You think that you can grow and monetize your following and want to know how to sell merch on Instagram?
You are in the right place.
I have tried many methods for selling merchandise and I created this simple 10-step guide for you in order to explain how you do it with Instagram.
And the best part, you can do it even without paying for ads, and without buying any inventory in advance!
How to Sell Merch on Instagram for Free
1 – Decide on Who Your Target Customers Are
In other words, this is called choosing a niche.
Now if you have a personal or a business brand and an established following then you already have your target customers defined.
But if you still don’t have any following or brand, then you need to pick a niche that has a good base of IG users, and one that you can relate to.
For example, it could be related to a certain hobby or sport like soccer, a passion or an interest like food, a practice like yoga, meditation, and working out, …etc.
Or it could be related to cars, pets, a certain generation, country, language, …etc.
It is better to choose something that you have some knowledge about.
Check out the relevant IG accounts in the same niche in order to see if there is a good number of Instagram users in that niche, and if they engage with the relevant posts or not.
You can make a general account and sell merch to all Instagram audiences, but that’s fine with paid ads, and not if you want to use free marketing methods.
2 – Create a Business Instagram Account
In order to make the most out of your Instagram promotions for selling your own merch, you need to use a business account as it gives you more useful features.
If you don’t have an IG account yet, then go and create a personal one first.
After you have your personal IG account, go to your profile, click the menu icon on the top right corner, and choose the “Settings” options.
From the following window, choose the “Account” option.
Scroll all the way down and select the “Switch to Professional Account” option, and you are good to go.
3 – Post Engaging Content Regularly
Now if you have an existing following that you want to keep, grow, and monetize, or if you are just getting started, you need to keep posting engaging content that your target audience would love to see and interact with, on regular basis.
When getting started, you might to do it once a day, and later, you can do it less frequently, but you have to keep posting regularly.
Check out other Instagram profiles in your niche and see what kinds of posts their followers engage with.
This could be videos doing certain tasks or showing skills related to the niche, eye-catching Images, text-based memes with relevant quotes, motivational or funny memes, …etc.
And maybe, a mix of all these options.
Based on what you found out, start creating and publishing posts, and share them in the stories on your IG account.
The easiest way would be to create quote-based memes using pre-made templates on Canva.com, and upload them with relevant hashtags, such as #spiritualquotes, #motivationalquotes, #funnygymquotes, #germanquotes, …etc.
And whenever you post something, in the post description or first comment, use up to five relevant hashtags, that are related to what you post, as many people use hashtags to search for posts on Instagram from people whom they don’t follow yet.
You can also see what hashtags other IG profiles in your niche are using.
And when you do so, you have the chance to get your posts found and if the users like your posts, they are more likely to follow you in order to see future posts and stories.
With time, you will start accumulating more and more followers.
See what type of posts your audiences engage more with, and try to create more of these in order to make every single post count.
Also, since you now have a professional account, you can go to each single post, click the “View Insights” option, and see where viewers of this post came from, whether from your profile, from others sharing the post, or through hashtags, and see what hashtags get you more engaged followers in order to double down on that.
Now for faster results, you can instead use IG ads and hire influencers, but these cost money and require lots of testing in order to find a profitable campaign.
4 – Create a Merch Store
Once you feel comfortable building an engaging following, you are read ready to start your own merch store where you need to get people to go from Instagram in order to buy your merchandise.
There are many options for starting a merch store, using marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, or using a platform that allows you to create a store on a domain name that you own, like it is with Shopify.
My honest advice is that you stay away from marketplaces like Amazon as these are very competitive and not so profitable since you don’t actually acquire the customer, and you are not in control of your account as they might close for any reason it without giving you the chance to appeal.
And on top of that, it is a bit complicated to get approved and start selling merch online with these platforms.
While when creating a merch store on a domain name that you own, your business becomes more secure, and you can increase the earnings by offering upsells and bundles to your customers, in addition to many other benefits.
And emergence of new platforms like Shopify has made it very easy to start your own store in few minutes even for non-technical people.
Check out my guide on how to sell merch on Shopify in order to get started today with the 14-day free trial.
5 – Add Your Merch Products to Your Store
If you already have your merch products in stock, then you can start adding them through the admin dashboard, by uploading images, and writing descriptive titles and product description for each product, and then set the prices and the shipping costs.
But what should you do if you don’t have the money to buy inventory in advance?
There’s no problem in that.
Actually, most people who sell merchandise on Instagram don’t have any inventory of what they sell, and don’t even touch the products they sell.
There are print on demand companies that you can utilize in order to fulfill the order by creating your merch product and shipping it directly to the customer on your behalf.
Two of the best POD companies out there are Printify and Printful, which you can easily integrate with a Shopify store as in the guide mentioned in the previous step.
