How To Be Successful Selling Things Online


Do you want to sell stuff online? Whether it’s through your blog, Etsy, or another online shopping platform, learning how to be successful selling things online is paramount!

And I’m here to tell you…

Since we are such a visual society, the reality today is that if you want to succeed selling your ‘stuff’ online, your photography is going to be oh-so-important.  Note: When I say ‘stuff’ I’m referring to whatever it is that you’re selling; you, clothing, recipes, services, products, etc.

I know when you decided to start a blog, you probably weren’t planning on becoming a world class photographer, but…

When you sell online, your photos sell (or don’t sell) your stuff!

Your reader (and potential customer) can’t pick up and taste how amazing your blueberry lemon crescent rolls are, so you have to convey it in photos.

easy blueberry lemon crescent rolls

Your customer can’t try on that firecracker tank top you’re selling, so you have to show how it would look on her through your pictures.

How To Be Successful Selling Things Online

Your photos should make your ideal customers want to buy from you!

I want you to do a quick check on your site, do your photos sell for you? If not, fix them!

Today, I’m going to explain the 5 step process I go through in order to successfully photograph and sell things online.  



When it’s time for the photo shoot, prepare your items to be photo ready.

If it’s a recipe, pull together a few items that go with your food item. For example, my blueberry lemon crescent rolls (seen above) were photographed alongside lemons, a cup of blueberries and a towel.

Preparing clothing? Make your clothes look their best. Most likely your item has been folded, so 9 times out of 10 it will be wrinkly and not photo ready. This won’t do, so bust out the iron, trim any loose hanging threads, use a lint roller, etc.



A picture is worth a thousand words, so take the time to get this right. You’ll need:

  • A smartphone or nicer camera. (I’m a Canon girl, you can learn more about the camera and lenses I use for the blog HERE).
  • A clear, uncluttered background to take pictures against. Under no circumstances do readers want to see your messy room in the background. I usually photograph food products in a kitchen or on a table ready to be served. And anytime I can shoot outside to get beautiful natural light, I do.
  • Natural light. Flash is terrible, and no, I don’t care if you only have time to take a picture at 10pm. Wait until you can do it when there’s natural light.


It’s always best to put yourself in the readers/customer’s shoes when creating content for your blog and listings.

Many blog posts or listings don’t have nearly enough photos. At the minimum, you should show:

  • Front and Back (for clothing, books, signs) OR Front and Top Down (for food, products)
  • A Close-Up
  • If you’re selling something on Etsy or an online shop, to increase your chances of success, you need to show it on a body (for clothing) or in action (like a wreath hanging on a door).

If the online platform allows, I always add extra pictures:

  • Close-up of the label
  • Any interesting design details
  • A flat lay of the clothing item

Why is it important to put clothing items on a person?

People are bad at looking at a flat piece of clothing and connecting it to themselves. So, if you put the item on an actual ‘model’, and show a complete look, it’s much easier for a potential buyer to imagine how it might look on them.

For example, when I recently shot a bunch of tank tops for Cows x Cacti Custom Apparel, we shot at an outside location for natural light, with a model, showing a complete look.

How To Be Successful Selling Things Online Example

Something else to note when you’re taking pictures of clothing on a person…

Have them try several different poses for each outfit, such as a hand behind their head or with a hand in their pocket. For example, if you’re photographing a flowy dress, you could have her hold out sides of the dress to show off the fabric.

With the right tools and a little hard work, you can get beautiful product photos that are sure to draw in sales!



Sort through your photos and choose the best ones for your postings/listings. Once you’ve transferred your photos onto a computer or device, look through all of the photos and delete any that are blurry or too dark.



Pick and post several of the best photos for your blog post and/or listing, including the various angle shots discussed in #3 above.

Add content that clearly explains, shows details, and answers any questions a potential buyer might ask, so they can confidently buy what you’re selling!

Learning how to be successful selling things online is paramount! And great photography is going to help your selling efforts.

Cheers to selling successfully online!


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  1. Great tips Tana – I always learn so much from your posts! I’m struggling with the natural light part, since I’m one of those 10pm only photographers! That must be why they invented weekends! 🙂 Thanks for the really helpful advice! ?

    1. Yes, 10pm won’t work, but… are you using a DSLR camera? You can achieve ‘light’ manually by adjusting your settings.

  2. My customer / friend shared your website and this post is so helpful. I’m a rug manufacturer from India and our aim is to support the weavers as much as possible and we share photos of each rug being made from weaving to trimming and all those photos are shared with the end consumer. Do you have a link for growing Instagram or Facebook account ? Thank you so much!

    1. Hello and welcome! I don’t write a lot of blog posts about social media because things change so often within these platforms. But, I do teach how to grow Instagram and Facebook accounts (and ‘what’s working now’) within my BLOG EDU membership. You can learn more about it here:

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