Would you pay $39 to deliver an unforgettable first impression?
Soona might be able to help.
Their content creation platform promises fast, casual content by offering professional quality photos and videos for your products starting at just $39. With Soona, you build the shoot that is right for you and your budget.
The best part? No minimums. You only pay for the content you truly love.
Just like us DarkRoast Design, Soona is geared towards growing e-commerce and CPG companies that rely on professional quality content on a regular basis.
Soona shares a lot of similar core values when it comes to helping growing brands scale their marketing efforts. They do this by combining two key factors – quality photos and videos and quick turnaround times (they say your photos will be delivered in 24 hours).
In Soona’s case, brands ship them their products and then attend a virtual photo shoot where they can view the photos/video being captured in real time and offer immediate feedback via live chat. Once the shoot is completed, you only pay for the photos (or video) that you actually want.
We decided to put Soona through the ringer to see if they live up to the hype.
We began first by choosing our product. At DarkRoast Design, we work with a ton of great CPG companies and ultimately chose Lumineux’s Oral Essentials Teeth Whitening Kit. Our goal for this project was to get some general e-commerce images for their website/amazon store and some lifestyle images in a bathroom setting where the products would typically be used.
How It Works
The booking process for Soona is incredibly simple and easy to navigate. You start by selecting the content type you want (photos are $39/each and videos are $93/clip) and then the specific style of content you’re looking for (E-Commerce, Lifestyle, Animated GIF, Testimonial Video, Unboxing, etc)
Once you’ve established the content type, you’re able to choose from a variety of different scenes/layouts they have readily available to use at their remote studios. It’s important to note that for many e-commerce sites and third party retailers, images need to meet certain requirements. With Amazon, for example, your product needs to be a real image (no illustrations, mockups or placeholders). Soona is well-versed in this and will make recommendations based on what you need your content for.
For our test, we chose a coloured background that would help accentuate the product itself. We also wanted a lifestyle-type image, and happened to be in luck as they have a bathroom setting that would be perfect to showcase the teeth whitening kit in its natural habitat.
Soona offers a ton of different professional services to help distinguish and customize your content:
Models – Full body, just the hands (or even pets!) Soona has you covered
Styling – Recommended if you have 5 or more items in your shot and need it organized ahead of time
Props – Need some accessories to help make your product pop? Soona has props readily available or can go shopping for the specific accessories you’re looking for
Being that we were only looking for general and lifestyle photos, we skipped the Pro Services and confirmed our booking.
The Final Setup Steps
Once you’ve went through the booking process, you’re given the chance to explain in further detail the goals and objectives of your shoot. They even give you the option of creating a mood board on Pinterest to better communicate your vision or you can get inspiration from their portfolio of previous shoots
If you’re completely lost and need more help, they have a Style Quiz that you can take that allows you to select images you like, the type of product/industry you’re in and how involved you want to be come shoot time.
Once booked, there are still a couple of things that need to be taken care of. How are you actually getting them the product? When is your shoot date? Are you sure they understand my creative vision and project goals?
The first confirmation step is to build out your shot list. This helps the Soona crew get ready for your upcoming shoot and allows you to better articulate the look/feel you’re looking for. A completed shot list paired with Pinterest mood board and style quiz is the best recipe for a successful shoot.
During the shot list step, you’re able choose your desired environment, mood/lighting and prop list. You’re also given the ability to upload images and send them directly to Soona for reference or inspiration.
Next, you need to get Soona your product. This process was easier than anticipated, as we just chose the studio closest to us and were given an address to ship to. Once submitted, you’re able to insert your tracking number and information about the product to let them know it’s coming. After they’ve received your product, a shoot date is automatically scheduled for you and you’re done!
At this point, we were skeptical.
The entire process for booking a professional production studio seemed way too simple.
While we might be more comfortable with communicating exclusively through online chat (our service works the same way), we still wondered if we would be able to properly communicate with a photographer in real time and still achieve the look we were going for through just a chat window.
The skepticism was alleviated when the shoot went live and we were immediately greeted by our “production sidekick” Kim, who jumped on a quick call with me to walk me through the process and what to expect for my shoot. This was a nice surprise and helped answer a lot of the common questions one might have when using a unique service like Soona.
Real Time means Real Time
After speaking with Kim, the content started coming and FAST.
Based on our previously submitted goals and shot list, they were well-prepared and had our product set up and ready to go. The images appear in your booking window in real-time as they’re shot in studio.
Photo previews start showing up in your shoot window almost immediately after your shoot begins
This is something that takes getting used to but is simply fascinating. How many times have you had someone take pictures of your products only to have to wait days, weeks, or even months before seeing the final version? Seeing images in real-time is fantastic and should be the new normal.
