This text was written in 2021, and some of the information provided may have lost its validity.

The next evening, after 6 years, I met one of my old friends. They had reached out to me seeking advice for their Instagram store. That’s when I decided to write down my own experiences to let you know the process we went through to reach 110,000 followers on Instagram.

About 3 years ago, we started our journey, and the total cost we incurred to attract 110,000 followers over these three years was less than 10 million Tomans. My experiences are in the field of women’s clothing, and it may not be directly applicable to someone selling engineering tools or even men’s clothing. Nevertheless, it can still be helpful in some way.

I should also mention a small introduction about my observations.

Instagram provides an opportunity to sell any product. My explore page is filled with car exhibition pages, coffee shops, mobile accessories, and more. Certainly, many of these stores are making income (whether low or high) through Instagram. However, what is mostly seen is that the Instagram market is inclined towards products related to women, and these types of stores encompass a significant portion of Instagram sales. In fact, websites like Digistyle, Banimode, etc., are becoming marginalized (this is my perception, and I have no knowledge of their sales).

I will share my experiences regarding product selection and testing, pricing, and page growth, and I hope it will be useful for you.

  1. Where should we start?

The question that arises for everyone is where and with what product should we start?

Our journey began by purchasing a few products from the market as a test and started photographing and selling them with very little profit on the Komoda application.

Our product photography was done completely amateurishly using our mobile phones. We did this to determine if there was any demand for these products or not. Within less than 24 hours, we received about 5 orders through komoda. In the following days, we added more and more products to the Komoda app, and we sold almost all of our products through the app. After one or two weeks, we realized that there was sufficient demand for our products, and we started setting up an Instagram page.

We started our page with zero followers, and over these 3 years, we never purchased fake followers. We would tell people who messaged us on Komoda that they could see more of our products on our Instagram page, and gradually, the number of our followers increased. All the photos were taken with a mobile phone camera and were completely amateur.

However, sales and cash flow were essential for our business, so we continued selling on Kamda. When our follower count reached around 400 or 500, one person bought about 300,000 Tomans (=30 US $)worth of products from Instagram, and we were amazed. It was at this point that we decided to focus more on photography and sales on Instagram.

My suggestion:

Before thinking about starting an Instagram page and selling, try testing your desired products somewhere. If you see that there is demand for your products, then continue with your plan. But if your products don’t sell, don’t insist too much on selling them.

  1. What product should we choose?

Choosing a product is another crucial aspect of selling on Instagram. If your acquaintances consider you a person with good taste, it’s time to start. However, if you think your taste is not very good, it might be necessary to gain some experience and change your preferences a bit or try to identify the tastes of your target audience through experience and testing. It is true that there is a market for every taste, but some products are more difficult to sell.

If you are in Tehran, spend a few days exploring the market and getting familiar with the atmosphere. Each product has its own world, and you need to decide which product you want to invest your time in. There is a significant difference between products such as scarves, home clothing, socks, underwear, outdoor clothing, and formal wear. Don’t try to test them all. It takes at least 6 months to a year to become familiar with a market and its buying and selling dynamics.

If you are in a small town, don’t worry too much. Try buying your favorite and unique products from online stores and test them for sale. If you find that they have the potential to sell, then come to Tehran and make your purchases.

Currently, most of the top-selling women’s clothing stores are in cities like Gorgan. Don’t let living in a small town become an obstacle to starting your business.

For a product to sell on Instagram, it should have one of these two characteristics:

  1. It should be unique.
  2. It should be inexpensive.

Most people start with a strategy of selling inexpensive products, and we also started our business this way. We tried to sell our products with very little profit.

Keep in mind that for at least the first 6 months, you won’t make significant profits, and it’s natural. It takes some time to find your own business model and initial customers.

Preferably, choose products that do not have specific sizes, or if they do, make sure to measure all dimensions accurately and include them in the product descriptions.

