Updated: September 17, 2013
Smartphones and social networking sites introduced the #selfie generation to mainstream culture.
But also, these two technologies have given birth to new opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Today, we’ll discuss how you can earn extra income on Instagram, the most popular photo-sharing app to date.
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr (via Wikipedia).
The app was first launched in October 2010, and is now owned by Facebook who bought it for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock in April 2012.
If you want to see how young the co-founders of Instagram are, then you should watch the video which I shared in the post entitled, Finding the Problem is the Hard Part.
Anyway, so that’s Instagram – and the important question now is, how do you make money on it? Below is a simple step-by-step guide.
How To Sell on Instagram
Step 1: Create an account
Make your username the same as your store name for better branding. Since Instagram is not really an eCommerce application, the buying and selling process will be similar to online classified ads.
This means you need to provide your contact details in your profile description. The most popular way is to give a business mobile number that is connected to an instant messaging app like Viber (so people can contact you privately for free).
Step 2: Create your product portfolio
Take clear photos of your products. You can use your smartphone, or use a digital camera. Most people edit their photos first on a computer to add the price and their branding, and then transfer the photos to their smartphone to upload them.
Also, don’t take just one photo, it helps to have a product shot, then a lifestyle shot or a photo wherein a person is using the product.
Step 3: Hashtag your way to success
Once ready, you can now upload the photos on your Instagram account. Minimize the use of filters, it’s actually better if you don’t.
Add a description and include important information that may not be evident on the photo, such as the size and the brand of the item you’re selling, if it’s second hand or brand new, and how many stocks you have in your inventory.
But more importantly, use hashtags!
What is a #Hashtag?
A hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #. It provides a means of grouping status updates in social networks, since one can search for the hashtag and get the set of updates that contain it.
This means if you’re selling an iPhone 5 case, then put the hashtags, #iphonecase, #iphone5, #iphone5case, #iphonecaseforsaleph and #iphone5caseforsaleph – be generic and at the same time, specific.
Then, also include popular eCommerce hashtags such as #forsaleph, #onlineshopmanila, #lookingforph, #igshop and many others so that your products will appear on searches for them, which many buyers do.
Don’t overload your photos with hashtags, at most 10 will suffice in my opinion. Just distribute and alternate them in your photos because people will most likely browse your account anyway to see your complete product listing.
Step 4: Be social
Instagram is still a social networking app. So don’t just upload products and expect buyers to instantly come.
You need to invest time and effort to also interact with other Instagram users and build a good following. You can initially ask your friends to follow you and “regram” some of your items. But in the end, you must build your own community.
It also helps if you can reach out to other online sellers and arrange cross-promotion campaigns, special partnerships and/or affiliate seller arrangements.
Step 5: Post social proof
Your Instagram account should not be limited to product photos, you can also upload announcement photos, screenshots of testimonials and even photos from buyer meetups that can help increase your reputation as a legit, quality seller.
You may also share funny or inspirational photos to engage your followers. Remember that in social media, pure hard selling doesn’t work. You need to make your followers feel that your account is worth keeping and sharing to their friends.
A lot of Instagram sellers use LBC to accept payments and for shipping the items. A good number also use Globe GCash, Smart Money, bank deposits and Western Union. Paypal payments are likewise accepted in some cases.
Whatever payment option that you use, be sure to never share them in public view, and open a separate account for security – don’t give your personal savings account number on bank deposit payments for example.
Moreover, be sure to have at least two contact couriers. One as your main shipper, and the other one as back-up or alternate just in case you encounter issues with the first one and you have urgent shipping needs. Xend is among the most popularly used courier as well.
Shipping costs can be covered by the buyer, or you can incorporate it in the selling price and just advertise your product as “free shipping”.
Either way works fine, and what’s actually important is that you deliver the items on time to the buyer. If you can provide a tracking number to the buyer, the better, too.
In almost all cases, the buyer sends or deposits the payment first before the seller ships the item. This is the reason why you need to build your reputation as a seller, so that people will trust you well enough to pay first.
And that’s it! Your crash course to making money on Instagram.
Have you bought or sold something on Instagram?
Please share your experience and tips below. Lastly, be sure to subscribe to Ready To Be Rich because more income opportunities will be written here soon. Thanks!