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1. Why sell on Instagram?

How to sell on Instagram: The complete guide

What’s one of the top four social networks worldwide with more than 500 million daily active users? Instagram, of course! Once a basic image-sharing platform, Instagram has experienced unprecedented global growth, making it a prime destination for ecommerce brands to market and sell their products. After all, where else do consumers spend an average of 29 minutes daily?

Of all social networks, the Instagram app is one of the most trafficked by consumers of all socioeconomic backgrounds and varying degrees of spending power. Top brands have already cashed in on Instagram selling, but smaller accounts have been left to wonder how to sell on Instagram successfully. If you’re unsure how to sell on Instagram, tune into this step-by-step guide.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Optimize your Instagram profile, content, and engagement efforts to transform your account into a powerful sales platform.

  • Select a specific niche to target your audience effectively and create highly engaging content that resonates with their interests.

  • Grow your Instagram following by consistently posting high-quality content and engaging with your audience.

  • Understand and comply with Instagram's commerce eligibility requirements to ensure a seamless selling experience.

  • Utilize Instagram's built-in analytics to monitor and adapt your strategies, ensuring your content stays relevant and engaging for your audience.

Why sell on Instagram?

If you are an ecommerce operator looking to build brand awareness, enhance customer engagement, and drive ongoing sales, Instagram is by far the way to go. With nearly 1.4 billion users worldwide, ecommerce entrepreneurs can easily take advantage of the massive Instagram social network to boost exposure and direct potential customers toward an emerging ecommerce brand.

Instagram is a social media platform that thrives on visual content, making it the perfect location for online stores to showcase products through Image and Video Feed Posts, Stories, and Reels. Even better, the recent addition of shoppable Posts and Checkout on Instagram allows users to browse products, add items to a cart, and check out all directly from their Instagram accounts.

Preparing to sell on Instagram

Getting ready to sell on Instagram involves strategic planning and effective setup. By optimizing your profile, creating engaging content, and understanding your audience, you can transform your Instagram account into a powerful sales platform. Follow our tips to start selling on Instagram. 

Determine your niche

2Determine your niche

Even with upwards of 1.3 billion active Instagram users worldwide, failing to nail down a proper niche will only cause you to struggle to capture customers’ attention. So, selecting a specific niche is vital to determine the types of products you sell and who you sell them to. Your potential customers are referred to as your target audience. Selecting a niche allows you to tap into audience demographics, like interests and buying behaviors, to create highly engaging Instagram content.

When selecting your niche, consider your general interests and the product types you wish to offer. Using Instagram as a market research tool, you can browse trending accounts, posts, and relevant hashtags that align with your interests to understand which niche and product types have the strongest demand. Some popular niches often found on Instagram include eco-friendly apparel and accessories, unique wall art, custom drinkware, and personalized photo books.

Grow your following

Growing Instagram following

Your brand's daily Instagram shopping success heavily relies on the number of followers it has. Investing in attracting and maintaining a strong Instagram following will not only increase the possibility of ongoing Instagram sales but also support stronger lead generation, brand awareness, and the constant attraction of new followers.

To grow your Instagram following effectively, you must remain consistent with your posting and engagement efforts. Instagram users are far more enticed to follow and interact with your page if they frequently encounter interesting, high-quality content showcasing your brand. Likewise, routinely respond to comments and Story replies to encourage users to follow your account.

Understand Instagram's commerce eligibility requirements

Before setting up your online store, Instagram will require you to review their Commerce Eligibility Requirements to ensure you offer eligible products, verify your business website domain, and confirm you are in a supported market.

Understanding Instagram's commerce eligibility requirements is crucial for a seamless selling experience. Ensure your business complies with Instagram's policies, such as adhering to community guidelines and having a connected Facebook Page. Regularly review these requirements as they may evolve, impacting your selling capabilities.

How to set up Instagram Shopping

Setting up Instagram Shopping is essential for businesses wanting to sell products directly through their Instagram profiles. Our tips will walk you through the steps needed to create a seamless shopping experience for your customers, boosting sales and engagement.

1. Switch to an Instagram business account

3Create an Instagram Shop

If you’ll be using the Instagram platform for ecommerce, switching from a personal profile to a business profile is helpful. Why? You must convert your brand account from a personal Instagram account to a professional account to gain access to the many Instagram shopping and business tools, such as paid ads, insights, scheduled posting, and shoppable Instagram posts.

