Select Page
Beginner’s Guide on How to Price Your Products Online

Beginner’s Guide on How to Price Your Products Online

Pricing your products can seem intimidating. And for a good reason—deciding on a product price is one of the determining factors that affects how well your online store performs among competitors as well as how much profit (and if at all) you make.

The fact that you’re here, scouting the internet for information and looking to find the right way to come up with a price for your product, is already a good sign. It means you already avoided the worst possible choice in product pricing⁠—simply guessing the price and hoping it works out.

In this blog post I’ll walk you through the process of assessing your product expenses, picking out a strategic approach, and ultimately⁠, set the final price of your product.

1. Assess your product cost

Product cost is the total value you spend to create your product. For example, if you sell print-on-demand or drop shipping products, you’re going to start product cost assessment with the price you pay for each item. However, there are other expenses involved as well.

Designing costs

Chances are, you’ll want to customize your product if possible, which leads to design costs. If you’re outsourcing design services, divide the price you pay to the designer with the number of product items you expect to sell. This is especially crucial if you plan on releasing the design on a limited volume or as a limited-time offer, since that narrows how much you can profit from that design.

If you create designs yourself, it’s tempting to ignore design costs to keep the retail price low. However, that is still valuable time spent on your product, so make sure you’re making a profit off of it. My best suggestion is to come up with a realistic hourly rate for your own work. Then add that to the product cost. This will also help you evaluate the effectiveness of the time you spend working on your business.

Warehousing and shipping costs

Two things to keep in mind. One—storage. Maybe right now your garage or living room suffices, but what happens later? Your customer demand might outgrow your living space and your capacity to pack and ship orders on time. Keep an eye on your product demand and warehousing prices that might eventually be necessary. 

Second cost—shipping. Divide the supply shipping costs with the number of items in your order and add that to the product cost. For example, you pay $20 for shipping 50 t-shirts. You then divide 20 by 50 and get 0,4. Your shipping cost per product is 40 cents.

Pro tip: Using print-on-demand services could help you avoid shipping and storage costs.

Speaking of shipping, you need to consider what kind of shipping rates to offer to your customers. Free shipping for all orders will boost your sales. In fact, customers are 4 to 5 times more likely to buy something if you offer them free shipping, but that means higher product costs since you have to cover the shipping yourself.

2. Choose a product pricing strategy

Once you know how much money goes into making your product, time to come up with a game plan. Here are some of the most effective product pricing strategies that are easy to manage in the long term.

Cost-plus pricing

Cost-plus pricing is possibly the simplest strategy out there. The formula is: Product costs + profit margin = your retail price

You take the average product cost and add your desired profit margin. The result is the price tag that you should attach to the product. You need to be careful with choosing a profit margin. If your profit margin is too low, you might end up making too little for your business to be sustainable, which is especially important if you’re looking to make your online store your main source of income.

When choosing this strategy, Printful’s profit calculator might come in handy.

Cost-Plus-pricing-strategy-example

Cost-Plus-pricing-strategy-example

Cost-plus pricing strategy example using Printful profit calculator

Market or competition-oriented pricing

To do market or competition-oriented pricing you have to start off by comparing your products with similar items on the market and see what the average price is. It’ll give you an overall idea of the potential price range. There are 3 main tactics that you can choose from.

  • Pricing above the market average—one way to outrun your competition is by adding more value to the shopping experience. You can do this by adding free gifts or personalized messages to each order, or go for a higher quality visual presentation (professional photos, store design).
  • Pricing the same as the market—this is a safer bet if you want to cover a large target audience and still make some profit. This will put you in the same price league as your competitors and you’ll be able to attract the same customer audience they do.
  • Pricing below the market average—this way you can undermine your competitors with more appealing prices, possibly steal some of their customers.

Be careful—if you severely underprice a product, it can generate insufficient profit and seem sketchy. Des Traynor, author at Intercom.com, put it perfectly in their book Intercom on Starting Up:

“Low pricing rules out lots of potential customers for your product, in the same way serving $3 steaks in a restaurant actually restricts your clientele.”

Des Traynor, Intercom.com

You can see the market-oriented pricing strategy in action with a lot of drop shipping stores that sell the same products but at vastly different price points. Take Zaful. They’re a drop shipping store supplied by AliDropship that sells a lot of the same trendy fashion items you can find on the Aliexpress marketplace but for a higher price. Zaful drives sales by showcasing their items with better photos, loyalty programs, influencer marketing, and store design. They show that going the extra mile with properly marketing their product can potentially bring in larger profits.

Aliexpress-vs-Zaful-competitor-oriented-pricing-example

Aliexpress-vs-Zaful-competitor-oriented-pricing-example

Aliexpress marketplace vs. Zaful

They also combine market-oriented strategy with anchor pricing, which I’ll talk about next!

Anchor pricing

Chances are you’ve already seen it in action—a brand sets up an imaginary anchor price only to immediately announce a lower discount price. The discount seems appealing so it’s more likely to boost sales from people scouting the internet for bargain deals.

Possibly the best example of a well-thought-out anchor pricing strategy is by Apple. In the video below you can see Steve Jobs explaining the iPad pricing process. He mentions that the appropriate price for a product like this should be $999. After this he announces the price will actually be $499 and the previous price of $999 shatters.

[embedded content]

[embedded content]

Demand or dynamic pricing

Demand or dynamic pricing requires you to be constantly in the loop with recent market trends and customer desires. Here product prices depend on demand and seasonality, which means you need to change prices frequently. You’ve probably noticed this strategy with airline companies—plane ticket prices can change within days, even hours.

This strategy can be seen on Amazon Marketplace. Using the nifty price tracker by camelcamelcamel.com you can track how various product prices change over time.

demand-dynamic-pricing-strategy-example

demand-dynamic-pricing-strategy-example

Example of Schwinn bike price fluctuations over time
Source: Camelcamelcamel

Pro tip: Use camelcamelcamel.com tool to track prices of products similar to yours. That way you can predict your own potential product demand hikes and drops.

Discount pricing

Discount pricing is similar to anchor pricing. The only difference is that the starting price actually exists. You set up a starting price that is higher than the average market price and then frequently host sales, drawing in bargain shoppers. With this strategy, you’ll receive most of your sales in bursts.

Discount pricing is similar to anchor pricing. The only difference is that the starting price actually exists. You set up a starting price that is higher than the average market price and then frequently host sales, drawing in bargain shoppers. With this strategy, you’ll receive most of your sales in bursts.

discount-pricing-strategy-example

discount-pricing-strategy-example

Asos discount pricing example
Source: Asos

Even if you don’t plan on hosting regular sales, remember popular ecommerce events like Black Friday & Cyber Monday—your customers will expect to see deals on your site on these days. So, while choosing a price for your product, leave some room for future discounts.

