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Winning on Etsy

A guide to the best practices about how to sell art on etsy. We will look at a few techniques that are perfect for creating a following and sales using the Etsy marketplace. 


Selling Your Art on Etsy

4 Steps to Better Product Photography and More Sales on Etsy

Why are some artists successful on Etsy while others struggle to get views and favorites of their work? What strategies are successful artists using to create interest, sales, and client relationships? Just casually browse Etsy and check out the difference. 

For example, Matteart, an illustrator on Etsy, has sold over 100,000 of his illustrations since 2007. I'm a fan of his work, but you have to wonder, how did he do it?

Now take a look at the artists promoting their illustrations just by searching "Modern illustration" in the search bar. See many who have sold more that 100,000 prints? Don't think so...

Etsy has been a huge help for many independent artists. As we all know, the simple interface, huge amount of traffic, and tools to help artists sell have all made selling our art online much simpler.

Yet to the point above, within the Etsy community there are huge differences. Some sell tons of their art, check out this list of successful Etsy artists, while some languish, only grabbing the occasional sale, if any at all.

This leaves us with a simple truth, though Etsy has generally been great for artists, it’s important that you understand how to make the most out of your Etsy store. With the right combination, you can make Etsy a hugely successful springboard for your business.

*Beyond any specific strategy, remember that selling on Etsy takes a lot of dedication and there are tons of great resources that talk about how to sell art in general. (Here is a post from the Etsy Blog all about selling fine art.)*

Below, we’re going to discuss one aspect of becoming a profitable, established artist on Etsy.

I will lay out 4 easy steps that make your listings look great, attract more customers, and produce more sales.

1. Quality Photography

The single most important thing you can do is take good pictures!! If nothing else -- no descriptions, no customer service, no outreach -- take awesome pictures and you will get at least a few sales.

(Check out They sell the most basic product -- a framed map -- but have consistent and professional photos. Lo and behold, they've sold nearly 1000 posters since 2014).

If you’re not already a photographer, this might seem like a bit too much. You’re priority is being the best you can in your artistic genre and now I'm saying you need to master another?

Not exactly, but here’s the truth: your ability to sell your art online will depend on how well you’re able to capture it with a photo. And acquiring those skills isn't that hard. Check out this Coursera program on photography. It's free and you will learn the basic of camera technology, lighting, and the rest of it. 

Yes, this sounds like a lot of work, but once you get to a certain level of proficiency, you won’t have to study photography anymore or worry about bad images hurting your sales. As a rule, photography isn't that hard to become proficient at. You won't be a master, but you will have passable quality photos. 

Artwork by Mallory Morrison photography by ProductViz


2. Multiple Photos

Check out TheBlackApple, one of Etsy's highest selling illustrators. In each listing, the artist provides not only a full size image, but also a detail, close up of the illustration.

Give customers two (or more) ways to view your artwork, providing them with more detail about how your piece actually looks. Customers often want to see the details of a piece in addition to the overall appearance. This technique shows off the quality of the paper your prints use or the brush strokes, if you are selling painted pieces.

Etsy itself recommends that all sellers provide multiple images of work. This inspired buyer confidence and shows that you are taking care to show all the different ways your work will look, as your customers will not just look at your work head-on when it's hanging in their homes. 

Next, let's look at Matteart, another one of Etsy's top sellers. Each and every listing shows illustrations in the exact same way.

One beginner's mistake is to show each listing from a completely different angle. This can be a successful strategy, but oftentimes just confuses the customer. The best tactic here is to organize each listing's first image in the same way and provide different angles and details in the secondary photos.

3. Social Proof

Whenever someone purchases your work, if at all possible, get a photo with them next to your art. Update the listing image set with the photo of the art with the happy customer.

Doing this establishes what is known as “social proof.” In other words, it shows people that other people clearly like your work – enough to pay for it, even – so they should consider doing the same.

Here is a blog post about how social proof is one of the most trusted tactics in all of marketing.

People are social by nature. Remember this fact when you are trying to sell your work. How many times have we been inspired by something we hear recommended from a friend (or something we see in a friend's house). The rules of life don't go away once we use the internet, so show your potential clients how people like them have enjoyed your artwork, too. 

4. Context 

Bring your art to life by showing it in context. Think of ways that you can show your work in a vignette or interior. Showing your art in context helps your customers see how your art would enhance their space.

Remember that people will judge you based on the context your art is placed in. Right or wrong, that’s the reality of the situation.

For example, if the same piece of art is displayed in the Louvre and a drugstore, which one do you think will sell for more? Always remember that context matters.

Here is an HGTV article about creating vignettes when designing your home. You can use these same principles when designing a space for photographing your work.

Moon Painting in Context

If you are reading through this article and wondering how you are ever going to update your listing so entirely, don't stress. The first and most important thing you can do is arrange all your listings in a consistent and clear way. This is 75% of the work.

After that, posting customer photos, photos in context, and other more advanced techniques are worth looking into. I will be exploring these advanced ideas in the next section of this series, so stay tuned.

As always, when working on your business any progress is better than none. Good luck!


About the Author

Jake Smith living in Chicago, illinois and works as a design and retoucher, heading the design team at Productviz.
After 10 years of working for a marketing agency as a re-toucher and design guru, he started ProductViz to help artists show the world how beautiful their work is.

You can email Jacob directly at