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The advent of the internet, as well as the continuous digitalization of the business landscape, has caused consumers all over the world to lean toward online shopping as a convenient way of buying things. As such, business owners have started moving their operations online, via websites, social media platforms, and digital marketplaces, to enable their customers to order from (or hire) them without having to visit a physical location. 

The increase in e-commerce sales has now prompted popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to release powerful features and tools designed to help entrepreneurs and creators sell their products online, especially digital products. From eBooks and online courses to artwork and music downloads, the possibilities for selling digital products on Instagram are limitless. 

In this exhaustive piece, we’ll be covering a step-by-step method for selling digital products on Instagram and how you can leverage Instagram’s features to earn a livable income. 

Skip ahead:

Understanding your audience

Before you can sell anything on Instagram (or any online platform, really), you have to know whom you’re selling to. And no, the answer’s not “everybody”. The only way your product(s) will sell is when you cater it to a specific audience (e.g. fitness enthusiasts, new business owners, freshman college students, busy moms, etc.). 

Understanding who your audience is, what they want, and how they engage with content on Instagram can significantly impact the effectiveness of your marketing strategy and ultimately, your sales. Knowing your audience can: 

  • Enhance engagement. Tailoring your Instagram content to the interests and needs of your target audience boosts engagement, as followers are more likely to ‘like’, comment on, and share posts that resonate with them. 
  • Improve conversion rates. When you understand your audience well, you can craft messages that directly appeal to them, increasing the likelihood of them converting from mere followers to paying customers.
  • Be cost-efficient. Knowing your audience helps focus your marketing efforts on the types of content that yield the best return on investment (ROI). This way, you can avoid wasting your resources on less effective content and strategies.
  • Increase brand loyalty. Audiences that feel understood and valued are more likely to become loyal to your brand, making repeat purchases and word-of-mouth recommendations. 

Steps to understanding your Instagram audience 

If you’re not yet sure whom you’re targeting on Instagram and what they want, here are some ways to figure that out: 

  • Analyze your current followers. Use Instagram Insights to learn your followers’ demographics, such as age, gender, location, and when they’re most active on Instagram. This information can help you tailor your content and posting schedule. 
  • Engage with your audience. If you already have a following, however little, interact with your audience through comments, polls, and direct messages. Talking to them not only helps you understand their preferences and gain feedback, but it also helps you build a community around your brand. 
  • Monitor engagement metrics. Pay attention to which types of posts generate the most engagement, including likes, comments, shares, and saves. This data will help you identify the content that resonates most with your audience. 
  • Conduct competitor analysis. Look at what other digital entrepreneurs in your niche are doing on Instagram and how their audience is responding. This can provide insights into industry trends and what might work for your audience, too. 
  • Use surveys and questionnaires. Directly ask your audience what they want to see on your page or what problems they need solutions for. You can use Instagram Stories’ question stickers for this (we’ll get to this later).
  • Create personas. Create buyer personas representing your ideal customers based on the data you collect. These personas can guide your content creation, making it more targeted and relevant.

Setting up your Instagram Shop

To get started with using Instagram’s features to sell your digital products, you’ll need to launch your Instagram Shop. Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up your Instagram Shop: 

  1. Switch to a Business Account 

First, create a regular Instagram account, if you haven’t already. If you have, switch that account to a business account. An Instagram business account gives you access to Instagram’s analytics tools and other advanced features you can use to promote your business on the platform.

Here’s how to do this: 

  • Open your Instagram profile and tap the menu (three lines) in the bottom left corner of your screen;

  • Go to Settings and scroll till you see Switch to professional account. 

  • Select Switch to professional account and choose Business. 

  • Select a category for your business and tap Done. 
  • If you have a physical address and phone number for any of your products/services, include that in the form and click Done. If not, tap Don’t use my contact info. You can also choose whether or not you want your contact info shown on your Instagram profile.

Pro tip: Optimize your Instagram bio to clearly articulate what you sell and why it’s valuable. Try to include relevant keywords for better discoverability. You can also include a link to your product catalog or website in your bio to lead people to your offers. 