All what you have to do is upload your design to one of the available products, such as: mugs, t-shirts, leggings, stickers, phone cases, …etc., give it a name and a description, set the price and the shipping cost, and launch it on your store.
When you receive any order, you will first get paid by the customer that price you have set, and from that money, you can now pay the POD fulfillment company their price and keep the margin for yourself.
The POD company then will print the design on your merch product and ship it to your customer directly.
You can create designs using tools like Photoshop & Gimp, or you can buy ready designs in bulk from one of the available online marketplaces like Gifturself.com.
6 – Link from Instagram to Your Merch Store
After you have created your merch store, you can link to it from your Instagram profile in the description area, and you can either link to the home page, or even to a certain collection or product page.
Ask your IG profile’s visitors in the description of your profile to check the link for your latest merch.
This way, whenever any when discovers your Instagram account because of your regular posts, they usually go to the description area to read it, and they will learn about your merch products and might buy something.
But that’s not all, as there’s still more work to do in order to get more sales for your merch from Instagram, as follows.
7 – Use Instagram Shopping
This feature allows you to tag your merch products in Instagram posts so that people see the actual product directly, and if they click on it, the get redirected to your store to complete and maybe buy it.
This could be easier on your audience instead of going to the profile description and clicking the link to your merch store.
Check out this list for the supported countries for this feature.
If your country is there, then you can go to your IG profile settings, choose “Business”, and choose the “Set Up Instagram Shopping”.
Instagram then will review your application and see if your account is eligible for this feature or not.
Important to note that you need to have some activity on your IG account in order to be eligible. It might not work if your account is still new.
There are other steps to follow like creating a FB page and linking it to your IG account, and some other steps you can learn about in this guide from Instagram.
Once approved, you go to the “Business” tab in the settings, tap “Shopping”, and select “Product Catalog”.
Now you can start tagging your merch products to your Instagram account through the shopping feature, and when you do so, remember also to use relevant hashtags.
8 – Mention Your Merch in Every IG Post
I mean here the normal posts like videos, images, quotes and text memes mentioned in the third step above.
In addition to having a link to your merch store in your description for your IG profile visitors, you can also remind people to visit your merch store in every post you create, even if the post was not about a certain product.
You create the post as I explained in step #3, use the relevant hashtags, and then say, check out our merch through the link in our bio @yourIGname.
This way, you always remind anyone who sees any of your Instagram posts that you have relevant merch products to explore.
9 – Post a Merch Product on Instagram Once a Week
Now in addition to regular posting of normal video, image, and meme posts, it is fine to also create posts for certain products by uploading the images of the product (try more than one image per product in one carousel post, could increase engagement), and in that post, you may say something like check out this product on our store, link in bio @yourIGname.
Also, use relevant hashtags with this post in order to increase the reach.
And you can then share the same post in the story as many people give priority to watching stories when they check out Instagram.
Warning: It is recommended that you don’t post your merch products on Instagram on daily basis and ignore the normal posts, as this will lead to your followers giving up and unfollowing your profile.
Keep the regular, preferred daily, posting of different kinds of posts, and mention your merch store in the description of each post, and only post images for products once every week or few days.
10 – Increase AOV & LTV on Your Merch Store
There are some ways to increase the average order value and the lifetime value of the customer on your merch store with some tactics, such as:
- Setting up upsells and cross-sells.
- Offering bundles with discounts.
- Offering lower shipping rates for orders that exceed a certain value.
- Offering a discount code through a pop-up in case that someone visited your store and tried to leave without buying anything.
- Following up with email promotions with those who purchased from you.
- And more other methods.
But these cannot be done unless you have your store on a domain name that you own, which is why I recommended using Shopify to build your merch store to sell with Instagram instead of using a marketplace like Etsy or Amazon.
Especially that Shopify offers many features through themes and apps that give you the ability to use the above mentioned tactics.
Bonus Tip for Selling More Merchandise on IG
This is a bonus tip for increasing merch sales with Instagram.
You can use occasions in order to offer limited-time discount codes on your merch products for your Instagram followers, and that might help in giving relevancy and connect with your people as they understand that there’s someone like them behind this account.
Occasions could be general like religious holidays, the fourth of July, election days, or could be related to the niche itself like the international yoga day, or the breast cancer awareness month.
Conclusion – Can You Succeed with IG Selling Your Merch?
Sure, you can be successful and make money through selling your merchandise on Instagram.
But remember that it takes work and dedication in order to build a following and start getting sales.
And as I mentioned earlier, it is recommended that you create your merch store on a domain name that you own, instead of using the crowded online marketplaces.
I hope that this guide on how to sell merch with Instagram was helpful for you.
If you still have any question or need any help, please, ask me in the comments’ section below.
And if you know anyone with an Instagram following, or someone looking for a way to make extra income with IG, then feel free to share this guide with them 🙂