Skimming pricing

The skimming pricing strategy is when you enter the market with a high price and then slowly lower it over time. This way brands try to make the most out of the market by gaining profits before the product starts losing its demand. This is a popular strategy among stores selling electronics. As the product model ages and new models are released, the demand for the old one decreases.

skimming-pricing-strategy-example

skimming-pricing-strategy-example

Example of Samsung TV price decreasing over time.
Source: Camelcamelcamel

This is a risky strategy for new brands, especially if your product already has well-established competition. It would, however, work well for those who are selling a unique product with little to no competition—if you’re looking to sell the newest tech invention and planning to release updated versions of it in the future, you should consider giving this strategy a go.

Penetration pricing

This is basically inverted skimming pricing, meaning that you enter the market with a below-the-average price to attract a large customer base and then gradually raise your price as you grow the number of loyal customers. This is a beginner-friendly option, as long as your starting price has a profit margin that doesn’t go below $0.

You’ll see this strategy in action quite often with startup companies that grow into market leaders, especially those who offer a subscription type of service. Take Netflix for example:

penetration-pricing-strategy-example

penetration-pricing-strategy-example

Netflix penetration pricing strategy example
Source Statista

3. Review your prices regularly

After such a thorough process of figuring out your product pricing and picking the best strategy, it’s tempting to sit back comfortably and not come back to your prices again. I’m here to ruin your party by saying that this process will never be entirely finished.

Demand for your products might rise or decrease, some additional product costs may come along and your retail product price should change as a result.

Review your prices on a regular basis. Check your product’s seasonality, stay in the loop with ongoing trends that might involve your product, and keep up with your supplier pricing. And frequently check up on competitors because they are surely going to observe you.

Get to pricing

Now that you’ve got the tools to figure out how to price your products for retail, it’s time to get to work:

  • Assess your product costs carefully;
  • Pick a strategy from the list above that you’d feel most comfortable managing and that matches your products and business vision.
  • Come back to your product pricing strategy on a regular basis—go over your product costs and see if there have been some changes.

What’s your experience with product pricing so far—have you been using any of the above-listed strategies? What’s your most important takeaway from that experience?

How to Find a Niche for Your Online Store + 100 Niche Market Ideas

How to Find a Niche for Your Online Store + 100 Niche Market Ideas

So you want to earn an income online but aren’t sure where to start. Or maybe you’re already running an ecommerce business, but have a feeling that something’s just off with your storefront.

One of the keys to small business success is targeting the right people and finding a niche.

A niche (pronounced as neesh or nitch) is a specialized market that attracts a specific audience. A niche-oriented business addresses the needs that aren’t being addressed by mainstream providers.

For example, office supplies is a broad niche that can have countless sub-niches like office supplies for left-handed people or notebooks from recycled materials.

Nevertheless, what truly separates one niche from another is the people who buy these products. For that reason, approach the niche-searching process with this in mind:

It’s not the product or service, it’s the people who use it that defines a niche. 

There’s a person behind every purchase, so think of your niche as a group of people who have at least one common interest, problem, or need.

In this post, I’m going to cover the 4 steps to finding a niche for your online store. And if you stick with me till the end, you’ll also get a free list of more than 100 ideas you can use in your brainstorming sessions!

Niche marketing vs. selling everything to everyone

A niche only focuses on a fraction of the market, so you might be wondering, Why would I want to target just a small section of the population? Wouldn’t I get more sales if I targeted everyone?” These are valid questions; after all, there are companies like Amazon and Target that are able to sell everything to everyone, and still be successful.

These companies, however, are an exception, not the rule. By targeting everyone, you end up targeting no one as a result, and your sales suffer.

Aim to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a little fish in a big pond.

Consider these benefits of narrowing your niche down:

  • Better search visibility. Targeting a specific niche will get your store in front of online searchers who are almost ready to buy a specific product.
  • Less competition, higher profit margin. If people have less options to choose from, they’re less price-sensitive.
  • Lower advertising costs. Since you’ll be targeting only a specific portion of the population, you won’t have to compete with giants with unlimited advertising resources.
  • More dedicated audience. You’ll get more email subscribers and social media followers because a niche audience is more passionate about the product you’re selling.

Before you start building your online store, you need to know exactly who you’re building it for. This first step will help you understand which niche you belong to as a customer and help you make more informed decisions when you choose a niche for your own store.

Step 1: Draw the niche inspiration from your personal experience

Your personal taste, preferences, and needs put you in several sub-niches, making you a target for countless marketers. Take a look at your favorite brands and the online purchases you’ve made recently. Why did you choose the product from this company, and not from their competitors? What does your preferred brand offer that no one else does?

The Bad Dads Club clothing brand was started by hip dads who felt that the clothing and accessories available on the market did not represent their creative personalities and lifestyle.

Source: The Bad Dads Club

Many stores offer custom t-shirts, but very few brands target dads who love motorcycles and tattoos. So if you’ve ever felt limited in the selection of products or services in a niche you belong to, take The Bad Dads Club example and fill that space.

Step 2: Identify your passions and interests

If you base your brand on something you believe in or are willing to fight for, your business will build itself.

StomaStoma was started by Nick and Darlene Abrams. Their son Owen was born prematurely and needing a breathing tube and feeding tube. During the long hospital stays, Nick noticed other families wearing inspiring t-shirts and felt it was a powerful way to bring people together.

A graphic designer himself, Nick soon started creating artwork for his family and friends. Other people started noticing his eye-catching designs, and today StomaStoma has become a close-knit community with families raising medically fragile children.

stomastoma abrams family

stomastoma abrams family

Source: StomaStoma

This is an example of a niche that shows how you can build your brand based on something that’s very personal to you or the people in your circle. If you’re emotionally invested in your brand, it will give you the strength to persevere when you face the challenges of running a business.

Step 3: Research your niche market

It used to be that small businesses had no way to compete with big companies. Things have changed, and with the right amount of SEO (search engine optimization) and dedication, you can make your way into your biggest competitor’s space.

Competitor analysis

Before launching or scaling your store, find out what’s already going on in the market. You might be unaware of a competitor your potential customers are already interested in, or you may discover the market you’re looking to enter is much more saturated than you expected.

Some competition is OK because it validates that there’s money to be made in this niche for you as well. Your competitors will keep you on your toes which in turn will help you improve the quality of your products or services.

To keep up with (and, eventually, get ahead of) the established brands in your niche, you need to figure out your competitive advantage—the thing that makes your product stand out from the rest. What problems can you solve better than your competitors? What’s unique about your approach?

Give people a reason to choose you. It might be product quality, outstanding customer service, or the number of products you offer—whatever it is customers in your niche care about the most.

Small business SEO

SEO is the process of making your website rank higher in Google in order to bring in visitors. Here’s an outline of the basic metrics you should be looking at, as well as some great tools you can include use in your research.

Search volume and search queries

Search volume is the estimated volume (or number) of searches for a particular keyword in a given timeframe, and it’s one of the most important metrics that can help you evaluate the interest in and profitability of your niche.

Don’t build what you think people want. Build what they ask for. 

