You asked Google “how to sell on Instagram for free” and found yourself on this page? Good for you! You’re about to learn 9 ways to make a lot of money on this social platform without spending a dime.
Selling on Instagram has been red-hot since it introduced several ecommerce features like Instagram Live Shopping and Instagram Guides.
Whatever you’re selling, you can make use of Instagram to increase sales for your ecommerce business.
Excited to learn? Let’s waste no time.
1. Optimize Your Instagram Business Profile
First things first, you should create an Instagram business profile and optimize it as much as possible. It matters a lot.
Why? Because more and more customers are turning to Instagram instead of Google to search for brands, sales, product reviews, and recommendations.
- 145k+ posts using the hashtag #flashsales
- 10m+ posts using the hashtag #discount
- 39m+ posts using the hashtag #giveaway
These numbers don’t lie.
Another reason is an Instagram business profile offers a bunch of extra features and tools you can use to grow your business, compared with a normal profile. For example, Instagram Shopping, Instagram Ads, Instagram Guides, Instagram Reels Shopping, and Instagram Insights.
Tips for creating an Instagram business profile that sells:
- Use a branded Instagram profile picture. It should be the same picture you’ve used for your profiles on other social media platforms. Doing that will help strengthen your brand presence.
- Choose a simple, recognizable, and easy-to-find name for your Instagram username.
- Include a short description (a maximum of 150 characters) of your business. Explain who you are, what you’re offering, and what makes you different.
- Add a compelling call to action to urge visitors to take a specific action, for example, “shop now” or “download a free holiday gift guide.”
- Optimize your call-to-action link. Use tools like Bitly to create a trackable link to your store or a promotion landing page. This is the only clickable link you can add to your Instagram page, so ensure you use it!
- Showcase content and offers with Instagram Stories Highlights.
Take a look at Skirt Society’s Instagram business profile:
What Skirt Society does well:
- Use the same name for username (@skirtsociety) and business name (Skirt Society)
- Emphasize the benefits of their products, “modest, classic, affordable XS-3X”
- Show a compelling offer, “free shipping on orders $150 and up” for U.S. customers
- Include a strong call to action, “shop now, wear now, pay later with @afterpayusa”
- Use Instagram Story highlights to showcase new arrivals, customers wearing their products (lovelies), shoutouts, restocks, shop small, blog posts, and reviews.
See? Skirt Society’s Instagram bio is all about their customers or what customers will get when shopping with the brand.
2. Set up Instagram Shopping to Sell Products
Instagram Shopping allows you to create an Instagram shoppable feed and a digital, shareable product catalog right on Instagram.
With Instagram Shopping, people can learn more about your products and purchase your products directly from the app (with Instagram Checkout) or click through to complete the order on your ecommerce store.
Instagram Shopping’s key features:
- An Instagram Shop as your customizable digital storefront
- Product detail pages display your product information
- Product collections showcase products in a curated category
- Shopping tags allow you to tag products from your catalog in your Stories or Instagram posts
- Instagram Checkout allows your customers to complete their purchase without leaving the app. This feature is currently available in the U.S. only.
Here is an excellent example from @camillerosenaturals. Their Instagram profile is filled with many posts with a shopping bag icon tagged in the top right corner. Tap on the product tagged, and you can see additional product details like this:
To set up Instagram Shopping, ensure your business checks a few boxes for eligibility:
- You have an active Instagram business account
- You own an ecommerce website (Shopify, BigCommerce, etc.)
- You connect your Instagram profile with a Facebook page
- You sell eligible physical goods
- You comply with Instagram's merchant agreement and commerce policies
3. Create Instagram Stories Shopping
Instagram Stories allows you to connect with your followers on a more personal, casual level. It brings you a huge opportunity to build trust and increase engagement in a short time.
Mention’s 2020 Instagram Engagement report reveals many interesting statistics about Instagram Stories. Here are some of them:
- 58% of Instagram users watch personal stories multiple times a day
- 19% of users watch Stories from beginning to end
- 26% of users comment on or share personal Instagram Stories
- 67% of users have ‘swiped up’ on the links of branded Stories
- 44% of users use Instagram Stories to promote products or services
That’s awesome, right?
Here are some Instagram Stories’ sales and conversion features you should keep in mind:
Shopping stickers: Use them to tag physical products in your stores. There are four types of stickers, including a shopping bag icon, a sticker with a product name in rainbow or grey, and translucent text.
What makes this feature so great is that no matter how many followers you have, you can drive traffic to your website through your stories.
Swipe up: Once you reach over 10k followers, you can add a “swipe up” to your Instagram Stores — another big opportunity to promote products, blog posts, and sign-up pages.
For example, @covergirl includes the View Product button at the bottom of their story. Viewers can simply tap on the button to access the link.
Note that you must have an Instagram business profile and over 10k followers to access this feature.
4. Establish Partnerships With Instagram Influencers
According to Morning Consult’s The State of Consumer Trust 2020 report, 69% of consumers say it’s very important brands deliver consistently on what they promise when considering trust. Nielsen’s research also shows that consumers trust personal recommendations above paid ads.
How can brands gain customer trust? One of the best practices is working with Instagram influencers.
Instagram influencers are a reliable source for product reviews, recommendations, opinions, and more. They share content in an authentic way, helping them gain a high level of trust from their followers.
