Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about Selling Photography and my experiences, successes, and the challenges in doing so.
It started out with the basic question: Should I continue selling my photography products at art and craft shows?
To recap, part 1 was a discussion (a one sided discussion, yes) about what I have been doing to sell my work at shows, how I’ve been doing it, and what I’ve been selling (or not selling in some cases) and some resources I’ve used to create products.
Part 2 what have I done so far? What do I have invested in this? What have I learned?
Part 3 a continuation of “what I’ve learned” and a pros and cons list about continuing.
The most recent post, Part 4, dealt with some options for selling locally, with wholesale and consignment arrangements explained. By local I mean the old fashioned face to face relationships with your area’s retailers. You know, the kind of selling that has been around forever and is currently regaining favor in our “Buy Local” movements.
Today’s post, Part 5 ¼ , steps away from the “local” scene, refocusing on global selling through online resources and marketplaces.
Yesterday I went to the post office to mail a little package to Australia. Lightweight and nicely labeled, it contained a 5 x 7 print, packaged in a clear protective sleeve, sandwiched between two pieces of corrugated cardboard, and included a funky postcard I’ve done up with a personal note to the buyer along with a coupon code to use for her next purchase from my shop. Perhaps this is a bit much for a $10.00 sale but it was a sale from my Etsy shop and with Etsy, that’s how I do it. I want it to arrive like a package from a friend. She may be halfway around the world, but I still want to make a personal connection. I want to tell my story.
Etsy.com is an online marketplace that’s been around since mid 2005. An ecommerce site that I’ve seen referred to as a “crafty cross between Amazon and eBay” Etsy is home to shops that sell handmade crafts and art, vintage items, and craft supplies. It’s sort of a virtual craft fair where you can set up your storefront and sell your art. You can browse the site for hours and find any manner of creative artistic expression. The average sale is $10 – $15.00. It’s a go-to site for me when I need a unique gift for someone or when I need inspiration.
My shop on Etsy www.ccotaphotocraft.etsy.com has been open for about a year and a half. I don’t sell a lot on it, but then again I don’t market it as much as I should. That’s the thing with Etsy; it needs tending. Not that it’s going to disappear without regular attention but with 343,546 items available in the Photography category of Art alone, you’ve got to find a way to stand out.
That said, I think it’s worth setting up shop. There is no cost to do so. Each listing costs 20 cents, whether a renewal or a new listing. When an item sells, Etsy gets 3.5% of the sale price. Buyers can pay via Paypal and more recently, Etsy is offering buyers direct payment with a credit card. If you do decide to sell your photography on Etsy, you’ve also got to think about what you’re going to sell there. Think about the realities of fulfilling these orders. Can you deal with it? While it may be a great idea to try to sell your large prints here, it might not be such a hoot when you’re packaging and lugging the thing to the post office. Yes, you can set up an account with a shipper for them to come get your packages to be shipped. People do it all the time. Just keep YOUR realities in mind and your costs in doing this. Bulk gets you the best rates but will you REALLY be selling in bulk? This may have changed on Etsy, but last I knew Etsy won’t allow you to drop ship from your print lab. They want to maintain the personal and handmade concepts, despite being the crafty behemoth they are. Being so big, your work can get lost without that attention I mentioned before. What keeps your work up in front of buyers is keeping the listings fresh and new. Adding new work or renewing a listing drops your item into the scrolling gallery of “recently listed” items, where it can be seen by someone on the home page. We all know that key wording is important and that holds true here, too. Buyers search. Buyers find. Help buyers find your work by using the keyword tools and titling appropriately. Think about what works buyers will use to search for your kind of photos. Use descriptions that include the season, primary colors in the print, location if relevant. Think like a buyer. Even with great key wording, you’d assume that selling photography on Etsy would mean that you’ve got great photographs to include with your listing, but that’s not always the case. If you’re selling cards or matted or framed work, show not only the image but the packaging, the frame and the mat and include descriptions of them in with the details about the image. Protect your work by using lower resolution files of the image itself. You can put in a note in the listing that tells the buyer to rest assured that the quality of the print she will receive if purchased is crystal clear and explain why you’ve used low res files for the listing, because the internet is ripe for photo theft.
Some final words about selling one Etsy, there are sites not affiliated with it that will help you auto renew your listings and give you stats, like statsy.com. Etsy itself offers plenty of apps and widgets to get the word out about your shop. And you can create coupon codes to entice people in the virtual door. Offering 10 or 15% off sounds like a great deal but to you its pennies really. Offering free shipping could make the difference between someone making the purchase in your shop or someone else’s.
My experience with Etsy has been positive although not a robust financial endeavor. I still get a thrill when I see that little email notice that someone has made a purchase on my Etsy site. In this case, I think I know what to do to sell more: Be more active in promoting the shop. List more. Give the shop some love. Etsy gives you all the tools you need to do this. I read the success stories and know that people do make money here.
I don’t see why I would stop selling on Etsy. Unless there are some drastic changes to the format and charges, now that my shop is set up and I can sell a few prints here and there with minimal effort, I’ll consider it passive income for now. With the – gulp – holidays coming fast, it would be wise of me to add new listings and perhaps some boxed notecards or other gift items to my offerings and see if I can sell more on Etsy.
Since I’ve managed to write this much about selling photography on Etsy.com, I think this will be Part 5 ¼. In Part 5 ½, I’ll tell you about my experiences selling my photography on eBay, then roll into Part 5 ¾ discussing other online options like selling through your own website using gallery hosts like SmugMug and Photoshelter.com.
I hope you stay tuned. Thanks for reading to this point.
As a bonus for your patience, use this coupon code 15OFFCARD to get 15% off your purchase at my Etsy shop www.ccotaphotocraft.etsy.com. Generous of me huh?