Etsy Guidelines for Listing Images

Updated Sep 30, 2022

11 min read

How to Create Images for Etsy

Images are perhaps the most important part of a listing on Etsy. Titles and descriptions are one thing, but draws clicks and drives conversions like pictures and imagery. Without images, there’s almost no chance to sell your products, with great images, your ideal customers can’t help but add to cart.

So much relies on your images. This guide will help you rethink your strategy for product photography and create listings that stand out from the competition.

How to add images to Etsy listings

Cover Image: The Most Important Image on Etsy Listings

Only one image displays on your listing during search results.

That is your cover image. The cover image is, by far, the most important image on an Etsy listing. It’s so important that you could spend half of your time during product photography creating the perfect cover image and it would be time well-spent.

The cover image has more roles to serve than a normal image, it must be effective at small and large sizes. Take a look a this example:

Example of three images where one catches your eye

You’ll notice that one listing stands out more than the other two (at least to me). The happy face socks are bright and colorful, which pop in comparison to the other neutral-colored listings. This is why you need to plan out your cover image.

Strategy for Etsy Cover Images

Here’s the short list of winning attributes of a cover image on Etsy:

  • Highlight the most important attributes in one image
  • Close-up. Use all 326x259 pixels
  • Stand-out versus your competitors
  • Think like a buyer, not a seller
  • Make customers want to click

One major difference between your cover image and the rest of your product imagery is that the cover image doesn’t need to completely show the product.

It just needs to convey the idea of your product and your brand, and draw clicks. You want to pique a browser’s interest and make them click on your listing — and if you don’t, expect them to click elsewhere and disappear forever.

Just like the smiley-face socks from above — they’re bright and colorful and make you want to click, but they don’t show they entire product.

Let’s take a look at another example:

Example of picture frames where 3 of 6 images are better

In this image there are two listings that are better than the rest. The bottom left two listings, by EventFrame and Austero. Each is effective for entirely different reasons. And they’re perfect examples of how you can leverage your different strengths as a seller to get equally powerful results.

First, let’s look at EventFrame’s listing for Handmade Wooden Photo Frames. Their image is striking. It’s colorful and even though it’s a small image, I can see the details and variation between each frame. But what’s noticeabley missing here? We can’t see any full products in their photograph but that’s perfectly fine.

EventFrame made the right decision.

Their cover image would be a mediocre 2nd or 3rd image, but it’s perfect as the #1 image on the listing. It looks great, draws your eye, and will make you want to learn more. In contrast with the other images it also positions EventFrame as a high-quality option, compared to the more generic listing photos. A little more digging shows that the EventFrame listing appears to be their best-photographed listing and is also one of their best sellers (no coincidence).

But Austero has another fantastic cover image in this example.

Austero’s Custom Photo on Wood has an excellent cover photo, and nails the Etsy customer demographic. We sell on Etsy because shoppers on Etsy want handcrafted, customized, and quality products. They want things that are more meaningful than Alibaba dropshippers can provide. And this is where Austero’s listing shines.

The cover image isn’t flashy. It’s not particularly colorful, though the wood-tone does stand out against the white background of Etsy. It simply highlights a couple smiling and embracing. It immediately gives you the impression that this listing is for people who want a more important and personal item.

Steal this strategy if you have personalized products. Use emotional imagery to highlight that your listing contains products that are special. This will position your listings in constrast to your competitors, because they’re generic and you’re special.

The other thing that Austero’s cover image nails is branding. Branding is what sets you apart from the competition and it’s what builds your business beyond single-transaction customers. You want customers to recommend your products to their friends, don’t you? That takes a brand.

Take note on the little touches. Austero’s cover image is the only listing which is being held by someone (see the hands on the edge). And it’s the only image that really zooms in on the personal part (and most important part) of a photograph. Let’s be honest, nobody really cares about the picture frame, they care about framing the picture inside. And only Austero’s listing highlights the picture being framed.

Not every product can steal these exact strategies, but any product and use the lessons from these two cover images.

