Instagram can be a difficult promotional channel to start out with as it doesn't quite follow the same rules as other social media. However, Etsy sellers stand to benefit hugely by harnessing the power of this channel: as Instagram is completely designed around showcasing engaging photos it is absolutely perfect for showcasing and driving sales for your beautiful handmade products.

Setting up

What you'll firstly want to do is consider creating a separate account for your Etsy business - this ensures you can curate a professional look to your feed from the very beginning.

Of course, this doesn't mean you can't post the occasional personal post to give a glimpse of the faces behind your brand, however you should be aiming to keep these to a minimum. Splitting your business IG from your personal one also allows you to really hone your strategy without concerns about spamming your friends and family's feeds.

If you haven't ever created an Instagram account, it's free and really easy to do: just download the Instagram app on your phone or alternatively you can signup via Facebook (as both companies are one and the same). For your instagram account name, be prepared to not be able to register your exact etsy shop name as someone else may already have this as their username: it's not the end of the world if this happens - just try and make it as close as possible.

Next thing to do is to decide on your profile photo: you can either go with the personal look of a headshot; your logo or even one of your most popular and recognisable products. This is one area that you might want to play around with a little before you settle on something that works for you.

Over to your bio: this is a really important but often overlooked step as it provides you with a huge opportunity to not only explain what your business is all about, but also gives you a chance to pop in lots of great search friendly keywords. Make sure you add in a link to your Etsy store here!

Photos

The photos you post are obviously one of the most important parts of your Instagram strategy: you'll want your photos to be as high quality as possible - fuzzy, out of focus or low resolution shots are not going to cut it on Instagram.

Rather than purely use your existing product listing photos, it's a great idea to create a range of Instagram specific ones. You might want to consider factoring this in for each time you shoot new product photos so that you begin to build up a library for you to use over time.

Ideas for good IG photos include:

  • Positioning your products in interesting and unusual locations such as a local cafe or in a nature background such as the local park or a beach
  • Shots of your products in use by real people. You might like to ask your friends, family, neighbours or past customers if they would like to participate in some photo shoots for you.
  • Showcase a very specific feature of your product in detail: for example, if you use an interesting unique button on a dress; new or unique packaging for your soaps etc.

Captions

Great captions also set your posts apart from the rest. You'll want to try and create engaging, inspiring, emotive content that draws the attention of the casual IG scroller. Don't just describe the photo - give some context to what caused you to create your product or take the shot.

Hashtags

Hashtags are a huge part of IG. You'll want to ensure that every post has good quality tags that vary in their popularity - you'll want to aim for some hashtags that are extremely popular, some that are moderately used and a couple of unique ones ("long tail"). Use as many hashtags as you can think of for each one of your posts - the more you use, the better your chances of being found.

Tip: Use hashtags that represent what you think your ideal customer would be searching for, rather than literal, descriptive words for your products.

Posting and Engagement

Right, so we have set up our Instagram account and have an idea on what to post - this leads us into your posting and engagement strategy.

You'll be looking to post a combination of promotional and non-promotional posts to maximise your engagement. This is "social media speak" for ensuring that you post things about your products only some of the time and the rest of the time should be posts about your craft, your production processes, things that inspire you and anything else you feel adds to a cohesive IG feed. Essentially, you don't want a feed that screams over and over BUY THIS PRODUCT! - instead you want to aim to tell an engaging story about your business, your ideals and the products that you create.

Frequency of posting is a key factor to your IG gaining traction - ideally you'll want to aim for posting about 4-5 times a day. It's important to do some experimentation to see what times in the day get the best responses from your posts and then try to use these time windows consistently.

Tip: Using stories rather than posts can have more impact as they appear in date order in your followers feeds.

Networking

Next comes the networking bit - while you can just post in isolation, it takes a lot longer for your feed to be noticed if you don't also reach out and engage. You'll want to be commenting on other Instagrammers posts, and using contests and shoutouts to start being noticed.

Tip: An easy first step into networking is to search for some of your tags and find others using it: like their photos and leave a short meaningful comment where it makes sense.

Above all else, aim for genuine interactions. Make sure you always respond to any comments made on your posts and stories too.

If you see someone that might look like they would be interested in your product, follow their feed as they may return the favor and check out your profile in the process. Also, it's a great idea to find others making similar products - they can be a good source of inspiration and you can see how they market their own products.

Advanced IG Techniques

Once you have a regular posting pattern down, you can then start investigating other initiatives to try and ramp up those followers. Some popular strategies to investigate include Instagram Loop Giveaways and Engagement Pods. Contacting known influencers to represent your brand can also be a great strategy if you can find a good fit between their content and your products.