Selling on Etsy – The Importance of Image Quality
After keywords, your product images on your Etsy store are the biggest facts in the success of your shop. Ranking on Etsy or getting views based on your titles and tags is like a dark art on its own. It is also subject of many articles and Youtube videos like this one from Etsy coach Nancy Badillo www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZCbCqTB7UM, or Etsy and Erank guru Starla Moore www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVMeis4q3P4&t=194s.
I have also discussed the importance of Search engine optimisation SEO in a previous blog www.kdigitaldesign.com/learn-how-to-optimise-your-business-starting-with-seo/] and the value of images in marketing your blog or online store. SEO for Etsy stores is about using relevant keywords that the average person would use to find your products.
This blog post focuses on how to improve your Etsy shop through improving the quality of your product images in your listings.
- What makes a quality listing?
- 10 Images – Analysis of a Listing
- What is a lifestyle Image?
- Canva Templates
Be sure to grab my Ultimate Etsy Image Guide to keep as a hand guide
What Makes a Quality Listing?
In my opinion, the number one rule with images when selling on Etsy, or any online store, is to ensure that your images clearly show what you are selling. On your Etsy store, the first thumbnail or feature image is key, as that is what determines whether a visitor will click through to view the rest of your images. The thumbnail should be a close up or zoomed in view of the item you are selling without distracting backgrounds.
Far too often I see photos of people’s handmade hard work not being shown to look their best. You have worked so hard to make and design, don’t let yourself down by your images.
Let’s take one example – earrings or other jewellery photographed lying on the lawn, draped over coloured rocks, or hanging on bushes. Most of the time the size of the jewellery in these types of photos is very small, or out of scale with the props used. I recommend not including props in the thumbnail or main listing image – this way it is not only clear WHAT you are selling, it is also clear to the buyer that the props are NOT included. Whilst this may seem obvious, a quick read of seller posts on some Etsy Facebook Groups will quickly show you that buyers can make all sorts of assumptions or claims when making a purchase based on what they see.
If the background on your Etsy listings is too distracting – heavily textured and dark timber are some I see often – it means the buyer has to really squint to see the detail of what you are selling. As many people shop and browse on their mobile phones, image clarity is even more important. You want the potential buyer to like what they see enough to click through to your other images and to make a purchase. So make your hardwork the focus. Show a close up of your product.
As much as overly dark or distracting backgrounds take away from the quality of your product, so too do stark white backgrounds. It’s not a great idea to remove the background of your product and then show it ‘floating’ on a stark white background – this can be “jarring” on the eyes. You want some muted toning or softening of bright white.
One thing to note is that the colour and style of a background that suits one shop, may not work so well for another shop. So often lately on social media I am seeing posts and comments from overwhelmed and confused Etsy sellers saying “I read that we should only use white background”, or “I read that we should not use white backgrounds”, “I heard that we should now use wooden backgrounds) … and the myths go on.
There is no 100% right or wrong answer. Find what works for your items taking into account:
- Using a close up of your product
- Keep props off the first thumbnail if possible
- Use light coloured and lightly textured backgrounds generally
- Use darker backgrounds where it suits – but not if they obscure the detail of your item
- Avoid stark white photos with your image just floating in white space
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10 Images – Analysis of an Etsy Listing
Etsy gives us 10 image slots for a reason. I encourage you to use as many as you need to show what you are selling. Think of it like a shop window – people have the opportunity online to view items without touching them, so they want know:
- What it is?
- How to use it?
- What colour/s it is?
- What material it is made of?
- What size is it?
- What will it look like?
- How is it packaged?
ALL without the benefit of physically touching or trying on the item. YES we have written descriptions which can tell Etsy shoppers all about the details and beauty of our products and digital downloads, but I find that most people will not go to the written details, if the images are not good enough to convince them that they need your item or that what you are selling will solve their problem.
