Illustrated ecommerce shopping cart and shopping bags

How to sell on Instagram: complete guide, including sales tips

13 min read
Lindsey Fogle

With over 1.2 billion users, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. In 2018, Instagram created an ecommerce solution — Instagram Shopping — to help connect businesses with their audiences and drive sales. Because of its large user base and visually appealing interface, Instagram Shopping is a great platform to showcase your products directly to potential customers. Thanks to its full-featured purchasing support, customers can view your products and make purchases in just a few clicks, without ever leaving Instagram. 

In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to sell on Instagram and share tips for how to be most successful on this platform. 

How to sell on Instagram: step by step guide

The steps below assume that you have an Instagram account and a Facebook account, so take a moment to set those up before continuing with the rest of this guide!

Create an Instagram Business page

First, create an Instagram Business page, which will give you access to a range of features specifically designed for small businesses. 

If you would like to use your current personal account for this business, you can switch your personal account to a business account by following these steps:

  1. From your Instagram account, select the menu icon in the bottom left corner and click Settings
  2. On the Settings page, click Switch to professional account
Screenshot of Instagram settings, with “Switch to professional account” highlighted
  1. Choose whether you identify as a creator or a business and click Next. The rest of this article is best suited for businesses.
Screenshot of Instagram, with Creator or Business options for profile category
  1. Continue to the category page, where you can select the category that best matches your business type. You can also choose whether to display your category on your profile. Once you’ve made your selection, click Done
Screenshot of Instagram showing the category selection options
  1. Review and, if necessary, update your business contact information. You can choose to display this information on your profile to make it easier for customers to contact you. Click Save when you are ready to continue. 
Screenshot of Instagram prompting user to review their contact information
  1. Click Done to finish setting up your Instagram Business account. 

You can also create a new account specifically for your business, if you’d like to keep this profile separate from your personal account. 

Connect your Facebook Business page to your Instagram account

When your Instagram account is set as a business account, you should next connect your Facebook Business page to your Instagram. From the Settings page, click the See more in Accounts Center link.

Screenshot of Instagram settings with “See more in Accounts Center” option highlighted

In the Accounts Center, click Add accounts and follow the instructions to connect your Facebook Business page to your Instagram account. 

Screenshot of Instagram settings with “Add accounts” highlighted

Sync your website with your Instagram page or upload your product catalog

Next, it’s time to connect your ecommerce website to your Instagram page.

Instagram integrates with GoDaddy’s Online Store builder and multi-channel listing software, as well as other ecommerce website platforms. If your platform is supported, you can connect your online store to Facebook and Instagram from the Commerce Manager. We recommend syncing your product via these integrations when possible, since it will make it much easier for you to manage inventory and keep your Instagram product listings accurate.

If you are using a custom ecommerce website, a website built on an unsupported platform, or don’t have a dedicated ecommerce website yet, you also can create a product catalog manually from the Commerce Manager

Use Instagram Shopping

You’re now ready to set up your Instagram Shop from the Commerce Manager. During this process, you’ll choose a checkout method, which will determine whether customers will checkout entirely on Instagram, on your ecommerce site, or through direct messages. Note that beginning in June 2023, new shops must use checkout via Instagram / Facebook.

In this section, you’ll learn about Instagram Shopping’s many features and how to use them effectively. 

Create shoppable products

Shoppable posts are a type of Instagram post that use shopping tags to feature one or more products from your catalog. When posting product images on Instagram, tag the product(s) in the photo with these shopping tags, so that customers can see the product names and prices. Customers can then interact with these posts to purchase the tagged products from Instagram or via your ecommerce site. 

Screenshot of live Instagram post showing shoppable products highlighted

Create shoppable stories

Instagram Stories are a dynamic way for you to engage with your audience and promote your products. To create a shoppable story, add a product sticker and select the featured product from your catalog. Similar to shoppable posts, customers can click on the sticker to view the product detail page, where they can continue on to purchase this product if desired.

Instagram Stories showing shoppable products

Use Instagram checkout

Instagram Checkout allows your customers to complete their purchase without leaving the Instagram app. This reduces friction in the purchase process, which can help drive more sales by reducing order abandonment. Customers can save their payment information in Instagram, which will make it even easier for them to place future orders via Instagram Checkout. 

To use Instagram Checkout, you should first ensure that you meet all of its requirements and read up on the associated fees. Then, you can choose this checkout method (now called Checkout with Facebook and Instagram) during your store creation process or add it later on through the Commerce Manager. 

Use ads in the Explore tab

Instagram users can discover new content based on their interests in the Explore tab. When users click on a post in the Explore tab, they’ll access a feed of content (including ads) related to their selection. Users in the Explore tab are actively seeking to discover something new, so this can be a great location to run advertisements. 

To run ads in the Explore tab, select “Instagram Explore feed” in the placement section during ad setup. For best results, use eye-catching visuals to help your ad stand out in the user’s feed of photo and video tiles. GoDaddy’s logo maker can help you design custom logos and other compelling visuals in minutes, with no design skills or expertise required.

Create product collections

Product collections let you group related products so that customers can more easily browse products that are similar or related to each other. For example, clothing stores might create collections based on seasons, styles, or special occasions. This makes the shopping experience easier and more straightforward for customers who are shopping for specific types of products.

You can create a product collection through the Commerce Manager and then add collections to your store through the Instagram app’s shop editor. 

Sell on Instagram without a website using Direct Messages (DMs)

Even if you don’t have a website, you can still sell on Instagram using direct messages (DMs). 

