How To Sell on Instagram

how to sell on instagram
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.

 

how to sell on instagram shipping

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.

Comments

    • Aileen says

      Me too! I wish there was some sort of place we could all gather and talk about the behind the scenes business stuff like that. I always wonder how everyone else does things.

      I usually schedule a pick up, but I’ll occasionally go and drop off packages if I forgot to schedule a pick up or I’m going to be out already.

  1. Alexa says

    Really great advice! Just what I was looking for. I did have one question though. I just made an Instagram to sell my clothes on today and I have yet to make a sale but when I send an invoice through PayPal does it tell me their address? I was just wondering how to find out their address because I hadn’t seen any other accounts I follow ask for the address in the comments.

    • Aileen says

      When you send an invoice make sure the invoice is for “goods” and it should include their address when they pay :)

  2. Ronni Turner says

    Hello I’ve always been interested in setting up my own store so I might as well do it on instagram. My only question is, do I have to pay for shipping as well? I’m still not clear on what exactly I have to pay for as the seller, besides the supplies of course. Thanks! (:

    • Aileen says

      Well, you’ll have to pay for shipping when you take it to the post office, but it’s up to you if you charge extra for shipping or if you include it in the price :)

  3. sam says

    Thanks for the advise, just checked your instagram, looks great!! how do you get followers when you start selling?

  4. fatima says

    Hi thnx for the great post i was just wondering how can i use shipping through paypal i am new i would like to sell online on instagram plus when i get the shipping docs do i scan them and send them to the buyer and paypal to confirm that i shipped the item .
    Thnx

  5. Georgia says

    Thank you for the information. I am new to Instagram and saw that people were selling. I have a vintage shop on Etsy merryvine, and wanted to try using Instagram. Thank you again for sharing.

  6. ROBBIE S says

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR UNSELFISH HELPFULLY INFORMATIVE STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO SELLING ON INSTAGRAM! IN MY SEARCH THERE WERE LIMITED RESOURCES ON HOW TO START SELLING PRODUCTS ON INSTAGRAM!WITH YOUR ADVICE I WILL BE ABLE TO GROW AND EXPAND MY JEWELRY BIZ! GOD’S MERCY & FAVOR OVERTAKE YOU AND YOURS! ROBBIE S.

  7. Nikki says

    There is a Facebook group we have started called “instasellers” All sellers on Instagram are invited to join. We have many topics on there including shipping & packaging. It’s a great little community willing to help each other out. Nikki @jarsandjunk

  8. Dominique Blackwell says

    I’m trying to start my business online, is it best to charge one flat rate for shipping or will I be cheating myself out of money. I’m still a little confused on the shipping.

  9. Linda says

    I want to get started selling on line..can you give the advice for store online selling.

    • Aileen says

      Hi Lea,

      try using the hash tags #forsale #shopmycloset #instasale — people search tags like that for items for sale. Also go through those tags yourself and follow other instagram shops, they just might follow you back :)

      • Nikki says

        Yes I agree. Start following other shops & buy from other shops. Comment on things & posts you like. It’s very much a social community with many of is becoming friends along the way. Really engage and before long you’ll fin yourself with hundreds of followers & sales. Nikki @jarsandjunk

  10. Taralynn says

    Random question if you don’t mind sharing :) Do you have to buy special paper to print out labels? If so, where do you buy? Also, I’m assuming there is a way of charging the buyer a flat fee for shipping even though you (the seller) pay the actual cost? Thanks in advance!!!!!

    • Aileen says

      Hi Taralyn! I do print them on 2 per sheet shipping labels, you can find them basically anywhere from amazon to walmart. I generally guess on the weight + price since I have a good idea from shipping thousands of packages over the years, but you can always weigh ahead of time and go to USPS.com to get an idea of what it’ll cost :)

  11. Nataly Hurwitz says

    Hi
    Thanks for sharing all of this info.
    Is it possible to ship internationally through Paypal. Im getting excited and can probably go check on paypal website. But do you personally ship internationally? Thanks

    • Aileen says

      As far as I know, you can’t do international shipping via paypal. But you can still take payments and then take it to the post office to ship. I am usually willing to ship internationally, I just make sure that I get their country and estimate shipping charges based on that and the weight of the item + packaging.

  12. Magdelina says

    Hi…good advice!! Actually I am doing dropship business means I sell other people products like a middle man. So I have to use my sellers photo to sell. Is there any idea other than screen capture. And is there any way that I can post my pricing details which is long.

    Thanks. And really appreaciate yoyr respond.

    • Aileen says

      There is no other way other than doing a screen capture that I know of. All of your pricing details would either need to go in the photo or in the text below the photo.

    • Aileen says

      There are a lot of apps out there that let you write on text. I believe one of the ones I use is OVER. However, you can’t edit the pic in instagram. You’ll just have to re-upload the pic with a sold sign which will go in everyone’s feed again. I usually just commented with SOLD! once it was sold rather than uploading a new photo.

