Learn how to sell on Instagram like a pro, from establishing a business profile to driving traffic to your feed.
Instagram has something many e-commerce platforms don’t: half a billion of daily active users. And while they may not always open the app with the intention of shopping, clicking on an eye-catching ad as they scroll is all too easy.
One of the world’s most-downloaded apps, Instagram isn’t just for influencers looking for internet fame. It’s also one of the most user-friendly buying and selling platforms available. If you’re an Independent wanting to learn how to sell on Instagram, the good news is it’s fairly easy to do. Here’s what you need to know.
How to set up an Instagram shop 👷
Here’s how to become an Instagram seller in just a few simple steps:
- Set up an Instagram business account. If you’re already an Instagram user, set up a separate business account, or switch your personal account to an Instagram business profile to help maintain a sense of privacy and professionalism.
- Connect associated pages. It’s not mandatory for selling on Instagram, but having a Facebook page for your business, or even a dedicated e-commerce landing page, makes accessing your products easier for prospective buyers. A business account also allows you to set up catalogs with the Meta Commerce Manager, enabling potential clients to browse all your products or services in one convenient place.
- Understand the terms and conditions. Terms and conditions are never fun, but understanding and complying with Instagram’s terms is essential for anyone who plans to sell using the platform. Meta provides an extensive list of content prohibited from being sold on Instagram, as well as content that can be sold with restrictions.
- Create a profile. A business profile should fit the brand you’re aiming to build. Remember, you’re jumping into a vast and competitive space with more than 500 million daily users. Create a professional profile that will stand out to the people you’re hoping to sell to by:
- Including a brief Instagram bio that uses language and ideas that appeal to your target demographic. Make sure you’re clearly describing your store, what you’re offering, and how to contact you. If you’re not confident in your writing skills, Contra represents a wide array of copywriters who can help.
- Use an appropriate eye-catching graphic to differentiate yourself from competitors. Think about how you want to present your products to the world and keep images in line with your overall brand tone.
- Use keywords or hashtags to help Instagram users easily locate your product or business page. The easier it is for someone to find you or your product, the quicker the business will grow.
Get to selling 🛒
Once your business account is up and running, it’s time to start building the brand. Here are a few tried-and-true practices for getting your products into users’ Instagram feeds:
- Scheduled content: While the Instagram app itself doesn’t allow for scheduling, apps like Later and Buffer can do the work for you. Regularly scheduled content helps familiarize followers with the brand, making them more likely to click through to the storefront or other product pages. It’s also a great way to bring in new customers.
- Research hashtags: Using hashtags in Instagram captions makes posts and products easily searchable. When preparing the initial posts, research competitors to see what variety of hashtags they use. But be wary — overusing tags can actually do more harm than good. Use a select number of carefully curated terms (3-5 hashtags per post is ideal) to drive business to your site.
- Tag away — responsibly: In personal Instagram accounts, tagging people and places adds context and facilitates interaction. The same is possible with an e-commerce account. You can tag products to create a “shoppable post,” which allows clients to click on the tagged image and be taken straight to the product catalog or checkout page. Just be sure to not overdo it. Overtagging can come off as spammy.
- Use Instagram Stories and Reels: Stories and Reels are an excellent way to showcase a product on social media. Videos are a great place to show a product in action and express the personality behind your brand.
- Remember calls-to-action: A call-to-action (CTA) is crucial for driving business to a site. Examples of CTAs might be a link saying “learn more” that directs a customer to relevant information. A “buy now” CTA is appropriate when you’ve made the pitch and want to streamline the purchasing process for potential customers.
- Vary your ads: Instagram ads provide a range of format choices, but the important point is that you have to run them. Like regular account updates, scheduled ads keep a business current and visible in followers’ feeds and provide an opportunity to showcase new products. Mixing up ad formats (pictures, videos, Stories, carousel ads, etc.) also offers unique ways to highlight a product and build brand awareness.
- Take feedback/recommendations: Small online businesses tend to garner more success when they’re open and transparent and provide avenues of communication between clients and companies. Highlighting positive feedback or recommendations in Instagram posts is a sure way to drive sales.
- Go live: Instagram’s Live video feature is a great way to address consumers’ questions or concerns. It can also function as a way of building your brand and tone and connecting with a target audience.
5 product ideas to sell on Instagram 💡
Digital products and services are prohibited on Instagram, so if you’re a freelancer looking to sell your services, consider creating a profile on Contra instead. But if you’re looking for ideas for products to sell on Instagram, here’s a list to get you started:
- Printed material. Accessories that complement and advertise your brand are great for selling on Instagram. Graphic designers and artists could run a lucrative side-hustle in selling posters or stickers while working to secure clients.
- Brand apparel. A sure way to effectively advertise your brand is to have other people wear it! As your brand grows and becomes more successful, clients and customers may want to show (and show off!) their loyalty by wearing your logo.
- Brand accessories. Maybe you’ve got a keychain sporting your logo. A freelance writer might offer cheap bookmarks that have contact details on them. Having easily accessible items like hats or tote bags that grow your brand is another great Instagram business idea.
- Home decor. From wall hangings to furniture, home decor is a great product to sell on Instagram, where individual items and entire rooms can be perfectly styled to capture a user’s eye.
- Secondary markets. With enough expertise and an abundance of products, secondary-market selling (think: thrift stores, clothing resellers, and baseball card or comic book vendors) could be a viable and successful Instagram business venture.
Want help boosting your sales? 📈
Deciding what to sell and setting up a business account are just the first steps to learning how to sell on Instagram. But you may need a bit more help to get (and keep!) your IG store up and running. When it’s time to hire and manage employees or bring professionals on board to help you manage your page, you’re not alone. Contra represents a variety of talented Independents, from graphic designers to social media managers, who can make transitioning to and boosting online sales much easier.