Selling Photos on Etsy for Photographers Guide

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As a photographer, it can sometimes be challenging to find venues to sell your work and share it with others. Whether you do photography as a hobby or your profession, finding new clients and fans requires some work. Luckily, there’s Etsy for photographers.

Is Etsy Good for Selling Photography?

Etsy is an excellent place to sell your photography. If you do not have a current store online, Etsy is an easy to use marketplace that guides you through listing your photography and helps you with the backend distribution. It’s a good option for people just starting with an online storefront. 

Additionally, Etsy can help you attract new customers. 

Etsy is a massive marketplace with millions of shoppers visiting the site each month. By using Etsy to sell photography, you’re tapping into that seller base. 

Etsy Photo Rules 

Like all shopping sites, there are rules for what kinds of photos you can and cannot sell on Etsy.

You can find a complete list of the Etsy seller rules here.

Etsy also has a list of prohibited or restricted items that include drug paraphernalia, items that promote, support, or glorify hatred or violence, and pornography. For a list of all the restricted and prohibited sales items on Etsy, click here.

Make sure that you carefully read Etsy’s rules before you start uploading your images. While Etsy’s website says the marketplace values freedom of expression, the site still needs to be a safe space for shoppers.

You also want to make sure you follow all copyright rules. Remember, your photos need to be original works. You cannot sell someone else’s work as your own.

What Type of Photos Sell on Etsy?

As the site Expert Photography points out, there are several different ways you can sell your photography on Etsy. Each type comes with pluses and minuses.

Etsy Photography Framed

Selling photography framed allows you to display your works of art in the best light. You can make sure that your photographs are printed professionally and framed professionally. 

You are selling someone something that you and they can be proud of.

However, framed photography comes with downsides. For one thing, shipping can be expensive. Framed photographs can be large and bulky, and they’re often fragile. These are all things you need to consider before you ship. 

Another issue is your client base. Shipping something as large as a framed photograph can be difficult and expensive if you’re trying to serve the entire world. Odds are, you’re going to want to limit your customer base to a few countries. 

When you have to limit the number of countries you serve, you also limit your clientele.

Etsy Digital Photography

If selling framed photography on Etsy isn’t something you want to try, consider selling digital photography.

The upside of Etsy digital photography is that it comes with instant delivery. Once a buyer pays, they receive the photo. You don’t have to do anything else.

The downside of Etsy digital photography is that you have less control over your work. You can create copyright rules surrounding your art, but there’s no guarantee those rules will be followed. The person who buys your work of art may distribute it to others, and there’s not much you can do about it.

What Type of Photography Sells the Most?

Because Etsy has so much traffic, a little bit of everything is in demand. 

Etsy Landscape Photography

The site Photography Life describes landscape photography as photography that captures the “spirit of the outdoors.”

People often love landscape photography because it can transport them to places in nature that they may not otherwise be able to visit. Landscape photography also helps people fondly remember places that they have seen.

Etsy Travel Photography

Travel photography is another type of photography that reminds people of places they have visited or want to visit. Etsy Travel photography often consists of famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Tower of London, Statue of Liberty, and more.

Etsy Nature Photography

Whether it’s an up-close, still shot of flowers, a picture of a butterfly in flight, or a hummingbird feeding, nature photography is popular on Etsy. 

Many people like adding nature photography to their walls because it helps bring a piece of the outdoors inside.

Etsy Wildlife Photography

Animals in action are another aspect of nature photography that sells well on Etsy. Think National Geographic.

If you have some great wildlife photography, consider selling it on Etsy.

Etsy Large Photography

Sometimes it’s challenging to find an image to fill a large space, so people turn to Etsy for the unique art. If you have high-density images, consider selling them on Etsy as large photography. 

One of the nice things is you can sell large photography as a digital download, which means it will be up to the buyer to print the image. That takes the hassle of delivering a large picture out of your hands.

Etsy Vintage Photography

Vintage photography in black and white or sepia tones offers a nostalgic feel that many people like. Even if it’s digitally created, meaning it’s not original from the early 1900s, vintage photography is very popular on Etsy.

Etsy Stock Photography

One photography category is a little different from the others but no less popular—Etsy stock photography. 

Stock photography consists of generic images that are used in a variety of ways. Many times, independent graphic designers and small businesses use stock photos. Sometimes, the photos are used on websites, in newsletters, or on flyers. 

Occasionally, stock photos can fall into the categories that we talked about above, but usually, they’re a category unto themselves. 

How Do Photographers Make Money on Etsy?

One of the reasons so many artists turn to Etsy is because they’re tapping into a large base of buyers without paying a lot of money upfront.

On Etsy, there are no subscription fees and no monthly costs. The only thing you pay upfront is a listing fee of 20 cents for a four-month listing. After that, you will pay a percentage of the sale price, but you only have to pay it once you make a sale. 

Most photographers make money on Etsy by selling in quantity. They list their photographs for a reasonable price, have a large inventory in their Etsy shops (think dozens or hundreds of photographs), and then use the fact that Etsy has millions of shoppers to sell a large quantity of photographs. 

Many of Etsy’s photography shops find that selling an unframed print is the best way to go. By selling an unframed print, you, the artist, have more control over your work while still being able to charge a reasonable (under $20) price for your artwork.

Etsy Top Photography Sellers

While that’s the photography side of things, the top photography sellers on Etsy understand that it’s just as much about the art as it is about understanding the marketing side of Etsy.

