Photo Contest Insider Blog

How Photographers can run a Successful Etsy Store

February 26, 2017

If you’re not familiar with it already, Etsy is a wonderful platform which allows creatives to open their own online shop and sell their goods to an audience worldwide – whether it be clothing, art, ceramics, homewares, or photography (just to name a few!)

As you may have guessed, today we’ll be focusing on how photographers can run a successful Etsy store and will be sharing with you the tips, tricks, and tools you’ll need in order to do so.

Firstly, let’s look at the pros and cons of selling your photography through Etsy in order to help you determine if this is the right platform for you.

The Pros

Driving traffic to your own e-commerce site can be difficult, but Etsy acts as a search engine for people typing in specific things that they want to buy (i.e. ‘photo print’ or ‘framed photograph’). This puts your products in front of a much wider audience.

You also need little to no previous experience in web and graphic design to open your own aesthetically pleasing shop on Etsy. You simply upload a banner, give your shop a title, and add some other basic sections in order to present a clean, crisp, and eye-catching store.

Etsy has also formed its own large community of like-minded creatives and sellers. You can easily take part in forums to gain extra advice about anything you need help with, plus there are literally thousands of groups (including those with a focus on photography) that you can become a member of. This is a great way to network with fellow photographers in your country or city.

How Photographers can run a Successful Etsy Store

The Cons

Over the years, Etsy has grown exponentially in popularity. While this sounds like a good thing (and it really is on some levels, as more and more people tune into this marketplace to purchase items), it also means that it has become an over-crowded platform and competition is inevitable. As a seller, you now have to really lift your game and make your products unique in order to set yourself apart from the thousands of other photography listings out there.

Like other online selling platforms (including Amazon, eBay etc.), Etsy does charge a small fee for every listing you upload (it’s around 20c). While this isn’t a crippling amount, keep in mind that when using other services such as PayPal to accept payments, they also take a small fee. With higher costing products, this can add up.

While Etsy makes it super simple to customize your shop, it’s important to note that what you can customize is limited. This, in turn, means that you have little room to really embrace your branding. Other than a custom shop banner, product photography, and product descriptions, every Etsy store is a cookie cutter version of one another.

Last but not least, keep in mind that when you host your products through an online store with Etsy, they still have total control. This usually is no problem at all, but if for any reason you are unable to pay your monthly bill, for example, the platform can close your shop completely. If your Etsy sales are helping you to earn a living and pay your rent, that can be quite scary!

What can photographers sell on Etsy?

Surprisingly, photographers can sell lots of things on this platform! Here’s a brief list to get you started:

  • Framed photo prints
  • Photo canvases
  • Stock photography
  • Photoshop actions
  • Lightroom presets
  • Overlays / textures
  • Calendars
  • Post cards
  • Greeting cards
  • Digital / printable photo prints
  • Old camera gear

Now that we’ve covered what specific photography-related products you might want to sell through Etsy, let’s discuss the simple but effective ways that you can boost sales of your photography-related products through the platform.

How Photographers can run a Successful Etsy Store

Regularly add more listings

This would be one of the most important pieces of advice in terms of not only boosting your sales, but massively increasing your exposure on Etsy too – both of which go hand-in-hand! Many Etsy sellers have experienced a pretty big rise in sales when they add new listings or even renew old ones. This is because you appear in your follower’s feeds more often (reminding them that you’re still selling amazing things they want!), plus you’ll appear more often in relevant Etsy searches.

Consistency is key, so if you’re going to make an effort to upload 2-3 new listings each week, try to stick to it for impressive results.

The fuller, the better

The more listings you have in your shop, the higher the chances are of potential customers finding something they love. Someone might click on an item from your shop in their search results only to discover that they want to purchase an additional 2 or 3 items from you once they see the wide variety on offer. This also links in with the first point, as the more listings you have, the higher your chances are of appearing in related searches from the Etsy homepage.

It’s important to remember, however, that quality still rules over quantity. While having a shop filled with stock (i.e over one page) is the goal, it has to be high-quality and desirable stock, not just something you quickly rustled up to add bulk to your Etsy page.