To sell through DMs, you need to make sure your product posts clearly advise customers to send you a DM if they’re interested in a product. Then, you can share product details, answer questions, and provide payment links or instructions for using another payment method (such as PayPal) to complete the transaction. As you can see, this is certainly slower and more effort for both you and the customer than checkout on Instagram or your online store, but it can be useful for solopreneurs who are still validating a business idea.

You can also use the Pay Links from GoDaddy to create QR codes for payments, giving you more flexibility in terms of payments, both online and offline. You can learn how to set up QR codes for payments in our guide.

Tips to sell on Instagram

Now that you understand what features are available as a seller on Instagram, here are some tips and strategies to help you stand out from competition, increase engagement with potential customers, and generate more sales. 

Publish reels that promote your products

Instagram Reels are short video clips that are quite popular with Instagram users. Use Reels to showcase your products in action, share tutorials, or create otherwise entertaining content related to your store. Reels are a dynamic way to show off your products and engage with customers. Check out some tips for video marketing on social media, with specific tips for Instagram.

Create engaging content, not just product content

While it’s important to utilize Instagram’s features to promote your products, don’t forget to diversify your Instagram content. Not every post should be a sales pitch — share content that helps customers develop a relationship and attachment with your brand. 

You can share lifestyle images, footage of the product creation process, and other related content that keeps customers interested without necessarily pushing for a specific sale. This variety keeps your feed interesting and attracts users at different stages of the buyer's journey. 

Use the right hashtags to improve your visibility

Hashtags play an important role in helping your brand reach more customers. Because users can interact with hashtags to view similarly tagged content, it’s important to choose hashtags carefully. You want to ensure they are relevant to your brand and your products, so that users who are browsing through posts with those hashtags will be likely to engage with your content. 

You can create hashtags in different categories — for your brand, for your product category, and for the sentiment or emotional state related to your products. For example, take a look at the variety of hashtags used by Homesick candles:

Screenshot of Instagram post with hashtags

A study found that about 11 hashtags per post is a good balance to improve your discovery without looking like spam; the current maximum you can use is 30.

Use story highlights

Instagram’s Story Highlights make it easy to save and showcase your best and most relevant content at the top of your profile. This is a great way to address frequently asked questions, surface product promotions, or share compelling customer reviews so that customers can easily access this information. 

Use your bio to promote yourself

Your Instagram bio is a smart place to promote your business and what makes your brand and products unique. Share a compelling story around who you are, what you sell, and why people should follow you. Include a link in bio to make it easier for customers to find you across all the different channels where you communicate and sell. 

Collaborate with influencers

Influencers are key operators in the Instagram landscape, so partnering with the right influencers can be a huge win for your business. Influencers can promote your products through their Instagram posts and stories, helping evangelize your brand with their dedicated followers. 

Identify influencers in your niche that speak to customers that you want to sell to, then reach out to them to discuss how you might collaborate. Remember, you don’t have to reach out to the most famous and well-known influencers to benefit from this relationship. Prioritize a good fit over global name recognition.

Generate excitement with promotions and giveaways

Promotions, sales, and giveaways have long been a staple of retail marketing, and they’re even more effective when you can benefit from the global audience of Instagram. Create buzz around the launch of a new product or an upcoming sale by offering exclusive discounts, limited-time offers, or free giveaways. 

The exact tactic that you use should be determined by your desired outcome — for example, if you’re trying to attract new customers, consider a referral-based reward. Just make sure you are clear with customers about how to participate and if there are any specific eligibility rules that they should know about. 

Repost, tag, and feature customer content to drive loyalty

Social proof, such as customer testimonials and product reviews, are an increasingly important part of your product marketing. Encourage your customers to share their experience with your products by reposting, tagging, or otherwise featuring their content on your Instagram page. This generates loyalty with your current customers and helps attract new customers. 

Key takeaways

Instagram can be a lucrative platform for your business, since it provides many features catered to helping businesses engage with customers and increase their sales. Many online store builders include direct integrations with Instagram that make it easy to get up and running, but to succeed on this platform, you’ll need to showcase premium content that is uniquely suited to Instagram’s user base.

By following the setup instructions, tips, and strategies highlighted in this article, you’ll be well on your way to success on Instagram. 

How to sell on Instagram FAQ       

Can you sell directly on Instagram?

Yes, you can sell directly on Instagram by utilizing Instagram Checkout. This lets customers initiate and complete checkout for your products without ever leaving the Instagram app. 

Does it cost to sell on Instagram?

It’s free to create an Instagram business profile, add a product catalog, and use most Instagram features described in this article. However, there are fees associated with using Instagram Checkout, which are roughly similar to other payment processing fees you might pay for processing credit cards or utilizing PayPal. It also costs money to run advertisements on Instagram. 

How many followers do you need to sell on Instagram?

There are no specific follower counts required to sell on Instagram! While increasing your following can potentially increase your sales, it’s equally important to focus on creating quality content that will help you connect with your target audience.

Is selling on Instagram better than Etsy?

Instagram and Etsy serve different purposes, so some businesses will find that one platform is better suited to their brand than the other. Instagram is a social platform that is highly driven by visual content, including a great deal of content unrelated to buying or selling products. Etsy is a dedicated marketplace for handmade, vintage, and crafts-focused goods. Based on your target audience and product categories, you may find that one or both options are a good fit for your brand. If you’re interested in also selling on Etsy you can learn how to become an Etsy seller in our 6 step guide.

How do I accept payments on Instagram?

You can accept payments on Instagram through Instagram Checkout (where customers complete checkout entirely on Instagram), by directing customers to your online store, or by asking customers to pay via payment links or other apps (such as PayPal) that you can coordinate through direct messaging. 

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