I loved Stacie's post on how she sets up her photo "studio". I too love to pinch a penny and have a couple more things to add to her great ideas.
First is a link to a great place to get gradient images. When I take pictures for entering into a fine art show I find that it's best to take it on a gradient image. It is pretty standard. To buy a photography sweep (which is what they call them in photo language) it can cost up to $100. So I send these images to my local print shop and have them print it out for me on large glossy paper. Easy.
In addition to Stacie's idea of the photo box you can also add some more lighting by using some simple items. This link has a great how-to and it cost next to nothing.
It does take a while to get used to your camera and how it works. I didn't feel really comfortable with my pictures until I started getting some good feed back from others.
I think that good photos on your website or Etsy site can make or break you. Take the time to play around and try several ideas.
Thanks so much to Stacie for starting this great discussion.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!