I used to think that we should always use all 10 image spots, and I actually do this for my Canva template shop. However, don’t do it if it means showing the same or similar images of an item over and over for the sake of filling up all 10 photo spaces. In these cases, I suggest that less is more. I wouldn’t do any less than 5 or 6. If you think about it, by the time you show some different angles of the item, some lifestyle shots, explain a few details, showcase some other items in your shop, I think it would be hard for you to be including less than 5 images. Remember a few words next to your photo will answer a lot of questions a buyer might have, before they get to the detailed description.
if a listing comes in other colours, show the variety available. Even if the items are listed separately, it will encourage a shopper to browse your store and understand that there are options available.
humans are funny beasts and not all of us can easily visualise the scale of an object. In addition, with Etsy being an international platform, you have different measurement systems to deal with leaving some scratching their heads as to what 5 inches equates to and others wondering if the 80 centimetre long artwork will fit in the space they have in mind in their home. I’m a fan of showing the scale of objects in a relevant way. Don’t just throw in a coin or a ruler and hope for the best. Try to use a prop or a guide that is related to the item being sold. For example, in one of my templates for a crocheted baby toy, I show the toy next to a baby’s bottle, to give some idea of how big the toy is. In another project I have shown a timber sign hanging on a wall above a dining table to show as a guide – how big the sign is.
Include a video when you can in your listing – show how you create your item or show your product in different settings. This all adds to the visual marketing appeal of your goods and your shop as a whole.
Ugghhhh !! I’m hearing the groans even as I type this, that some sellers will think this is too much work – and that my friends, is where the magic of templates come in. Read the section below on Canva templates and find out how you can save so much time AND have high quality listings.
What is a Lifestyle Image?
A lifestyle image or mockup is showing people how your item is used in everyday life. As people, we are emotional beings. We like to visualise how clothing is worn, what you can fit inside a handbag, how a blue scrunchie will look in different coloured hair, how the geometric artwork would look in a lounge room, office or nursery.
These are all lifestyle images to help sell your product. They are examples of how a buyer can use your item which will help convince them that it is right for them and that they need to add it to their cart.
Does this mean that you need to photograph every item in your store in different locations, on six different models or get a professional photographer to flatlay your products? No. Clear photos of what you are selling, plus a few Canva templates, and you will be able to list your items more quickly and make them look professional and saleable. Read on below for more information.
Make your lifestyle images relevant though. As I mentioned earlier, don’t photograph your earrings or your wine glasses in your backyard on the green lawn or rocks as they are not relevant to the item you are selling. In this setting, these props distract from what you are selling, confuse the buyer and often stops a buyer from getting a detailed view of your item. Not only that, it’s time and effort that you don’t need to be spending.
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I still remember the joy of the day I discovered Canva. You can use the free version (www.Canva.com), although personally I have Canva Pro because I use it multiple times a day for my business. The benefit of using a programme such as Canva, is that you can take reasonable quality photos yourself, even on your phone, upload them and create great listing images by adding backgrounds, text and other elements. This reduces the need for expensive equipment, a lot of time you probably don’t have, and also eliminates the need for a variety of props.
If you are not sure where to start, I have some Etsy shop listing templates in my store. Some are niche specific – such as for soap shops, candle shops and crochet shops, however these can really be used for any type of Etsy shop. I also have a general mockup template which can be used for any type of shop whether it is a product or digital shop.
The idea of using templates is that they are super easy to edit, save you a whole lot of time and up the WOW factor for your shop. With my templates, simply:
1. delete the placeholder images and insert your own
2. Edit the text
3. Change the background colour if you wish
The best part is you can use this same template for ALL your Etsy listings, saving you a ton of time, as well as making your shop look professional and consistent.
Remember – people act on visuals. If they like what they see in your images they are more likely to stay on your Shop and look around and to purchase. You only have 1 to 2 seconds to capture attention. Your product images need to be clear and they need to answer any questions your buyer has when they are browsing. Most potential buyers are not going to read the details in your listing descriptions if they have not been won over by your images.
Have a look at some successful shops in your niche. See how they present their photos and listings. But when you do this, keep it in the context that a lot of older shops, that have built up a great following and high sales, may have done so with less images, darker backgrounds, lower quality photos. In a world where online shopping has grown astronomically, and there are now well over 4 million Etsy shops, competition is fierce, and best practice is important. Etsy is a small business platform, so to succeed, you need to engage in proven small business marketing techniques to attract your buyers. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, yes it can be a lot of work, but your images are the deciding factor as to whether your views convert to sales or not.
Let me know what you think and I would love for you to share some before and after photos if you decide to update some of your listing images.
If you do purchase one of my Etsy listing templates – be sure to share it here or over on my Instagram as I would love to see how you put your personal touch on them.