How To Sell Photography Prints On Etsy? (10 Steps PLUS Tips To Increase Your Profit)

February 25, 2024

How to sell photography prints on Etsy:

  1. Build your business plan
  2. Sign up and create an account on Etsy
  3. Think of a name for your Etsy store
  4. Start customizing your Etsy shop
  5. Upload your photography listings on Etsy
  6. Price your photography prints
  7. Sort your photography prints
  8. Decide how to ship your photography prints
  9. Leverage social media platforms to promote your photography prints
  10. Adapt and evolve

Etsy is one of the world’s biggest marketplace for artworks, crafts, and digital products with over 95 million buyers and 7 million sellers. Photography is a popular Etsy category. The platform provides photographers with a way to earn extra income. However, the market can be competitive and even top photographers may struggle in gaining visibility and income on it. 

Photographer and YouTuber Jerred Zegelis shares that he only earns around $2,000 from his Etsy store. While it can be a good amount for someone who isn’t spending much time on the platform, this also means other photographers aiming to earn more will have to work hard to promote their products online.

In this feature, we talk about the 10 steps of how to start selling photography prints on Etsy. We also share 5 tips in boosting your profits, plus the 3 common challenges you can expect to face as an Etsy business owner. Finally, we discuss why owning digital assets is a far superior business model than selling photo prints online.

What Are Photography Prints?

Photography prints are photographs printed on high quality paper. With a physical print, a digital file becomes a tangible item that can be displayed at home, in offices, or in any location that a buyer decides to place it. Typically, photo prints are stored in frames to protect them and make them look better as they are displayed on the wall.

Can You Sell Photography Prints On Etsy?

Yes, you can sell photography prints on Etsy. The global online marketplace has over 96 million active buyers and some of them visit the platform to purchase photography prints. Today, there are over 543,000 photography prints listed on the Etsy website. That said, professional photographers and photography hobbyists hoping to earn extra money can use Etsy for selling prints online.

How To Sell Photography Prints On Etsy?

1. Build Your Business Plan

Building a business plan is important before you start selling photography prints on Etsy. This includes finding a profitable niche you are interested in and can focus your efforts on. Some of the most popular photo print niches on Etsy include:   

  • Cityscape photography
  • Fashion photography
  • Food photography
  • Nature and wildlife photography
  • Newborn photography
  • Street photography

After picking a niche, you’ll have to do your research regarding the required costs (printing, framing, shipping supplies, etc), the necessary resources (local print shops, materials), and the size of your target market.

2. Sign Up And Create An Etsy Account

Go to etsy.com/sell. Click “Get Started” and then use your email address to sign up and create an Etsy account. Alternatively, you can also use an existing Google, Facebook, or Apple account.

Next, choose your country, language, and the currency you prefer as you sell your photo prints on the platform.

3. Think Of A Name For Your Etsy Store

Naming your photo print business is the next step. Go with a name that’s catchy, scalable, and easy to pronounce.  

  • Use relevant keywords such as "art," “images,” “photography,” "photos," “picture,” “prints,” “snaps,” “shutter,” “studio” and others.
  • Check out free online business name generator websites to get more ideas.
  • Play around with words, combine them, and try to see if you can come up with a unique name that fits your brand.
  • Ask your friends, followers, or fellow photographers for feedback about your chosen name.

4. Start Customizing Your Etsy Shop

According to Etsy, customizing your shop’s appearance allows you to “define your brand and show buyers what makes your shop unique.” You can start doing this by uploading a shop banner, a shop icon, and a shop owner image. 

Here's an example from Ireland-based Etsy seller Paulina Osipow, graphic designer, photographer, and owner of Etsy store Paulinaosi.

5. Upload Your Photography Listings On Etsy

Create your Etsy listing by uploading photos of your prints. The Etsy site tells us that the ideal image size for listings is 2000px with a resolution of 72PPI. You can upload up to 10 photos per listing. Of course, it’s also a good idea to upload mockup photos (artistic renderings) that allow a potential buyer to visualize how your prints will look when displayed in a living room. 

Indicate the title of your photo prints and the appropriate categories. Use the description box to highlight your product’s features, such as materials used and the print’s dimensions. Make your descriptions clear and compelling for your target buyers.

6. Price Your Photography Prints

You can price your photography prints on Etsy by factoring in “the costs of materials, labor, and other business expenses.” Since you’re selling physical products, you likewise have to take note of inventory and postage expenses.

Of course, you also have to consider that Etsy charges a listing fee ($0.20) for each product listing and a transaction fee (6.5%) of the indicated product price for each product sale. Ultimately, you want to set reasonable yet competitive pricing for your photo prints.