Fortunately, creating an Instagram business profile is pretty simple. Open your Instagram app and toggle to your Settings. Click on Account, and hit Switch account type. Once the switch is final, you officially possess an Instagram business profile! You can access the platform’s many business tools from here and open the door to a successful virtual Instagram shop.

2. Connect to a Facebook page

Connecting your Instagram account to a Facebook Page is a crucial step in setting up Instagram shopping. Begin by ensuring you have a Facebook Page for your business. If you don't have one, create one through your Facebook account. Next, log in to your Instagram account and navigate to your profile settings. Under "Account," select "Linked Accounts" and choose Facebook. Follow the prompts to log in to your Facebook account and select the Page you want to link.

After linking, go back to your Instagram settings, and under "Business," select "Instagram Shopping." Follow the steps to submit your account for review, ensuring you meet Instagram's eligibility requirements. This process may take a few days. Once approved, you can start tagging products in your posts and stories, providing a direct shopping experience for your followers. Regularly updating your product catalog on the Facebook business page will ensure your Instagram shop remains current and attractive to potential customers.

3. Create an Instagram Shop

Now that you’ve switched over to an Instagram business account, you can create a Shop that provides access to various Instagram shopping capabilities, including product tags, product launches, and product catalog development. 

Similar to a business account, setting up your Instagram Shop is painless. You will simply need to go back to Settings and select Creator. Click on Set up Instagram Shopping, where you can complete the various setup stages, including website verification, sales channel selection, checkout preferences, and product catalog optimization.

4. Upload your product catalog

Uploading product catalog

Uploading your product catalog is a crucial step in setting up Instagram Shopping. Start by using Instagram's Catalog Manager, a tool within Facebook Business Manager, to create and manage your product catalog. To begin, navigate to the Commerce Manager and select adding a new catalog. You can manually add products or connect an existing ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce for seamless integration.

For ecommerce platform integration, ensure your platform supports Instagram Shopping. Shopify, for instance, offers a straightforward integration process. Connect your Shopify store to Facebook, then link it to your Instagram account. This connection allows automatic syncing of your product catalog, keeping it up to date with minimal effort.

Accurate and detailed product information is vital for a successful setup. Include high-quality images, precise descriptions, and correct pricing. Once your catalog is uploaded and reviewed, you can start tagging products in your Instagram posts and stories, providing a smooth shopping experience for your followers.

5. Submit your account for review

This process ensures that your account complies with Instagram's commerce policies. Begin by navigating to your profile settings and selecting "Business." From there, click on "Sign Up for Shopping" and follow the prompts to connect your account to a catalog.

If you haven't set up a catalog yet, you can do so through Facebook's Business Manager or an ecommerce platform like Shopify. After linking your catalog, your account will be submitted for review automatically. This review process typically takes a few days but can take longer if additional verification is needed.

During this period, Instagram will evaluate your account to ensure it meets all the necessary requirements. You will receive a notification once your account has been approved. If your account is not approved, review the feedback provided, make the necessary adjustments, and resubmit for review.

Selling on Instagram: Strategies and tips

5Selling on Instagram Four tips for more sales

Discover how to maximize your sales on Instagram with effective strategies and tips. From crafting engaging posts to leveraging Instagram Stories, learn the best practices to boost your brand's visibility and drive more conversions on this popular social media platform.

Share shoppable posts and stories

With your shop ready to go, now is the time to tap into the power of your newly acquired Instagram shopping tools — especially the shoppable Instagram post! Shoppable posts look like regular Instagram Stories, Reels, or Feed Posts but include product tags to inform users of a featured item’s name, pricing, and buying methods. Shoppable posts can appear organically on a user’s Instagram feed and Explore Page or display as a paid advertisement (if you wish to invest in those services).

However, when your followers log into their Instagram app and begin browsing their feed, the last thing they’ll want to see is a wall of shoppable posts. It’s important not to rely on shoppable posts alone to keep followers engaged. Instead, give users a nice mix of organic content alongside your product-heavy Instagram Posts and Stories. As a general rule of thumb, try to shoot for your Instagram content feed to consist of 20% shoppable and 80% regular Posts, Stories, and Reels.

