Can you start making sales without a website? Absolutely! You just need to be where your customers are and I'm betting that for a lot of you creative small business owners, that place is Instagram.
Believe it or not, the sales from my first year of in business were done almost entirely on Instagram. I can assure you that it's possible because through that one platform alone I was able to get commissioned for more than 500 illustrations in a single year... all via Instagram Direct Messaging.
Why Should You Start Selling On Instagram?
Keeps things simple for you and your customers
While having a fancy website with all the bells and whistles is awesome, it's not always necessary especially if you're just starting out. You always want to keep things simple at the beginning so you can focus on getting your work out there and seen.
Building a website can take time. If you're anything like me, you'd probably want it looking just right before launching it out into the world. However, a beautiful website with no traffic going into it isn't going to get you sales either. So instead, use that time and energy to build your presence on Instagram through consistent content creation and engaging with your ideal customers. Not only will you be able to drive sales because you're meeting your customers where they already are, but you'll also be able to learn so much about them - which leads me to the next point.
Creates opportunities for conversation with your ideal customers
If you want to sell anything, you need to know who your ideal customers are and selling on Instagram allows you to get up close and personal with them. It's simply the nature of the app! (If you want to find out more about identifying your ideal customers, make sure to read this post.)
You'll be able to see how they react to specific content and gain a better understanding of what products and messaging appeal to them. Let's say you share a picture of an upcoming product and receive a ton of DMs, questions or comments from excited followers who can't wait to purchase, you know you're on to something good. Plus, with a little bit of investigative work (ie: a little non-creepy account stalking), you'll be able to find out even more about your ideal customers and what they're like so you can serve them better.
So now that you know the why, here's the how.
3 Tips To Instagram Cha-Ching
Tip #1: Make it clear
'Calls-to-action' is probably one of the sexiest jargons to marketers. If you're available to accept sales through Instagram, let all the people know and give them clear action steps on what to do if they want to get their hands on your goodies.
Mention "DM to purchase" or "DM to enquire" on your bio
In Stories, Reels or on a post, include a simple call-to-action like "Love this? Drop me a DM to get yours!"
Example: I reposted a customer's picture of their custom phone case on my Stories with a clear call-to-action.
If I were a follower who loves the idea of getting a custom phone case with my pet on it, I know exactly what next steps to take to make it mine.
Tip #2: Make it easy
When a customer is interested in purchasing from you, it's likely they'd have a couple of questions in mind that first need answering; questions on pricing, customisation, sizing or any other details specific to what you're selling. Answering one customer is no issue but when you start receiving the same questions from multiple interested customers on the daily, it can end up taking a lot of your time. So to save yourself time and to ensure that you are able to respond to customers quickly, create a digital 'brochure". Here's how:
1) Compile a list of FAQs from customers
2) Using Canva, create your brochure. Include pricing information, product details plus any other FAQs you listed in step 1
3) Save each page of your brochure as a separate image
4) Create a Highlight reel for it on your Instagram profile and label it clearly (ie: Pricing & FAQs)
5) Or, send them through via DM when customers reach out to you there
Now, instead of having to retype your answers and worrying whether you've missed anything out, you can simply direct them to your "brochure" to get most, if not all, of their questions answered!
Tip #3: Make it safe
One of the biggest qualms your customer might have about purchasing from you via Instagram is, "can I trust this person/brand/business?" So it's your job to ensure that your customers can feel safe about their decision.
Before the purchase:
Showcase your past work or testimonials from happy customers whether on Stories, Reels or on your Feed
Take the effort to respond to their questions or concerns
During the purchase:
Only use trusted third-party partners like Paypal or Venmo to facilitate payments. This gives confidence to your customers, knowing they'd be able to raise a dispute via Paypal or Venmo should they face issues with their order (which I'm sure they won't, but still!).
After the purchase:
Keep them updated! Notify them when their orders have been shipped, provide a tracking number or let them know if any delays are expected
Ready to dive a little deeper on how you can turn your followers into customers? I've created a free guide and action plan sheet that includes some of the tips that I personally use to get sales through my Instagram to this day. Time to take action!