Are you a new ecommerce brand, hungry to start making sales?
Are you struggling to put together funds to create an awesome website?
Great news — you don’t need a website to make sales. All you need is a free platform you’re probably already using for personal purposes: Instagram.
In this post, we’ll talk about how to sell products on Instagram without a website.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Why should you sell products on Instagram?
First off, Instagram is a visual platform, which means it’s perfect to share beautiful images of your ecommerce products.
Whether you are a brand new business owner making products by hand, or you’re selling print-on-demand shirts, your potential customers need to see your product first before buying.
If you’re not yet on Instagram, you’re missing out on an audience of 1 billion monthly users — half of whom use Instagram Stories every day!
But the most interesting fact about these users is that 200 million of them visit at least one business profile a day, and 1/3rd of the most-viewed Stories are from businesses. Those business profiles could be yours.
Long story short? There are plenty of Instagram users, and they’re interested in purchasing from businesses on the platform.
And while it may be true that a huge portion of these businesses already have an ecommerce website, many others don’t — and are still successfully making sales.
This means you can use Instagram to create some traction for yourself until you’re ready for a full website.
So how do you get started?
Create and set up your Instagram account
First, you’ll need an Instagram account.
There are two types of accounts: personal and business. Always pick a Business account, because it will unlock many features like:
Adding a phone number and email address to your bio
Creating Shoppable posts
Using paid ads to promote your products
Accessing insights on your data (very important!)
If you jumped the gun and already created a personal profile, don’t worry. You can always change a personal profile to a business one.
Simply log into your account, go to settings, and tap the “Switch to Business Profile” option.
Heads up — you’ll need a Facebook Business Page to do this.
With a brand new profile, you won’t have much data available in your insights. But once you start posting and getting engagement on your posts, you’ll learn about:
Which posts or Stories are getting more traction
How many accounts you’ve reached in the past month
How many profile visits and website clicks you received
Who is part of your audience (locations, age range, genders, etc.)
This data will tell you what your audience responds to best and will help you plan out your future posts.
What to write in your bio
Okay, you have a business profile on Instagram. Time to make sales, right?
Hold up. First, we want to make sure your profile is attractive to your potential buyers.
If you have a phone number and email address, include those in your profile for sure. And when it comes to your bio, you’re pretty limited in the number of characters you can use, so use them wisely.
For example, sometimes a single emoji (and thus a single character) can speak a thousand words. Resist the urge to go overboard with the emojis, and only use them if you think they will be relevant to your audience’s style.
Your bio should communicate the essence of your brand and let your audience know how to buy from you. We’ll cover exactly how you can sell products on Instagram without a website later on, but take this as an example of a great bio:
Their bio is simple, to-the-point, and tells the audience what to do. Additionally, they’ve added the possibility for users to be featured wearing their products, so this is a great way to build a raving fan base.
What to post on your Instagram feed
It’s pretty simple — because you are selling products, you should feature your products.
This doesn’t have to mean that you only post boring still photos of your product lying on a table, either. Get creative with it and feature:
People using your product in various ways
People doing fun activities either using or wearing your product
Behind-the-scenes of how your product gets made
Creative photoshoots involving your product
Your product in a flat-lay-style photo
Just take a look at this feed from a handmade ceramics shop:
Every shot feels carefully planned, and the result is a gorgeous feed that makes you want to stock up your own home with these beautiful ceramic products (or is that just me?).
Make your Instagram feed “shoppable”
Instagram profile with an engaging bio? Check.
Beautiful posts showcasing your products? Check.
Now you’re ready to start selling.
Add a simple payment method
The less friction you create for your customers, the more likely they are to buy.
If you are selling on Shopify or Bigcommerce, you could easily sync your products with your Instagram profile and let your users purchase without leaving the platform.
But you can still create a simple process without a website.
One way to do it is by adding an online order form to your Instagram bio. You can quickly create one using a tool like Getform.
You’ll be able to customize the form and link to it right from your Instagram bio. Form submissions will go directly to your Getform dashboard, where you can view and download them at any time. You can also choose to get notified about new orders instantly via email.
If you don’t want to go this route, there are other options.
For example, although this specific shop does have a website, they start selling products on Instagram before they are live on their online store — by using the comment section. Notice they are also using the scarcity principle to encourage you to make a purchase before the item becomes available to a wider audience.
Although using comments is a good technique, there are ways to make the process even simpler.
What do I mean? Well, if I wanted to buy those earrings, I would have to write a comment. But there are no specific instructions for how to proceed, so there may be a lot of back and forth between me and the shop owner.
