Since opening our second shop on Amazon Handmade, it’s time we stop purely relying on traffic from online marketplaces to drive sales.

Right now, the success of Boldlie & Co is at the mercy of the platforms. If Etsy or Amazon Handmade decide to change the rules, our shop could go up in the air.

So we have two goals we’d like to slowly work towards:

  • Move to a platform where our shop doesn’t rely solely on marketplaces – our own website.
  • Build our community via social media so that we’ll always have a following no matter where we sell.

This week, we’re focusing on the second goal – growing our community. And we’re starting with Instagram…


Why Instagram?

A few weeks ago, we set up an Instagram feed @boldlieco but we haven’t really invested in it. We’ve been posting to it about every second day, but there’s no clear cut strategy – before now, our goal was to simply make it look good.

Personally, I think Instagram is the best space for makers and handmade sellers because it celebrates creativity. Plus, Instagram is where our audience is, and it’s where our community is. We’re sure that there are other social media platforms our customers hangs out at – but for now, we’re just starting with one.


Zoom into your “step-one” goal

When setting Instagram goals, it’s easy to focus on the wrong thing. It’s tempting to get invested in the number of followers, but does it really matter if the numbers don’t translate into shop sales?

To figure out what we need to focus on first, we decided to work backwards and find our “step-one” goal…


Write down your ultimate goal first

  • What do you want to get out of a community?
  • Why does it matter to you?

For us, our goal is simple:

To get enough sales to reach $100,000 in lifetime revenue.


How do we get there?

  • With better conversions. To make more sales we need more traffic to our shop.
  • Plus higher engagement. To get more traffic we need more people to be interested in our content and actually click through to our shop.
  • And a larger audience. To get more interest in our content, we need more people to see our stuff.

If we work backwards, the action steps would look something like this:

  1. Grow an Instagram following so that more people can see our content.
  2. Create super engaging content that shows off our items so people will want to check our shop out in more detail.
  3. Have great photos, product descriptions and the right price to improve the checkout process.

Our “step-one” goal is to increase our followers with the intention of converting them into customers.

Phew… now that’s out of the way, scroll on to see how we’re increasing our following with purpose.


The beginnings of an Instagram campaign…

We’re kickstarting our community by putting $100 into Instagram Ads as a little experiment to see how far it can get us.

Here’s what we did:

  1. First, we created a giveaway campaign to grow our following. The concept: build a following of people who like your work, enough to want to own some of it (even if it’s for free). Some people might argue that giveaways attract the wrong kind of customer. Sure, you might have a few entrants who are just entering for the sake of free stuff – but we’d like to think that most people are entering because they’d like to display our prints in their home.
  2. Next, we sent $100 worth of paid traffic to the giveaway. It sounds counter-productive to send potential customers to a campaign that isn’t generating immediate sales. We’re actually spending more than $100 when we factor in the printing and shipping costs, too. We decided to take this path because we were much more likely to get more follows, likes and tags from a giveaway with a $100 boost of momentum. All in the name of marketing!

Even if you choose not to spend any money driving paid traffic, a giveaway is still a tried and tested way to kickstart a community.


Creating the Instagram contest

Next up, we set the motions in place for our first Instagram giveaway.

Here’s how it went down…


Step 1: Set the budget, prize and contest period

The first step is to set the budget for the prize. We want to make sure that the prize is attractive enough so that people enter, but not too much that it eats into our budget. We only sell prints right now, so we increased the number of winners to three to increase the chances of winning.

We also factored in the budget of the prize when planning out how long our contest runs for. If it’s a small prize, you could probably get away with a short deadline for entries – we went with one week. But, if your prize is big, take some time to really promote the heck out of it.

For the three small prints, it would cost about $35 to print and $30 to ship. In total, our prize budget was $65.


Step 3: Set the entry requirements

Next, figure out what people need to do to enter. Make sure that this is in line with your “step-one” goal – our’s is to increase our followers. We figured it makes sense that one of the entry requirements must be that entrants follow our Instagram account. We also added in a few other requirements to help the post be seen by more people.

So, if your giveaway is to increase your email list – then get people to sign up to your list to enter. If you’re thinking about brand awareness – get participants to tag someone. Consider the metrics you use to measure your goal and match it up with the entry requirements.

But don’t scare people off…

If you’re giving something small away, it’s probably not worth asking people to write a 25 word poem about why they want to win and to repost it on their feed. The more requirements you have, the less committed people will be when it comes to entering.


Step 4: Create the giveaway content

Ash went away and produced this awesome gallery carousel for our announcement post and I typed away a caption to boot. We kept it pretty simple with the intention of grabbing attention.

If you’re no designer, check out Canva for some super simple giveaway templates you can edit and make your own.

P.S don’t forget to produce some content announcing the winner once the time comes.


Step 5: Engage with your new followers

Announcing and winning is always exciting no matter which side you’re on. But don’t forget about all the NEW followers you just got from your contest who didn’t win. These are the people that you now want to engage, impress and convert them into paying customers.

Once our contest ends, we’ll ramp up some posts daily and announce a special further 20% off coupon for all our entrants.


Setting up our $100 Instagram campaign

Let’s get technical. Curious about our Instagram Ad set up? Here’s our screenshots so you can copy them next time you’re setting up a campaign.



We chose “Your Profile” so that entrants could quickly follow us. We went back to our “step-one” goal to make sure that it aligns with the link destination.



We chose “Create Your Own” because we only have 74 Boldlie followers. Instagram uses Facebook data to target audiences similar to your current followers. I didn’t feel like our 74 followers truly represented our customers yet. Instead, here’s what our audience targeting looks like.


Budget and duration

Remember: the more money you spend the more people you reach. Duration is simply how long it takes to get there. Even though our contest runs for a week, we’re only spending money over 3 days. That’s because the more followers we have in the first 72 hours, the more likely the post will be seen in explore feeds. We’re focus on getting the momentum happening in the beginning instead of spreading it out for the week. We’re hoping the initial paid bump will accelerate the snowball effect. Hopefully the second half of the contest period gets more organic traffic from the tags and likes that we generated with the initial $100. My budget went $5 over because Instagram only lets you set your daily budget in $5 increments – no biggie…


Here’s what $100 in Instagram Ads gets you

Drum roll…

The final results for our campaign.

  • New Instagram followers: 158
  • Total entries (comments): 590
  • Traffic to our shop: 285 views. Our regular weekly views hover around the 160 mark so this was close to an 80% increase.
  • Sales in the 1 week contest period: 2! We made one physical and one digital sale during the campaign week 🙌 We’re certain these sales came from organic results but whether they come directly from the contest, we’re not 100% sure. We’ve messaged our 2 buyers to see if they can give us any insight, though.
  • Income during the contest period: $112
  • Costs: $105 for advertising and $65 for the prizes

Our sales almost made up for the price of running the experiment – we came out $58 short. With that in mind, it cost us just $0.35 cents per REAL new follower on Instagram.

I’m uncertain about the results of our Instagram campaign because the real questions come after this experiment. How do we engage our 158 new followers? How do we keep the interest of the entrants that didn’t win? How do we share our products in a meaningful way that will encourage our new followers to buy? 


Have you tried Instagram ads? Let me know in the comments below what your experience was like.