  1. Connect to a Facebook Page 

If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business, Instagram will prompt you to create one. If you already have one, Instagram will prompt you to connect both the Facebook and Instagram pages in the Meta Account Center. 

This is necessary because your Instagram Shop will be managed through Facebook’s Commerce Manager. So follow the prompts on the screen to connect or create a new Facebook page for your business. 

  1. Set up your Commerce Manager 

Next, go to Facebook’s Commerce Manager and select Get Started for setting up a shop. Make sure you’re logged in with your Facebook account first.

You’ll be given two options: Create a shop and Create a catalog. Select Create a catalog, which is recommended for digital products, and tap Get started.  

Note: If you also want to sell physical products on Instagram, click Create a shop instead so that you can upload your goods. 

  1. Upload your product catalog

Facebook will ask you to select one out of four catalog types: Ecommerce, Travel, Real estate, and Auto. Since you’re selling digital products, tap Ecommerce > Online products. Click Next. 

Within the Commerce Manager, you’ll have the option to add products manually or in bulk through a spreadsheet. You can also import items using a partner platform like Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce. If you’re not using a partner platform, pick the first option: Upload product info. 

Name your catalog and tap Create. 

Once your catalog is created, you can start uploading your digital products. Click on Data sources on the right-hand side of your screen.

If you’re uploading each item manually, tap Manual, but if you’re using a spreadsheet to add items automatically, click Data feed. If you’re using a partner platform, choose Partner Platform to automatically import items to your catalog. But if you have a website and you’d like to pull product information from there onto your catalog, choose Pixel.

As you upload your digital items, ensure that you have clear descriptions, pricing, and digital delivery mechanisms in place. If you sell a lot of digital products, organize them into collections to help your customers find what they’re looking for more efficiently. 

Note: If you’re using Thinkific to host your online courses, don’t choose Partner platform because Thinkific isn’t on the list of Meta’s partner platforms. Instead, choose Pixel and install one right in your Thinkific store. 

  1. Sync your catalog with Instagram

Once your catalog is ready and you’ve complied with Instagram’s requirements, connect it to your Instagram account. This activates the Instagram shopping feature, so you can tag products from your catalog in your Instagram posts and Stories. And when people tap on the tags, they’ll see the prices and descriptions of the product, and buy if they choose to. 

Here’s how to sync your catalog with Instagram:

  • In Commerce Manager, click Settings on the left side of the screen, and tap Business assets. Then, navigate to Ad and sales channels and click Edit in Business Manager. If you don’t have a Business Manager account yet, you’ll need to set up one.

  • A new page will open with a menu on the left side of the screen. Tap Instagram accounts on that menu and click Add to connect your Instagram account.

  1. Submit your account for review 

After connecting your Instagram account to your catalog, the next step is to submit your account for review. These reviews usually take a couple of days provided you did everything right and stuck to Facebook’s guidelines. 

To submit your account for review:

  • Go to your Instagram settings
  • Tap Sign up for Instagram Shopping
  • Follow the prompts to submit your account for review
  • Wait for a few days to get approved 

Pro tip: You can check the status of your application by visiting Shopping in your Instagram settings.

  1. Connect your product catalog to your Instagram Shop

When Meta approves your account, you can now connect your product catalog with your Instagram Shop. You just have to:

  • Go to your Instagram profile settings
  • Tap Business > Shopping 
  • Select the product catalog you want to connect with
  • Tap Done

Creating compelling ocntent

Creating compelling content on Instagram is pivotal for attracting new people, engaging your audience, building your brand, and driving product sales. Here are some tips for creating compelling content for your Instagram page: 

  1. Use high-quality visuals 

Instagram, at its core, is a visual platform, so you have to pay close attention to the quality of photos and videos you share. Whether it’s product images, behind-the-scenes videos, or user-generated content, ensure that they’re well-lit, high-resolution, and aesthetically pleasing. 

If you’re just starting out, you can use a smartphone with a great camera to take pictures, and then later, you can invest in a professional camera. 

