Instagram is a great social media channel for promoting your work but it has one, big drawback – you can’t put live links in your posts. If someone sees your piece and wants to buy it, they have to navigate to your profile page, click to visit your store, then locate the specific piece they say on Instagram.
With each click and page load, your chances of losing the customers grows and grows. So why not sell them while you have them, right on that very same Instagram post?
The “how” is going to sound kind of hinky and off-putting, but 1,000’s of Instagrammers are using it every day to buy and sell clothing, shoes and books. Why shouldn’t they be using it to buy your handmade goods, too!
Here’s how it works:
A seller posts a photo of the item they want to sell with a good description, the price and a hashtag like #Shopmycloset or #Instasale
If someone wants the item, they “claim” it with either a comment, message or text. First responder gets it as long as they pay within 24 hours. No payment? It goes back on the feed for another round. That’s it.
Bloomfield Designer Finds has been selling second hand clothing this way for years.
Do You Trust Me?
The biggest hurdle to selling on Instagram is trust. Strangers have to trust that you’ll deliver a product that is worth the trouble and the price they’ve paid.
This is true of all online sales platforms, but it’s easier to trust someone with a full website, secure shopping cart and a long “about me” section than it is to trust an Instagram account.
Trust begins with solid branding. Choose a photo style that suits the feel of your business and stick with it. If your work is inspired by nature, take photos that include flowers, wood and other natural objects. If you’re retro inspired, use graphic backgrounds, fun colors and retro props. The object is to make your entire Instagram page look like a cohesive catalog.
(Image: MightyPop UK)
Photos are massively important on Instagram, but don’t skim on the description. You still need to sell the piece. Note sizes and colors and materials, just as you do in your IndieMade store.
Post a price that includes US shipping. Trying to add that on afterward is too complicated.
Next, do a search for the current buying hashtags and create one of your own. Use these tags on every listing so new people can find your sales.
Round out your post with clear buying instructions. You can ask them to email you or text your cell phone. Buyers can also message you in the app but only offer this option if you have notifications turned on or if you check Instagram every day. The last thing you want to do is leave a potential customer hanging.
Interested buyers should also put their claim in as a comment so others know that it’s already taken.
Once an item is sold, consider putting up another image with a sold overlay over the image just so others see that you really are selling items. If you’re lucky, the buyer will come back and leave you great feedback, which will also help build trust.
I Want it NOW!
Like all things internet, it takes time to build up an audience so don’t be discouraged if you don’t make a sale right away. Instagram is a very specific audience and it might take a few tries to find the types of items and the price point that will convince them to buy.
Remember, what you’re building here is a community. Post a variety of images, not just items for sale, as long as they’re in keeping with your brand. For example, if you sell geeky pins then posting cosplay images from a convention is right on point. If you sell nothing but nautical art, stick with images that put people in an ocean frame of mind.
Post often and be a good reciprocator. Leave comments, like and follow other Instagrammers on a regular basis.
Selling on Instagram isn’t meant to replace your Etsy or IndieMade store. It’s just another way to reach new people and build your customer base. With more than 500 million monthly users, you're bound to find at least a few people who love what you do.
Have you tried selling your works on Instagram? We’d love to hear about your experience and any tips you might have for new sellers.