Using Photoshop for your small business can help you make your product photos and website look great. But do you about know all the different ways you can use Photoshop in your business? In this article, we'll explore the variety of ways to best make use of Adobe's flagship image editor. Grab a coffee and let's jump in!
Photoshop is, of course, widely used among designers, photographers, and freelancers. But marketers, creative-types, and small business owners like you and I can also make great use of Photoshop to handle all sorts of image-related tasks.
For instance, you might use Photoshop to design a banner for your website, resize product photography, or even use it to edit a promotional video.
And if you think it might be a good fit, take a look at my full length online course, Getting Started With Photoshop. And in the meantime...
Let's jump right into things and see how you can use Photoshop for your small business...
At it's core, Photoshop is a photo editor -- you probably knew that already! More specifically though, Photoshop's what's known as a raster image editor. Raster graphics are images that are comprised of pixels, which are just tiny blocks of colour.
You've probably seen pixellated images in your travels, maybe in a piece of print material or maybe online. A great example of a raster image is a photo you take with your smartphone or DSLR. Digital camera quality is always measured in megapixels, because they're capturing...you guessed it...pixels.
So Photoshop, even though it's been around a lot longer than DSLRs and smartphones, was originally intended to edit these sorts of pixel-based graphics.
As a quick aside, the other flavour of graphics, vector, are perfect for things like logos, clip-art, and text. Vector graphics are made up of mathematical lines, arcs, and shapes. But don't worry, vector graphics applications like Adobe Illustrator handle all the math in the background for you, so that you can focus on the fun, creative stuff.
If you'd like to know more about raster and vector graphics and how you can use them, I go into loads of detail in Understanding Raster vs Vector Graphics.
Back in the world of raster graphics, although Photoshop's initial purpose was to edit and manipulate photos, over the years many powerful features have been added to it. These days, Photoshop can handle a huge variety of tasks. In fact, it's used in a wide range of industries. In short, a lot of people are using Photoshop in a lot of different ways!
It's a very powerful and flexible tool.
But for us business owners, we're really only interested in how we can use Photoshop in our businesses. We'll go into detail about exactly how you can use Photoshop for your small business shortly. But first, let's talk about what Photoshop doesn't do so well...
Despite Photoshop's flexibility and many powerful features, it can't be all things to all people. And even though a huge array of tools have been added to it over the years, there are more specialized tools available for some of the tasks that Photoshop can handle.
In this way you can think of Photoshop as a graphical jack-of-all-trades or maybe as an image editing Swiss Army knife. It has a core set of very powerful commands, and a huge array of periphery commands that can be used to handle more specific tasks.
Let's talk about some of the periphery tasks that Photoshop can handle, but maybe not so well as more specialised tools.
First, let's talk about using Photoshop for web design -- or specifically, using Photoshop to lay out and build full websites. This is certainly possible in Photoshop, but it can be challenging. In fact, Photoshop's still widely used for exactly this by very experienced web designers. But challenges and problems arise when trying to use Photoshop to build responsive, mobile-friendly layouts.
You can think of these layouts as being fluid and liquid, adapting to the screen size they're being viewed on. And being pixel-based, Photoshop is a much more fixed design tool. Another challenge is that Photoshop can sometimes have a hard time exporting background code like HTML and CSS -- the building blocks of web design.
However, all this said, designers who've been using Photoshop for web design for years and years have figured out ways around some of Photoshop's limitations when it comes to building mobile-friendly layouts.
But for business owners like us, there are faster, easier ways to build business websites, like using WordPress and Elementor, for example. In this scenario, Photoshop would be used in more of a support role, to adjust product photos, create graphical layout elements, and so on (which we'll get into detail with later).
Something else we'll get into later is using Photoshop for your business's print materials. While Photoshop can certainly handle small projects like brochures, business cards, flyers, and posters, anything more involved starts getting beyond Photoshop's capabilities.
If you need to create multi-page product catalogs, industry directories or really anything beyond a single page layout, go with Adobe InDesign. It's a much better tool for these kinds of print tasks.
Last but not least, let's talk about video editing. Yeah, believe it or not, Photoshop has video editing tools! So while limited, it's completely possible to handle basic video editing directly inside Photoshop. You can even add transitions and effects to your videos too.
And while all this might sound great, remember that Photoshop isn't a video editor, but a photo editor. So you might find editing video in Photoshop a challenge. If video's a big part of your business (as it is for mine) then you'll need more powerful video editing capabilities. So instead look to a full, pro-level video editing program like Adobe Premiere.
Alright that about covers the areas where you may find Photoshop struggling. But don't forget, these are pretty specific tasks. And if you'll only be using Photoshop in these ways occasionally, than you'll likely be just fine.
Now, let's see how you can use Photoshop in your small business...
With some of Photoshop's limitations out of the way, what can you use this fella for in your small business? Well at this point you probably already have a really good idea, but let's run through a few different ideas. This'll give you a really good sense of the ways that you can put Photoshop to use in your business.
Here we go...
As we've already discussed, Photoshop began as a photo editing application. And photo editing can mean a lot of different things -- everything from touching up photos and removing imperfections to colour correction, resizing, and adjusting an image's exposure.
