“How do you know that?”

That’s a question I get asked all the time. If someone asks me a question, I know exactly how to spend 5 or 10 minutes researching it to make an informed decision about it, and then I can have an intelligent conversation on it.

But what I’ve realized over the years is a lot of people don’t understand how to do that. I guess you can say that researching is an art in itself.

So when I was talking to a “traditional” photographer who was having trouble with his business the other day, it didn’t surprise me that he really didn’t understand how to look at photography through the eyes of our modern day era.

“Yes, there really are a lot of ways to make money at photography. You just have to look at what your successful competitors are doing,” I told him.

“And how would I ever do that? Its not like they’re going to tell me what they are doing,” he said.

“Sure they will. Just watch.”

Let’s say we’ve decided we want to sell some of our photography online. We want the flexibility of being able to run the business from anywhere, and we like the idea of fine art photography. Etsy is just the place to go to find out what people are doing.

We’ll start by using a tool like Craftcount. Craftcount tracks Etsy top sellers by category. So if we look at photographers, here are the top 15 sellers on Etsy in the photography category:

Now that you have top sellers, you can dive in and find out what they are doing.

Let’s look at number one:

How To Research Your Photographic Competition

She photographs nature and travel, and sells fine art prints through Etsy. She also has sold her work through a variety of retail outlets like Target and Trader Joe’s.

She sells her fine art prints in all sizes. But I can also se she has a couple of niches that are very interesting – nursery wall art and iphone cases. Hmmm…

Think there is potential with turning your photographs into cases for smart technology? Yep, me too. That’s definitely something to pursue.

I also like niching, and the concept of using photographs to create nursery wall art is also an intriguing concept. How well could you do with soft images exclusively for moms looking to decorate their newborn’s rooms in a different way?

And if you did it right and started gaining a lot of exposure, you may even have a major company pick up your concept and bring it to the masses. Have you seen the way Target introduces new designers into their stores? Or Macy’s?

So with 5 minutes of time and looking quickly at one source, the ideas are already starting to whirl.

Yes, it really is that easy. You just have to look.

What can you find?

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