Standing Out as an Artist on Etsy - This Creative Nest Blog

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Standing Out as an Artist on Etsy


April 21, 2020

How to Stand Out From the Competition as An Artist

So, you opened up the doors to your Etsy shop (or have been in the planning stages) with iced coffee in hand, motivational quotes on the walls, and photos of your very best work ready to go. You decide to mozy on over to the search bar and see what artists in your niche are doing in their shops too, because hey – we should all be aware of our competition, right? But you notice that there are 3,000 other shops, selling some of the same overall products you do. And all that confidence you built up seems to suddenly deflate like a balloon that’s just been popped. You find yourself with the same question so many others do (but you, unlike them, will not give up!) – how do I go about standing out as an artist on Etsy?

First up, you know my expertise is watercolor and that’s what I primarily teach, whether it’s watercolor tutorials or creating a watercolor business that works for you. That said, there are tons of watercolor artists on Etsy selling all sorts of unique creations, in all sorts of niches. Whether they focus on the wedding market, nurseries and babies, handmade cards or commissions – there’s not just “one” in any given niche. 

So how do you stand out? How do you compete?

Enter the Purple Cow. 

The Key to Standing Out as an Artist on Etsy: Your Unique Value Proposition

The Purple Cow is the key to standing out as an artist on Etsy.

Hear me out on this one. I’ve been reading a classic by Seth Godin (famed marketer and brilliant business man) called “The Purple Cow” – and it’s a fairly quick read, so if this blog post interests you, be sure to grab a copy and dig in for yourself! [Please note, I earn a small commission through affiliate links, helping me continue providing free content here for you on the blog!]

But the gist of the Purple Cow is that it’s not enough just to be “the very best” at something. (Um, excuse me – what?!.. I hear you – but stick this out with me.) 


I’m certain you’re a wonderful artist. I know you put time into your process, your creations, and your finished pieces. 

But so do 99% of other sellers. (Sure there’s the 1% that maybe aren’t in it with their heart or for the right reasons, but most folks get on Etsy to sell their artwork because they’re passionate about it and it reflects in their work).

Instead, you have to be unique. You have to have one or two unique features about your work that makes it stand out – and more often than not, as an artist, the basis of that is YOU. You have to tell me why it is that you do what you do, and why it’s special. What’s your story? All of that is, of course, being part of an artist. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Yes, you are the unique defining factor in your artwork. But how do you display that on a platform like Etsy, and how do you stand out compared to other artists who might have a similar style or background?

Well, we start to look at the ways and applications that your artwork is offered to your audience. 

You know I’m a big fan of digitizing artwork so that it can be used and re-used in a variety of ways and formats. And you know that can definitely give you an edge. But let’s look at some of the other ways you can stand out and offer something totally unique in the Etsy art marketplace. 

Application of Artwork:

Yep, I just talked about this in the last paragraph, but it’s worth thinking about the different forms, products and ways your artwork can be “repackaged” or “repurposed”. Check out this blog post to get your wheels turning and some fresh ideas. 

Dimensions of Paintings:

If you’re selling original art or prints, are there dimensions or sizes that your fellow artists aren’t offering? For example, I offer custom home portrait commissions and an 8×10 is absolutely the most popular size I offer (and that other sellers are offering, too) but I would be curious to see if something like a 22×30, or larger scale piece, somehow brought in a different unique audience, looking for even more of a statement piece.

On the other hand, it might be fun to think about your time/costs in a painting and see if you could size it down to produce more. For example, in the house portrait example above, instead of scaling up in size, what if you scaled down to a little 4×6 and were offering front door silhouette paintings? They wouldn’t take nearly as long, and may appeal to a different audience looking for a lower-cost option. 

Turnaround time:

This is a big one. Do some research in your niche and see what the turnaround time is for a particular product. Is there some way you can expedite your process? Or create a package or process that is more suitable for those “last minute” gift-givers? Gift cards or a uniquely packaged gift-certificate process is a great way to address this!

Packaging and branding:

This might seem like it’s not that big of a deal. But ask yourself this: what’s the reason you decide to go through Anthropology or Pottery Barn rather than perusing the aisles at Walmart? There’s nothing inherently wrong with one or the other, but the big difference between the two is the experience. The way you package your shipments, style your listing photos, and present your brand can really elevate your client experience. Of course, offering top-notch customer service is key here, too!

Go through the marketplace and check out your competition – what does their branding and client experience look like? How can you improve yours and stand out above theirs?

A Disclaimer

Now before you get overwhelmed, rest assured you don’t need to attempt every single one of these in order to be successful in standing out as an artist on Etsy. Instead, choose one or two. Excel in focused areas as opposed to trying to juggle every ball and fall short. Be a master of one, not a jack of all trades – right? As your brand and shop grows, your customers will see your consistency and become brand evangelists all on their own. They’ll sing your praises for these unique selling points in their reviews, and in their recommendations to friends. It’s a slow and steady process, but worthwhile in the longterm!

save your seat: free 3-day challenge to take your artwork off of the page and onto products!

I’m handing over the exact roadmap I teach my students inside of my Signature Course “From Paint and Paper to Products and Profit”.
Inside of the 3-day challenge, I’ll walk you through the roadmap in 3 simple steps you can get started with! We’ll cover the step-by-step process of digitizing your artwork, the unlimited ways you can use it to make money, and how to get started!

Free 3-Day Challenge That Will Take Your Watercolor Artwork Off the Page and onto Actual Products You Can Sell (Without Ever Carrying Inventory or Shipping a Thing!)

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