Do you have a great home-made product or a burgeoning collection of vintage clothes you’d like to sell online, but don’t know where to start?
While setting up an Etsy store is pretty easy, there’s something even simpler – selling your stuff on Instagram.
While the image-sharing app started out as a popular platform for posting mouth-watering food snaps or wanderlust-provoking travel shots, it’s matured into a multi-faceted online ecosystem with its own informal marketplace.
Here at MoneyMagpie, we spent some time exploring popular #instasellers from around the globe and – based on our findings – came up with a quick guide for selling stuff on Instagram.
- Why sell stuff on Instagram?
- So, how does it work?
- What to sell?
- Who should sell on Instagram?
- How much can you make?
- Top tips for getting the most out of your Instashop
Why sell stuff on Instagram?
With so many online platforms, dedicated to selling – such as Etsy and eBay – it may seem odd to try and ply your trade on Instagram instead.
Well, firstly, it needn’t be a choice between any of these platforms – you can use all of them in different ways and even for different platforms.
However, there are a few clear advantages to selling stuff on Instagram:
No transaction/processing fees
On any official shopping platform, it’s standard procedure for sellers to pay a small service/transaction/commission fee. With eBay, you currently pay 10% of your final transaction value (this is capped at £250 per item, however) and also a small fee of £0.35 per item once you exceed 10 listings.
Etsy, on the other hand, you pay a small listing fee of $0.20 USD per item, a 3.5% transaction fee and a 4% + £0.20 payment processing fee.
When you sell informally on Instagram, you bypass all of these fees, as you’re dealing with your customer directly via DMs.
It’s easy to use for both you and your customers
Sometimes shopping sites can be difficult to navigate and even intimidating to those who aren’t 100% comfortable with the idea of making purchases online. However, if your customer is on Instagram already, they are probably as familiar with the platform as you are and more likely to complete a transaction because of this.
You get to build a personal relationship with customers
Finally, because Instagram is essentially a social platform, you’re able to build a relationship with customers by “Liking” their photographs, commenting and maybe even contacting them personally when you have something you think they might like to buy.
You could also encourage your customers to share photos of themselves wearing/using the item/s they bought from you and then feature their posts in your own feed as a sign of gratitude.
This sort of personal interaction almost harks back to the good old days of village markets, creating community, encouraging customers to return for more purchases later on.
So, how does it work?
Basically, launching a shop on Instagram is as simple as setting up your own personal account. Here are just two things to keep in mind:
- Name & handle – Come up with a catchy username for your shop that says something about your product and try securing a @-handle that is as close as possible to this.
- Bio – Use your bio to explain exactly how the purchasing process works. E.g. “Quirky mix of vintage, second-hand and pre-loved items for sale. Birmingham-based. Free delivery/pick-up in Birmingham. £4.40 delivery throughout UK. £8.60 for international shipping. Comment SOLD to buy.”
What to sell?
Remember – people are scrolling through their feed in search of inspiration or while taking a time out and not necessarily looking to spend money.
However, if they spot something quirky, limited edition and affordable, they may just feel inspired to part with a couple of pounds.
We’ve made a list of products that work well and divided it into those that would be easy to send via post/shipping and those that are better suited to hand-delivery.
These items are all relatively easy to package and would be safe to send off via the postal system/courier, which obviously broadens your client base quite dramatically – perhaps even beyond the borders of the UK. A good idea is to add a disclaimer in your Instagram bio that shipping costs are for the customer’s account and will be added to the sales price of the item.
- Vintage clothing
- Hand-made jewellery
- Vinyl records
- Second-hand books
- Home-made beauty products
- Artworks and illustrations
For more fragile items, hand-delivery or pick-up from wherever you’re selling from are preferable options. This might mean that your client base is limited to your city/town/municipal area, but if you find a few loyal customers who spread the word, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
- Potted plants
- Baked goods
- Vintage décor
- Hand-made pottery
Who should sell on Instagram?
If you love collecting something specific (e.g. vintage clothing, vinyl records, second-hand books), but don’t necessarily want to keep every single item that finds its way into your lair, Instagram offers a good offset option. This is especially true for those that have an eye for really beautiful, well-preserved or unique items.
Whether you make jewellery, soft toys, clothing or baked goods, this is a great way to get your brand out there, selling to friends and family initially and then expanding your reach as they help spread the word.
