New Series: PSS Guide to Etsy

After giving my chat at the Stationery Academy on Etsy for paper-preneurs, I realized that I wanted to create a series on the blog talking about both sides of the Etsy business – for both buyer and seller.  Twice monthly, I’ll be highlighting a few of my Etsy seller buddies and talking with them about how they run their business, as well as some other useful tips that I’ve come across along the way.

Today’s topic is the Etsy customer’s visual experience. Let’s face it – when you’re an online shop, all you have is your image. The customer doesn’t get to walk up to your product, pick it up, and experience it in real life. So whether you like it or not, you have to put some serious work into your appearance.

First things first: Photography
So what is every successful Etsy seller’s #1 most important tip? Take amazing, detailed photos. Simple as that.  I know – easier said than done. With over 850,000 Etsy shops, there’s more terrible photos than there are good ones. You have to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd with not only an amazing product, but an amazing representation of what that product is.

No Etsy customer likes to be taken off guard when they open up their package from you. Show absolutely every last detail that you can for a few reasons:

     1. To avoid confusion and disappointment for the buyer.

     2. To create a safety net for you as the seller.  In short, you’re managing expectations.

Must-haves for your photoshoot:


  • camera & appropriate lenses (See my guide here)
  • gear: tripod, natural light, foamcore boards to bounce light, backdrops, clamps, florist frogs (to hold up foamcore), remote control, post-production software such as Photoshop, Aperture, etc.
  • styling accessories: interesting papers, textured items, fabric, jewelry, writing apparatus, flowers, models, vases, tile, wallpaper, etc.


Creating Your Brand

Branding your shop also creates a great sense of continuity and sets you apart from the rest. Create a style book for your site with all of your visual elements. These elements include items such as color charts, reserved listings, images overlaid with text, etc.  And don’t forget about any collateral goodies you might have such as business cards, thank you notes, and packaging.

Finally, be sure to edit edit edit. Take a good long look at your shop. What’s working? What’s adding to your overall look and brand? Are there items that aren’t representing YOU as well as you’d like? Time to kick ’em to the curb!  Work on creating a well-rounded collection.  Oh, and I think it’s also safe to say that you shouldn’t be selling things that you hate to make. We’ve all done it as creative entrepreneurs: created something for a client that doesn’t exactly represent us. Decide what’s really worth your time and only sell the items you absolutely adore.

Are you an Etsy seller? What are your biggest hurdles to making your shop the best it can be?