feature. I spend half my time making the product and half producing the screenshots. A very important part of my process! 8 years ago
  • @Derek Stevenson Unfortunately there's no current way to measure conversion rates for Creative Market covers. Although, it would be awesome if these were on the horizon. My knowledge on the subjects comes form 18 months as a marketer for a popular blog ( I conducted hundreds of A/B tests, attended a few conferences with workshops on increasing conversion, and read a ton of books and blog posts. If the same tactics are being used on all products some products will perform better based on the quality and demand for the product. But the testing I've done leads me to believe that the better you can communicate the value of a product to customers the more likely it is your products will sell. Lastly, as far as the Google images go I was referring to the image itself (not the file name of the image, which I agree could use some improvement). If someone was to come across this image without supporting body copy they would still have a good idea of what the product did. Thanks for your thoughtful comments on this post, Derek. It's awesome to have conversations like this : ) By the way, although much of this is supported by testing I've done for other products this is definitely one shop owners personal experience. 8 years ago
  • Thanks @Ian Barnard ! Your screenshots are incredible. It's obvious you put a lot of thought and care into them : ) 8 years ago
  • @Dustin Lee Thanks man! Very useful information here. I love having these conversations because I've been doing Search Marketing for over 12 years and I'm a numbers junkies. I'm Google Analytics Certified, was one of the first Yahoo Search Marketing Ambassadors and I'm also a Google Adwords Qualified Individual. I would love to be able to see where my referring traffic is coming and also being able to see how long it takes customers to purchase my products after the initial view. Any type of funnel data would be crucial for shop owners being able to really find out what products are selling and which products have more demand. Eventually, it would be great to get demographic data for our customers as well. Being able to visually see what our customers look like can help us create even better preview images that speak to our customers and prospects. Demographic data such as age, race, sex, interests and affinity would be awesome! Lastly, it would be great if we could have the ability to A/B split test our own featured preview image with Google Experiments. Having the ability to dynamically have preview images change based off of each visitor could give us additional insights to really find out if preview images are a deciding factor for a customers purchase habits. Also, having event tracking setup for preview images would be crucial as well. This way we will know if customers are even clicking on all of the preview images or if they are only looking at the first 2, etc... The more data we can have, the better we can optimize our own shops and increase sales! Thanks! :) 8 years ago
  • Nice @Derek Stevenson. I'm glad I'm not the only geek for analytics stuff! It would be great to chat about this stuff in the future with you. It sounds like you have a ton of knowledge! 8 years ago
  • @Dustin Lee absolutely, I love connecting with my fellow artists. I'm on Skype all day so I'll message you my info if you are down to chat. I may not be 100% available at all times during the day as I do have a full-time job. I gained the majority of my knowledge working in the automotive industry. Was one the team lead of a digital marketing agency that sold to AutoTrader for over $25 million dollars last year and have been associated with 2 other successful start-ups, one of them being in the motorcycle / biker industry and the other being my own in the digital assets industry. Working together a community and educating our peers is a wonderful thing. I've found in my year of experience that artists are not the most savvy business and marketing people. So any information that we can give them that is useful is beautiful! 8 years ago
  • Great post Dustin! You are the gold standard on CM to me. I want to open a shop but you have already done what I would want to make! :) Great work my friend! 8 years ago
  • @Lenny Terenzi - You can still go out there and make some cool stuff! It's a great way to learn while doing. @Dustin Lee - Thanks for the tips! It's definitely something to think about, especially since I tend to show so many images of textures, and perhaps not enough of them actually in use. I may have to go back and re-think some of what I have been doing. 8 years ago
  • Fantastic post, @Dustin Lee. Lots of great tips. It's funny because I mentioned you in an article I wrote recently that briefly touched on the same subject. No need to explain why after this post. 8 years ago
  • @Lenny Terenzi I've seen your work, it's incredible. I'm sure you would do great on Creative Market : ) @Matt Borchert Like I said to Derek, this is my personal experience and knowledge. When I was researching for this article there were a lot of great shop owners who don't do a lot of these things and they're doing great. If I had to break it down to a single message it would be this: Communicate clearly to customers what the product is and excite people with the possibilities. Thanks for all the great comments everyone! 8 years ago
  • Cool! Thanks @Sam Jones , I'd love to see the article : ) 8 years ago
  • @Dustin Lee Certainly! There are always a ton of different options to make any given goal happen, but I can see the value in showing the product in action over just showing what the product is. The end result is typically what a designer cares about. Oddly enough I just finished up a free product that will be getting released shortly that is full of awesome before / after shots, so I'll definitely be playing around more with demonstration over simply displaying. 8 years ago
  • @Dustin Lee WOOOOOOW man!! This really helped me a lot! I am gonna star using this technique! thank you so much man! 8 years ago