7. Sort Your Photography Prints

Only sell your best photographs. Arrange your listings by theme, color, and niche. You can even decide to feature certain products (such as your bestsellers) so people can see them first when they visit your Etsy store. Also, store your prints well in a place with controlled humidity to protect them from heat (which can cause fading). Keep an inventory to know which ones need reprinting before they run out.    

8. Decide How To Ship Your Photography Prints

Effective logistics and distribution can help contribute to the success of your Etsy business. Share information about your shipping policies (such as estimated delivery time and any additional costs, when applicable). If possible, offer free shipping or discounted rates to attract more of your target market.
 
Take time to research local shipping companies. Compare pricing and available delivery options (drop off, pick up). Read customer reviews to find out what people are saying about their service. Also, learn about best practices for shipping photography prints. Prepare shipping materials (boxes, bubblewrap, boxes, cellophane wrap, styrofoam, and others) in advance so you’re ready when people start buying your prints

9. Leverage Social Media Platforms To Promote Your Photography Prints

According to a Forbes feature, 77% of small businesses use social media to reach customers. 44% of these businesses also use it for brand awareness while 41% “depend on social media as a revenue driver.”

As a professional photographer and an Etsy photography print seller, you should also take advantage of social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, X (Twitter), and others. Create a business page, join groups, promote your shop listings, and interact with your followers.  

10. Adapt And Evolve

You have to adapt and evolve as you sell photography prints on Etsy. While it’s a good idea to stick to a niche, feel free to offer variety as you see fit. Try experimenting with different styles, print sizes, and formats to cater more potential customers. Stay up to date with current Etsy trends and policy changes, so you can make necessary adjustments to your offerings or strategies. Use Etsy’s search analytics feature to find out “which search queries lead people to your shop, and how many sales come from those searches.”

Also, listen to feedback from your customers. They can help you determine what will work best for your business. For example, you may want to explore other opportunities on Etsy such as using your images to print on coffee mugs, shirts, tote bags, or even as a digital download. You can even consider selling some of your images as stock photography on sites like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, iStock, 123RF, and others.

5 Awesome Tips In Selling Photography Prints On Etsy

1. Ensure your photos are high quality

Quality matters most when it comes to selling photos and prints on Etsy. You want customers to be satisfied with the print quality they receive after buying from your store. Make sure that each product that leaves your shop is of professional standard. Doing this can help you build a positive reputation for your brand, which could LATER lead to greater growth and more sales.

2. Invest in good printing materials and techniques

It’s important to invest in the right printing materials and techniques. For example, acid-free canvas can be a great choice for photo prints. Choose from different finishes (gloss, matte, satin) and frames (standard, gallery, floating, deep-set). People are buying your products mainly as wall art that they will display at home or office, so you want them to look good and last a long time.   

Also, make sure to pick a quality print shop with a proven track record. Learn about how much they charge for various finishes and their turnaround time. These factors are important to ensure that you can consistently fulfill buyer demands whenever they purchase from you.

3. Provide excellent customer service

Zendesk reports that for 81% of customers, a positive customer service experience “increases the chances of them making another purchase.” Meanwhile, a Salesforce feature tells us that  88% of buyers say “experience matters as much as a company's products or services.”

So promptly respond to customer inquiries. Package your prints with care. Be professional when addressing issues. Doing so can help you gain your customers’ trust and convert them into repeat buyers.

4. Encourage your buyers to leave reviews

Positive reviews can be a good way to attract more buyers to your Etsy shop. So as you deliver quality customer service, you will get more buyer reviews - which can lead to a Star Seller badge.

The platform rewards eligible vendors with the badge to recognize excellent performance in prompt replies, smooth dispatch, customer reviews, and meeting minimum sales figures. As you sell photography prints on Etsy, you’d definitely want a Star Seller badge to stand out from the competition. You can get more traffic and sales compared with non-Star Sellers. 

5. Utilize Etsy SEO

With Etsy SEO (search engine optimization), you can boost your products’ visibility on the platform. This tool allows you to identify keywords that potential customers use to find your photography prints. You can then incorporate those keywords in your Etsy listing titles, descriptions, tags, and especially in your marketing campaigns.

Furthermore, Etsy’s How Shoppers Found You section can also provide you with relevant information so be sure to check it out regularly.

Which Types Of Photography Prints Products Are Popular On Etsy?