By partnering with Instagram influencers, brands can take advantage of their influence on their audiences to promote products, encourage purchases, and gain a loyal following.
Another great thing about Instagram is that you don’t need to work with mega influencers like Selena Gomez and pay them thousands of dollars for a sponsored post.
Today, ecommerce merchants and small business owners have many choices to establish a partnership with an influencer.
If you have a tight budget, you can find nano-influencers (having 1k-10k followers) or micro-influencers (10k-100k followers) and offer them free products in exchange for sharing branded content on their profiles.
According to Mention, an enthusiastic micro-influencer with a smaller, but keen and dedicated following, provides better value for money.
Also, micro-influencers are experts of their niche and more personally invested in their online presence. They spend a lot of time creating high-quality content, reading comments, and addressing their followers’ inquiries personally.
5. Run Instagram Giveaways
Want to give your followers a bit of fun while still making a lot of sales? Enter Instagram giveaways.
With a giveaway, you can invite your followers to join a competition in which they have to do a couple of things to have a chance to win a prize.
For example, you can ask them to share a video of themselves using your product, use your branded hashtag, or tag a friend in your post. The rules should be as simple as possible so your followers can follow them without taking much effort.
Here is a great example from Pacifica Beauty (@pacificabeauty):
Some tips for creating a successful Instagram contest:
- Determine your prize. It doesn’t have to be something big. You can offer a discount, a free gift, a free consultation, a book, a sample of your latest product, or anything else as long as you know it’s valuable and relevant to your followers.
- Decide how people will participate in your contest. You can make two or three simple criteria for entry, like “follow this account, like this post, and tag a friend below.”
- Be sure to include the hashtags #contest, #giveaway, and #yourbrandname in your giveaway post.
6. Offer Instagram-exclusive Offers
One of the most common ways brands leverage exclusivity in their Instagram marketing strategy is by giving their followers exclusive access to deals… just for being part of their Instagram community.
Sattwa Skincare (@sattwaskincare) knows how to start off on the right foot. From their post, they state clearly what they’re offering and frame the offer around exclusivity.
What’s more, Sattwa Skincare limits the offer “until Sunday evening,” giving followers a little push to take action before the deal ends. This is an excellent example of creating a sense of urgency with an exclusive deal.
7. Show Your Followers You Care
Gaining audiences’ attention is one thing; getting them to stay longer (and forever) with you is another.
When you show people you’re truly interested in them and want to create a meaningful relationship with them, they’ll show their caring back to you.
Follow these tips to build great connections with fans on Instagram:
- Communicate with your followers. Respond to their comments and mentions, tag them in your photos if you reshare their post, watch their stories if you can.
- Send a direct message to foster a more authentic relationship with loyal followers. Be careful with this tactic because you don’t want to look spammy.
- Be friendly and flexible when dealing with customer complaints on Instagram. When you receive negative reviews or comments, do your best to resolve them quickly, directly, politely. Don’t let your customers wait so long to receive your support.
- Install customer service tools like Gorgias to create a seamless omnichannel support experience for your customers. Gorgias allows your agents to handle Instagram comments, mentions, and messages in a centralized dashboard, helping them remove distractions, work more effectively, and have more time to close the deals.
8. Sell through IGTV
IGTV is both a standalone video-sharing app and an extension of the existing feature on Instagram. IGTV supports vertical and horizontal videos with a 10-minute length for most Instagram accounts and up to one hour for larger accounts.
Done right, IGTV can bring a great opportunity to build engagement, collaborate with influencers, drive sales, and many other things.
Here are some ideas for your IGTV videos:
- Create tutorial videos. For example, if you’re selling cosmetics, you can create a series focused on lip care tutorials or maybe another about body care routine.
- Host a Q&A session. It’s great for answering questions about your shipping, payment, etc.
- Go behind the scenes. You can share how you source ingredients, how you manufacture products, or how your company looks like. Use it to build transparency for your brand.
- Stream an event. If you plan to host a flash sales event, be sure to share it on IGTV.
9. Sell through Instagram Reels
Instagram Reels allows you to create interactive videos, add effects, and stitch the video together right within the app. It’s a new way to make fun and engaging video content on Instagram.
With Instagram Reels, you can record and edit together 15 to 30-second video clips set to music and share them to your Stories, Instagram feed, and the Reels tab on your profile.
Brands use Reels to share stories, user-generated content (UGC), new product teasers, and tutorials. They even collaborate with influencers to promote products, announce sales, and more. As an online store, you should start creating Reels right away to reach more potential customers.
Start Selling on Instagram!
Many merchants think they have to make huge investments on Instagram to get a significant level of return. But that’s not true. You can start selling on Instagram for free with these 9 tips:
- Optimize your Instagram business profile
- Set up Instagram shopping to sell products
- Create Instagram Stories Shopping
- Establish partnerships with Instagram influencers
- Run Instagram giveaways
- Offer Instagram-exclusive offers
- Show your followers you care
- Sell through IGTV
- Sell through Instagram Reels
In case you’re looking for a help desk tool to manage Instagram customer requests, give Gorgias' social media features a try. Sign up for an account to get a full-featured 7-day free trial. You’ll be amazed at what Gorgias can do for your customer service experience.