Instagram is one of the leading social media apps that rivals Facebook and Twitter when it comes to the number of users. It started in 2010 as a photo-sharing app. And it has evolved to become one of the most powerful marketing and selling tools there is. As of the time of writing, there are more than 1 billion active users on Instagram around the world. Based on this report, in the Philippines, there are more than 9 Million users. If you are an Instagram fan like me and if you are on the lookout of a side-hustle that could supplement your existing income, then check out this step-by-step guide on how to sell on Instagram without spending money:
Create an Effective Business Profile
Your Instagram profile is the first thing that people will look at to validate the legitimacy of your Instagram shop. It needs to be an honest representation of what your business is all about. Here are some of the things that you need to pay extra attention to:
Create a Profile Name
Your profile name is basically your brand name. It needs to be professional, catchy, and easy to remember.
Create a Logo
Remember that there are so many online shops out there that are probably selling the same stuff as you are. Make sure that your logo is just like your brand name, professional, catchy, and easy to remember.
Complete your Bio
Take advantage of this space by putting a clear description of your business or by adding information that your prospective customers will find useful.
Post Amazing Pictures
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And I agree. If the picture is really amazing, then it may be worth it (or it may bring you) thousands of dollars (or whatever currency you prefer) too!
There are millions of Instagram users in different countries. And as I have mentioned above, there are 9 Million users in the Philippines alone. Each picture is competing against each other for the attention of prospective buyers.
Remember that your pictures will help you sell on Instagram effectively. That’s why they need to be clear, sharp, and beautiful.
Here are some tips on how to make your pictures stand out.
Good Lighting is the Key
Always take pictures of your products in the well-lit areas in your house. The best light source is always the natural daylight. You can complement it by using artificial light sources. A well-lit photography space will produce clear pictures. Personally, I use a ring light with a stand to ensure that my items are well-lit when taking pictures.
Show the Details
If you are selling preloved items such as bags or clothes, then you should take pictures of the different parts of the item. You can put up to ten pictures per Instagram post. Buyers want to see clear pictures of the items that they want to buy online because they could not inspect it in person. And they only rely on the pictures that you provide them.
Do Not Over-Edit
The colors of your products in pictures should be close to their actual colors. Do not be tempted to photoshop your items just to make them look good in pictures. This might mislead your customer.
Invest in a Good Camera/Camera Phone
Sometimes, regardless of your photography skill, if your camera performs poorly then you really won’t be able to produce the beautiful pictures that you need. If you are just starting out and do not have the funds yet, then I suggest that you borrow a better camera/camera phone from your friends or family.
Maximize Visibility = Maximize Sales
Posting pictures of the products you want to sell on Instagram may not be enough at first, especially if you do not have that much ‘Followers’ yet. Here are some techniques on how you could increase the reach of your IG posts.
Pictures on Instagram become searchable if the one who posted it used hashtags. The easiest and the best way to find out which hashtags to use is by observing your competitors’ Instagram posts. If you are selling locally, make sure to use the appropriate hashtag for your area.
For example, if you are selling a Chanel bag and if you are targeting buyers in the Philippines, you might want to use #chanelph instead of #chanel as your hashtag. The first hashtag is used globally and your item might just drown in the millions of pictures tagged with #chanel. Buyers in the Philippines will search for Instagram using #chanelph to find local sellers selling Chanel.
Integrate with Other Free Social Platforms
You do not have to promote and sell on Instagram alone. If you want to increase your sales, then consider creating a free Facebook Page, a free Tumblr Account, a free Twitter account, and other free social media platforms where you could promote and market your products and services. I use IFTTT to automatically share my Instagram posts on my Facebook Page, Tumblr account, and Twitter. The good thing about this aside from being an automatic process is, it’s also free.
Cross-post on other Shopping Platforms
Depending on the kind of product that you sell, you can also create free accounts on other shopping platforms and list your items on them. For example, if you are selling preloved items, you can post it on Instagram, Grailed, eBay, Carousell, Shopee, Facebook Marketplace, and other shopping platforms that you think are relevant to your business.
Just a word of caution though, if you are selling unique items in very limited quantities such as vintage items or preloved bags, make sure to update all these websites right away as soon as an item gets sold. For example, if you have only one vintage Chanel bag and it’s posted on eBay, Carousell, Shopee, and Instagram, once it gets sold in one of those websites, let’s say in Instagram, you should delete it right away or mark them as sold in the other shopping platforms where it is posted. This is to avoid having an unavailable item on your list of items for sale.
Always remember that any customers could potentially be repeat customers. And they could also recruit other customers for you for free if they fall in love with your products or services. Here are some tips on how to make your online customers fall in love with your business:
Be Responsive and Polite
Always make sure that you respond to DMs (Direct Messages) politely and as promptly as possible. Sometimes a customer will ask a lot about just one product and will end up buying ten or twenty items from you.
Set the Right Expectation
You can either use your Instagram Bio or Instagram stories to set the expectations for your customers. Some of the information that I’ve seen include shipping schedule, mode of payment, expected response timeline, list of couriers used, etc. You can create a simple FAQ sheet and post it on your Instagram Stories. Be sure to highlight it so it will stay posted just below your Bio.
A lot of the shops that I saw on Instagram are selling physical goods. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about the things that they may ask you before, during, or after a sale. Would proactively tracking the deliveries of your items be a great value add service to your customers?
These are just some of the best practices that I observed being done by online sellers on Instagram and I hope that you have learned a thing or two from this post. Try it! Start selling online and start earning a side-income!
Feel free to share your best tip on how to sell on Instagram without spending money on the comment section below.