Take advantage of the marketing tools out there and pinpoint what is it that people are searching for online. Tools like Ahrefs and Semrush will find the data behind Google searches. You can also use free tools like Answer the Public or Ubersuggest to find information about people’s search queries. 

If the search volume is high, it means that there’s a lot of interest in this niche. A lot of interest also means a lot of potential—and a lot of competition. Ideally, you should target keywords with the search volume of 1,000 and higher.

If the search volume is very low, it doesn’t necessarily mean the niche doesn’t exist or it isn’t profitable. Low search volume may indicate that you’re about to be a pioneer in the niche. And if the product doesn’t exist, people don’t know to search for it. Use this to your advantage as your business continues to scale—the search volume will increase with the popularity of your niche.

Online shoppers get very specific, so pay attention to long-tail keywords. “Rose gold custom bracelet” will see a far fewer searches that “women’s jewelry”, but it’s a search performed by someone who knows exactly what accessory they want.

Trending niches and niche products

When choosing products for your online store, keep an eye on what’s trending. Don’t fall for a fad though—use Google trends to help you to find out which of your niche ideas have a steady and growing trend. If you want your store to thrive as fads change, focus it on something that has more staying power than a fidget spinner.

Step 4: Propose a solution to your niche audience’s problem

Now that you’ve done your research, you need to get a better understanding of what exactly your potential customers need.

Create your store for people, not products. 

If you’re going to give your niche audience just another product, you may end up not getting anywhere. What you need to think about is how to solve their problems. Find the issues your target customers might be having, then determine whether you can actually provide a solution.

For a more in-depth look at your niche audience, explore forums on websites like Quora and Reddit related to your niche, then take a look at the discussions taking place. What questions are people asking? What problems do they have?

Iconspeak, a brand selling t-shirts for travelers, is a great example of a niche that has emerged from a problem-solving process. Inconspeak co-founders George and Florian came across the idea of their main product by accident. 

During a trip across Southeast Asia, their motorbikes broke down frequently, and they had to find a way to communicate with the locals to find repair shops. Images speak a universal language, so they started drawing pictures of what they needed on paper. George and Florian realized that they kept reusing the drawings all the time, so they decided it would make more sense to put them on a t-shirt. And that’s how Iconspeak was born.

Source: Iconspeak

This is a textbook case of a niche: George and Florian discovered a niche (independent travelers) with a specific need (an easy way to communicate when words fail) and provided a unique solution with their niche t-shirts.

100+ Niche Market Ideas for Your Online Store

As promised, here are 100+ ideas you can base your online store upon. This list is not exhaustive, so feel free to mix and match these topics to create a unique niche for a t-shirt store, art shop, or any other form of ecommerce business.

  1. Fashion (Brand example: District of Clothing)
  2. Wanderlust (Iconspeak)
  3. Parenthood (Classic Dad, The Bad Dads Club)
  4. Rare conditions (StomaStoma)
  5. Beliefs (PAL Campaign)
  6. Districts and neighborhoods (#muhoov)
  7. Woodworking (Nick’s Wood Shop)
  8. Parks and green spaces (Love MPLS parks) 
  9. Workout gear (Kettlebell Kings)
  10. Social media for pets (We Rate Dogs)
  11. Virtual and augmented reality
  12. Wearable technology
  13. Zero-waste lifestyle
  14. Civil rights
  15. LGBTQ+
  16. Body-positivity
  17. Recycling
  18. Vegan cuisine
  19. Paralympic sports
  20. Stay-at-home parents
  21. Single parents
  22. Expecting parents
  23. Newlyweds
  24. Solo-traveling
  25. Tiny house
  26. Van life
  27. Animal welfare
  28. Dog & cat breeds
  29. Unusual pets
  30. Animals with special needs
  31. Animal sanctuaries
  32. Birdwatching
  33. Pet accessories
  34. Specialty coffee
  35. Homebrewing
  36. Local cuisine and delicacies 
  37. Artisan foods
  38. Mixology
  39. Meditation and relaxation
  40. Posture devices
  41. Cycling
  42. Grooming
  43. Internet memes
  44. Demotivational quotes
  45. Hand lettering and calligraphy
  46. Left-handed people
  47. Tech preferences
  48. Sailing and canoeing
  49. Geocaching
  50. Biohacking

If you didn’t yet find the topic that makes your eyes light up, we have 50 more ideas prepared, you can download them below.

Time to pick your niche

We have now covered the main aspects of finding your place in the ecommerce world. To recap, here are the 4 things you should do to find your niche:

  • Find out where you belong as a customer
  • Decide on an area in life you care about deeply
  • Research the interest in your niche
  • Identify a problem and propose a unique solution.

And now it’s time to implement these steps in real life. Taking action is the scariest part for any entrepreneur, but fear not: if you go through these steps thoroughly, entering the market will be a calculated risk, not a shot in the dark.

Tell me in the comments how it went, I’d love to hear from you!

Top 10 Trending Products to Sell During the 2019 Holiday Season [Free Designs Inside]

Top 10 Trending Products to Sell During the 2019 Holiday Season [Free Designs Inside]

Global ecommerce sales during the 2018 holiday shopping season reached $126 billion, a number that is expected to rise by at least 15% this year. It’s difficult to properly compute a figure so large, but for ecommerce sellers it means just one thing—anyone who’s serious about building their business online needs to start their holiday preparations early.

That means doing your store’s technical checkup, creating email marketing campaigns, planning your social media calendar… For all those preparations to matter you also need to fill your catalog with products that make your target audience click “Buy” when looking for Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals or holiday gifts.

In this article we’ll help you spruce up your product catalog by going over the top trending products to sell online during the peak season. With our help, you’ll be able to decide which products to offer to your niche audience this year, and pick up some design tips to turn a simple product into a seasonal best-seller.

And as our own holiday season gift to you, our skilled graphic design team has prepared ready-to-use direct-to-garment (DTG), all-over print, and embroidery designs you can download at the end of this article. So let’s get started!

Mugs

Something about a steaming mug of hot chocolate (preferably with marshmallows) just puts people in a happy mood. That’s why mugs are the perfect product to sell during the holiday season when everyone’s looking for items that make their living and working spaces cozier. It doesn’t hurt that mugs are also one of the fall-back gift options when people are stumped about what to give.

Mugs-Google-Trends

Mugs-Google-Trends

Source: Google Trends

The spike in searches for mugs each December shows that this category has great potential for a wide selection of audiences. That’s only true if you keep in mind that finding the right product is only the first step towards success. Creating unforgettable designs for your target audience comes as the next, equally important step.

The better the niche, the bigger the sales. For example, considering my theatre obsession I’m more likely to buy a mug with a design specifically made for theatre enthusiasts (“I randomly break out in showtunes”) than a generic “I <3 coffee” mug. So work out your niche and go from there.

