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1. How to start selling photographs on Etsy

How to make a profit selling photographs on Etsy in 2024

Updated Jan 15 2024

If you're a photographer who's looking to earn extra money, then starting your own Etsy photography shop can be a lucrative move. In case you're unfamiliar, the Etsy website is an online marketplace where individual retailers sell creative and vintage items ranging from photography prints and art to handmade clothing and jewelry.

Setting up your own Etsy store allows you to sell photography on an established online marketplace that generates $1.7 billion annually. Join us for a step-by-step guide to everything photography sellers need to know to set up an Etsy shop, attract potential customers, and generate more sales.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Selling photos on Etsy can be a great way to turn your photography passion into an extra stream of income.

  • Working with a print on demand partner like Gelato is an easy way to sell your photo on a variety of different products without having to purchase inventory until it's already sold.

  • Print on demand services handle everything from printing your photo to the product of your choice to shipping it directly to your customer.

  • While it's relatively easy to set up a photography shop on Etsy, the challenge is to set your shop apart from other sellers by using marketing tactics to draw in customers.

How to start selling photographs on Etsy

selling on etsy

There are now several different ways to approach selling photos online. Some photographers sell stock images for commercial use on sites like iStock.

While this can be a great way to sell certain styles of digital photos, depending on the number of digital downloads you manage to sell, your royalty rates may be as low as 15% - 45%. Etsy, by contrast, only charges a 6.5% transaction fee for the final cost of each of your sales + shipping fees, as well as a $0.20 listing fee for each photo.

Once you set up an Etsy shop page, you'll be able to sell photography prints, digital photo downloads, or even various products featuring your unique images. Whether you're looking to earn extra income or turn photography into a full-time job, let's break down how to go about starting your own Etsy shop.

1. Conduct market research

The great thing about Etsy is that it features plenty of individual Etsy shops that cater to a wide variety of different interests and themes. Before you set up your own seller page, try to identify your niche market, which is basically the type of audience most likely to be interested in your work.

Do you specialize in landscape photography, nature photography, or vintage-style photos? Or maybe your work tends to feature action shots, pets, or portraits?

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to the photography category that resonates the most with you. The idea is to narrow down your niche in order to figure out what type of products are the most likely to attract potential customers.

If you're not sure what niche to choose, try using SEO and keyword research tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to discover what types of photography users are currently searching for the most. Then try to shoot for one that aligns with your interests and generates plenty of market demand.

2. Collect photographs

photographs collection

If you want to sell photography online, then it's important to make sure your skills are on point! If you've already enjoyed some success with selling photos, then it's likely you're well-versed in best practices like appropriate lighting, composition, and contrast.

If you're newer to selling photography products, then it's definitely worth checking out a great online photography course that can help you learn the basics. Not only will you learn how to capture an eye-catching photo, but you'll come away with a clear idea of how to use editing techniques to adjust things like exposure, saturation, and highlights/shadows.

3. Choose a print on demand company

The great part about setting up an Etsy shop is that you can sell your digital photos in a wide variety of unique and creative ways. You might choose to offer a single photo in a range of different formats, including:

This is where partnering with a print on demand (POD) supplier like Gelato can help make your job a whole lot easier. Print on demand is a business model that allows you to start selling photos without investing in pricey printing equipment, raw materials, or even shipping supplies.

Simply create a free Gelato account and connect it to your Etsy store. Upload digital files of the images you want to offer to your Gelato account and choose which of our high-quality products you'd like to feature them on.

Each time you make a sale, Gelato will access your digital file, print your photo onto the specified product, and deliver it right to your customer. This makes it possible to sell your photography work on a much wider range of products without ever having to worry about purchasing inventory until it's already sold.

When searching for a POD supplier for your Etsy store, be sure to ask questions such as:

  • What type of products does the POD supplier offer?

  • Are their products high-quality and reasonably priced?

  • What type of customer service do they offer?

  • Where are their items produced and where do they ship from?

Gelato has worked hard to make sure we check all the right boxes. We work with over 130 local producers around the world to print your photos onto high-quality products and get them shipped to your customers asquickly and sustainably as possible.

4. Print your photos on products

photo printing

Once you've chosen the right POD supplier for you, it's time to decide which products you'd like to feature your photos on. While some Etsy shops exclusively sell digital photos, expanding your product offerings can attract far more clients.

If you choose to work with Gelato, you'll be able to make your photo prints available in a large number of formats and sizes. Choose from physical wall art options such as:

We can even turn your photography prints into custom wall calendars, your own photo books, or even wallpaper. If you want to offer potential buyers even more options, we can also print your photos onto products like:

5. Set up your Etsy shop

Now that you've figured out your niche and outlined the type of products you want to offer, it's time to set up your shop so that you can start selling photos on Etsy. But first, you'll want to start thinking about potential shop names.

