Social media is rapidly increasingly in popularity for marketing our online businesses. Instagram is one of my favorite promotional platforms to use as an Etsy seller. Since our physical products are so visual, Instagram is the perfect place to share them with the world.
If you haven’t heard of Instagram, you might be living under a rock. Seriously. It’s the social media channel that made it possible to allow an inside look at our favorite celebs, get inspired to travel, work on our photography skills, and keep in touch with friends. Instagram is totally free and likely will remain that way, a la Facebook. Not only is it a place to get social, but also a way to reach potential buyers for our Etsy shops.
I have a personal Instagram account full of fun times with friends, vacation days, and other random photos. I created a separate account to promote my Etsy shop for a few reasons. First, although my friends support my business, I didn’t want to spam them with photos of wedding invitations. Many of my friends are following my business account, but keeping it separate was important to me.
For potential buyers, it appears much more professional to have a dedicated account for your Etsy products. I encourage the occasional personal post so that your followers do know there’s a human behind the screen, but adding family photos and/or memes on your business account regularly can send a mixed message.
As I mentioned above, consider setting up a new account for your Etsy shop. Start by downloading the Instagram app on your phone and click “sign up”. You can create your account through Facebook or by entering your email address. Make your user name as close to your Etsy shop name as possible.
For your profile photo, add something eye catching that relates to your shop. It can be a professional (or faux-pro) headshot, your logo, or a picture of one of your most popular products.
In the description area, include a short bio about you and/or your shop. The headline should include the most important keywords as these are considered searchable on Instagram. When people view your profile, they will likely first look at your photo feed, but also to your profile for some information. Here’s an example of my Instagram profile:
Add your link to the website area to make it as easy as possible for people browsing your Instagram to visit your shop. Putting it in this space, as opposed to your general profile, makes it clickable. You can add your direct Etsy shop link by typing “youretsyshopname.etsy.com”.
Linktree is a really great way to add multiple links to your profile. You can set up an account here for free and it’s perfect for sellers who have a stand-alone website or blog in conjunction with their Etsy shop. Label each so people can easily visit the direct pages of where they need to go.
Having great photos is key to gaining followers and drawing in buyers on Instagram. It’s also part of what makes the platform so fun! I recommend making sure your product photos are clear and really show off exactly what you’re selling. Have fun taking pictures of your items and add some styling to complement your product. Read more about how to take great product photos for Instagram from The Rising Tide Society and Pink Pot.
It really helps to appear professional by maintaining a consistent and branded feed. As you curate your photos for your Instagram, choose colors and a feel that represents your overall brand. People love seeing a put together, well thought out and cohesive profile. The more you’re able to put into creating a great feed, the easier it will be to grow your following.
It’s really easy to edit photos on your phone for Instagram to make them clear, stand out, and branded. My favorite is Pic-Tap-Go, as I like to brighten my pictures and it’s super easy to use. There are tons of photo editing apps out there, so play around with them and see what works best for you! Others I’ve tried and liked are A Color Story, VSCO, Snapseed, and Afterlight.
Your photos are important, but it’s also key to have great captions. Try to tell a story, describe your process, or start a discussion to capture the interest of people scrolling through their phones.
As humans, we’re drawn to anyone we can relate to, sympathize with, or feel inspired by. You can evoke these emotions in your writing. This post on Bold and Pop gives some tips on writing the perfect caption.
These living links give a way for potential buyers to find you on the big, wide world of Instagram. Currently, you’re allowed to use up to 30 hashtags per post and I recommend taking advantage of the max! The more you use, the better chances at getting found.
Don’t be too literal! Your hashtags shouldn’t necessarily describe your product, but how it relates to your customer.
Close your eyes (after you read this paragraph) and visualize your ideal client. What kind of photos are they posting? What stage of life are they in? What hashtags would they use or search?
For example, I created a line of nursery prints that people could buy and download to print on their own. My ideal client would be a mom to be who felt comfortable DIY-ing. Instead of using hashtags to describe MY product, I used hashtags that my potential buyers might use:
INSTEAD OF: #nurseryprint #artwork #digitalprints #decorforbaby
I USED: #babynursery #mommytobe #DIYmom #readyforbaby
See the difference? It’s not likely that your customer is specifically tagging “nursery print”, but they might be using “mommytobe”. By adding “mommytobe” you’ll be able to connect with them and show them a product they didn’t even know they needed!
One half of Instagram is posting, writing, and hashtagging. The other half is interacting! The whole idea behind the platform is to be social, so don’t be afraid to create some interaction through liking other’s photos, commenting, and following.
To grow your reach, you should “like” photos in your feed as well as ones connected to the hashtags you’re using. Whenever I post a photo, I quickly visit each one of the hashtags I included and like a handful of other posts.
See someone who might be a potential buyer? You can follow their feed, in hopes that they’ll return the favor or check out your profile (and Etsy shop link!) I also like to follow others in my industry for inspiration and support.
If a caption spoke to you, comment on it! I think commenting is the best way of interacting since you’re able to start a discussion, involving both people. When people comment on your photos, always reply back by providing value.
Be Authentic (and Have Fun!)
By being true to yourself and your brand, you will naturally grow your following, improve your feed, and create traffic to your Etsy shop. Don’t be overly sales-y and never use ick or spam to gain a following.
Get started and have fun! You will learn what works, and what doesn’t, for your Instagram and shop. Begin showing off your awesome products and connecting with potential buyers.
Don’t stress too much about having a perfect feed, it will come with time. Here’s a view of my Instagram profile when I just started out and a more recent screenshot. There’s always room for improvement!
Update: I’ve even come a long way since originally writing this post. The more you do it, the more you’ll learn, and the better you’ll get – promise!
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Wondering what to post on Instagram for your Etsy shop? Get my list of 50 ideas for promoting your business right here!