Hoodies and sweatshirts

Holiday season fashion is all about finding the clothing equivalent of a warm hug—hoodies and sweatshirts. Visions of snowy cabins and frozen lakes will be filling everyone’s imagination and Facebook feed, so your store needs to provide customers with clothing that fits in with the Winter Wonderland imagery.

Design-wise this season is the right time to play around with ugly Christmas sweaters—December 20 marks National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.

This day comes with office parties and other festivities that require people donning their gay apparel. Google Trends show that people start looking for what to wear on this peculiar day as early as September.

Ugly-Christmas-sweater-Google-Trends

Ugly-Christmas-sweater-Google-Trends

Source: Google Trends

You can’t go wrong with designing ugly sweaters and hoodies because anything goes—the crazier, the better. Create a simple, no-hassle version by using front or back prints on a DTG hoodie, or go all out with an all-over print sweatshirt that gives you limitless options for out-of-this-world designs.

ugly-Christmas-sweater

ugly-Christmas-sweater

Source: Printful

Wall art

A picture says a thousand words. But what if that picture is 24×36”, framed in a sleek frame, and mounted on a wall? Surely, that must be worth at least half a million words. The design possibilities make wall art one of the best-selling products of the holiday season.

If your photography or drawing skills are up to the task, turn your artwork into posters, framed posters, and canvas. It doesn’t matter whether the wall art is holiday-themed or not, as long as it’s a collectible piece of art.

If you’re looking for a conceptual idea for your store, remember that people are always looking for personalized gifts, so think about completely custom-made products you can offer. Is it a caricature your customers can order based on their picture? A detailed map of their favorite city? Use your imagination to find something that combines your skills and your customers’ needs.

Jewelry

The fact that jewelry is on this list is no surprise. It’s the third most-wanted Christmas gift, with 55% of women claiming they want to receive jewelry during the holiday season. To paraphrase Love Actually—people want something they want, not something they need, and jewelry definitely falls into the latter category.

[embedded content]

[embedded content]

Making jewelry at home allows you to experiment with materials, combinations, and colors. But if you don’t want to spend the peak season frantically stringing pearls and shipping out orders, there are other options as well. You can prepare the items in advance and fulfill the orders through a warehousing service. Or you can drop ship custom-engraved jewelry on demand.

The best part about introducing jewelry to your store is that with the right designs and target audience, it’ll stay on your product list long after the holidays are over. So pick up some tips on how to sell jewelry online to get the best out of this product category.

T-shirts

T-shirts aren’t the first thing that pops into mind when thinking about winter holidays, but let’s not forget that not everyone needs to wrap up in 10 scarves and put on a ski mask in order to survive a particularly bad cold spell. Think about the people who spend the season living it up with pool parties and BBQs.

For example, if most of your customers are based in California, instead of selling ugly Christmas sweaters, consider creating a line of holiday t-shirts. This way your customers will feel like you’re part of their community because you know what they need, making them more loyal to your brand.

Besides, with t-shirts being a wardrobe staple, your custom tees won’t just get noticed by people who live in warmer climates. T-shirts form the foundation of fashion trends like athleisure and streetwear, which are primarily based on comfy clothing and layering. So give your customers the option to layer a Santa-red hoodie over a t-shirt that says “The present has arrived”.

Bags

Santa’s bag of choice is basically a red potato sack, but your customers are likely to choose a more fashion-forward option for their belongings. And this is where backpacks, fanny packs, and tote bags come into play, especially for customers who prefer a practical and lasting gift.

Backpacks are more expensive than your average t-shirt, so your designs should reflect the high-end feel of the product—think beautiful patterns in evergreen colors. Putting an expensive price tag on a product can seem a little daunting at first, but with the right selling strategy you’re bound to find your target audience.

Selling strategy also matters when it comes to fanny packs. Generally considered a summer product, these babies should be in your product catalog during winter as well—people use them for skiing trips. And if your customers are lucky enough to have their New Year’s parties somewhere warm, fanny packs serve to keep their belongings close on the dance floor.

Tote bags are a more affordable bag option, and they’re easy to design—a minimalistic copyright-free quote, an emoji, or an amusing pun work very well. For example, you can offer motivational quote totes and add that something extra to your store by making business book suggestions to go with each tote.

Beanies

There’s not a lot you can do about your phone dying when the temperature drops below freezing, but you can certainly keep your ears warm. Customers search for fashionable headwear to add to their fall and winter outfits already in August and September, so start offering embroidered beanies early in the season to get the proverbial worm.

beanies-google-trends

beanies-google-trends

Source: Google Trends

In the age of fast fashion, embroidered designs with their personal, tactile vibe represent a slower, personal attitude towards clothing. So capitalize on the embroidery trend by designing a collection of beanies (and perhaps even baseball caps for people in warmer climates).

beanie

beanie

Source: Printful

Leggings

It’s no surprise that possibly the most comfortable piece of clothing ever invented is trending during the holiday season. The search volume for leggings gradually starts building in September and peaks in November and December. 

leggings-Google-Trends

leggings-Google-Trends

Source: Google Trends

Leggings belong to sportswear and athleisure categories, so you can target both hardcore sports enthusiasts and dedicated couch potatoes. But don’t try to shoot two birds with one stone—specify in your product descriptions what your leggings are meant for. This way you won’t confuse your potential target audience and will set the right expectations.

All-over print products like leggings work best with patterns. You can a) use fool-proof designs prepared by our graphic design team, b) go crazy with holiday-themed stuff (candy cane stripes, custom plant motifs), or c) steer in a more subtle direction by sticking to a trendy color scheme.

In the 2019 fall/winter season, stand-out colors include chili pepper, peach pink, dark cheddar, galaxy blue, and others.

Bean bags

When Black Friday & Cyber Monday rolls around, home & living products see a spike in orders with people buying everything from bread makers to Christmas stocking holders. And the biggest sales season of the year allows you to explore your options in this category by adding experimental products.

[embedded content]

[embedded content]

“Experimental” doesn’t mean you should do it blindly—there’s a lot of data out there you can rely on. For example, Google Trends show that bean bags experience a significant rise in searches during the holiday shopping season.

bean-bag-trends

bean-bag-trends

Source: Google Trends

Create limited edition bean bag chairs to test the waters. With the print-on-demand drop shipping model, you won’t have to invest financial resources, and you’ll be able to see how your audience reacts to the new addition. If your experiment works out, bean bags might become a permanent feature of your product catalog.

Baby one-pieces

Last but not least, the age group that’s most excited about the holiday season is babies. And that makes their parents and relatives dedicated to finding a unique gift. Toys and games are a surefire way to get to a child’s heart, but give your customers an option for a more practical gift.

Babies themselves are less likely to get stoked about a new custom onesie. So while your product designs can be baby-oriented, your marketing campaigns need to target the parents and their friends.

Get ready

Now that you know which products sell the best during the holiday season, start prepping your designs and get your store ready with a strategically curated selection of items that work for your store and your brand. This means keeping your target audience in mind at all times (or defining your target audience ASAP if you haven’t already).

