Tips for Etsy - After 30 days

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Blog entry by pastorglen posted 07-21-2012 01:00 AM 7001 reads 3 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, I’m a month into opening my store on Etsy. It has been a great learning experience, and I have learned a great day about posting and selling online. So, since this is a place to share and learn, I thought I would take a moment and give some points that I’ve learned along the way.

Take Good Pictures
If “A picture is worth a thousand words,” then then a GOOD picture must be worth 10,000 words. Lumberjock John Greco very graciously pointed this out right off the bat. But how do you take good pictures?

  • Use natural light. I stumbled onto this by mistake. I had taken some pictures inside the house using lamps for my lighting. The pictures were not bad, but not that great either. Then I took some pictures in a different corner of the house—but in front of a large picture window. The change to natural light made such a difference I’ve never gone back. There is something about the natural light that brings out the deep, rich color of wood—especially figured wood.
  • Use a creative background. Setup your project that has natural texture, color, lines, shapes, etc. I’ve used stones from our creek, an old church hymnal, freshly cut lawn, rhododendron leaves, hostas, a dictionary (opened to the word “pen”), and cut barn stones. I also used the sky for a set of pictures. I took my new mirror (shhhhh) and laid it on the ground with a bright blue sky in the background. The reflection of the pen with the sky in the background was really cool.
  • Use a tripod. There is no way you’ll get consistently sharp pictures holding them in your hands. A cheap tripod goes a long way to having nice pictures that look semi-professional.
  • Use the camera timer. This is a little trick that takes the “still shot” to a new level. Since I know that I will probably shake the camera when I push the button, I decided to remove this problem by letting the camera count down and take the picture with me a couple of steps away. The results: better pictures. Try it out. You’ll see what I mean.
  • Take close-up pictures. Most cameras have a zoom that will let you take nice close-ups showing the details of your work. Again, a nice, crisp close-up will show important facts about your work that a customer will want to know.
  • Take multiple pictures from multiple angles. It’s nice to have a many pictures to choose from rather than having to use the four you took—regardless of how good or bad they are.

Remember, the person looking at your work on line is not able to hold it in their hands. Use your pictures to show potential customers what you’ve done and what they are buying.

-- Glen, Pennsylvania, Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

11 comments so far

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 4129 days

#1 posted 07-21-2012 02:13 AM

Thanks for posting this information. I am planning on opening a store soon and need all the advice I can find.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 4347 days

#2 posted 07-21-2012 03:43 AM

Bingo, nice report. This is the reason advertising sells…..............

-- mike...............

View Sarit's profile


552 posts in 4384 days

#3 posted 07-21-2012 07:33 AM

Natural lighting isn’t as important if you learn how to play with your camera’s white balance feature and if you use lights that have good color rendition.
Soft lighting from 2 or more directions is what the pro’s do. If you’re using natural light, something as simple as a big white poster board reflecting light onto the dark side of the object can be the difference between a pro shot and an amateur one.

If indoors, just put another light on the opposite side of the first one.
Diffuse light is better than point light sources (single lightbulb) to avoid harsh shadows. If all you have is point lights, then some more white posterboard can be used as a reflector still.

It’s also good to stage your product in the environment you envision your customers would imagine them in. Like a pen would do well on a writing desk on top of some manuscripts with one of those executive toys in the background. A dining table would have place settings, wine bottles, maybe even a roast chicken. You get the picture. Half the work is selling the “image” that your product is an essential part of.

For close up shots, be sure to set your camera to “macro” mode (looks like a flower icon). This allows the camera to focus really close.

View pastorglen's profile


267 posts in 3935 days

#4 posted 07-21-2012 11:00 AM

Great addition, Sarit. More learning is always good.

I played with the “macro” settings for a few pictures, but it seemed to add color to the pens that weren’t really there. I didn’t want to misrepresent what the wood actually looks like. I wanted to make sure I’m getting the best pictures that show the wood as it really is.

And you’re right about reflective light. I used a piece of white paper to give a little reflective light on one set of pens—just to brighten the colors in the highly figured wood that a still shot cannot always capture. I also held a white t-shirt over the pens one evening to “soften” the light.

I’ve had some fun with setting. I can see people using these pens for journaling, writing letters, at the office… the list is endless. And I’ve used some of those backgrounds with good effects.

Again, good points that you brought out.

Thanks for filling this out with more details that all of us LJs can use!

-- Glen, Pennsylvania, Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 4231 days

#5 posted 07-21-2012 11:52 AM

These are all good suggestions! :)

My favourite backdrop for small objects is actually—- scrapbook paper! I bought a book of abstract backgrounds on clearance and I pick and choose between them. The 12×12 pages are big enough to work with and if they aren’t, I can layer a couple of the same subtle pattern and you never notice.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4579 days

#6 posted 07-21-2012 11:54 AM

All good advice. Now I just need to actually do it. Thanks for the reminders.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View RKaste's profile


144 posts in 3401 days

#7 posted 07-21-2012 12:04 PM

Thanks for the advice. Thinking about opening up a store on Etsy. Need all the help i get. Thanks for sharing.

-- --May you have fair winds and following seas--

View clieb91's profile


4264 posts in 5180 days

#8 posted 07-21-2012 08:16 PM

Glen, Thanks for all the information. My wife and I are going to be doing some craft fairs this year and thinking about putting a few things on Etsy as well. I’ll be sure to keep some of these tricks in mind.
I really like the mirror idea. Could be used in multiple ways.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View BigTiny's profile


1721 posts in 4133 days

#9 posted 07-23-2012 04:21 AM

Another option to macro mode is to go to a higher resolution, take the photo from further back, and crop the final image to size. You’ll get better depth of field for round items that way.

I like the image on the Bible, but it doesn’t really fit a pen. Better would be a notebook with some very neatly written notes on a university subject perhaps, or if it’s a more feminine pen, a love note on fancy stationery.


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View pastorglen's profile


267 posts in 3935 days

#10 posted 07-23-2012 12:31 PM

I absolutely agree, Paul. It was my attempt at being creative. A pen is used for writing… not reading. I’m on vacation this week and will probably do some new pens and some new pics.

Thanks for confirming my thoughts!

-- Glen, Pennsylvania, Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5650 days

#11 posted 01-27-2013 05:30 AM

very helpful insights. I’ve had an Etsy store for a couple of years or so maybe three, can’t remember exactly. Seems a hard part is to be discovered on Etsy, getting folks to actually find the items. I’m clueless on how to effectively help that to happen.

Thanks for the tips,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

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