  • @Dustin Lee Really helpful article, i repeat these lines : Use all your screenshots, Show results, not products. 8 years ago
  • Excellent tips @Dustin Lee! 8 years ago
  • Super useful !!! Thank you 8 years ago
  • A cover or screenshot is as important as the product itself. @Dustin Lee thanks for mentioning my product. I liked this post. 8 years ago
  • Really amazing post @Dustin Lee. Going to work on improving images for specific products in the future. I went for consistency with my preview images by providing clear branding and similar layouts/colors. Do you think this is also a good approach, or does it appear too boring/make all my items look the same? For future items I have some fun ideas, these are just my initial products that I have put out and was sort of trying to keep preview images consistent. Thanks again for writing this buddy! 8 years ago
  • @FilterGrade I think you're work is amazing. I wouldn't change a thing. You do a great job of communicating what your products do. I love the consistency of the covers. It really gives your brand a solid consistency. That being said, you should do whatever makes you happy and delivers value to your customers. I'm happy to chat with you more via email any time you want. : ) Thanks for your thoughtful comments! 8 years ago
  • @Dustin Lee Excellent article... Thanks so much for sharing this! :) 8 years ago
  • Thanks [@Feather & Sage Design Co](user:131816) and everyone for taking the time to read my article. : ) 8 years ago
  • Loved reading this post! Thanks for sharing - great + useful info for everyone here! 8 years ago
  • Really useful article. I am struggling with this problem right now. I think that screenshots of my vintage illustrations are informative but need improvement. (Maybe less things on one page for bigger sets?). But texture sets need total "rebranding". 8 years ago
  • Interesting 8 years ago
  • Thanks for this, I seem to neglect the marketing piece, this will help me pull up my socks ! 8 years ago
  • Its not "The Formula" because probably there isnt one :) But definitely very goo tips. Thanks @Dustin Lee 8 years ago
  • Some really good tips in this article. 8 years ago
  • Interesting! 8 years ago
  • Love all of your ideas and tips! Thanks 8 years ago
  • Anonymous
    Love those words !! Thanks for sharing .. :) 8 years ago
  • @Dustin Lee Great article! Thanks for some good tips and an interesting ideas. 8 years ago
  • Thanks @Dustin Lee! I'm just getting started here and this is helpful! Also, thanks @Derek Stevenson for the reminder about keywords on the image names! You guys are awesome! :) 7 years ago
  • Thanks that was great, I need to rework my screenshots and I usually only use one or two but not all. I did fixed this one a bit, what do you guys think? 7 years ago
  • Super article Dustin, thank you for taking the time to share this. 6 years ago
  • Great, it's really helpful for newcomer in Creative Market. Thank you so much. 6 years ago
  • Thanks:) 6 years ago
  • Like this article very much!)) Thanks a lot. 6 years ago
  • this is useful article, like it. 6 years ago
  • Anonymous
    Thank You for this article! hmm that how it work so I should try it :) 6 years ago
  • Thanks for a great tips! 6 years ago
  • Thanks for the suggestions! I'm new around here and can use all the help I can get. Happy designing. -Nicole 5 years ago
  • Interesting and useful articles thanks brother !! 5 years ago
  • Anonymous
    @Dustin Lee Thank you 5 years ago
  • Thank you Dustin. Great tips! Thank you for sharing. 5 years ago
  • Very informative Great! Thanks :) 5 years ago
  • Hello thank you very much! I will follow your advice !!! 5 years ago
  • Awesome tips @Dustin Lee !! What would you suggest to designers that design graphics used for textiles, stationary, repeat patterns, etc? should they look like scrapbook covers you'd get at the craft store? I already got some great ideas from the article...Just want to make sure I'm doing it right. Thanks again!! 5 years ago
  • @Tina Schofield I think what Aaron Epstein (Creative Market CEO) has said in interviews is excellent advice: Create aspirational images Aspirational images seem especially relevant for the textile/pattern category. The people buying have a particular purpose. By showing them the ways they aspire to use the product in their business or hobby you help bridge the gap between the pattern and the end use. I heard this great idea from author Donald Miller. He said (I'm paraphrasing here): Everyone is the hero of their own story. The more your previews help them to imagine themselves using your patterns to create amazing work that everyone loves and admires them for the easier it will be to sell the product. As far as inspiration, I would look for: – What's selling in your chosen category regarding how they layout preview images – Consumer items that draw you in – look at how they package them and market them and see if you can find new ideas. – Pattern, textile, and stationery packs you've personally purchased. How were they presented that convinced you to buy? Hope this helps! Dustin 5 years ago
  • Really good tips. Thank you. 5 years ago
  • Excellent tips and ideas! great examples too! 4 years ago
  • Awesome post....Great tips for freashers.... 4 years ago
  • I really enjoyed this article! Thank you! And it makes me think about one discouraging thing on Creative Market - when a photo is submitted for sale, the screenshot is created automatically and it is always cropped to a landscape format, even for vertical images. And many photos look really bad when cropped. You write that "poorly cropped images and spelling errors are just a few examples of things that tell your customer you don't care." I do care! And it is frustrating that I don't have control over it. 4 years ago
  • Really helpful article, I will try your advices next time! 4 years ago
  • You know Some of your point can change some people's life. Yes, I follow and get results. 3 years ago
  • Very interesting article! And it prompted a lot of interesting comments and opinions) I will analyze everything that I learned. Thank you! 3 years ago