If you already have a business name you use to sell photography elsewhere, you might choose to use it as your shop name on Etsy as well. Otherwise, shoot for a business name that's catchy, memorable, and relevant to your brand.

When you've decided on a solid shop name, sign up for a free Etsy account and customize it with your shop branding. If you don't already have things like a logo and promotional cover photos, you can either create your own using free software like PhotoShop Express or hire a freelance designer to whip them up for you.

After customizing your shop with your logo and cover photos, you'll want to set up your shop policies for things like returns, exchanges, and cancellations. Next, integrate your POD service account with your new Etsy shop so that you can upload your product offerings to your store.

Put those photography skills to work by uploading high-quality photos of each product you plan to sell. Depending on the nature of the product, you may even want to include several photos from different angles in order to give potential clients a clear idea of what it looks like in person.

Be sure you also include a creative and informative description of each of your products, highlighting things like size, material, and other useful info. Last but not least, use relevant keywords throughout your listing titles and descriptions in order to give your shop the best chance to rank higher on Etsy's search engine.

6. Promote your photography business

Promote your photography business

As many photographers can tell you, promoting your shop is one of the most important keys to selling photos on Etsy. While print on demand makes it easy to sell photos on anything from canvas prints to t-shirts, the challenge is to find ways to make your shop stand out among thousands of other Etsy sellers.

Luckily, there are plenty of great ways to attract customers if you're willing to invest time and effort. Social media, for instance, can be a marketing gold mine.

Set up dedicated pages for your shop on social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and Facebook. Make sure you schedule regular social media posts and interact with both photography fans and other sellers in your target market.

You can also pull in new customers by taking advantage of Etsy's built-in marketing tools, such as:

You might even consider building an email list in order to share news about discounts, new product offerings, or photography releases. Hosting promos or giveaways for customers who sign up for an email subscription can be a great way to encourage more customers to send their email addresses your way.

If you really want to stand out from other Etsy shops, consider running a paid ad campaign using Google Ads or running paid social media ads. Just don't get so caught up in attracting new clients that you forget that the best marketing is great reviews from current clients!

Start earning a profit from your photography with Etsy + Gelato

If you play your cards right, Etsy can be a great place to turn a photo into an extra income stream. Gelato makes it easy to turn your photos into high-quality products that you can offer for sale to customers around the world.

If you're ready to expand from digital prints to custom wall art, clothing, and other unique products, then sign up for a free Gelato account today. Simply use our easy integration tools to create an Etsy business where you can sell photo prints, wall art, and other custom products.

Selling photographs on Etsy FAQs

Is Etsy good for selling photography?

Etsy can be a great place to sell photography as long as you're willing to put the time and work into promoting your products! Make no mistake, simply listing a collection of random nature photography on Etsy is not necessarily going to make you an overnight success.

Whether you intend on selling prints on Etsy or something like custom t-shirts that feature your photography, you'll need to do your part to attract customers if you want to earn money. That said, Etsy is a great place to start if you don't already have an online photography store and are looking for an easy-to-use marketplace with an established audience.

What type of photos sell best on Etsy?

While the best-selling products on Etsy tend to fluctuate each year, physical prints and framed wall art enjoy plenty of demand. The great thing about selling photography on Etsy is that it's easy to feature your photos on a variety of different products to keep up with current trends.

For instance, when you first get started, you might choose to exclusively sell prints on Etsy. If a certain photo proves to be incredibly popular, you might eventually choose to offer it on a shirt, a coffee mug, or another trending product. No matter how you choose to sell your photography, just make sure you familiarize yourself with relevant copyright laws in order to protect your work.

How hard is it to sell photos on Etsy?

Working with a POD partner makes it relatively easy to set up an Etsy shop where you can sell your photos on anything from physical prints to customized products. The hardest part about selling photos on Etsy (or anywhere else, for that matter) is doing the promotional work needed to draw in customers.

While it's definitely possible to sell your photography on Etsy, it's important to get the word out to customers about your business. That's why it's so important to run ads, post on social media, and stay in contact with past customers via promotional emails.

How much do you make selling photos on Etsy?

Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to this one. Etsy is home to many photographers from all different walks of life, from professionals to people who just happen to be really handy with a smartphone camera.

While there's plenty of demand out there for physical prints, digital products, and everything in between, there's also a great deal of competition. Whether you're looking to earn a full-time income from your photography or just make a little extra cash selling prints, your success will depend on how much time and work you're willing to put in.


Next steps

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