In an article about reselling businesses, an Instagram post about $14 thrifted jeans is flanked by the phrase "ON SALE" in bold red letters on the left and a climbing revenue arrow on the right.

How To Start a Successful Reselling Business on Instagram

Create a thriving thriftstagram at the drop of a hat with these 12 practical marketing tips.
August 19, 2023
10 mins read

Instagram launched in October 2010, and with its debut came new opportunities for reselling businesses to promote and conduct their work. Since the wide-reaching platform’s initial release, independent resellers have cultivated thriving thrift and secondhand shopping communities through Instagram accounts dedicated to the expansion of their businesses. 

Reselling on Instagram is simpler than you might expect. Much like other reselling websites, such as eBay, Poshmark and Craigslist, Instagram provides resellers the ability to post secondhand, personal and vintage items on accounts devoted to their shops. Users who stumble upon a shop they like can then purchase items by sending virtual payment through apps like Venmo, PayPal, Cash App or Zelle. 

While purchasing items from a reselling account is relatively simple and speedy, running one is somewhat more challenging. After all, creating and maintaining a successful secondhand shop is equivalent to running a full-fledged business. If you are serious about turning your passion for thrifting into a legitimate Instagram side hustle, you will need to adhere to the following steps to ensure your success.

1. Pick a Niche and Name

Every reselling business needs a distinct name to set it apart from the others. The same is true of its content, or the products it sells. Maybe kitchenware is your thing — or perhaps vintage clothing. In some cases, finding an enticing niche and name pairing boils down to one inspiring the other. If you want to sell a broader range of content to start with, incorporate basic words like “thrifts,” “finds” or “shop” to create the optimal business name.  

2. Design the Profile Accordingly 

Many reselling businesses have themes that dictate the way their profiles look. Often, resellers will create decorative, thematic logos to use as profile pictures. In addition to selecting a theme, you will need to craft a compelling business profile. Consider the following questions when you sit down to write your profile: What are you selling? Where are you based? What payment methods do you accept? To finalize your profile, add emojis or special downloadable fonts so that your business catches potential customers’ eyes. 

3. Post About Yourself and Your Intentions for the Shop

Though not entirely necessary, “Meet the Seller” posts increase customers’ trust and initiate dialogues between sellers and customers. Upload a few photos of yourself in your element and write a thoughtful caption to introduce yourself. You can talk about why you started your reselling business, who you are and what you like to do aside from secondhand shopping. Unveiling yourself along with your shop will give your business a personality, which can amount to a more loyal customer base. 

4. Create Shop Policies

Insert basic policies somewhere on your page — maybe in a story highlight or a pinned post. Shop rules can include your refund and return policy, payment protocol, shipping range and schedule. You can even explain how to shop your business most efficiently. Whatever you think you might have to explain to a customer later on should have a home in your policies section. 

5. Plan a Regular Posting Schedule, and Stick To It 

Consistency is the key to accumulating new and regular customers. The more frequently and regularly you post and upload to your story, the more Instagram will push your account to other users. Persistent posting creates a promising foundation that your business can grow upon. 

6. For Each Post, Find Quality Lighting and a Clean Space for Photographs

Aesthetics can play an important role in drawing new customers to your storefront. If you plan on selling clothes, will you display them on a hanger, mannequin, backdrop or model? If you intend to sell home goods, will you stage them alone or with decor? Regardless of your store’s look, natural lighting is usually ideal for showcasing an item’s truest form. If there isn’t a clear and clean space near a window to stage your items, your next best option is to use a ring light. The point is to depict your items authentically so that customers know what they are buying. 

7. Write a Generic Caption To Edit for Individual Posts

Construct a go-to template for your captions to create consistency and clarity on your page. Maintaining the same caption style in every post establishes a theme, which will make your account more approachable. Some information to consider including in each caption is item description, size, shape, color, material, brand, condition and price. The more detailed, the better.    

8. Switch Up Hashtags

Hashtags are another great way to boost the views your posts receive. However, there have been rumors that using the same hashtags for every post, especially in the same order, can lead the algorithm to believe that your posts are spam. Avoid this at all costs. Change which hashtags you use each time you post; at a minimum, diversify their order. 

9. Designate a Place for Available Items

Some resellers choose to delete posts about sold items, but many customers think that this practice detracts from the concept of a shop. In other words, customers may feel off-put if they only see what isn’t selling. If you show shoppers everything that you are capable of, they will be more likely to follow you. Therefore, you need a way to differentiate your available items from your sold ones. The simplest ways to separate the two are shop-specific hashtags and “available” highlights. By implementing one or both of these techniques, you will ensure that customers can shop your inventory with ease.

10. Learn About Updates to the Algorithm

Keeping your finger on what the Instagram algorithm is doing can be quite helpful. The algorithm can help you know when and what to post. Will a story, post or reel reach more users? What features in the app will help you boost your content? Understanding recent variations in the algorithm can help you stay relevant on the platform. 

11. Interact With Customers Through Stories and Comments

Asking loyal customers to interact with your content is an effective way to boost your posts to new customers and non-followers. For example, you can ask followers to like your stories that feature sales, respond to questions or polls and comment on your posts. Positive interactions can go a long way to expand your reselling business.  

12. Familiarize Yourself With Fellow Resellers, and Ask For Help

Finally, reach out to other resellers! Learn from the pros, and ask for their advice; this can be an extremely useful way to improve your own sales. You could increase your business significantly by copying the successful tactics and methods that other secondhand sellers use. Additionally, becoming virtual friends with top resellers could lead to giveaway inclusions and shoutouts. Both can be instrumental in helping you gain more followers and, hopefully, eventual customers. 

This list of tips for starting your own reselling business on Instagram is not exhaustive but will provide you with a solid place to start. As outlined in step 12, “networking” is always a fail-safe. The online thrifting community is mostly friendly and eager to help new business owners. Taking advantage of other resellers’ feedback, as well as these suggestions, will land you a couple steps closer to reselling success.  

Sarah Deavers, University of Virginia

Writer Profile

Sarah Deavers

University of Virginia
Media Studies

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