Wondering how to start a side hustle on Instagram? Spoiler alert: it takes a bit of hard work.
However, with the right strategy, you can build a thriving community and drive those all-important sales, while still holding down a full-time job.
In this blog post, we’re sharing the most important steps to get your side hustle off the ground — along with several noteworthy tips from successful side hustle entrepreneurs.
How to Start a Side Hustle on Instagram: A Step-by-step Guide
Step #1: Define Your Product Offering
The first step to launching a successful side hustle is knowing what your product or service is.
While it sounds like an obvious part of the process, it’s one of the most important to get right. Your product or service is the foundation of your side hustle — so it’s worth taking the time to consider details like:
What makes your product interesting?
Why would people buy your product?
How long will it take to create?
How expensive will it be to create?
How much of your time will it require?
Will you need to hire other people to help bring your vision to life?
Understanding the value of your offering, and whether you can manage it alongside your other commitments, will put you on the road to success.
Learn from the Side Hustlers: Find a Strong Idea
Exequiel Alcober, a Head of Customer Success for a tech startup, landed on his side hustle idea by looking at everyday products from his home country of Argentina.
“Being Argentinian, drinking Yerba Mate [a loose leaf tea blend] has been part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Exequiel shared.
“It is a big part of South American culture and I’ve always wanted to find a way to introduce it to the rest of the world.”
Armed with a strong idea, Exequiel and partner Cedric have now launched Zappyo, an all-natural, GMO-free range of Yerba Mate tea blends.
Ready to kickstart your side hustle on social media? Learn how to make more sales on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and TikTok! Check out our Ultimate Guide to Social Selling now!
Step #2: Establish Your Target Audience
Once you’ve got an idea for your side hustle locked in, the next step is to define your target audience.
It’s a good idea to create an “audience persona” for your ideal customer — a fictional profile that covers who they are, what they like, and what they dislike.
Having a clear idea of who will buy your product or service will inform how you market it on Instagram — from your visual branding (such as colors, fonts, and photography) to your content strategy, tone of voice, and hashtag strategy.
If you’re unsure of who your target audience is, tap into your network and do some research!
Ask your friends, family, and colleagues if they would buy your product, and if so, who they would buy it for. Using poll and question stickers on your personal Instagram account can also be a great way to gather feedback.
Step #3: Design Your Creative Branding
At this stage, you should be armed with enough knowledge about your side hustle to design killer on-brand creative visuals, including:
An idea of your product photography aesthetic
For the best results, use your brand values to guide your decisions. For example, if your products are sleek and minimal, you may want to use a muted color palette and a crisp, clean font.
For product photography, think about the story you want to tell at-a-glance. This could be as simple as a plain color backdrop, white bed sheet, or a tablescape with contextual items in the mix.
Learn from the Side Hustlers: Use Your Brand Values to Inform Your Visual Branding
Poppy Fairhurst, a full-time Digital PR Manager, launched her side hustle creating colorful hand-painted prints during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
To bring Poppy’s Happy Doodles to life, she took inspiration from her mission to inspire positivity — using bright, energized colors in her creative branding.
“I wanted the brand to feel uplifting, infectious, and exciting, especially during such difficult times,” she explains.
“I love colour so this was really important to me. The name ‘Happy Doodles’ is fun, like my pieces. My aim is to make people happy with what I do.”
Looking to level up your Instagram branding? Discover our top tips to improve your visual brand identity!
Step #4: Create an Instagram Business Account
With all your branding in place, you can create a new Instagram Business profile for your side hustle.
Think of this profile as your virtual storefront — how can you make people want to enter and buy your products?
One of the key ways is to optimize your Instagram bio. Here’s how:
Profile picture: Make your profile appear more professional with an on-brand photo — whether it’s a shot of you, or your logo.
Account name: Add relevant, searchable keywords to improve your discoverability.
Description: Use this space as a bite-sized “About” page. Share your products, values, and who your ideal customer is.
Link in bio: Use a tool like Linkin.bio by Later to send followers to a clickable, shoppable version of your Instagram feed (more on this later!).
Contact details: Include contact information like a phone number or email address.
Ready to optimize your Instagram bio? Download our free Instagram Bio Planning Worksheet here!
Step #5: Plan Your Instagram Content Strategy
Next up, it’s on to the fun part: planning your Instagram content strategy.
