Sell on Etsy with Better Photos and the 3 P’s

by Lynn S. Schwebach

To Sell on Etsy requires Product Photograph Perseverance, or as I like to call it the powerful P’s. I tell myself to never give up on a product unless I have revised the photograph at least three times. 

This means periodically reevaluating your pictures and figuring how to make them better. You hear this all the time about online selling, and you read posts about the power of product photographs. Yet many of us do not fully comprehend the importance of how we present our handmade goods to the world.

I am here to tell you that redoing photos has made a difference with my “Sell on Etsy” success. 

However, I am not here to promise (as many marketers and bloggers do) that by improving photos your sales will skyrocket. Too many uncontrollable elements such as as fads, market conditions, and a cultural zeitgeist often drives sales. Even what you sell makes a difference on your total number of sales.

But why not control what you can in order to improve your profits? Perseverance is  always within your control. 

Sell on Etsy Success

My Etsy shop is not yet paying for fancy European vacations, but my sales are on a significant upward trend (as is my traffic) and it’s because of evaluating and working on each listing element: photographs, product descriptions, and photographs.  (If you need help with SEO and keywords, see my article  “Marmalead Secrets for Etsy Sellers” . )

A recent success with a photo redo prompted me to share this with others selling on Etsy. Too many Etsy sellers feel there is some dark magic associated with sales, but I tell those who contact me that it’s not magic—it’s perseverance.

Sorry to keep drilling that word into you, but I believe it’s the key to all Etsy success. 

Here’s my photo success example:

As an artist  I sell artwork, t-shirts and other products with my designs at  About a year ago I had ankle surgery and only worked at my computer for several months, so I played in Adobe Illustrator and created some artwork associated with the #metoo movement. 

Anne Boleyn’s Apt Me Too Message

Books and movies about Anne Boleyn always captured my interest.  And I had been thinking about this beheaded woman while also reading news clips and articles about today’s women and the powerful #metoo campaign.

Anne Boleyn representing the me too movement.
Lynn Schwebach’s Illustration of Anne Boleyn representing the #metoo movement. Copyrighted.

Bingo! I had an Aha! moment, and the two came together in an Anne Boleyn me-too illustration, which then became a t-shirt, tote bag, and cell phone case.

Similar to other Etsy sellers, I often use the photographs of my products provided to me by my print-on-demand company, Printful. I created several t-shirts with this image, and Printful gave me standard photographs of mocked up images with my shirt. Here are some of the photos I started out using:


First Photographs Used for Etsy

Guess what? I did not sell many of these shirts. In other words, my “Sell on Etsy” success with these shirts started out bleak. The first photo of the woman wearing the shirt isn’t terrible, but it’s not great either. I asked myself, would I buy this shirt? 

About six months later, I worked on revising the photographs. Looking at how  others on Etsy often display their t-shirts, I decided to go with the crowd and use a wood background and to style one of the shirts with shoes and jeans. 

Here is an example of the second round of Anne Boleyn product photographs: 

Better. I did a few shirts this way, saw a bump in sales, but still did not achieve significant results. 

Because I do not have the income to hire a professional model for these shirts, I seriously thought about pulling the shirts from my store. But I reminded myself of the powerful P’s and my mantra of redoing a photo at least three times. 

So I asked a friend a friend if she would mind modeling this shirt. I was able to pay her and while it was not the wages a professional would make, she was happy to earn some summer money.

I had a hunch this young  woman would be perfect because she has been active in musical theater since she was a child. And she is on her way to film school. Another Aha moment when it comes to creative problem solving!

My perseverance paid off. It’s only been a couple of weeks since reposting these photos, but I already am seeing a spike in traffic, favorites, and sales!

Here are a few of the many photographs for my third try presenting my Anne Boleyn shirts to customers:

This is a feminist form-fitting Anne Boleyn #metoo t-shirt for women.
Megan Bean models a distressed, form-fitting Anne Boleyn #metoo t-shirt. Redoing this photograph helped me to sell on Etsy!
This is a feminist woman's long-sleeve me too shirt.
Megan Bean models a long-sleeve, comfortable Anne Boleyn #metoo shirt. Redoing this photograph helped me to sell on Etsy!
This is a woman's comfortable baseball shirt with Anne Boleyn representing the #metoo movement.
Megan Bean models an Anne Boleyn me-too movement baseball tee. Redoing this photograph helped me to sell on Etsy!

Within three hours of posting the first of these three photographs, I heard the cash-register chime on my phone announcing an Etsy sale. I hardly could believe it, but yes, I had sold one of these t-shirts within 120 minutes of reposting!

I have also since sold the baseball t-shirt as shown in the third photograph, and Anne Boleyn cell phone cases that Etsy shoppers find links to within my Etsy listing on these shirts.

The visits to the third photograph, the baseball t-shirt, are up 157%.

Sell on Etsy with Creative Photography

Finally, get creative with your photographs. After all, creativity and unique products are what drive customers to Etsy. I found an old picture frame to use as a prop for one photograph. You have to be careful not to overdo props, but this one worked with this particular image.

For more information on how to creatively photograph your Etsy products, see the blog Creating Beautifully.

Also, YouTube has thousands of videos on product photography, but I especially like DIY Product Photos – Easy, Cheap and Good-looking.

To visit my Etsy shop, go to Schwebach Arts on Etsy.

To visit my fine art website, go to Schwebach Arts.

Follow me on Instagram: @schwebacharts

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