  13. Glendaliz says

    Hi,
    Do you recommend the same method for selling other things such as jewelry or clothes not my own but new stuff ??
    Thanks.

    • Aileen says

      Glendaliz — I know there are some people out there who do that and I think it might be a viable option as a side income. But I haven’t tried it personally so I can’t really give you much advice on whether it’s a good method or not.

  14. Rylie says

    Thanks for the tips! I appreciate the honest advice. I’m working on selling some clothing that I don’t wear anymore and thought that Instagram would be WAY better than Plato’s Closet or a similar store, hopefully I’ll be successful!
    Check out my shop
    @shopryliescloset

    • Charmaine says

      Hi ,

      I tried to post some photos on Instalgram for sale , but didn’t receive any responses thought got likes .

      Pls help.
      Thanks

  15. Alexandria Tobin says

    Thanks for the tips! I’m wondering how long it took before people started trafficking your Instagram? I’m relatively new to the idea but am so sick of eBay fees I’m looking for other outlets. Thanks!!

    • Aileen says

      It honestly depends. My best tip? Use the hashtags I told you to and get involved! Interact with other people on instagram :)

  16. says

    I’ve been considering selling vintage via Instagram but I’m so concerned about the taxes. Everything I’ve read said if you make less than $400, you wouldn’t need to pay income tax. Do you have any insight on this? Thank you so much!

    my personal ig is: everydayisyourrunway
    Jana Faith recently posted..I felt like a Pinterest lady…My Profile

    • Aileen says

      You’d need to check with an accountant, honestly. I think it’s $600 here, not sure if that’s by state of what.

  17. The Hanger and Rack says

    I’m starting to sell boutique dress through Instagram come have a look and tell me what you think @thehangerandrack x ps thanks for the advice

  18. hellomimie says

    hi, do u have to pay instagram if yr photo include prices and/or name address if the business?
    u mention printing out the label ,is that a must, can i just write it out, i don’t have a printer nor pc, just an andriod phone
    kindly advice

    • Aileen says

      Instagram is a free app, so no you don’t have to pay them anything. You can print labels however you want, I just do it from paypal because it’s easier for me.

  19. Stefanie says

    I’m relatively new to Instagram, and looking to venture into selling and buying. people with these shops are constantly doing give-aways ( think because of this time of year) one of the things that they say need to be done is ” sharing” the give away photo I cannot seen to figure it how to do this any help or suggestions? Thanks!! :) also thanks for this article. Really informative!

  20. says

    Hi!

    Great read!!! I literally just started an Instagram account for sellin – I was trying to use Poshmark and eBay but neither of them have been really working for me. I had a few questions for you…

    1) do you recommend leaving the items that you have sol do. Your Instagram and just commenting sold, or is it better to remove the items completely once it’s sold?

    2) what do you do for feedback? I know it’s a big deal because we obviously don’t all know each other in person and when you’re just starting you don’t have a reputation at all. Do you recommend setting up a post that is just for feedback and tagging those you have sold to asking for feedback?

    3) I usually use flat rate boxes just because they’re easier for me – since you have shipped a lot…cost wise over time what do you personally think is the best way to go? Flat rate or calculated? Considering the fact that they just added insurance and tracking included with all flat rate shipments.

    Thanks so much for your advice!!!

    • Aileen says

      Hi! I usually comment with sold and then delete it after i see the person has received the item and some time has passed so there’s no dispute on condition, etc that might be mentioned in the post. I honestly never did anything feedback related on Instagram. I never had any issues but you could always do the feedback post you mentioned. People knew my regular Instagram too so I think that helped. As far as flat rate vs calculated it honestly depends. I do both. If it’s heavy and will fit flat rate I do that, but for a light shirt that I can mail for $2 that doesn’t make sense so I just do a combo of both.

  21. Destiny says

    What’s a easy way to ship if you do not have a printer to print labels do you buy the padded envelopes first can you help please (selling through Instagram) thank you

    • Aileen says

      If you don’t have a printer you’ll have to go to the post office. Yes, just buy envelopes, pack it up, put the address on the front and take it to the post office to ship.

  22. lori says

    Hi Aileen,
    Happy New year!
    Great Blog & great tips!
    I sell on Etsy (vintage) I have yet to start on ebAy because of the fees j auctions. I see more people selling on Instagram.
    i might not want to have them post their email addresses to my IG account for their protection so I guess
    establish an email address.But have u dealt with any spammers through paypal?
    I worry a little bc it has our full names on it etc

    • Aileen says

      I haven’t really had any issues with spammers through paypal, to be honest. Usually once the item is sold and received by the person who bought it, I delete the picture so the email isn’t on there for long.

  23. says

    I am trying to get instagram going and have seen your site..how do you set up site to look like yours or change up the way it looks..