Run Instagram shopping ads

In addition to organic posts, an Instagram business account enables you to create Instagram shopping ads, which run paid ads across the platform. On a small scale, your shoppable posts can be run as paid advertisements with the same functions as above — the only difference is that the post will be promoted to the user's feeds and flagged as sponsored content. Other popular types of ecommerce Instagram ads include:

  • Story ads that promote your Instagram profile

  • Image and video ads that advertise your overall brand

  • Carousel and collection ads that display multiple products

  • Explore and Reels ads that can contain multiple product tags

You can construct various ads on the Instagram ads manager,where you’ll need to set your ad budget and schedule, define the audience you wish to target, decide on ad placements, and select the specific ad format you wish to use (such as image, video, carousel). Bear in mind that you need a Facebook page to access the Instagram ad manager and connect your business page.

Create reels

Creating Instagram reels

If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you’ve likely noticed the increased number of Reels popping up across the platform. While the Instagram algorithm is subject to countless changes, Reels are rumored to be a shortcut to land on more users' Explore Pages. Some brands even claim that including Reels in your social media strategy can enhance your engagement rate by up to 500%!

Remember that these posts can also be equipped with relevant product tags when developing Instagram Reels to showcase your brand and products. These product tags allow users to review product details and purchasing methods to encourage a sale quickly. To ensure your Reels stand out from your competitors, experiment with the various audio, AR filters, and text capabilities that appeal to your niche target audience and drive stronger engagement.

Leverage user-generated content

When it comes to social media, user-generated content (UGC) is priceless for enhancing brand awareness and building trust for an online shop. As the name might suggest, UGC refers to images, videos, and other types of media created by real users of your product. It’s vital to monitor your brand hashtags and mentions and repost UGC—with the creator’s permission, of course!

If you check the hashtags for your brand and discover there’s not much content beyond what you’ve produced, make it a point to ask your customers to create some. For instance, you can launch a product giveaway and encourage followers to post a picture or video of them using your product with a certain hashtag to earn entries. The more entries that roll in, the more UGC you receive!

Collaborate with influencers

Instagram influencers are social media micro-celebrities who have already built a massive following and, oftentimes, notability amongst certain niches and product markets just like yours. Social media influencers are typically open to becoming brand ambassadors for various companies in exchange for payment, complimentary products, or even their own social media exposure.

If you wish to collaborate with influencers to boost exposure, you must conduct market research to determine which individuals represent your brand. These individuals should align with your brand’s general niche and boast an Instagram following that matches your target market.

Use appropriate hashtags

While hashtags are used across every social media platform, they’re a primary feature on Instagram. On such a massive network, brands often use Instagram hashtags to make their content more easily discoverable and provide users with a simplified method of locating certain content.

For example, #mensfashion and #customizableclothing are great examples of hashtags that can help Instagram users discover content from brands that pertain to specific niches. However, these are still very broad hashtags, so include your branded hashtag with other relevant hashtags to help users quickly discover your content and locate your brand’s Instagram page.

Take advantage of Instagram checkout

Remember those shoppable posts we’ve been talking about? Checkout on Instagram is the secret ingredient for that! Most shoppable posts direct users to an ecommerce website to make a purchase. Checkout on Instagram allows users to make direct purchases from the Instagram platform. It dramatically simplifies the shopping experience so eligible sellers can process orders and securely collect customer payments directly on the Instagram App.

Optimize your Instagram bio

Your Instagram bio is your brand's first impression on potential customers; therefore, you should optimize it effectively. Start by crafting a concise and compelling description that clearly conveys who you are and what you offer. Use keywords relevant to your niche to enhance searchability. Include a call-to-action (CTA) to guide visitors on what to do next, whether visiting your website, checking out your latest products, or contacting you directly.

Leverage the link in your bio wisely. Since Instagram allows only one clickable link, consider using tools like Linktree or a custom landing page to direct followers to multiple destinations. Incorporate branded hashtags to boost your visibility and encourage user-generated content.

Schedule posts for optimal times

Scheduling posts for optimal times is crucial for maximizing engagement on Instagram. To ensure your content reaches the widest audience, analyze when your followers are most active. Use Instagram Insights or other analytics tools to determine peak times, typically varying by day and audience demographics. Posting during these high-traffic periods increases the likelihood of likes, comments, and shares, boosting your content's visibility.

Consistency is key; maintaining a regular posting schedule helps build anticipation and keeps your audience engaged. Plan your content calendar in advance, aligning your posts with strategic goals, seasonal trends, or promotional events. Utilize scheduling tools like Later, Buffer, or Hootsuite to automate your posts, ensuring they go live at the perfect moments without manual intervention.