There’s no right or wrong answer — but it is a good idea to plan and preview your posts in advance with Later’s Instagram Scheduling tools.
This will help you to create a visually impactful Instagram feed that supports your brand values.
As Exequiel from Zappyo explains: “Later’s Visual Planner tool allows us to see and visualize our Instagram feed before publishing posts. It helps us make sure that our posts flow and create our desired aesthetic.”
Learn from the Side Hustlers: Schedule Content for Time Management
Planning your Instagram posts in advance can also help you save time.
Frankie De Barr launched her side hustle, The Biscuitect, alongside a day job, other side projects, and a toddler to take care of.
Frankie creates buildings in biscuit form as edible gifts — from bespoke replicas of people’s homes or businesses, to themed collections.
By scheduling her posts in advance, Frankie is able to share content at her best times to post — without compromising on family time.
“My best time for posting seems to be 6-7pm,” explains Frankie. “Having a toddler makes this a difficult time to be glued to my phone, so scheduling makes life a bit easier.”
Find your best time to post (based on when your audience is most active) and schedule your content to auto publish with Later!
Step #6: Make Your Instagram Shoppable
Now that you’ve got an Instagram account, it’s time to make it shoppable.
With Instagram Shop, you can curate a list of shoppable products that are directly accessible through your Instagram profile.
You’ll also be able to tag products directly in your posts, stories, IGTV videos, Reels, and Instagram Live broadcasts.
Ready to get started? Follow our step-by-step guide here: How to Set Up an Instagram Shop.
In addition to Instagram’s native shopping tools, you can also turn the link in your bio into a route to shop.
With Linkin.bio by Later, you can create a clickable, shoppable version of your Instagram feed that you can add to your bio.
And with a Later Growth or Advanced plan, you can connect a Shopify account to Linkin.bio and tag products directly in your posts!
Ready to turn followers into customers with a shoppable Instagram feed? Start using Linkin.bio today!
Step #7: Cross Promote Your Account and Engage with Other Small Businesses
Growing a strong following for your new side hustle can take a while, but there are ways to expedite your growth.
Cross promoting your new account on your personal account, and asking your friends and family members to do the same, can be a great way to boost your initial exposure.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to tap into existing communities in your niche. This is a great way to increase engagement, meet fellow solo entrepreneurs, and can be a valuable support network for inspiration and advice.
“Online foodies are a really supportive and helpful bunch and I feel inspired every day by their ideas,” says Frankie from The Biscuitect.
Learn from the Side Hustlers: 5 Tips for Instagram Growth
Share sneak peaks and teasers, not just the end results. People love to see the process of your craft. — Poppy, Poppy’s Happy Doodles
Use Instagram Stories to big up your peers and share others’ content. They will usually reciprocate and these endorsements are invaluable in building an engaged audience. — Frankie, The Biscuitect
Add value and stay true to who you are. Being authentic with your posts is a key component to gain the trust of your audience. — Exequiel, Zappyo
Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for support. Sometimes it’s simply a case that they don’t understand the value of sharing your posts. — Poppy, Poppy’s Happy Doodles
Be active and engaged. Make sure you are actively participating in conversations and your presence is felt by your followers. — Exequiel, Zappyo
Step #8: Monitor Your Success with Instagram Analytics
Tracking the performance of your new account will help you identify trends, monitor “wins,” and create a fine-tuned strategy that truly resonates with your audience.
There are tons of Instagram metrics you can track and report on, and having a clear idea of your side hustle goals will help you know which metrics are most important.
For example, if you’re most interested in increasing your brand exposure, you’ll want to closely monitor your reach metrics. If you’re more interested in building community, take note of your engagement stats. And if sales are key — you’ll want to pay close attention to what content drives the most clicks.
Later’s Instagram Analytics feature gives you a visual overview of how your posts and stories are performing — all in an easy-to-use dashboard.
You can also track up to 3 months worth of Instagram posts and stories, so you can see which have performed best — and filter by all the key metrics, such as likes, reach, comments, and more.
Plus, Later’s Instagram Analytics have separate “Post Performance” and “Story Performance” dashboards — so you can see exactly how each channel is driving value for your brand.
Starting a side hustle isn’t always easy, but it is possible with the right strategy!
By following these steps and monitoring your performance, you’ll soon see your side hustle gain major momentum.