For some design inspiration, download our DTG, embroidery, and all-over print graphics made especially for this fall/winter season.

And let us know in the comments which products you’re now inspired to add to your store!

7 Simple Back-to-School Marketing Tips [Free Vector Files Inside]

7 Simple Back-to-School Marketing Tips [Free Vector Files Inside]

Even if we aren’t ready to kiss-goodbye the warm summer days, fall will be here before we know it, and that’s okay! End of the school holidays has its charm too as kids get to meet new friends, reconnect with classmates, and reflect on their adventures from the last couple of months.

For online retailers, it’s time to start planning back-to-school promotions, since parents and kids will be on the lookout for products to make the new school year more exciting and memorable.

Back-to-school shopping trends

Back-to-school shopping season is big. 

In preparation for a new school year, 29 million households across the United States spent a total of $27.6 billion in 2018. Another active segment during end of July-August was back-to-college shoppers, who spent around $54.1 billion.

Combined, school and college students purchased products worth $81.7 billion, which makes the back-to-school season the second-biggest shopping occasion after the winter holidays. 

What do people buy?

Elementary- and college-age kids have different back-to-school needs.

Back-to-school shoppers are mostly interested in clothing and school supplies (like books and stationery), while people starting college typically spend more on electronics and dorm room gear. 

back-to-school-spending-categories

Source: Deloitte

Where do people buy?

According to the National Retail Federation, most back-to-school and back-to-college shopping takes place at department stores. The second most popular way to get school-related products is online. 

Speaking of shopping online, school goers still favor desktop (53%) over mobile (46%). However, mobile comes first when users want to gather information about the products and sellers before taking the plunge. 

back-to-school-desktop-mobile-use

Source: Deloitte

When do people shop?

Around 90% of back-to-school shoppers are active from mid-July to early August. That’s exactly when two-thirds of all back-to-school spending takes place.

back-to-school-spending-time-july-august

Source: Deloitte

What does it mean for you? Simple. Start preparing back-to-school products, campaigns, and other incentives today. The earlier you jump onto the bandwagon, the more people you can expect shopping on your store!  

7 easy back-to-school marketing ideas

Now that you know what to expect from the back-to-school crowd, try these seven simple marketing tactics to make the most of this time of the year. 

Bonus! We’ve created free vector files that you can download at the end of this post. Feel free to use them in all of your back-to-school promos.

1. Create a back-to-school sale

Back-to-school shopping can be overwhelming for several reasons. Not only do the customers have a lot of boxes to tick off their shopping list, but they also have to decide which brands are worth their time and money.

Having this in mind, try to create a back-to-school sale that is clear and easy to take advantage of.  

Evaluate what type of offer you can afford and present it to your audience. If you’re short on ideas for back-to-school promotions, here are a few to help you get started:

  • % or $ discount
  • 2 for 1 
  • free shipping
  • flash sale
  • week-long sales event
  • giveaway
  • contest
  • promo code
  • loyal customer discount
  • loyal customer pre-sale

Pro tip: Back-to-school isn’t a spending occasion when everyone needs to get their purchases by a certain day. However, you can combine some of the promotions (discounts or a special offer) with the shipping deadlines to incentify your customers start shopping.

Keep Printful’s fulfilment time and shipping in mind when you’re coordinating your promotions and campaigns. Our average fulfillment time for apparel products is 2-7 business days, and then you have to factor in shipping to calculate the time it’ll take for orders to reach your customers.

2. Step up your social media game

Let everyone know about your back-to-school offers. The obvious way to do this is through social media—23% of shoppers say they’ll use it to plan their purchases. 

back-to-school-mobile-use

Source: Deloitte

Share your deal on social media to get the word out. Use paid posts on Facebook to reach a wider audience. Not sure how to do that? Here’s everything you need to know about Facebook Ads.

3. Don’t forget about email marketing

Let your email list know about your back to school promotion, too; they’ll appreciate the heads-up!

back-to-school-promo-email

Here’s an example of a campaign MochiThings ran around the back-to-school season last year to promote their stationery products. Seeing the August 31 deadline creates a sense of urgency and motivates people to buy before the sale is over.

Pro tip: Don’t send just one email campaign—everyone, including you, will forget about it. Schedule a few emails with copy and subject line variations, and repromote them to recipients who didn’t open your email the first time. 

4. Be smart on mobile

Like I said, desktop is still the preferred method for making back-to-school purchases. Mobile, on the other hand, is a go-to device for shoppers to collect discounts (57%), get pricing details (53%), or go online window-shopping (56%).

So while most customers will ultimately purchase on desktop, there’s a good chance they’ll first find you on mobile. That’s why it’s so important to make your site, from content to promos,  mobile-friendly.

Use Google’s mobile-friendly test page to see if your site passes muster and how much you need to improve. Run a test yourself by opening your store and making a purchase on different mobile devices and tablets.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your store theme (whether it’s ready-made or custom-made) is responsive, i.e. the design elements of the website scale down seamlessly on smaller devices.
  • When creating pop-ups, make sure they meet Google’s guidelines for mobile-friendliness.
  • Just like on your desktop, loading speed is important on mobile. Avoid using heavy file sizes that slow things down.

5. Introduce seasonal products

Many students and their parents associate back-to-school season with new beginnings. For them, this time of the year is often less about getting the essential school supplies, and more about making the school days as memorable and joyful as possible.

While introducing seasonal products to your store for back-to-school shoppers is a good idea, try to make the new additions more special—create new designs or let your customers personalize existing ones. 

Have you had a chance to try our Product Personalization Tool? It enables you to sell products that your shoppers can customize themselves!

Here’s what back-to-school goers might have their eyes on:

But the hottest product this season? Fanny packs.

[embedded content]

Don’t forget about the back-to-college shoppers too! Just like school kids, college students will want to upgrade their wardrobe, or start a new year with a new backpack or fanny pack. 

Apart from clothes and accessories, college goers might also be interested in home decor products to make their new place, be it a dorm room or shared apartment, more cozy and home-like. A few products that can be on their shipping list are: 

6. Partner with influencers

A great way to promote your products to a wider audience is to partner with an influencer. An endorsement from a respected member of the community can go a long way—68% of customers trust the opinions of other online shoppers.

back-to-shool-influencer-marketing-example

Back-to-school season is an ideal time to partner up with family-oriented influencers. You’ll have to do your research to find an influencer whose audience would be interested in your products. This is critical because you don’t want to waste your time and money going after a lead that won’t work.

Use these tools to help connect with the right person:

7. Create valuable content for your target audience

In addition to showcasing your products, you can create helpful content for your target audience. This helps humanize your brand, and as we know, online shoppers are more likely to trust brands they connect with emotionally.

If your customers are parents, share ideas on how to get the kids ready for a new school year. It can be anything from school outfits to lunch box recipes, and tips on how to overcome shyness. 

If you’re trying to reach college goers, cover topics that can help to prepare for life on campus, like decorating the room or making new friends.

