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How to Sell on Instagram: Emerging Trends and Platforms editorial staff editorial staff

Master the skill of social selling with these emerging Instagram trends and tools for business owners.

  • Instagram can act as a digital storefront.
  • You can create and sell products on Instagram.
  • Selling photos on Instagram is a great opportunity.

Instagram probably isn't the first platform you think of for social selling. Facebook is the obvious No. 1 – and you might also think of Pinterest or Twitter if you generate leads through direct product or sales announcements. But Instagram? It doesn't even let you hyperlink in descriptions.

Actually, Instagram is gaining a pretty solid lead for sales these days. As many brands have discovered, the visual nature of the site makes it prime for marketing. Now it can act as a kind of social portal to your storefront. You just have to know how to properly utilize it.

There's a small number of actual tools out there to help you sell on Instagram. But the ones at your disposal are good enough to make up for there not being more of them.

There are many creative ways to start selling on Instagram. Selling products, becoming an influencer, offering digital products or services, creating apparel, and selling photos are a few of the best ways to get started.

Selling products

Instagram is a visual platform, and the top-selling products take advantage of that. The bestsellers on Instagram include eco-friendly, technology, and fashion and beauty products. If you have your own product to sell, you can sell it on Instagram.

If you don't have your own product, you can consider dropshipping. The company that owns the products handles inventory and shipping, the customer pays you, and you pay the company the agreed-upon price for the product. Amazon encourages dropshipping.

Selling digital products and services

Some digital products and services do well on Instagram. The platform allows you to showcase creative fonts and web design skills. Logo creation and even digital sketches can work well.

Becoming an influencer

If you already have a following on Instagram, consider becoming an influencer. Instead of selling directly, influencers essentially advertise for companies. Many companies use influencers in their marketing strategies. All you need is a loyal following.

Creating apparel

Creating apparel can be a great way to start an Instagram business. It's not just for aspiring fashion designers – if you are creative and witty, you can create T-shirts. Make them unique, and consider having a theme that runs through all of your work. Hats and jackets are easy to create as well. 

Turning your photos into prints

Photographer Daniel Arnold made $15,000 in PayPal orders in a single day, all with one trick that isn't a trick at all: He asked.

Desperate for money, he asked his 100,000-plus followers if they would be interested in getting a print of any of his photographs for a small fee. The response was overwhelming, and his success was incredible. This shows something that we occasionally forget: the power of simply asking people to buy from you.


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Your Instagram followers probably enjoy your work very much. Why not see if they would like to own a piece of it in real life?

Services like PrintMePoster allow you to easily turn your Instagram timeline into a poster. It's more suitable for personal use than for selling (unless your timeline is highly thematic), but there are other features that allow you to sell Instagram photos as well.

Another one is Mobile Prints, which allows you to create print versions of photos on Instagram (or your mobile phone) in different sizes. It's a relatively new service, but worth a look if you are into creative photography.

Creating an Instagram store

You can sync up your inventory directly so that it updates in your Instagram account and acts as a catalog for your followers. Tools like Shopseen turn your account into a digital storefront. Just link the two, and once it is confirmed, you can upload images to Instagram. From there, you can add in descriptions and prices. Payments can be made using credit cards on a secure server the customer follows through your profile link.

While you wouldn't want this to be your only option, it is a good way to expand onto a new social network that isn't so crowded by other businesses. Plus, it doesn't have the ever-changing rules of Facebook, nor does it restrict your reach based on direct promotion.

The only place where you can hyperlink to your own asset is your Instagram description, and there are services that monetize that field to the fullest.

Soldsie creates a custom site that looks exactly the same as your Instagram account to prevent customer confusion and increase conversions. The app adds that shoppable link to your Instagram bio. It integrates with WooCommerce and Shopify, letting you import your products from those platforms.

Treating Instagram as a lookbook

Creating a storefront might not be your style. Maybe a lookbook would be better. You can show off your products for the sake of promoting your brand without directly selling. As long as you push for conversions back on your site, you should be able to build a solid foundation.

Elizabeth Victoria Clark is a good example of an indie fashion entrepreneur using Instagram as a lookbook to increase her sales. You can read how she uses Instagram in her interview for FirstSiteGuide and see her Instagram timeline here.

Image Credit: Zephyr18 / Getty Images editorial staff editorial staff Member
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