Let’s compare it to this one:
There are no questions left for me about the process to follow if I want these products:
I know the exact price point and how much time I have to send payment
I know how to choose my size and color
I know how to provide my shipping info
And if all else fails? I have easy access to their phone number so I don’t have to go looking for it on their profile.
See how clear this makes it for any potential buyers? You see a product you like on a post, you read the caption, you follow instructions to order.
Here’s another example. In this case, the company lets users know that the invoice will be sent directly to their inbox. They’ve also added an obvious “Comment to Buy” text on their image, which makes it clear to people scrolling by that this sweatshirt is for sale.
But what happens if you make custom items? You could always tell people to DM you for more information. This is what this jewelry brand is doing:
This is a bit more vague, but when you’re creating custom orders, you need a simple way to receive information from your customer first. DMs are a great way to do this and keep the users on the platform, which means less friction for them.
WhatsApp is another great tool to receive orders. Because ecommerce can reach international buyers, WhatsApp will allow you to communicate with phone numbers from anywhere in the world.
This brand is using WhatsApp to take orders, even if they have a website. They even mention what type of payment options they accept.
Be creative with your captions
You probably know this, but you’ll be competing with many other ecommerce brands on Instagram. So you need to find ways to stand out!
Posting awesome images is a great first step, but you should make use of your captions, too.
Captions aren’t just meant to tell potential buyers how to purchase from you. Before they make the decision to purchase, you need to serenade them.
This is especially important if your item uses the senses in other ways, like this wax melt:
You can also use your captions to describe your item, or paint a picture of what life can be like with the item.
Take this caption, for example:
They’re not just selling a skirt. They are selling the promise of breaking traditions and walking into a room like a boss.
Here’s another post from the same brand:
Keep in mind that this specific tone of voice doesn’t work for every client. This brand figured out their approach and creates captions based on their style — you should do the same.
So before you start posting just for the sake of announcing new products, take some time to research who your target audience is, what tone of voice they respond to, and how this correlates with your brand.
I could write an entire post on this topic alone, so I’ll move on to the next big piece of selling on Instagram.
Grow your Instagram shop audience with hashtags
Hashtags are used to show your post when users search for this term.
You’ve probably noticed that most of the Instagram posts shown above contain hashtags.
First off, remember that Instagram only lets you use 30 hashtags per post. You should make use of every single one of them to maximize your reach.
Not sure which hashtags to use? There are several tools that will help you figure that out, but Tailwind works especially well.
Not only will Tailwind allow you to schedule your posts in advance (thus reducing your workload), but they will give you suggestions for hashtags based on your topic.
They’ll also tell you how many posts there are for this hashtag. If you only use hashtags that contain millions of posts, you’ll compete with too many other people to get any significant attention. If you use hashtags with little to no posts, then chances are, nobody is searching those terms.
But hit the sweet spot, and you’ll maximize your reach.
Inside of Tailwind, those sweet spots are highlighted in green. You don’t have to get all 30 hashtags in this sweet spot, but aim to get at least half of them in that zone.
Cultivate your community to grow your brand
Here’s the deal with social media — it’s called social media for a reason.
Unlike a regular website experience, you have the opportunity to start a conversation with your customers.
This allows you to cultivate trust, find out what they want, and turn them into raving fans.
Don’t underestimate the power of community to sell products on Instagram. Make sure you respond to every single comment (except trolls, of course) so that your audience feels heard.
Just take a look at this feed of comments!
I’d go a step further and tell you to encourage people to comment on your posts. This can be done by asking questions about how people use certain products, or even asking for feedback.
For example, this artisanal soap maker is taking their audience’s preferences into account for their next creations:
The smaller you are, the more sustainable this is. So make the most of your humble beginnings and start growing your relationship with your audience right away.
Kick-off your ecommerce brand and start selling on Instagram without a website
You’ll find plenty of amazing tools to simplify your ecommerce marketing, but sometimes starting off simple with a free tool like Instagram is all it takes to kick it off.
No, it’s not easy — using Instagram will require you to publish content on a regular basis and engage with your audience.
But when done right, you can have a profitable ecommerce store without needing a website. Plus, you’ll be able to communicate with your audience much more easily, which is great to build a fanbase early on in your business.
Charlene Boutin is a B2B writer for hire specialized in creating compelling case studies, blog posts, and converting copy for digital entrepreneurs and SaaS businesses. When not writing, she can be found prototyping weird games in Unity or playing on her Nintendo Switch.Subscribe to our newsletter → Main illustration by Icons8