A few more content ideas you can experiment with: 

  • Back-to-school shopping list
  • Back-to-school outfits
  • School lunch ideas
  • Dorm decor inspiration
  • Room organization tips
  • After-school activities
  • Fun DIY projects
  • Time management tips
  • Meal prep tips

Clothing, accessories, and home decor retailer Urban Outfitters has a blog with plenty of shareable content their target audience would enjoy—from back-to-school beauty essentials to gourmet microwave meals.

Urban-outfitters-blog-back-to-school-content

While some topics might not be directly related to your store, writing about them can help you connect with your target audience. Remember, the more valuable the content, the more readers will visit your website and engage with it.

It’s fine to include shoutouts to your products in your think-piece or the content you share, but don’t overdo it. 

Class dismissed

Now it’s time to take what you’ve learned and get cracking on your back-to-school campaigns. Craft your deal and promotional materials, add seasonal products to your store, and help others get into the spirit of back-school. Use our free vector files to help share your message—download below!

While you’re still here, from your experience, what’s the #1 back-to-school supply you (or your customers) couldn’t live without? Let us know in the comments below!

This article was originally published in July 2018; it has since been updated.

How to Start Accounting for Small Business

How to Start Accounting for Small Business

Handling accounting for your small business can be the most important aspect of financial success. Tracking income and expenses, creating your budget, and managing your books are all crucial aspects of building your business, making sure it runs smoothly and healthily. There is just one problem.

You’re not an accountant.

Trying to wrap your head around financial statements, CPAs (Certified Public Accountants), debits and credits, accounting software, and entry systems make your head hurt. All for starting a small print-on-demand store as a side hustle.

It shouldn’t be this way. That’s why we’re here to help.

This blog post is an outline to help you get started— from no financial management plan to a simple bookkeeping system you can use as you grow your store. We’re going to go over:

  1. What bookkeeping and accounting are
  2. What accounting lets you do
  3. Whether you should DIY or use an external bookkeeper
  4. Which accounting software you should use.
  5. How to start your bookkeeping system

So let’s jump into it.

1. What is bookkeeping and accounting?

Most people get bookkeeping and accounting mixed up, so let’s start by separating the two.

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is the recording and tracking of your business’s income and expenses. It ensures that all your financial records are accurate and up to date. Think of it like writing down all your numbers and making sure they are correct.

Accounting

Accounting is the process of summarizing, analyzing and communicating the financial records of the business, and then using that data to make decisions. Think of it of taking all the numbers you wrote down while bookkeeping and using them to make decisions.

2. What does accounting let you do?

As I stated before, understanding your numbers is vital for preparing your business success. Accounting and bookkeeping help you:

Make better decisions

Understanding where your money comes from and where it goes helps you decide where you want to invest in your business. Having these numbers allows you to make proper, informed decisions about the future.

Prepare for tax time

Using an efficient bookkeeping system can make tax time a breeze. If you want to get the full tax benefit from your business expenses, you need to make sure that all your expenses are properly classified and recorded, a function of effective bookkeeping.

Create financial reports

The numbers provided by bookkeeping and accounting let you make official financial statements such as a balance sheet and an income statement. These reports can be very helpful for you to understand the financial health of your business. They are also used by external parties such as banks and investors as a uniform way to understand your business.

Of course, these are just a few things you can do, but it shows the power and importance of accounting.

3. Should I do it myself or get an external bookkeeper?

A common question many small business owners ask is whether they should try the DIY method or get an external bookkeeper. Let’s go over both.

DIY Bookkeeping

If you are strapped for cash, then you can definitely handle your bookkeeping by yourself. If you choose to do this, you will probably use software to handle the accounting for you. There are a few risks here.

The saying “garbage in, garbage out” is commonly used in computer science to suggest that poor quality inputs will result in poor quality outputs. The same concept can be used when approaching accounting software. If you don’t understand the concepts behind the software, then you will enter the wrong information and get incorrect results.

Finally, I recommend getting in touch with a CPA during tax time to go over everything and make sure your bookkeeping is working.

Using an external bookkeeper

If you are willing to spend some cash so you don’t have to worry about bookkeeping, then getting an external bookkeeper may be the best choice for you.

However, just because you have somebody handling your bookkeeping and accounting doesn’t give you the excuse to be oblivious to the process. To get the full benefits of an external bookkeeper, you should understand their process to make sure you are getting the best data to make the most informed decisions about your business.

Whatever you choose, once your small business starts generating a good chunk of revenue, I recommend getting an external or internal bookkeeper to handle your financials. Your efforts are better spent working on your business, not in your business.

4. Which accounting software should I use?

There are 3 different platforms I recommend, depending on your experience level and budget.

Wave

Wave Dashboard

Wave has everything you need for small business bookkeeping. It lets you track income and expenses, store invoices, create reports, and more. It also integrates with other financial software (like PayPal) and has its own helpful guides you can read. It’s perfect for the entrepreneur just getting started with their own books.

Price: Free

Freshbooks

FreshBooks Dashboard

Freshbooks is another simple and intuitive bookkeeping software you can use. It’s endorsed by many entrepreneurial influencers, such as Tim Ferriss and Pat Flynn, and it’s easy to see why. With powerful tools and a beautiful UI, Freshbooks makes any small business owner’s life easier.

Price: Plans start at $15/month and grow based on your number of clients.

Quickbooks

My final recommendation is Quickbooks. It has the strongest accounting capabilities of the three options. Most small businesses can work with simple bookkeeping procedures, but medium-sized businesses who need a proper accounting package should use Quickbooks.

Price: Plans start from $15/month and grow based on which features you need.

5. How do I start my small business bookkeeping system?

Now that you have chosen your software, I’m going to show you exactly how to set up a simple yet effective bookkeeping system for your store.

1. Separate business and personal finances

This point cannot be stressed enough. Many first-time entrepreneurs mix their private expenses with their business expenses, rather than separating them immediately. This creates multiple issues, as then you can’t:

  • See the actual cash flow of and investments into your business
  • Make a properly informed decision
  • Claim your full tax benefits on your tax return

I recommend you set up a separate bank account, track all the cash you invest and keep all your business receipts separate. This will make your life a bit easier.

2. Create your budget

While not necessarily bookkeeping related, a budget is a key part of any financial plan. Understanding how much you are willing to invest in your business and estimating your monthly income and expenses will put you in the right place to start tracking your finances. People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.

3. Choose an accounting method

There are two aspects to an accounting method: an entry system, and an accounting basis.

Your entry system will determine how you enter transactions. You can choose between:

  • A single entry system, or
  • A double entry system

Your accounting basis will determine when you enter transactions. You can choose between:

  • A cash basis or
  • An accrual basis

Let’s go over each of these:

Single entry vs. double entry system

In a single entry system, every transaction is recorded once, a simple input or output.

For example, when you make a sale, that’s an input of cash. When you buy a new theme, that’s an output of cash.