Pro tip: Maintain a consistent style and color scheme across your posts. This helps you build a recognizable brand identity that your followers can easily identify amidst a sea of content. 

  1. Craft engaging captions 

Instead of writing random, non-informative captions on your Instagram posts, use captions to tell stories that connect emotionally with your audience. Whether it’s the inspiration behind a particular product, a customer success story, or your brand’s journey, storytelling can significantly enhance engagement. 

Pro tip: Encourage your followers to interact with your content by including calls-to-action (CTA). These CTAs tell your audience what to do next after viewing your Instagram posts. You can ask them to share their thoughts, click the product tag to purchase your products, tag their friends, or visit your website.  

Free Interactive Guide to Digital Product Strategy: Download Now

  1. Use hashtags strategically 

Hashtags are a way to attract a specific Instagram audience to your posts. For example, if you make a post and use the hashtag, #forwriters, it’s safe to say that you want writers to see that post. 

For hashtags to work, they have to be relevant. So you’ll need to research popular and niche hashtags in your industry to attract a targeted audience. You can also develop unique hashtags for your digital products and encourage followers to use them. Not only does this enhance brand visibility, but it also allows you to easily find and feature user-generated content. 

Pro tip: Although Instagram allows users to add up to 30 hashtags in a post, Instagram’s creators account recommends that you keep hashtags between 3 and 5 in a post. 

  1. Embrace Instagram’s features 

Instagram has a slew of powerful features you can take advantage of to grow your Instagram audience, increase brand awareness, and drive sales. These features include Stories, Reels, IGTV, and Live broadcasts, and each format offers unique ways to connect with your audience, from in-the-moment updates to in-depth tutorials. 

  1. Schedule posts for optimal times 

Instagram is a global platform, so there’s a good chance your audience is situated all over the world in different time zones. So while it might be 10 am where you live, it can be 4 pm where your audience is. 

To reach your audience at the right times, identify when your audience is most active on Instagram by reviewing your account’s Insights.  Posting during these peak times increases the chances of them seeing and engaging with your posts. 

Pro tip: Maintain a consistent posting schedule to keep your audience engaged and ensure your brand stays top of mind. You can use scheduling tools to schedule content in advance to be automatically published at a specific time.  

  1. Engage with other accounts

Even though you’re on Instagram to build your brand, you should engage with followers, industry peers, and influencers by liking, commenting on, and sharing their content  — especially if you plan on collaborating with them down the line. 

Not only does this put you on their radar, but they may be compelled to return the favor. If they do, you’ll be exposed to their audience, which broadens your reach and makes them more receptive to the idea of collaborating with you.

Learn more about how to create digital products here.

Leveraging Instagram features

You can significantly increase your product sales on Instagram by leveraging the platform’s features. Each feature offers unique opportunities to showcase your digital products, engage with potential customers, and drive transactions directly on the app. Here’s how you can use these features to your advantage:

  1. Instagram shopping tags 

Integrating your product catalog with Instagram allows you to tag your products in your posts and stories, just like tagging a person. When your audience taps these tags, they get more product information, such as pricing and product descriptions, and can proceed to purchase directly from your Instagram shop. This seamless shopping experience can greatly increase conversion rates

  1. IGTV

IGTV, short for Instagram TV, allows you to post longer videos compared to regular Instagram posts and stories. Use this to build your brand by creating in-depth product demonstrations, tutorials, or behind-the-scenes looks at your product creation process. This type of content can help build trust and provide value to your audience. 

Encourage your viewers to leave comments, ask questions, and share their thoughts on your IGTV videos. This engagement not only fosters a community around your brand but also provides valuable feedback from potential customers.  

  1. Instagram Stories and Reels 

The maximum length of Instagram Stories and Reels are 60 seconds and 90 seconds respectively, so they’re perfect for creating buzz around new products or special promotions. Use these features to post engaging teasers, countdowns to product launches, or exclusive offers for your followers. Since Stories disappear after 24 hours, they create a sense of urgency, encouraging users to act quickly 

You can also share BTS and UGC content featuring your products in Stories and Reels. This not only diversifies your content but also provides social proof, showing potential customers that real people are deriving value from your products. 

