By Jacob Smith, Guest Blogger – Maybe you’ve heard a success story or two through the grapevine of an artist selling tons of their work on Etsy. It’s not so uncommon, considering receives nearly 180 million visits per month.

But the real question in the back of your mind must be “how”? We’ve all heard the stories of success selling on marketplace platforms -- think eBay, Etsy, Artfire -- but getting down to the nuts and bolts of how it’s done seems elusive.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through a process for getting your Etsy shop in position for success, showing you exactly how to put your art in a position to be found, purchased, and loved.

Ready? Let’s start: (I’m going to assume you already have an Etsy shop up and running. If you are looking for instructions on how to start a shop, just visit and they will walk you through the process. It’s very simple, but you will be required to enter bank account information and pay a small “listing fee” for each item you choose to display. )

Selling successfully on Etsy is mostly common sense. As a rule of thumb, always consider what your potential customer thinks when they are looking at your portfolio. Does your work look like something valuable? Is the presentation professional? If you can say yes to those questions then you are halfway there. Follow the four steps below to get past the other half.

Show Your Artwork in an Attractive Setting

Again, put yourself in the shoes of an Etsy customer. You are browsing Etsy, thinking about that space in your foyer that could use a piece of artwork, so you click the “artwork” section, and take a look.

The first thing you notice about each image is how it looks. I don’t mean just the art, I mean the entire photo. In other words, is the piece of art shown in context (also called “in situ”) or is it just the artwork itself.

If you show your art “in context” that customer can easily start thinking what that artwork would look like in his or her home. If you show your artwork in an attractive home, your customer can start to imagine how attractive his or her home would be with your artwork in it.

In other words, show your artwork in an attractive context to help your customer visualize how your art can become part of their home. Deep down, your customer wants to create some beauty in their space with your work. Give them the opportunity to visualize that by showing your work in an attractive setting.

Material Details Are a Must

Think like your customer again, let’s say you like the look of a piece of artwork, but you want to make sure it is worth the can you tell? This question -- what is art worth -- has bedeviled artists and art appraisers for many years.

As an artist, you want to communicate the craftsmanship of your work. You can do this in two ways.

1. Show detailed photos of the brushwork and canvas, which communicates the amount of detail the piece has.

2. Explain the canvas material, paint used, and steps for care directly in your description.

Customers love to hear stories about how things are made, so even boring details can be interesting if you present them in the right light. For example, maybe you use a paint with a color that wasn’t invented until the 1800s. That’s an interesting fact and a detail you can include to show your knowledge about art history, inspiring confidence in your customer.

Gallery Affiliation

The art world, as we all know, is still very old school. One of the biggest signs of value is an affiliation with a gallery. Anytime your work is part of a gallery collection, make sure you get at least a photo or two of the piece in the gallery context. Moreover, mention that a piece was shown at "such and such" gallery in the listing description.

This is very low hanging fruit and is a simple, effective way to inspire confidence in your customer.


From the minute you sell your first piece of art, make reviews a central part of your focus. Especially if you are selling at a higher price point, reviews are absolutely the best way to build trust with potential buyers.

There have been a few studies done on the Etsy user-base that have shown reviews to be the #1 (by quite a margin) way to gain more sales. It’s an absolute must if you are serious about selling your work.

The simplest way to get a review? Talk to your customers about the process of working together. Sometimes people will be very open about things you can improve on...this is a great opportunity to take that advice and provide a better customer experience. Likewise, if the experience was positive, most customers are more than happy to leave a review.

I always make it a point to send a quick convo (conversation) through Etsy to all my customers after an order has been delivered. It’s simple and 99/100 customers appreciate the effort on your part.

About Jacob Smith

Jacob Smith is a designer and retoucher living in Chicago, Illinois. ProductViz is Jacob’s illustration studio, focusing on digital imagery and branding. Jacob has developed the Visual Intelligence method of presenting art. Visual Intelligence is the name coined to describe this process: turning a jpg (or other image file or your art) into a professional photograph in the context of a beautiful interior, gallery, or setting.


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