Engage actively with your community

Engaging with community

Engaging actively with your community is essential for building a loyal customer base on Instagram. Start by responding promptly to comments and direct messages to show your followers that you value their input and care about their experiences. Encourage interaction by asking questions in captions, running polls in your Stories, and hosting live Q&A sessions. These actions increase engagement and provide valuable insights into your audience’s preferences and needs.

Additionally, showcasing user-generated content is a powerful way to foster a sense of community. Share photos and testimonials from your customers, giving them recognition and creating a more authentic connection. Collaboration with influencers who align with your brand can also expand your reach and credibility. Regularly analyze engagement metrics to understand what resonates most with your audience, allowing you to refine your approach and continuously improve your community-building efforts. You can turn followers into loyal customers and brand advocates by staying active and responsive.

Host live sessions to showcase products

Hosting live sessions on Instagram is a powerful way to showcase your products and engage with your audience in real time. Live sessions create an interactive platform where you can instantly demonstrate your products, highlight their features, and answer customer queries. This not only builds trust but also provides a more personalized shopping experience.

To make the most of your live sessions, plan them in advance and promote them across your social media channels. During the live session, ensure a clear structure, focusing on key product features and benefits. Encourage viewers to ask questions and provide feedback, making the session as interactive as possible.

Additionally, use live sessions to offer exclusive discounts or special deals to viewers, creating a sense of urgency and boosting sales.

Use Stories Highlights to organize content

Organizing your content on Instagram effectively using Stories Highlights keeps your audience engaged and informed. Highlights allow you to permanently showcase important information and popular stories on your profile, making it easier for followers to find and view key content.

To maximize their potential, categorize your Highlights based on themes relevant to your brand, such as product showcases, customer testimonials, behind-the-scenes looks, and promotions. Use clear, compelling cover images and titles for each Highlight to attract attention and provide a seamless user experience.

Update your Highlights regularly to keep the content fresh and relevant. This will maintain engagement and demonstrate that your brand is active and dynamic. Additionally, featuring user-generated content in your Highlights can build community and trust, showing appreciation for your customers' support.

Monitor and adapt based on analytics

Monitoring and adapting based on analytics is crucial for successful selling on Instagram. Analytics provide valuable insights into your audience's behavior, engagement rates, and post-performance. Regularly reviewing this data lets you identify what content resonates most with your followers and what strategies need adjustment.

Start by using Instagram's built-in analytics tools, like Insights, to track key metrics such as impressions, reach, and interactions. Pay attention to which posts generate the most engagement and which times of day your audience is most active.

Use these insights to refine your content strategy. For instance, if you notice that posts with videos receive higher engagement, incorporate more videos into your content mix. Additionally, if certain hashtags or captions lead to more interactions, use them more frequently.

Start selling on Instagram with print on demand

Introducing print on demand as a valuable addition to your Instagram sales strategy can further enhance your success. Print on demand allows you to create and sell custom products without the need for inventory or upfront costs. This model is perfect for Instagram, where visual appeal is key. You can easily showcase custom designs on various products like t-shirts, mugs, or phone cases and offer these unique items directly to your followers.

With print on demand, you can quickly test new designs, respond to trends, and provide a personalized shopping experience. This attracts more customers and reduces the risk and cost associated with traditional inventory management. Integrating print on demand into your Instagram sales strategy can elevate your brand, increase customer satisfaction, and drive more revenue.

A print on demand provider like Gelato enables entrepreneurs like you to turbocharge your online sales without ever handling inventory or packaging customer orders. With an industry-leading production and distribution network, Gelato can get your custom products into the hands of your customers faster than ever before. Start selling on Instagram with Gelato print on demand!

Selling on Instagram FAQs

Can I sell directly through Instagram?

Yes! You can utilize ecommerce features on an Instagram business account to create shoppable posts powered by Checkout on Instagram. Checkout on Instagram allows sellers to process orders and securely collect customer payments directly on the Instagram App, making the purchase process dramatically more straightforward and appealing for online shoppers.

Does it cost to sell on Instagram?

No, selling on Instagram does not cost money, and there are no payment processing fees. However, additional Instagram shopping features, such as paid advertisements, will require payment.

Is selling on Instagram better than Etsy?

Yes and no. Instagram is a highly visual platform with high traffic and no platform fees, which makes it ideal for selling ecommerce products like apparel and accessories. Etsy is a dedicated ecommerce marketplace that provides additional selling tools but has various extra costs, like listing fees.


Next steps

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