And these are the big ones:

Remember to think like a buyer. Why are customers purchasing your product? You know that your product is high-quality and handcrafted, but why does the buyer want your product? The customers don’t want it because it’s handcrafted, they want it because it solves a problem — handcrafted, etc. is assumed because they’re on Etsy. Being handcrafted and high-quality isn’t enough, it’s the starting point.

You also need to make your listing stand out. This isn’t Amazon. If the cover image looks generic, it doesn’t get sales on Etsy. Use colors (if you can), zoom in, make the cover image amazing, the rest can be generic.

Why can the rest be generic? That’s the next section…

Every Other Image on Your Etsy Listings

Beyond the cover image, you need a totally different strategy.

Your Etsy product images should do three things:

  • Zoom in on the key features
  • Show your product in-use
  • Highlight the differences between your product variations

The only time a customer sees your 2nd, 3rd, 4th image is when they’ve clicked on your image. Since you’re not trying to draw clicks anymore, you’re trying to land the sale. And that takes an entirely different strategy.

Secondary images need to highlight all the important attributes of your product.

You need to show your product (and variations) from multiple angles. It’s even better if you can show scale. And listings that contain size variations should show a collage of different sizes.

Don’t just start taking random photographs. You should think about your customers, or just ask them “What made you choose to purchase our product?” Those key attributes are what you want to highlight in your images.

Etsy Guidelines and Requirements for Images

Before even worrying about your customers, you have to follow these rules for uploading images to Etsy.

Etsy image file types

Currently, Etsy only accepts the following file types for images:

  • .jpg
  • .gif (non-animated)
  • .png (non transparent)

Don’t use transparent PNGs because the transparency will be replaced with black. And that will look very unprofessional and will drive your customers away. Bad imagery makes you look like a scam or somekind of low-quality store. Let’s avoid that.

Etsy image sizes

Etsy allows images as small as 50x50 pixels. But unless you’re doing pixel art, that’s waaaay too small. Your images should be at least 2000px along the shortest side. There is no maximum image dimensions but the maximum file size is 10MB. Images will always display as a square on Etsy. So, make sure your images are square or will still look good if cropped into a square.

If you don’t have square images, you should crop your images into a square. It’s better that you do it, because otherwise Etsy will automatically crop your images, which can lead to strange results. Etsy has a built-in cropping tool that you can use. The cropping tool lets you cut out portions of your images. Generally, all of your product photography should be done far enough away to capture the whole product and then cropped to size. Remember, it is easier to remove parts of your image than add them.

If your image is too large or small, you can resize it. Making large images smaller works well. Making small images large, however, can lead to pixilation and bad results. If your images are too small, you should retake the photos or use an AI image enlargement tool. AI image resizing basically uses a robot to redraw the pixels in your image and works surprisingly well when increasing your image sizes by around 10-25%. If you need to double or triple the size of your image, there’s no hope. You have to retake the photos.

Image composition

Simple Background

A good background makes your products stand out. However, you don’t want to go overboard. If your background is too complex or has a flashy background it can easily overshadow your products. Generally, a simple white background is the best. This will also help you compose the photo, since the products will be front-and-center, you won’t rely on the background. Once you’ve gotten the hang of backgrounds, you can experiment with different angles and adding decorative items to the scene.

Like I mentioned above, you want to spend most of your time focusing on the composition of the cover image. The rest of the product images are secondary and only need to help finish a sale. The cover image is what brings customers to your shop.

Consistent Look

You want to format your cover images to have the same look and feel. Having consistent cover image solidifies your shop’s branding and styling. The target you want to aim for is customers recognize your listings every time they are scrolling through related products. And if they recognize your brand, you’ve already won. Customers are more likely to buy from a brand they know and trust than from some random shop.

Images for Scale

Images for scale give customers a better understanding of your product’s size. Knowing how your product compares to an identifiable object lets customers make more informed decisions. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should stick a ruler or penny in your image. One of the best ways to show scale is to hold your product.

Everyone knows the general size of a hand, so if they see you holding your product, they’ll understand the scale without needing to read your listing description.

Example of an image showing a product's scale

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