Launching My Instagram Shop
February 24, 2014 by almostakiss
I am ready to drop from exhaustion over the past 10 days. I took the plunge and started an Instagram shop on Valentine’s Day. I’d been thinking about it since I found the vintage community with tens of thousands of people on there a few months back. After watching and trying to learn how it’s done, the time finally came to stop agonizing over it and JUST DO IT. There are two ways to open a store on there. Start promoting it for MONTHS, telling everyone you’ll open when you have x amount of followers (usually at least 150), running contests, etc. The other way is to just announce it and start listing things. Which is what I did. I’m not saying one is better than the other, it’s just personal preference. I’m proud to say that within the first week I’d gained 150 followers and now after 10 days, I’m at 167. I can see how this is going to take time to build up a business. I’ve had 14 sales and one of them a repeat customer! 🙂 Sadly, I can see how people are all gung-ho when they start and get discouraged and quit fairly soon. I’m going to stick with it as long as I can.
I try to pick out new items in the morning and then photograph them between 11 am and 1 pm when the lighting is best. After lunch, I measure and write up a brief description on paper. I’ve been listing every night after supper. Sometimes supper is late like 8 pm because I’ve been busy wrapping a package or doing paperwork. We watch the Winter Olympics while I’m writing up the descriptions on my iphone. I have done the entire shop from my iphone. Since my 8 yr. old computer does not work that well, I thought it was preferable. So far it’s taking me too long to list each thing. I know I put a lot more description than is needed but I want people to know exactly what they’re getting so there’s no problems later. The first night I put on all stuffed animals or plush (new with tags) and they haven’t sold. The next night I put all shot glasses and those didn’t go either. It could be that not enough people saw them. The 3rd night I started putting on a random assortment of things to appeal to a wider range of people. That seemed to be working so I’ve stuck with that. The things I think people would go nuts over, no one cares about. My favorite listings are a Hawaiian hula skirt from 1969, a ceramic lady with scarf flower frog, Nestle Quik rabbit cup, tin banks, a handpainted tin mirror from Mexico, Corn Flakes tshirt and hat, an Afro-Italian silent butler, a plasic wicker purse and a plastic thermoset leaf and vine necklace. None of these sold. Go figure.
The most successful sellers on Instagram seem to be the ones who not only give good customer service but are very social with customers. I’ve been shipping out immediately but haven’t had as much time as I’d like to socialize. Having the 2 accounts, I don’t get time to get over to my original account. I was afraid that was going to happen. There’s also a learning curve with shipping. When we sold on ebay in the past, we shipped everything Priority Mail and the buyer paid the postage. Now I try to include the shipping in the price. I know when I see something I want on there, when it says “plus shipping”, it turns me off. I always assume it’s a lot. In truth, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. When something is under 13 ounces, it can go first class and that’s usually under $3.50 depending on the weight. When I charge $10 shipped, I am paying the $3.50 shipping out of my own pocket, plus whatever the item cost me plus Paypal fee. It’s just the cost of doing business. I understand that and accept it. If it goes over 13 ounces, then it either goes Parcel Post or Priority Mail. Sometimes it’s only 20 cents difference to send it Priority. Other times it’s the same. So already I’ve sent 3 things Priority because they were heavier than I thought. I also have to look into some of the “bags” to ship in. Some sellers just bubblewrap things good and put them in a bag. I never would have thought of that!
I have some postcards and pictures I want to list but am unsure how to charge for shipping or mail them. I don’t know if they need to be in something heavier than an envelope like cardboard? I’ve been doing the best that I can to try to gain a good reputation. I can see how if a person got a bad one, it would end their Instagram selling just through word of moouth alone. It’s hard to know what to price things at. There are people selling things $2 plus shipping and I don’t want to do that. God bless them if they can afford to do that. They must be getting their stuff a lot cheaper than I am. I try to sell things that have some worth. At the end of the day, I want something for my trouble. When I price something and it doesn’t sell immediately, I think it has more to do with the right person not seeing it yet.
When buying, I usually know right away when I see something if I want it. If I don’t, I walk around and think about it. If I’m still thinking about it after awhile, then I definitely want it. If I don’t, then I pass. The way the successful sellers do it, when they have a sale, they list things and people are snatching them up the second they go on. Basically, the first person that sees it, gets it and everyone else afterwards just looks at it longingly. I hope someday my stuff starts selling that way! 😉
As for only selling in the USA, it’s mostly due to the cost of postage. It cost like $87 to mail a hankie to Australia. Nobody wants to pay that kind of shipping nor do I want them to. Worse still, I don’t trust myself to calculate International rates correctly and would probably end up eating most of the shipping by accident.
I hope everybody who reads my blog checks out my Instagram shop! Even if you don’t have an Instagram account, you can start one just to look. You wouldn’t have to post any pictures unless you wanted to. All pictures in this post are of sold items. It gives you an idea of some of what I sell. It looks like a lot of ceramic items and it is but also a huge variety of other items. It’s hard to believe it’s stressing me out already. It’s seriously cutting into my blogging time. 😉 I’ll have to figure out a better way to do it so I can still do everything else I need to and nothing suffers.