Can You Use Watermarked Photos on Etsy?

Etsy is one of the biggest platforms online where people can sell items of all varieties, but most notably handmade items! Now, advertising your items comes with the risk of people stealing and using your photos, so you may be wondering if using watermarked photos is allowed on Etsy.

Yes, Etsy sellers are allowed to use watermarked photos, there is nothing against it in the terms of service. However, for advertising reasons, it is recommended that you don’t use them.

If you are curious as to the specifics of why you shouldn’t use watermarked photos on Etsy, keep reading! I’ve discovered a lot of very helpful information, especially for those of you who rely on Etsy sales as a main form of income.

Can You Watermark Photos on Etsy

Yes, you can use watermarks on any photos that you own and Etsy wants more income and site traffic for itself so it would be counter-productive for them to ban people from trying to protect their images from dubious people that want to steal photos and make sham listings elsewhere to scam unsuspecting people out of their hard-earned money.

Now, just because you can, does it mean you should? There are pros and cons to both of these options that you really should consider. If you are a hobby seller, you may care less about the effects a watermark will have on the traffic you get to your listings.

Deciding what is best for you and your business may seem a little difficult or nerve-wracking, but this article should be a good way for you to get the basics of a pro/con list going. Don’t worry if you are feeling overwhelmed, having your own business can be difficult.

Why You Should Watermark Etsy Photos

There are some positives to using a watermark on your Etsy photos. Keep in mind, there are cons as well and you’ll need to figure out the best way to handle this issue.


The most obvious reason is to protect your work. It’s not even just about people using your photos on merch or something else, there is a very real issue of people using others’ photos to make fake listings and scamming people out of their money.

Watermarks will make it less likely for them to use your photos because the info on the watermark and what they have wouldn’t match up. It’s not a guarantee they wouldn’t still try, but it should make them at least think twice about using the photos you post.


The other good thing is if someone shares the photo on social media, people will be directed back towards your store so they can look at what you have to offer. This is especially true if the image is posted to a place like Pinterest, where a lot of stolen photos end up, but the watermark would divert the traffic to you instead of whatever questionable site the poster is trying to get it to redirect to.

So, it’s basically a form of free advertising that many people have taken advantage of. This should increase sales if people are pushing traffic to your website. A lot of these scammers won’t even bother editing the watermarks of the photo.

Most people are savvy enough to see the scammer’s fake listings do not match the watermark and will also hopefully report the fake listings. If someone does purchase one of these sham sales, they’ll bring the issue up with Etsy to get their money back and hopefully see that you aren’t the one scamming people.

Why You Shouldn’t Watermark Etsy Photos

Now, there are several reasons why you should think about not using watermarks on your Etsy listings, in fact, a lot of the reasons why you shouldn’t have to deal with Etsy advertising your products.


Etsy themselves recommend you don’t use the watermarks because it can affect some of the eligibility for your shop in their advertising.

The big one is that you make your listing ineligible for the e-mail they send out called “Etsy Finds”. They send out e-mails with some cool items for sale from various shops listed on their website. A watermark will guarantee that they don’t choose any of your listings with watermarks on the photos.

This can also make it so you don’t get put on featured listings or other advertising they do within their website. It also hurts your ability to get offsite advertising such as Google Shopping. These ineligibilities may negatively affect your bottom line and how many people actually see your postings.

What can I do to Protect my Listings

Etsy has some solid advice on how to protect your images from thieves. Some of the big tips they offer are to use brand-specific things in your listings so people can identify you and your shop from any fake listings.

The big one is using your logo in your product images. Not as an overlay, but in the actual photo, you are taking! This is a big one because it means your listing will still be eligible for all the advertising in-house and offsite.

Not only that, but you will be building your brand all on its own and you can use that to your advantage. Many big sellers have recognizable logos or fonts they use and this can really boost your recognition and generate more fans for your shop.


It should be semi-clear now what the positives and negatives are for deciding what option is best for you. It’s really a game of simply finding what works and maximizing the traffic that you can get to your shop.

Regardless of what you choose, there is always the risk of scammers stealing your images and trying to profit from your hard work. The internet is full of a lot of questionable people and those who want to make money off of your hard work, so just be mindful that neither option protects you completely.