How Photographers can run a Successful Etsy Store

Beautiful, crisp images sell

This probably goes without saying (as we’re all visual creatures!), but a high-quality and in-focus image will be clicked on thousands of times more than a dark, out-of-focus and low-quality photo…no matter how amazing the actual item is! People are way more inclined to add a beautiful listing to their favorites (or even a treasury) and this could massively increase your exposure, and therefore sales, on the site. As a photographer though, we’re sure you’ll have no problems with this field!

Listings can also be shared via social media, or even chosen by the Etsy team to be showcased on the homepage, so you really do want your listing previews to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

Utilise SEO with keywords and descriptions

It’s best to give your item a title that’s as descriptive as possible, including as many appropriate keywords as you can. Here is an example of a keyword-packed title: Framed Pink Flowers Photo 8×10 Spring Floral Photograph. You get the idea!

In the space you have for a detailed description, you’ll also want to shed as much light on your product as possible – think about elements such as colour, shape, style, texture, theme, season, era etc. You’ll also want to include all relevant measurements, such as width and length. Be as specific as possible so your potential customer knows exactly what he or she will get from buying your item. It builds trust too!

Etsy also allows you to use up to 13 tags to describe your item and these particularly help your item to show up in relevant searches. It is recommended that you use all 13 of these tags in order to boost your item’s exposure and sales potential.

Shop design

While Etsy doesn’t allow full-scale customization of your shop’s page, it does let you upload a banner, shop image, and profile picture of your choice. Although limited, this allows users to focus on what’s truly important – selling their wonderful products! It’s still important to have a stunning and cohesive shop appearance, as this makes your shop and products look more desirable and professional, making people want to visit it time and time again.

It’s vital to also think about your branding, as well as what kind of customers you want your products to appeal to. For example, if your photography prints are quite feminine in nature, you might use a lot of the color pink or floral motifs in your branding.

How Photographers can run a Successful Etsy Store

Your ‘About’ page

The ‘About’ page of your Etsy store is also an important aspect of potentially boosting your sales, as it’s a space that allows you to create a more personal connection with the viewer. When buyers see images showcasing a seller’s studio space, a lovely image of them smiling at the camera, or even a candid shot of them hard at work creating their items, they instantly feel more connected to them and their craft. Your ‘About’ page is there to add the human element to your work, emphasizing the creative entrepreneurship and love of supporting independent makers which Etsy is all about.

Sharing additional information about your photographic process or an image’s story will also make people place more value on your work.

Exposure goes a long way too

While it’s great if you can share your Etsy shop and items with your own social media following, you’re doing yourself an even greater favor if you can get others to share your work with their following. After all, your fans and followers already know how awesome you are, so it’s time to spread the word with other audiences!

There are a number of accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, as well as blogs, which aim to shine a spotlight on Etsy sellers and their work. Make an effort of reaching out to various blogs or social media accounts on a weekly basis to introduce them to your work. You could even see if they might be interested in interviewing you, showcasing your shop, or even allowing you to guest post on their site to share your own creative tips. What’s the worst that can happen? (Answer: they just don’t reply back to you – even a “thanks, but no thanks” isn’t too scary!).

How Photographers can run a Successful Etsy Store

Photographers making a living on Etsy

Lastly, let’s look at some of the most successful Etsy stores operated by photographers who are now earning a full-time living from the platform. These are purely to serve as inspiration and motivation for those wishing to embark on a similar journey, as they show you what is truly possible when you work hard and work smart.

The Paris Print Shop

Shop owner Nichole is a writer, photographer, and author of The Paris Journal, Paris in Love and Paris in Color. She opened her store in 2008 and has since sold over 19,500 of her photography-related products (she is currently the most successful photographer on the platform).

Eye Poetry Photography

Coming in at number two (according to Craft Count) is Etsy store Eye Poetry Photography. Since 2007, Irene Suchocki has sold over 18,307 of her fine art photography prints. Talk about impressive!

Saint & Sailor Studios

Coming in at the third most successful place is photographer Shawn St.Peter from the Etsy store Saint & Sailor Studios. More masculine in nature, Shawn’s awesome images have been purchased over 12,500 times, helping him to turn his passion for selling through the platform into a full-time business.

Are you thinking of opening an Etsy shop or do you have one already? We hope these helpful tips and tricks have taught you how photographers can run a successful Etsy store. Best of luck!

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