How To Make Money on Instagram Through Online Selling

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).

Read more: A Beginner’s Guide To Selling In Online Classified Ads and Auction Sites

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.


Final Tips:

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!

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  1. Hi Fitz, thanks for this article.

    Although I’m all for entrepreneurship and tapping on social media as a way to market your products wisely, I could say that there might just be a nicer way than place ads on Instagram.

    Firstly, an entrepreneur should have a shop, either brick and mortar or online. It’s a must, I think. A shop that officially lists products and runs payments and nitty-gritty stuff.

    And these nice apps like Instagram, they really are, for me, perfect as marketing channels – in a subtle way. For me, I think apps like Instagram, are to be used such that it is an extension to your shop, like your artistic side (when you post photos that don’t necessarily show the beautiful details of your handmades but have filters that catch the eye). Or to show that there is a person behind that online shop, and you post photos there of your lifestyle as an artist, etc.

    This is just my opinion. I am just finding Instagram to be sacred meant for beautiful photographs that we enjoy after a long day from work.

    By the way, I run my shop on But I use Blogger, Flickr, Instagram and Facebook as extension to my shop where I can talk about my thought processes, inspirations and nothing about hard sell.

    What do you guys think?

  2. Hi Shasha,

    If you’re serious about your business, then yes it is recommended to have your own website and/or a real storefront.

    But if you’re just looking for extra income, and not doing this full-time, then social media becomes a cost-effective sales and marketing channel, which can and should motivate you to pursue full-time entrepreneurship later on.

    Thanks for giving your insights. 😀

  3. hi fitz,
    thanks for this very informative article. I’m planning to start up my own online business. planning to buy stuffs from the states and sell it here in ph. I’m kinda baffled on sending the supplies from the states in terms of “how to”. Im pretty sure you would suggest doing balikbayan box, but it kinda takes a while to arrive. Upon doing research, there are other online sellers that seems to have their items from the states arrive in 2-3 weeks time. If I think on using dhl or fed ex, im pretty sure it would cost alot. Would you know tips in terms of courier that can send items from U.S to ph without having to cost much. thanks very much!:)

  4. “If you’re serious about your business, then yes it is recommended to have your own website and/or a real storefront.” – couldn’t agree more! The good thing is that actually selling on Instagram and having an online shop doesn’t confront at all! There’s a free tool that allows to convert Instagram account into a fully-blown online shop and by posting sales offers to IG you will automatically update your shop with PayPal “Buy Now” button. Could be a nice solution for those who are not tech-savvy enough to setup own storefront. Here’s a presentation on SlideShare that shows how to use the tool

  5. Great info.

    For payment as bank deposit….What’s the process in opening another account? Is it possible to have the account name not your real name and as your business name? Do you need a registered business to do that as in registered in DTI and BIR?

    Don’t want to register yet as I want to create a good foundation and following before registering.

    can you explain how consignment works with stores and what are typical terms people agree upon?

  6. This is a good for those who are just starting with their online stores. It’s also good if you diversify your platforms. It’s better if you have accounts in Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites.

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