The single entry system is the easier method of the two, almost anyone can do it. For most small businesses and entrepreneurs, a single entry system will be enough to handle your bookkeeping.

A double entry system makes sure each transaction has two entries. A debit (or increase) is made in one account, and a credit (or decrease) is made in another. Using the same examples as above:

When you make a sale, that’s an increase of cash and a decrease in inventory. When you buy a new theme, that’s an increase in intangible assets and a decrease in cash.

It is used by most corporations but requires an in-depth knowledge of accounting. It makes building financial statements easier and more accurate, and significantly reduces the chance of mistakes and fraud.

As you grow, you will eventually switch from a single entry system to a double entry one.

Cash vs. accrual basis

When you use a cash basis, you record a transaction whenever money changes hands, whether it be actual cash or a bank transfer. If you are running a one-person business, this usually is sufficient.

If you decide to offer customers credit, or request credit from your suppliers, then you are better of going with an accrual basis. This means you record a transaction when the revenue is earned (such as the product is sold), even if the actual cash transfer happens at a later date.

For most beginners, I recommend using a single entry system on a cash basis and then switch to using a bookkeeper who can follow a double entry system.

4. Track your revenue and expenses, and keep the receipts

Now it’s time to start tracking everything. There are two steps here: recording expenses and keeping receipts.

Recording revenue and expenses

Any time you pay a bill, buy some inventory, pay for Facebook ads, make a sale or any transaction takes place, record it. Whether you are using pen and paper, excel spreadsheets, or one of the many accounting softwares out there, you want to record the purpose of the transaction, when the transaction occurred, how much it was for, who the transaction was with, and what accounts were involved.

Keeping receipts

Keeping your receipts ensures your recorded transactions are correct, as you can always check back. It also allows you to claim your full tax benefit at tax time, as you have proof that your expenses are actually business expenses.

The IRS accepts digital receipts as proof, so I recommend that you keep your receipts in a Google Drive, or in your accounting software if it has that feature.

5. Make a monthly report

By keeping good records, you can quickly take a monthly or yearly snapshot of your business. There are two financial statements you should create:

Income statement

The income statement shows your revenue and expenses for the current period, letting you see your profit or loss. All the software we listed can make this report for you, as long as you kept good records.

Income Statement Example

You should also compare your current report with previous reports to track your growth over time.

Balance Sheet

Your balance sheet gives you a list of all your assets, liabilities, and equity.

  • Assets: Everything the business owns (including cash)
  • Liabilities: Everything the business owes or needs to pay
  • Equity: Investments in the business and leftover value 

As with the income statement, your accounting software can create this. Again, track your balance sheet over time to watch your business grow!

And that’s all you need to know to create a basic bookkeeping system!

Where to go from here?

This is just scratching the surface of accounting for small business. You can look into much more depth about topics like the accounting equation, financial report analysis, and much more.

The most important takeaway is that you need to work on your business, not just in it. Once your bookkeeping gets overwhelming, get an external bookkeeper. Your business will thank you for it.

So, did this help you jump into your business financials? Let us know in the comments below!

The Ultimate Guide to Using Instagram Hashtags 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Using Instagram Hashtags 2019

Instagram is still one of the top social media sites for businesses trying to target their online audience. Knowing that Instagram’s monthly active user base is well over one billion, this fact doesn’t come as much of a surprise.  

However, with so many accounts and followers fighting for the spotlight, as far as your posting strategy goes, little can be left to chance—it’s becoming increasingly more challenging to get organic reach. But hey, don’t we all love a good challenge? 

Luckily, there are plenty of methods on how to drive sales with Instagram and boost your Instagram presence. Hashtags are one of them—they’re one of the most effective ways to get more likes, attention, and engagement on your posts. 

This ultimate guide to hashtags will help you promote your online store on social media, boost engagement, and grow your following. At the end of the article, I’ve included a ready-to-use list of 500+ popular Instagram hashtags. Add them in your posts and reach the people you’re looking for!  

1. What is Instagram Business?

First off, a quick reminder about the types of accounts on Instagram. In 2016, Instagram introduced Business Accounts that come with extra features to help brands optimize their content.

Business Account features:

  • Learn about your audience and posts with Instagram Insights, their free analytics tool
  • Promote posts as ads
  • Get a “Contact” button
  • Add an address and location
  • Add links to Instagram Stories (Business Accounts with more than 10k followers)

Setting up an Instagram Business Account will give you access to view and analyze your results on Instagram Insights, and more. You can learn more about your followers and other users are interacting with your account. 

The Insights section of your Business Account lets you track results of your Activity (weekly interactions, reach, and impressions), Content (performance of your posts, stories, and promotions), and your Audience (age, gender, places they’re from, and times they’re online). 

instagram-insights-example

If you’re an online store owner, here’s one more reason why switching to a Business Account isn’t something you should think twice about—Instagram enables brands to sell products to followers without them having to leave the app. Connect your account to a Facebook catalog, and start tagging products in your photos and stories. If a user clicks on the product on the picture, they’re automatically directed to your shop for more details. 

instagram-shoppable-post-example-printful

2. Why use Instagram hashtags

Hashtags help organize the photos and videos on Instagram. They’re used to identify and filter content on a specific topic, so your fans, community, and Instagram wanderers have a better shot at finding you. 

follow-hashtag-on-instagram-example

You can add up to 30 hashtags in posts, but there’s no benefit in using irrelevant hashtags just to make up the quota. 

Doing research is the first step to a successful Instagram hashtag strategy. Browse similar Instagram accounts, find out what industry-specific hashtags they use, and look for hashtags that are more likely to be searched by Instagram communities of your niche. 

If you follow a strategy and include the right hashtags, your posts will be discovered by more people. It’ll help increase your reach and engagement, and gain new followers, but on one condition—these new audiences must be interested in your content! At the end of the day, content quality is the most important factor that drives traffic on Instagram. 

Using hashtags on Instagram is easier than you might think and we gathered up some tips and tools to help you level-up your Instagram strategy. 

3. How to use hashtags and get higher engagement on Instagram

There are three main ways you can use hashtags on Instagram—in Instagram posts, Instagram Stories, and on IGTV. Let’s take a closer look at each. 

3.1. Instagram posts

  • Add up to 30 hashtags
  • Tag up to 20 accounts to increase your chances of being featured on other pages
  • Add ALT texts to your posts to rank on Google
  • Mark up to 5 products per image (for Instagram Business Account owners with Shopping enabled)

There’s one more way how to increase your Instagram engagement.

To beat Instagram’s algorithm and get a better reach, try to get as many likes and comments as you can within the first hour of posting. There are plenty of Instagram engagement pods created just for this purpose where users help each other grow their following. Group members like and comment posts on Instagram right after they’re published, which helps boost engagement, increase visibility, and attract new followers. 

There’s no single formula for maximizing the reach of your Instagram posts, so it’s up to you to create one! It’s all about experiments and analyzing your account performance. Be active, interact with other Instagram accounts, drive as much action as you can with Instagram pods or DM groups, and monitor overall account performance.