Selling children’s products is very challenging and comes with many difficulties. Sizing and measuring children’s products are crucial. Our experience in this area led us to completely stop selling children’s products because most mothers didn’t provide accurate measurements for their children or simply mentioned that their child is two years old and chubby. This resulted in us wasting a lot of time, and ultimately, it didn’t yield satisfactory results for us.

  1. How can people trust us?

As long as there are pages with 100,000 or 200,000 followers, why would someone buy from a new page with only a thousand followers? What assurance can they have that their order will be delivered after they make the payment?

I’ll reiterate what I mentioned earlier. It’s better to initially focus on selling through intermediary platforms and use Instagram as a showcase. Try to attract more followers with attractive photos. Alongside customers who buy through intermediaries, direct them towards your Instagram page. Be patient with growing your page.

Showcase the number of orders you have received in a highlight or story to your current followers and assure them that the product will be delivered. It’s not necessary, but it can help build trust if you occasionally show yourself in some of the posts so that followers know whom they are interacting with. However, this is not essential.

  1. How should we advertise?

Never, under any circumstances, buy fake followers.

Never pay for follower-increasing packages (competitions, support campaigns, lotteries, etc.).

Both of the above will only result in the destruction of your page in the true sense, wasting your time and money.

For our advertisements, we first tried to identify our target audience. Our main audience consists of girls and women between the ages of 16 and 35. Influencers were costly for us, and we had no idea about the effectiveness of their work, so we opted for advertising through pages. Our criterion for selecting a page was whether our target audience was following it.

If the answer was yes, we would start examining the content of the page.

We would select the last 5 to 10 posts of the desired page and check the number of likes and comments. If the number of likes on the last 5 posts equaled at least ten percent of the page’s followers, we would advertise on that page. This approach resulted in higher-quality followers for us. Although the number of followers that came was relatively small, it had a lower cost and higher return for us. The cost of attracting each follower was about 1,000 to 1,500 Tomans, and ultimately, we would gain 200 to 300 new followers for each campaign. The return on investment was quick and even exceeded the advertising cost. However, when you have a very low number of followers, this cost will undoubtedly be higher.

For advertising, it is essential to use posts rather than stories. Story advertisements have very little impact and are not very effective.

  1. Product Photography

The most crucial factor that leads to the sale of your product is the photograph. The photo you take of the product must be attractive and eye-catching. If you feel that your own photography skills are not good enough, consider outsourcing the photography.

We use micro-influencers with good taste for photographing our products. We send them the products to take pictures of, and we pay them an amount between 50,000 to 100,000 Tomans per photo, depending on the type of photo.

Another option is to ask manufacturers or wholesalers if they have taken good photos of the product that you can use.

We were able to convince some manufacturers to pay for the photography and provide us with the photos. This reduced our photography costs, and it also allowed the manufacturer to have good photos for their own Instagram page.

  1. Variety and Quantity

Try to have less inventory and increase variety. It is crucial to have at least one ready-to-publish post every day, literally every day. In our case, if we don’t have any posts ready to publish for two days, the sales on the third day decrease significantly. The reason behind this is that you need to be in front of your audience’s eyes to make them buy from you and trust you.

  1. Product Expiration Date

We consider our clothing products as perishable items that need to be sold quickly. If the product has excellent photography and an appropriate price, it should be sold within a specified time. If it doesn’t sell within that time, we try to sell it with a significant discount or at the cost price. Avoid keeping products in stock for too long and don’t have a strong attachment or passion for the products. The faster your cash flow and turnover, the more opportunities you have to present newer and more attractive products and experience more growth.

  1. How to get free followers?

The cost we incurred to attract 110,000 followers was less than 10 million Tomans. But how did we achieve this?

As I mentioned earlier, good photography is the key to attracting followers. When you have captivating and engaging photos of your products, with a significant number of likes and shares, your product photo will appear in the explore section, and you’ll gain high-quality followers for free.

Each post we published would, at worst, attract 80-100 followers to our page, and in some cases, even 2,000 to 3,000 followers.