You can have two shops selling the exact same products on the platform, but Shop A may be vastly more successful than Shop B. The only reason Shop A is more successful is that the operator understands keywords and SEO and is most likely better at product pricing. 

As is often the case in business, the shop operator is just as important as the shop itself.

Is Selling Prints on Etsy Profitable?

Selling prints on Etsy can be profitable. However, whether the profit is worth your time is really up to you. 

Most shops only make a few thousand dollars a year. 

Though, there are a few that make much, much more than that. Most of those shop owners have spent several years cultivating their shops and learned what sells and what doesn’t sell. They often offer unique images and have a varied selection of photographs for shoppers to choose from.

These shop owners organize their shops to make it easy for buyers to find what they’re looking for immediately. 

Most of all, they know how to price their images so that each sale is valuable to both them and the customer. 

Etsy Photography Pricing

The site FStoppers probably describes pricing photography on Etsy the best. The site says pricing will be hard, and you won’t like the results. Ultimately, you’re going to think your work is worth more than the price tag you put on it. 

FStoppers goes on to say, that’s okay. To get you through it, the site suggests you distance yourself as much as possible from your work and, if possible, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes when trying to determine the worth of a piece.

Etsy Photography Pricing Guide

So, aside from putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes, what are some other things to consider when pricing your photography on Etsy?

Your Time Investment

The first thing to think about is your time investment.

Consider how much time you spent taking these photos. If photography is your career, the time spent may be more valuable than if it’s a hobby you love. 

It’s often much easier to turn a beloved hobby into a side business than trying and price your livelihood, especially if you’re trying to sell to shoppers on Etsy.

The second aspect to think about is the amount of time it takes to run an Etsy shop. Etsy is a great place to sell your photographs, but you can’t just list them and watch the money roll in. The best Etsy shops are monitored frequently. 

Shop owners will adjust low-performing listings to get more views, and they’re constantly keeping an eye on SEO and keywords. Shop inventory is organized into categories, so they are easy to search, and new inventory is added frequently.

An Etsy shop is an investment of time, and if you want your shop to be successful and make a profit, you need to put time into it. 

Digital or Shipped to Buyer

Another thing that determines the price of your photographs is what you’re delivering to the customer. Digital delivery will always cost less than an item that you ship to the buyer.

In the case of digital delivery, you’re simply providing the customer with the digital file. The customer is the one that has to print the file and frame it. The work and a majority of the cost are on them.

However, with a shipped image, you need to print the image and then properly package it to protect it. What’s more, if the buyer pays for a framed photograph, you need to get the photograph framed before you ship it. 

There’s a cost associated with creating and shipping physical photographs, and you need to factor it into your pricing.

Best Etsy Photography Shops

To help you get a better idea of how to price your photography on Etsy, check out some shops with the best sales results.

For example, the Canadian shop Eye Poetry Photography has more than 26,000 sales and more than 83,000 fans on Etsy. The shop sells 5×7 prints for $15, and the prices increase depending on the size of the photo. It also sells framed artwork for people who don’t want to do the framing work themselves.

Meanwhile, Photo Print Anthology out of Portland, Oregon, features vintage images that give you a glimpse into the past. Prices range from $12 to $13 with free shipping.

And the shop PrintAtlas has over 10,000 sales with more than 700 items in the shop to choose from. Most of the prints for sale cost $14.75.

How to Start Selling Photography on Etsy

With all of this in mind, how do you start selling photography on Etsy?

Luckily, it’s easy.

Start by creating an Etsy account if you don’t already have one. It’s a quick process. You’ll need an email address not already linked to an Etsy account and a password. If you need help, check out this post I wrote on How to Set Up An Etsy Shop The Easy Way.

Not only does the post talk about how to set up an Etsy account, but then it goes into how to create an Etsy shop.

Creating an Etsy shop is the same process, whether you’re selling photography, jewelry, craft supplies, or something else.

The one thing you’ll need before you open your shop is a list of potential shop names. Etsy does not allow you to use a shop name used before, even if the previous shop is closed. Going into the process with a list of shop names ahead of time will prevent you from potential disappointment if your first shop name was previously used.

For tips on creating a name for your Etsy Shop, check out this post on the best etsy shop name ideas.

Once your shop is up and running, you can start listing your photographs.

One of the biggest keys to selling on Etsy is using beautiful photographs of what you’re selling. Lucky for you, you’re a photographer, so this should be a piece of cake.

Conclusion

Selling photography on Etsy will probably not be your sole source of income if you’re a professional photographer. There are simply too many other photography shops on the site.

However, if you’re selling photography on Etsy to make extra money, or you’re a photography hobbyist looking to turn your passion into something profitable, Etsy is a great choice.

The site makes it easy to start a shop, and you don’t have to pay anything upfront to get started.

What’s more, as a photographer, you already have one of the critical skillsets required to start an Etsy shop—you can take amazing product photographs.

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Erika Towne

Erika Towne

Erika is a professional writer and journalist who covers Etsy on both Gold City Ventures and Millennial Boss blogs. She has happily found a way to divide her time between her love of writing and her family.
Erika Towne

Erika Towne

Erika is a professional writer and journalist who covers Etsy on both Gold City Ventures and Millennial Boss blogs. She has happily found a way to divide her time between her love of writing and her family.

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