I started writing this and then (a paragraph later) realized I was rambling. This is me trying this again. Without too much rambling.
Selling your stuff on Instagram. It's getting pretty popular and I've been doing it for a couple of months now (@shopaileen). I've been selling online since I was 16, but I know there are a lot of you out there who don't have that experience and might want to make some extra money selling your stuff.
Set Up: You'll need an Instagram account (duh). I made a separate one so I don't flood my regular followers with stuff I'm selling. You'll also need a Paypal account + shipping supplies. More details on those two below.
Photos: Do your best to take CLEAR photos with colors as close to real life as possible. Sometimes the filters help, usually they don't. There are different methods to posting. You can either take the photos directly in instagram and type the description right there and post. Or you can take all the photos using your phone's camera first and then post them all later. Figure out what works best for you.
Descriptions: Make sure to be very clear when describing an item. The photo will do a lot of the explaining for you, but make sure you include any other important information such as size, color, brand and if there are any defects.
Payment: I only use paypal when accepting payments. I ask buyers to leave their paypal email address in a comment then I send a payment request. I generally give buyers 24 hours to pay. When you send the payment request, include what items it's for, their prices and what your instagram name is. This will help your buyer know who they're paying and what for. It will also help you when you're packing things up, especially if you have more than 1-2 packages to mail. I don't recommend accepting or sending concealed cash. It's risky on both ends and takes too long.
Shipping: I recommend shipping through Paypal whenever possible. If you mark the payment request for "Goods", once it's paid there will be an option to print a shipping label. You'll need a postal scale that weighs in pounds and ounces. You just fill out the form in paypal and it will allow you to print shipping. It will also attach a tracking number to that transaction so there will be no dispute on whether it was sent or not.
My favorite ways to ship are using Poly Mailers (lightweight = less $$ to ship), USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail Padded Envelopes and Half Page Self Adhesive Shipping Labels. The Flat Rate envelopes are good for heavy items. There have been times when a package would have cost me $9-$10 Parcel Post (SLOW), but I was able to fit it in a flat rate padded envelope for $5.10 (2-3 days). The only problem with the flat rate PADDED envelopes is that Paypal doesn't list them when you print shipping. You'll have to take it to the post office or print shipping through USPS.com (which is what I do).
A few more tips:
- Tag your posts with #shopmycloset to reach a larger audience
- Community is SO important, especially when starting out, so feel free to get in on discussions and ask questions!
- Be prompt and polite. Like I said, community is important. If you're rude or don't ship for 2 weeks there's a good chance that person will spread the word
- Keep costs in mind. Shipping cost, supplies and paypal fees. I include shipping in my prices since I've had a lot of shipping experience and can usually guess pricing, but some people prefer to calculate shipping based on zip code and weight.
- Use your best judgement! I've only bought from a few people with no problems, but I have heard of people getting ripped off. It's usually pretty easy to see who is trustworthy and who isn't.
- ALWAYS get delivery confirmation. With this you will get a tracking code and your buyer cannot claim that it wasn't sent. It's just under $1, but so, so worth it. I ship 99% of my packages with delivery confirmation.
Buying and selling on instagram is a relatively new concept, but increasingly popular. I've found new homes for a lot of my stuff that I hardly wear/use and got way more than I'd get at a garage sale with less hassle than trying to sell on ebay. Plus -- I've met some really great people, too!
Have you bought or sold on instagram? I'd love to hear your opinions, tips and questions!
WANT MORE? Check out part two where I answer some of the questions you guys have asked.
Want a step-by-step guide walking you through setting up your account, taking and editing photos, how to price, how to figure out shipping and more? Click the image below to learn more about my How to Sell on Instagram eCourse