In the image below, you can see the statistics for one of our posts that attracted more than 2,000 followers to our page.

By consistently applying these strategies and focusing on providing quality products, engaging content, and building trust with your audience, you can grow your Instagram business successfully. Remember, patience, persistence, and adaptation to market dynamics are key factors for long-term success in the world of Instagram sales.


  1. Focus on Existing or New Customers?

This question is always raised in marketing books, and businesses always face the dilemma of where to focus more.

Our statistics show that 75% of sales come from new users, while 25% come from existing customers. To grow quickly and have more sales, you need to add more new followers to your page.

  1. Should we advertise with influencers or not?

So far, we have advertised with a handful of influencers, and we have tried to select them carefully. We started with micro-influencers. If you have a reasonable number of followers (for example, 40,000 to 50,000 followers), do not approach big influencers. Before paying someone, make sure to examine their page. Send them a message and evaluate their response. If someone interacts with you rudely or unprofessionally, never pay them for advertising because they will either delay publishing your ad or not publish it at all.

Here are some questions you should definitely ask, and the person must provide you with answers:

  1. What is the return on investment for your advertisements?
  2. Can you provide examples of successful advertisements and customer satisfaction?
  3. What is your idea for advertising my product, and how do you plan to promote it?
  4. Reducing Shipping Costs

Make sure to use postal services for shipping your products. It is more reliable, cost-effective, and allows for package tracking. We have a contract with a pickup office for sending packages, and since we send packages in bulk, we receive discounts. You can also talk to them about coming to collect the packages themselves to save your time at the post office. Pickup offices can offer you solutions to reduce your shipping costs. Discuss with them that you want to pay the lowest possible cost for shipping and ask for their advice. Currently, the cost of packaging and shipping each package for us is around 12,000 to 17,000 Tomans.

  1. The Secret to Success

In these three years, we have learned that there is no secret recipe for success on Instagram. It all comes down to your effort, attention to detail, and your own taste. Don’t waste your money on Instagram packages without any substantial benefit. While it’s not bad to know what they say, it’s better to seek advice from someone who has actually launched a successful business rather than someone who just provides general advice on how to do it.

     14.Gaining Trust of Customers at the Beginning of the Business

In the early stages of starting a business when the number of orders is still very low and the website is not well-known, it is necessary to find a way to gain the trust of users. An idea that my spouse had for achieving this was to provide users with a visual representation of their desired products before they make the payment. After the user finalizes their order, my spouse would arrange the products together, take a photo, and send it to the user.

This approach helped to build trust with buyers, and sometimes they would add more products to their order after seeing this. If you are at the beginning of your journey, you can consider using this method. If you believe that users still lack trust, you can send them a real photo of the product they intend to purchase to gain their trust and obtain their final confirmation.

Implementing this approach does require a significant amount of time, but in the early stages of business, product sales are crucial, and you need to achieve a minimum level of sales to maintain your motivation for continuing the venture. Additionally, it is essential to showcase postal receipts in your stories and highlights to make others aware that your store is trustworthy.

      15.Exciting Purchases

One interesting experience we have encountered in this business is that often users’ purchases on Instagram are impulsive. For example, when you introduce an attractive product for sale, many users become interested in it and make a purchase. Suddenly, your inventory is depleted overnight. You receive numerous direct messages from individuals who want to buy the product, but it is no longer available in your store. In response, you decide to purchase ten times more for the next time to meet the demand. However, the surprising part is that between 20% to 40% of the users who previously expressed interest end up making the purchase, and you wonder why the product is not selling as expected. Many people had messaged you expressing their desire to purchase the product, but now they are no longer willing to buy.

As I mentioned before, a significant portion of sales is driven by the fact that users want to buy the product immediately upon seeing it, and then their interest diminishes over time. After a while, you need to estimate the necessary inventory to ensure that supply and demand are aligned.