The types of photography print products that are popular on Etsy are:

  • Black and white prints: Photographs take on a classic, timeless vibe when printed in black and white.
  • Canvas prints (stretched canvas or framed canvas): These print types give your photographs a textured feel.
  • Macro photography prints: These close-up shots capture a subject’s intricate details. They make perfect displays for homes, offices, clinics, stores, etc.
  • Print sets: Some buyers prefer to buy themed photo print sets (street photos, Christmas photos, etc) to save on shipping expenses.
  • Printable digital files: In some cases, buyers also love purchasing digital files of photographs that they can print on their own. You can offer digital downloads as an option or supplement to your physical print products.

Of course, we should note that trends often change from time to time. So it’s always best to check current trends on the Etsy marketplace to know which photography print types are best to sell. 

How Much Can You Make Selling Photography Prints On Etsy?

You can make over $2,000 in a year selling photography prints on Etsy. Photographer Jerred Zegelis sells Nebraska-inspired photo prints on his Etsy shop. In a YouTube video, he shares he earned $2,021 in revenue after making 30 orders in 2021. According to him, this total earning came out of getting 9,342 views and 4,596 visits. 

“I'm not exaggerating when I say I put 10 to 20 minutes a month on Etsy,” he also says. “I don't think I ever probably spent more than 30 minutes a month.” So far, the Etsy Star Seller has since gained a 5-star rating out of 165 total sales.

In general, a photographer’s potential earning will depend on several key factors, such as the niche they focus on, the number of photo prints they offer online, the quality of their work, the size of their following, their level of customer service, and the amount of time they devote to their craft.  

Is Selling Photography Prints On Etsy Profitable?

Yes, selling photography prints on Etsy is profitable if you already have an established online following. Many photographers see the Etsy marketplace as a good place to showcase their work and earn extra money. However, the platform can be highly saturated. Most newbies - and even some experienced photographers - may struggle to make money from selling photo prints there, unless they devote the time and effort needed to grow their Etsy business.

Is Selling Photography Prints on Etsy Worth It?

Yes, selling photography prints on Etsy is worth it if you’re doing it as a side hustle. It can be an effective way for photographers to promote their work while earning extra income at the same time. However, most photographers on Etsy only make a few thousand dollars per year. So it may not be a good idea to focus on it full-time. 

As a photographer, you’d instead want to diversify your income stream by offering photo and editing services, creating an online course, selling stock photography, joining local art shows, running a photography blog, doing affiliate marketing, and more.

3 Disadvantages Of Selling Photography Prints On Etsy

1. Market saturation

Etsy currently has over 7.5 million active sellers and 95.1 million active buyers. Plus searching “photography prints” on the platform yields over 543,000 results. So while there are many potential customers in its online marketplace, Etsy can also be heavily saturated. The high level of competition can be a big challenge, especially for beginners without a large online following. You’ll have to work on building your brand and marketing your products before you can expect to make any money selling photography prints on Etsy.   

2. The Etsy fee structure

As a vendor of their platform, Etsy will always have a cut on your earnings. In addition to listing fee and transaction fee, the service also deducts a payment processing fee for users of Etsy Payments. This fee is a “set rate plus a percent of the total sale price” of your photo print and may vary depending on your country. Go check out the Etsy Payment Processing Fee page for more info about this topic.

3. Limited branding and customization options

Although Etsy offers customization options, sellers often cannot go beyond the standardized storefront template. Personalizing an Etsy shop has its limits as opposed to, say, having your own website. Setting yourself apart from competitors can be hard, since you’re all using the same platform. As such, you’ll have to make the most of what the site offers to establish your brand.

Conclusion: Why Owning Digital Assets Is Better That Selling Photography Prints On Etsy?

Selling photography prints on Etsy is definitely not the best business model for people who want to earn a competitive income online. While it can be a good side hustle, photo print vendors find it hard to gain attention and generate a passive income stream on the platform. The saturated marketplace can make this difficult even for experienced photographers. 

Local lead generation is far less competitive yet more profitable than running an Etsy store. With this business model, you are not competing with thousands of other photo print sellers. Your income is also not reliant on how many prints you sell each month. Instead, you are building a service website and are only going against 10 to 15 local businesses. Your goal is to achieve top search engine ranking and once you hit that, you can expect to earn a consistent monthly revenue. 

Local lead generation

Take this tree care website, for example. I built this back in 2015 and it continues to make me $2,000 per month. Since ranking it on Google, the site has stayed there for years with little to zero maintenance work on my end. Today, I own multiple lead gen sites and earn up to $52,000 from them each month.  

The good news here is that anyone can do it, too. Photographers who want to boost their website’s presence can use our repeatable 3-step process. Additionally, anyone can also use this business model as a less time-consuming source of income. For interested individuals, do feel free to contact us about our local lead generation coaching program. We’ve had over 7,000 students (and counting) so far, so you can bet we know what we’re doing.
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