Henry Ford famously said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”
Just because we’re accustomed to the status quo, doesn’t mean it can’t be drastically improved. We never knew how much we wanted real-time images during a photoshoot until we got them.
Making Changes & Giving Feedback
Throughout the shoot, Kim was very active in the chat. Admittedly some of her messages appeared to be pre-canned and include various “up-sell” and “premium” features that would ultimately increase my spend, but it was nice learning about the services available and how they worked.
Kim also provided her own personal recommendations as the shots were coming in under the “Staff Picks” page, along with suggestions for ways the images could be used for social media and other branding opportunities.
One thing we noticed right away was that some of our shots were showing a reflection of the fluorescent lights being used to light the scene overhead.
When asking about it in the chat window, Kim and the photographer Jeremy were able to switch up the lighting and fix the issues immediately.
While we originally chose group and lifestyle images for our shoot goals, we decided to test Soona’s flexibility in real-time by asking for individual shots of our products on a different background colour than we originally selected.
Within minutes, Kim & Jeremy had our background colour swapped and individually laid out our products for us to review and provide additional feedback.
Content. Content. Content!
During our 1 hour shoot, we received 70 photos on 3 different backgrounds (and a sample animated GIF just for fun).
It’s important to note that these images stay in your booking forever for you to shop whenever you want, so you don’t necessarily have to choose everything you love and pay for it right away.
Ultimately, we ended up choosing these 2 images from the shoot:
We placed the order for our images at 9:59am and received the final edits less than 4 hours later at 1:40pm. Although our order was simple, it was still impressive to get professional quality photos delivered in under 4 hours and is a good thing to keep in mind for brands that need professional quality content delivered consistent, fast and cheap.
The images themselves are $39/each and include basic colour correction and editing. To show you exactly what that means, here are some side by side comparisons of the raw, watermarked images that appear in your shoot gallery and the final results:
There are also a number of premium add-ons you can select at checkout for $9/each like removing/changing background colour, more sophisticated photoshop tweaks or even getting the raw image file directly from the camera.
Other Things To Note
While we chose photos for our shoot, Soona also offers a wide range of video services that could come in handy for a lot of CPG and E-Commerce brands.
They offer simple video clips like product spins and social promos, but can also create full in-depth product videos like testimonials, unboxing, how-tos and about us – all starting at $93/clip, although most video shoots will require premium add-ons like Models (starting at $199) Styling ($449) Hair & Makeup ($399) and VIP Producer ($3990)
Which brings us to our main gripe with Soona.
The concept is very simple, and offers a solution to a problem that a lot of companies and brands have. However, Soona’s pricing can be very misleading depending on the type of content you’re looking for.
We chose photos that required little to no instructions, and are incredibly happy with our results. However, if you’re looking to get professional video done, you may be better off looking for a local alternative that will allow you to be more hands-on and involved.
Videos start at $93, but that’s per clip. If your video requires 3 different angles and 2 different environments, you’re at $558 without even factoring in if you need a model or props.
Keeping these things in mind, it’s incredibly easy to go from thinking you’re getting a fully-finished video for $93 to having to have a tough conversation with your CMO on why the bill came in at it $1000+.
Soona is very transparent in their pricing and isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before with other “freemium” payment structures, we just feel that the ROI and costs associated with getting the end result you’re hoping for in a video is lacking.
There’s a reason why Soona’s revenue grew 400% last year.
Given the current climate, it’s certainly understandable that brands are searching for a safe and scalable alternative to creating studio-quality content. Soona offers a convenient, remote solution and the results speak for themselves.
The entire booking and set-up process was seamless and although strictly virtual and only a chat window as a contact method, communication was never an issue.
Being able to go back and view our entire shoot (and chat transcript) afterwards is an added bonus, and allows brands to have immediate access to a variety of studio-quality content at all times. However, as with most products and services, Soona isn’t for everyone.
If you have the ability to have an in-house marketing/content team, that’s always the way the go. Most companies don’t.
We believe that the perfect customer for Soona is a small-but growing E-Commerce/CPG brand that has an increased need for design and content production. They probably have a small-but dedicated marketing department (or maybe just a person) that can assist with the Soona set-up process and help put their services to good use, stretching the content out as far as their limited marketing budget allows.
While their add-ons can add up and video can get expensive, $39 for a completely customizable, professionally shot photo of your product is reasonable and worth the investment.
If you want to give Soona a shot, you can sign up for free and plan your first shoot here