Pro tip: Incorporate interactive elements such as polls, quizzes, question stickers, and swipe-up links in your Stories. These features can increase engagement, drive traffic directly to your product pages or website, and allow you to collect feedback from your audience.

  1. Instagram Live 

The Instagram features mentioned above allow you to communicate with your audience asynchronously, but sometimes, you want to talk to them in real-time. Instagram Live allows you to do that.

You can use Instagram Live to launch new products or conduct Q&A sessions. This real-time interaction creates a sense of immediacy and exclusivity, encouraging your followers to tune in and engage directly with your brand. You can also use Live sessions to address common issues and provide additional information about your products, adding a personal touch to your marketing efforts. 

Pro tip: Partner with other creators in your niche to co-host Live sessions. This can expand your reach to new audiences and add credibility to your products through association.    

Implementing effective marketing strategies

While creating compelling content is the bedrock of growing your brand through Instagram, the results you get can be slow if you only post content.

Free 8-Step Guide to Marketing Your Digital Products: Download Now

Here are some other Instagram marketing strategies you can implement to widen your reach, garner leads, and turn them into paying customers:

  1. Run Instagram ads

Most, if not all, social media platforms allow you to run ads to reach a wider audience. Instagram is no different. This platform has robust targeting options that allow you to reach potential customers based on demographics, interests, location, behaviors, and more. This ensures that your ads are shown to people who are most likely to be interested in your products. 

When running ads on Instagram, try different ad formats, such as photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, and Stories ads to find what resonates best with your target audience. Also, implement Instagram’s conversion tracking tools to measure the effectiveness of your ads. This data allows you to optimize your campaigns for better performance and ROI.     

  1. Host giveaways and contests 

Despite how uniquely different each person is, everyone generally likes two things: free stuff and having fun. That’s why hosting giveaways and contests is so effective for increasing engagement, improving visibility, and fostering a sense of community and loyalty among your followers. 

For this strategy to be effective, clearly state the rules, duration, and prizes for your giveaways and/or contests. Make sure you align these activities with your marketing goals, whether it’s increasing your followers, promoting a new product, or boosting UGC content.

  1. Collaborate with other creators 

Partnering with other creators (or influencers) in your industry can help you tap into their loyal following and gain some new customers. However, you shouldn’t just approach any random creator and ask for a collaboration. Instead, choose creators (or influencers) whose audience religiously engages with their content. 

You can go further by doing a cross-promotion, where you promote the creator’s products to your audience and they do the same for you. This is a great way to build long-term relationships with influencers and maintain a consistent presence among their audience.

Pro tip: With collaboration, the number of followers doesn’t really matter. It’s better to collaborate with a creator who has 10,000 loyal followers and great engagement rates than one who has 100,000 followers and low engagement rates. 

  1. Share user-generated content 

To get people to buy your digital products, you have to prove that they can derive value from the products. There’s no better way to do that than to share user-generated content, e.g. customers’ photos, reviews, and testimonials.

UGC is perceived as more authentic and trustworthy than traditional advertising because, instead of the owner of the brand saying, “My product is amazing, you should buy it”, other people are saying, “I’ve tried this product and I got great results. I’d recommend that other people buy it, too”.

Here’s how Kat Norton, the founder of Miss-Excel, showcases her customers’ testimonials on her Instagram profile: 

To get UGC content, motivate your customers to share their experiences with your products by creating a branded hashtag, running UGC contests, or offering incentives for posts. Not only does this build social proof, but it also makes your customers feel valued and part of your brand’s journey.

Analyzing performance and optimizing strategies

To keep driving product sales via Instagram, you have to constantly improve the quality of your posts, the type of content you share, the times you share them, and your overall Instagram marketing strategy. The best way to do this is to analyze your performance and use the data you collect to optimize your strategy. 

Here’s how to do that: 

  1. Monitor your key metrics  

Before you start executing your Instagram marketing strategy, clearly define the metrics you’ll track. Tracking your metrics via Instagram’s built-in analytics tool (Instagram Insights) can give you both a bird’s-eye and a granular view into how effective your strategy is: what’s working well and what’s not. 