And with online business -- especially e-commerce businesses-- product photography is huge. One of my customers, who runs a very successful e-commerce website told me on a phone call, "Pictures sell," and I'm in full agreement. How often have you been on a retail website or even on Craigslist looking at an item you're interested in, but there's only one or two low-quality photos? Just a few photos, and low quality photos are a big reason why people don't buy.
So if you're selling a product, include lots of photos and show it from all angles. Or if yours is a service-based business, show your service in action, giving your customers the results they want.
But including photos isn't enough. You need great looking photos -- and this is where some basic image editing skills in Photoshop come in. With Photoshop's powerful editing tools at your disposal, you can easily enhance your photos and get them looking great.
And don't feel overwhelmed -- I'm not talking about anything too technical or over the top here. Just knowing how to resize your images, apply basic colour correction, and cropping can take you a long, long way.
Need a graphic for a free ebook you're giving away to prospects? No problem, Photoshop can handle that. How about thumbnail images for your product line. Photoshop's gotcha covered there, too. As I say, any kind of visual element that's a part of your website can be handled by Photoshop.
And while in years past Photoshop could be used to build a full website with (and it still could be), as mentioned earlier there are much faster, more efficient ways to build websites visually.
These days, Photoshop is most often used in a web design to optimize images for use on the web. Let's discuss that next...
In other words, those big images need to be optimized!
Image optimization simply means using the right web-friendly graphic file format for the kind of image you're working on (which is a whole other conversation), and crushing down your image's file size so that it loads quickly, while still maintaining it's quality.
As you can guess, it's a balancing act. Here, you're weighing how long an image takes to load (which is mostly affected by it's file size) and it's quality.
And while there are some great WordPress plugins that handle image optimization (WP Smush comes to mind), none can match Photoshop's powerful image optimization commands. Every image that I use on my website has passed through Photoshop optimization, because I want my website looking great, but also loading fast for visitors like you.
So no doubt you'll want to use Photoshop for the same purposes with your business website.
Doing this kind of work yourself in Photoshop saves you lots of time and money. You won't be paying a freelancer or be on their schedule. And it's fun and creative, too.
Sometimes however, Photoshop can feel a bit unwieldy and clunky when tackling these sorts of tasks. And earlier we addressed some of Photoshop's limitations in this area. But, if you're just doing straightforward stuff, Photoshop's definitely up for the task.
To make use of Photoshop for your print material, you'll just need to know a few things about the world of print -- things like trims, bleeds, image resolution, and a few other topics. And often, your printing company can help you with this stuff. It isn't hard.
To be clear, when I say social media graphics, I'm referring to things like your social avatar images, banner graphics, and so on. And of course, Photoshop can handle this kinda stuff with ease.
All you'll need to know are the proper image dimensions to use for the social media platform you're designing graphics for. For example, if you're designing your Twitter account's header photo (the wide banner graphic that appears across the top of your account profile), you'd need to create a 1500x500 pixel image in Photoshop. These numbers can easily be found with a quick Google search (or by simply taking a look right here).
And as discussed above, you can use Photoshop's (albeit limited) editing tools to handle your basic video needs. If you'd like to incorporate video into your business's marketing, then Photoshop just might be all you need!
So there's a look at some of the most common ways that you can use Photoshop for your small business. And as you can see, even though Photoshop's roots are in photo editing, you can use it to handle a wide range of tasks.
When it comes to visuals and graphics, Photoshop can handle pretty much anything you'd want to do. And even if you just have the basics under your belt, you'll be able to get your product photos looking their best, optimize your images, handle your business's print material, and more.
Now you might be wondering how hard it is to learn Photoshop. Let's cover that next...
So while all this might be sounding great, I'm sure the big question on your mind is, How hard is it to learn Photoshop? And truthfully, if you were to just dive right in and try to learn it yourself, it's very easy to get confused and overwhelmed.
Photoshop definitely isn't intuitive.
This is why I suggest you get your hands on a good learning guide or online course. Trawling the web or scouring through YouTube videos is the slowest, most frustrating way to learn Photoshop, for sure. Instead, nail down the fundamentals from a reliable source. Then, once you have the basics down, you can dig into the specific areas of Photoshop that you'd like to learn.
In fact, I go into much more detail about this in another post, Is Photoshop Hard To Use? Learn The Right Way And It’s Easy! I highly recommend you check it out.
But that said, how can you learn Photoshop fast?
So what's the best way to learn Photoshop, especially for a busy small business owner? As I'm sure you can imagine, there are many ways to go about learning it.
As mentioned just a moment ago, the slowest, most inefficient way to learn a big topic like Photoshop is to dig through YouTube, forums, and Google. Instead, like I mentioned, it's much more efficient to find a solid learning resource, like a book, workshop, or online course.
I'm constantly learning new things, but as a busy business owner like yourself, I've found the best way to learn things quickly is with online courses. I take a ton of 'em! The trick with online courses though is to find one that's taught by an industry expert with lots of experience, who knows what the heck they're talking about!
Here on Ten Ton I have an online video course, Getting Started With Photoshop CC. This course is all about giving you a solid foundation in the fundamentals. It's designed to getting you up and running quickly with Photoshop so that you can start using it in your business.
So if that sounds like it might be a good fit, give it a look!
Meanwhile, if you'd like to know a bit more about Photoshop, how much it costs, and more, take a look at that other post I mentioned, Is Photoshop Hard To Use? Learn The Right Way And It’s Easy!
I'll see ya there!