    • lori says

      I put a few things up @SassyStylinFinds but no bites yet. i found tons of others selling & try to follow them. Found some IGs that give tips too. learning some tags but not sure is it the tags or the ampunt of items? Or both? Can ypu or do you know a lot if the seling tags to reach more people? Also wonder when Ig is gping to start charging like other sites or apps!??

  24. lori says

    Also why not start a FB group to discuss all thesr tips? I might look tonight! Theres tons of groups for teams on etsy or groups for jobs etc
    Thanks

  25. Sammy says

    Hey I’ve been selling my things through IG with CC ,but know I made a paypal because I heard it’s safer. Its all new to me. I was wondering if you can explain how requesting money & Invoices work? (:

  26. Matthew says

    Have you head of Soldsie? It pretty much automates what you are currently doing to sell on Instagram

  27. Desiree C says

    Hi,
    Thanks for this great info! I’ve been wanting to sell on Instagram for some time now and didn’t know exactly what went into doing so. I do have a question though, in order to sell and receive payments through PayPal, do I need to sign-up for the “business” PayPal that charges a fee? Thank you for your time and this great information!

  28. Jess says

    I am completely overwhelmed by Paypal. I see people on Instagram telling people to choose “gifting” when they pay. I haven’t found that option. I also see them charging $1 for an invoice fee and a seller fee. What all does Paypal charge us for using their site, should I charge an invoice fee?

    • Aileen says

      When you pay it should give you an option as to what it’s for, you can chose “I’m sending money to family or friends” and it shouldn’t charge a fee. Also — people charging a $1 fee are breaking paypals rules (unless they’ve recently changed) that say that you can’t charge an extra fee to cover paypal fees. Paypal fees can be seen here: https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/paypal-fees

  29. says

    Hi, I just read your blog. Thanks. I registered my Galaxy with @uchichicmama this am but haven’t yet gotten to the point of putting my lovely ponchos (beach cover ups, nursing covers) and deluxe baby carriers in there. I’m checking into Soldsie or Chirpify that automates payment when person writes “buy” .

  30. says

    hello! i have recently started a shop, but i don’t really know how to use paypal because apparently its unsafe and confusing…

    do i use business paypal, or general paypal? would be great if you reply! thanks so much!!

    • Aileen says

      Hi Sunny,

      In general normal paypal is fine. Business paypal is what you’ll want to use once you start to get a little more serious.

      • lori says

        Hi aileen,
        if/when creating an invoice-
        I have only done this for
        etsy-
        does the person buying see my address?
        i mean i have
        to put a return label on packages
        so I guess so.

        I havent sold anything yet.
        :/

  31. lori says

    Instagram : SassyStylinFinds
    regular IG: SassyStylin

    Some people have NO tags & Sell or are they just sayin they sold?

    I have yet to sell & dont want to put a huge S&H fee
    but how can I make a profit?

    • Aileen says

      In most places you will technically need a permit to sell, but most people who are just selling a few extra items they don’t need (kind of like a virtual garage sale) don’t bother with permits. If you’re worried about it, check with your city hall.

  32. Nancy says

    Thanks for all the tips & please check my sale on Instagram called @obviouscloset

  33. says

    I love this post. It was very helpful. I have a store on Etsy and I have an Instagram page. My problem is getting people to follow me. I have less than 200 followers, which doesn’t help when you are selling jewelry. I have done the hashtags. Anything else recommended? Follow me @yourjewelrybar or visit my store http://www.etsy.com/shop/itsyourjewelrybar. Again thank you for the advice.

    • Aileen says

      I would recommend interacting. Comments, likes, etc. with people who are in your target audience. Hashtags work when people are looking for those hashtags, but if YOU seek out your target customer and (genuinely) interact with them there’s a better chance they’ll follow you.

  34. says

    Hi, Aileen! Thanks for this useful information! Considering setting up shop! Question – can an ig clothing shop be put on “vacation”? For example, if I go out of town for a week can I deactivate my shop since I will not be home to ship items? Thanks for being so patient with all of us newbies!

    • Aileen says

      Since it’s just a basic instagram account, there’s really no vacation setting. My advice would be to put up an image saying that you’re out of town for x amount of time.

  35. kelly says

    Thanks Aileen! This is the best info I’ve found yet. So happy for all the details – you’re a gem!

  36. Edith Adams says

    Hi Aileen, I truly appreciate all the helpful tips you’ve shared. Now one basic thing, how do I open another IG account for selling? Thanking you in advance and do have a wonderful weekend!

    • Aileen says

      Hi Edith! You just need to log out of your current account and then it’ll take you back to the login screen where you can create a new account. Hope that helps :)

  37. says

    Great read. I’m going to try the paypal thing. It sounds easier than having them go to my profile and click on my website. @swirlytwirlydes

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