The three most important metrics to monitor are: 

  • Engagement rate. This metric measures the level of interaction your content receives from your audience. It includes likes, comments, shares, and saves. Monitoring your engagement rate helps to gauge how well your content resonates with your audience.  
  • Conversion rate. The goal of posting on Instagram is to get people who come across your page to buy your digital products. Conversion rate is a metric that measures the percentage of users who become your paid customers. Tracking this metric helps you assess the performance of your marketing efforts in terms of driving tangible results.
  • Return on Investment (ROI). ROI measures the overall profitability of your Instagram marketing campaigns relative to the investment made. It involves calculating the revenue generated from Instagram activities against the costs incurred. 

For example, say you sell an online course worth $399. You pay $1,000 for Instagram ads, and at the end of the campaign, 20 people buying your course, totalling $7,980. Your net profit is $6,980, which means your ROI is 87%. Worth it, I’d say! 

  1. Conduct A/B tests 

A/B testing involves experimenting with different variations of your content or strategy to determine which ones yield better results. This can include testing different types of content (e.g. images vs videos vs infographics), captions, posting times, ad formats, targeting options, etc. 

Here are some examples: 

  • You post content at two different times during the day over a couple of weeks to figure out which time your audience is online the most. 
  • You set up two ads with the same content, except one’s a single image while the other is in carousel form. After a week, you check to see which ad format garnered the most engagements and conversions.

By systematically testing various elements, you can identify what resonates best with your audience and optimize your strategy accordingly.

  1. Stay updated with Instagram’s algorithm changes and trends 

Instagram’s algorithm plays a significant role in determining the reach and visibility of your content. Staying informed about algorithm changes and updates can help you adapt your strategies even as the landscape changes to ensure continued success on the platform. 

Additionally, knowing the emerging trends and best practices within your industry allows you to capitalize on opportunities and stay ahead of the competition. This can include trends in content formats, popular hashtags, influencer collaborations, and more. 

Sell your digital products on Instagram with ease 

Selling digital products on Instagram requires a blend of creativity, strategic planning, and ongoing engagement. By leveraging the power of compelling visuals, engaging content, and Instagram’s diverse features—from Stories and Reels to IGTV and shopping tags—you can showcase your products and build a community around your brand. 

Succeeding on Instagram involves constant learning and adaptation, but if you take the steps and implement the strategies listed above, Instagram can be a lucrative channel for you to grow your brand. 

Remember: the key to success lies in authenticity, quality content, and genuine interaction with your audience.


  1. Can I sell any type of digital product on Instagram? 

Yes, you can sell a variety of digital products on Instagram via Instagram Shop, including eBooks, online courses, design templates, music, digital artwork, software applications, and more. 

  1. Do I need a business account to sell digital products on Instagram? 

While you don’t necessarily need to have a business account to sell digital products on Instagram, it is recommended to have one. An Instagram business account gives you access to Instagram Shopping, Instagram Insights for analytics, and the ability to run ads, all of which can significantly improve your results.  

  1. How can I drive traffic to my Instagram shop? 

You can drive traffic to your Instagram shop by using relevant hashtags in your posts, collaborating with influencers or other brands, running targeted Instagram ads, and promoting your Instagram shop on other social media platforms and your website. 

  1. Is it necessary to use Instagram ads to sell digital products? 

Using Instagram ads to sell digital products isn’t strictly necessary but can significantly enhance your sales efforts by reaching a broader audience and increasing the visibility of your products. 

If you don’t want to use Instagram ads (or you don’t have the budget yet), you can still get sales through organic methods like posting engaging content and offering exclusive discounts or promotions for followers. 

  1. How do I handle transaction and delivery of digital products on Instagram? 

Instagram Shopping allows for seamless checkout directly on the platform for eligible businesses. However, you can set up your Instagram shop with a secure payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe, and deliver digital products via email or download links once the payment is processed. 

Interested in selling digital products outside of Instagram? Try selling digital products with Thinkific!

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