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.
With over 81 million active buyers, Etsy’s online marketplace provides a platform for photographers to sell their unique and stunning images to consumers all around the world. But where do you begin?
In this selling photos on Etsy for photographers guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know from photo rules to the best prints to sell. Get ready to grab your camera and get ready to start making money doing what you love selling photos on Etsy!
Is Etsy Good for Selling Photography?
Etsy is a great 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 out with selling photos online.
Additionally, Etsy can help you attract potential customers.
Etsy is a massive marketplace with millions of shoppers visiting the site each month. By using Etsy to sell photography, you will be 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.
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.
Etsy has a complete list of seller rules and restricted & prohibited items on their site, so be sure to take a look.
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 photos of 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 in an Etsy shop. Each type has its pros and cons.
Etsy Framed Photography
Selling framed photography allows the end user to display your works of art in the best light. Make sure that your photographs are printed and framed professionally.
Framed photography does come with downsides. For one, 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.
Some photographers choose to sell their photos using print-on-demand sites like Printify. Learn more about Print on Demand by reading our blog post.
Etsy Digital Photography
If selling framed photography on Etsy isn’t something you want to try, consider selling digital photography, or digital photos.
The upside of selling digital photos is instant delivery. Once a buyer’s payment is processed, they will receive their digital photo and you don’t have to do anything else.
The downside if you choose to sell digital photos on Etsy is that there is less control over your work. While creating copyright rules surrounding your digital photo prints can be helpful, there’s no guarantee those rules will be followed. The person who buys the photos may distribute them to others, which is beyond the seller’s control.
However, you can create and offer a license for the commercial use of your photos. You will want to be very clear about the terms and restrictions.
What Type of Photography Sells the Most?
Because Etsy has so much traffic, a little bit of everything is in demand.
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.
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, the Tower of London, the Statue of Liberty, and more.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 photographers turn to Etsy is that 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 number 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 learning 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 the 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 prints of photographs, and you need to factor it into your pricing.
Many handmade sellers are switching over to digital products because of the profit margins and ease of selling the products. Learn more about selling digital and printable products on Etsy.
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.
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.
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 skill sets required to start an Etsy shop—you can take amazing product photographs.
Gold City Ventures E-Printables Course
If you’re ready to take your skills to the next level and start selling printables on Etsy, consider checking out the Gold City Ventures E-Printables Course. This comprehensive course will guide you through the entire process of creating, marketing, and selling printables on Etsy, with step-by-step instructions and insider tips from experienced Etsy sellers. You’ll learn how to create unique designs, price your products effectively, optimize your listings for maximum visibility, and drive traffic to your Etsy store. With this course, you’ll have all the tools and knowledge you need to succeed as an Etsy printables seller. So why wait? Sign up for the Gold City Ventures E-Printables Course today and start your journey to Etsy success!