This is also true for the green-fingered individuals out there who are great at propagating plants – if you pop them into attractive pots (even ones you paint/make yourself), you could get a whole virtual nursery going in no time!
Lastly, anyone who’s trying to declutter their home may want to turn to Instagram to sell some of their more stylish items. It’s a great way to get rid of unwanted stuff, but make a bit of money in the process.
How much can you make?
This depends entirely on what you’re selling – whether you made it yourself, what you spent on buying it initially and how unusual it is.
In general, you can’t expect to make a living from selling products on Instagram alone, but it is a great option for anyone looking to make a bit of pocket money through the pursuit of a passion
Top tips for getting the most out of your Instashop
Of course, selling stuff on Instagram isn’t as simple as just posting a few photos and having people falling over their feet to purchase said items. To get a popular shop up and running takes some effort, but not to worry! Here are a few simple ways to help you rise above the rest:
Post really beautiful shots
Instagram is a visual platform out and out, so the more beautiful your photographs are, the more attention they will get. Even if it takes a while. So, it’s important to set up shots that show off your product, but are also really appealing. Allow yourself some scope to play around a bit with settings, lighting and props and post only the very best shots you have.
Follow like-minded people
Once you’ve set up your account and posted a few beautiful shots to start out with, it’s time to start building your community. First follow friends and family who know you and support your new business, then start following other people who run enterprises similar to yours, finally delve into their ‘Followers’ lists to follow a few of their fans in the hopes that they may be interested in what you have to offer too. You’ll be surprised how quickly word spreads and you will become a standard feature in relevant people’s feeds. You can also use an app to get more Instagram followers.
Consider doing a little shoot every now and then
Whether you’re selling vintage clothing or potted plants, having a styled shoot every now and then could provide you with loads of beautiful photographs to use over a period of time. If you don’t want to spend money on this, just rope in your most talented and photogenic friends to help out.
Set up surprise flash sales at odd hours
If you find some of your stock just isn’t selling as well as expected, it’s time to slash the prices. However, be clever about this. Instead of just marking the item down, put them up for sale for a limited time only over the periods when people would be most susceptible to buying stuff online. These include 11am – 2pm (lunch hours), 5pm – 7pm (commuting hours) and 10pm – 2am (post-dinner, pre-bed, stretching over into the time when only the tipsy socialites and impulsive insomniacs will be browsing online).
Use recognisable hashtags
One of the best ways for new followers to find you on Instagram is to use appropriate hashtags to describe your image.
While this depends entirely on what you’re selling, a few generic good ones include:
It would pay off to put some effort into researching the specific hashtags used by shops/individuals selling products similar to yours.
Do trouble with your packaging
This is the final touch and the ‘devil in the detail’ that could win you a customer for life. Instead of just sending off/delivering your parcel in a generic manner, make it up in a pretty package of sorts and even add a hand-written note to thank the buyer for their purchase. This kind of personal touch makes all the difference in the way people approach your brand.
do an instagram-selling course
Jason Squires runs a very well-priced online course for anyone who wants to monetise their Instagram account.
Check out his website here to see when his next course happens. It’s worth the £29 or so that it costs to learn more about how to make money from Instagram.
Instashops to check out
If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out these informal UK Instashops:
The Second Hand Mouse
Bio: Pre-loved Disney collectables TSHM sources pre-loved park merchandise, events merchandise & Disney store exclusives available for you to buy.
Visit The Second Hand Mouse on Instagram.
Bio: Tops/skirts from £5 Dresses from £10. Negotiable pricing #shopmycloset
Visit Shaisdepop on Instagram.
🔥SOLD🔥 Vintage floral embroidery oversized blouse/shirt, in light blue. Size free, UK 8 – 14 Good condition £9 inc UK postage or offers! More info and pictures on ebay and depop @oliviascnd, link in bio. #vintageshirt #vintageblouse #vintage #blouse #oversizedshirt #embroidery #floralblouse #floralshirt #90s #80s #instasaleuk #depopuk #depop #ebay #ebayuk #secondhandsale #thrift
Bio: One-off pieces for sale 📦 UK only 💳 Available to purchase here by commenting/DM.
Visit Oliviascnd on Instagram.
- Make money from vintage clothes
- How to make money selling clothes on ASOS marketplace
- 5 steps to make money from minor antiques
- To do Instagram well, take Jason Squires’ course here
Useful tips for instagram users.