     16.Changing Customer Expectations

Another interesting aspect here is that customer expectations increase over time, and it directly affects your sales. Suppose you introduce a highly appealing and captivating product after some time of operation. Users are highly impressed by this product. However, when subsequent similar products are added to your store, they are compared to the excellent product, and users use it as their benchmark for making a purchase. If the new product does not match the attractiveness and price of the previous product, its sales and level of attention will be significantly affected. Your post receives fewer likes and is shared less frequently (even compared to other regular products you offer).

     17.VIP Services from VIP Suppliers to VIP Customers

Sometimes, you come across stores that offer highly exclusive products that cannot be found in any other store. No matter how extensively you search the market, you cannot find a similar product.

The issue here is that some suppliers and manufacturers provide these products exclusively to their select customers. They engage in pre-purchasing before wider distribution, leaving smaller buyers unable to access these products. Furthermore, the method of communication differs. Suppliers and manufacturers inform customers with higher purchase volumes in advance. Being aware of what products are about to enter the market enables you to be one step ahead of your competitors.

Another point is the discounts received by larger buyers compared to manufacturers or distributors. Sometimes, this price difference can reach 10% to 20% below the wholesale market price, which allows for higher profits as a seller or the ability to compete with lower prices and offer products at a lower cost.

Becoming a VIP customer of suppliers depends on the volume of your purchases and the relationship you establish with the supplier.

     18.Customer Support

One of the important aspects for Instagram stores is providing ample and patient customer support. Your audience prefers quick responses to their messages and may have numerous questions about the product material, shipping conditions, and more. Patience is crucial in this regard. It often happens that users do not read the price written below the product or the shipping conditions, and they ask all their questions through direct messages. Therefore, you must be patient and provide them with answers to their questions with great patience.

     19.Excessive Calls Indicate a Problem

One mistake we made was having constant phone support, which resulted in a high volume of calls. The issue was related to specifying the delivery time. We clearly stated that orders would be delivered to Tehran’s post office on a certain day or time, and then it would take 48 to 72 hours to reach the customer. Unfortunately, users only read the day and time, and the customer support phone was constantly ringing with complaints about why their package had not arrived. After a week, we removed the information related to shipping due to the high volume of calls and created a page called “Shipping Process” to easily inform users about when their package will be sent and how long it will take to reach them.

     20.The Importance of Hiring the First Employee

At some point in your business, you may need to recruit one or more employees. The first employee is the most important hire, and your work culture will be shaped by employing them. Therefore, you should allocate a significant amount of time and find the best candidate possible. It is not a bad idea to find someone who is good enough, but it is better to spend more time and hire the best candidate available to see the results in the future.

     21.Familiarity with the Material and Quality of the Product

If your products are clothing items, you need to have some knowledge about the types of fabrics and their quality. For example, there are different types of threads, such as cotton thread, modal thread, Chinese thread, Iranian thread, or Pakistani thread, and so on. Many users will ask you questions like “What material is this product made of?” and you should be prepared to answer such questions. If you are not familiar with the types of products, be sure to ask the supplier so that you can provide answers to your customers.

     22.Market Trends and Products

One topic that often catches newcomers off guard is market trends. First, it is essential to note that online sales and physical store sales are two completely separate worlds. Often, products that sell easily in physical stores may not have any demand in the online world, and vice versa.

Secondly, for someone new to market trends, it may be unfamiliar territory. For example, you may think a product is very appealing and that you should have it in your store, but then you realize that there is no demand for it. The supplier (manufacturer, etc.) may have told you that the product is highly sellable, and you trusted their word and purchased a significant quantity. However, no one is willing to buy the product from you. The issue here is not that the supplier lied to you; the product may indeed be popular, but only in physical stores. It takes time to become familiar with market trends and which products can be successfully offered and sold online. During this period, some loss is natural until you fully understand market trends.

Market trends can change rapidly, and you should strive to have a thorough understanding of them. For example, some products that were highly popular and in-demand for us in 2020 may have no demand now.

That’s why I mentioned that you should treat every product as if it has an expiration date and try to sell it as quickly as possible.


By Reza

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