Instagram is one of the leading social media apps that rivals Facebook and Twitter when it comes to the number of users. Instagram started in 2010 as a photo-sharing app and it evolved to become one of the most powerful marketing and selling tools there is. As of today, there are more than 1 billion active users on Instagram around the world and 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 read on. Instagram is a free app (with pay service option) that you could utilise to help you earn that needed extra income.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to sell on Instagram without spending money:
1. Create an Effective Business Profile
Your Instagram profile is the first thing that people will look at to validate the legitimacy of your IG 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:
Profile Name: Your profile name is basically your brand name. It needs to be professional, catchy and easy to remember.
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 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.
2. Post Amazing Pictures
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And I agree, and if the picture is really amazing, then it may be worth (or it may bring you) thousands of dollars (or whatever currency you prefer) too!
There are millions of users per country 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. 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 and you can compliment it by using artificial light sources. A well-lit photography space will produce clear 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 colours of your products in pictures should be close to their actual colours. 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 phones from your friends or family.
3. Maximise Visibility = Maximise Sales
Posting pictures of your products in 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.
Use Hashtags: Pictures in 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. While buyers in the Philippines will search instagram using #chanelph to find local sellers selling Chanel.
Integrate with Other Free Social Platforms: You can create a free Facebook Page, a free Tumblr Account, a free Twitter account and other free social media platforms that you think is relevant to you. I use IFTTT to automatically share my Instagram posts to 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 in Instagram, Ebay, Carousell, Shopee, OLX and other shopping platforms that you think is 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 in Ebay, Carousell, Shopee, OLX 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 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 IG Bio or IG stories to set the expectations to 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 IG Stories and highlight it so it will stay posted just below your Bio.
Be Proactive: A lot of the shops I saw in Instagram are selling physical goods. Put your self 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 in Instagram and I hope that you have learned a thing or two from this post. Feel free to share your best tip on how to sell on Instagram without spending money on the comment section below.