3.2 Instagram Stories

  • Add up to 10 hashtags
  • Mention up to 10 accounts
  • Include a location, poll, question, countdown, quiz, donation stickers, or GIFs
  • Tag 1 product (Business Accounts with Shopping enabled)

Instagram Stories is a feature used by 500 million+ Instagram users daily. Not only are they fun and creative, but they’re also organized by hashtags that you can follow. Whatever tags you decide to use, Instagram will add your stories to the hashtag search for 24 hours. 

online-business-hashtag-instagram-stories

If we look at the current trend for Instagram Stories, people educate, inspire, share behind-the -scenes of a business or event, demonstrate their product or services, organize Q&A sessions, share feedback reviews, and so much more. Introduce yourself or your business and show what’s behind it —you’ll see, the more stories you add, the more engagement you receive.

3.3 IGTV

  • Add up to 30 hashtags
  • Add clickable links in a caption
  • Add a cover photo and share IGTV videos to the Instagram feed

Most accounts can upload IGTV videos up to 10 minutes long, but for larger and verified accounts videos uploaded from a computer can be up to 60 minutes. 

IGTV-example

4. How to find the right hashtags for your brand

So hashtags help Instagram recognize what your post is about—the system then picks the most relevant content to go on the Explore page for audiences following accounts that post content similar to yours.

Thousands of hashtags are used every day, and using the most popular tags won’t make your posts any more discoverable—your content will disappear among the other posts.

Focus on trending hashtags connected with your account, business, and target audience. However, be careful using pop culture references. It will help you reach like-minded Instagrammers, but you don’t want to risk losing your brand name and identity among hashtags that overshadow your presence.

Now for an example on how to go about creating hashtags for your account.

Let’s say your name is John, you run a barbershop in Toronto, and you’ve started creating a community around your brand which is all about embracing natural beauty and being proud of having grey hair. But how to reflect that in your Instagram account? 

The good news is, you don’t have to start from scratch to figure out the best hashtags for your business. Here are the five basic types of hashtags and templates on how to build them. 

4.1 Branded hashtags

Examples:

  • #[your brand name]
  • #greyisgold

 
Branded hashtags must be unique to your account or business. Come up with a hashtag that’s simple enough for your followers to recognize and use—it can be your name, brand or company name, your slogan, or a focal concept of your Instagram account.

4.2 Industry hashtags

Examples:

  • #barbers
  • #barbershop
  • #haircut

Out of all the hashtags used on Instagram, industry hashtags have the highest competition.  There are millions of people who use them daily, so include just a few industry hashtags to your posts that are the most relevant to your brand.

4.3 Community hashtags

Examples:

  • #barberfan
  • #torontobarbers
  • #hairaddict

Community hashtags connect smaller groups of like-minded users. The use of these hashtags make you discoverable by topic, niche, location, etc. and there’s a higher possibility to gain followers organically and grow your own community.

4.4 Content hashtags

Examples:

  • #beardcare
  • #howtofadehair
  • #trendinghaircut

Try to think like your customer and find out what they would search for. Content hashtags help you engage with your target audience that’s out there looking for inspiration, new ideas, or instructions. For example, #howto hashtags are highly used on Instagram and can be a good start for building up your hashtag strategy.

4.5 Campaign hashtags

Examples:

  • #hairmarathon
  • #silvertoronto
  • #whatbarbersdo 

Planning your next marketing campaign, event, or special offer? Create a campaign hashtag and ask people to engage with it! Or be a part of a larger movement and add event hashtags that are happening now. This is a great way to connect with others and improve your chances to be discovered by local and global audiences. 

5. Instagram hashtag tips and tricks

There are many tools out there that make social media posting easy. Here are some things you can try out: 

5.1 Use Instagram hashtag generator apps

You can search, find, and copy your hashtag combination for each of your posts based on any topic. Here are some of the most popular hashtag generator apps: 

These tools will help you create hashtag lists easily, but don’t rely on generator app results alone. Use generated hashtags as an inspiration and combine them with your own strategy!

5.2 Automate your posts and hashtags

There are apps like Planoly and Later that help you visually plan and schedule the posts and stories. With Later, you can use tools to categorize Instagram hashtags and analyze the performance of each post. 

It’s a good idea to repurpose content, but avoid using the same hashtags for all your posts. Not only does it make your account look spammy, but it also increases your chances of getting your account or content shadowbanned—blocked. To avoid Instagram shadowban, ditch any hashtags that increase fake activity, like #likeforlike #followforfollow #follow4followback, etc. It might drop your engagement and your photos won’t show up for users who don’t follow you. 

5.3 Try my hashtag formula to get to Top Posts

One of the milestones for any determined Instagram user is to get your post on that coveted Top Posts spot. Top Posts are the first nine posts you see when you tap Explore and type in the hashtag you’re researching. Getting there is challenging, but doable—I want to share with you one of the ways of doing it.

For a little backstory, Instagram has been my passion for a while now. I created my own personal brand and Instagram travel account @justanotherOKday in 2017, started to look for ways to grow my engagement and following. 

I discovered there’s a whole world of Instagram support groups on Facebook. I joined all the groups that caught my eye—that way I found out what tools others were using, and it gave me an opportunity to test different strategies. 

The hashtag formula below proved to be the most effective for my Instagram Business Account. If you’re looking for a strategy to try out, why not give this one a go?

Over the course of a year, this strategic use of hashtags significantly increased my chances to be featured among Top Posts, and impressions from hashtags alone increased by 200 times. 

comparing-instagram-post-performance

Here’s the formula I used for my social media strategy:

  1. Branded hashtag (1)
  2. Industry (1) + content hashtag (1)
  3. Location hashtag (1)
  4. 26 carefully picked hashtags
    • higher density hashtags (6)
    smaller density hashtags (20)

To gain better results, it’s important to mix high and low-density hashtags. High-density hashtags are the most popular, most used tags that help the Instagram algorithm understand what type of post you’ve posted. It’s much harder to rank for these tags though—they’re added to new posts all the time, and tagging your content only with high-density hashtags will make your posts harder to find.

high-density-instagram-hashtag

Low-density hashtags, on the other hand, are community-based hashtags. They have lower competition, and it’ll be easier to rank for them in Top Posts. 

lower-density-instagram-hashtag

6. 500+ Instagram hashtag cheat sheet

If you just launched an online store or have decided to focus on your target audience’s interests and needs, here are  20 popular high-density tags for ecommerce businesses you can start using straight away:

#onlinebusiness

#onlinemarketing

#businessowner

#makemoneyonline

#entrepreneurlife

#personaldevelopment

#financialfreedom

#solopreneur

#gogetit

#entrepreneurlifestyle

#startups

#makemoney

#youngentrepreneur

#entrepreneurship

#hustlehard

#selfgrowth

#networker

#hardworker 

#ecommerce

#mindsetiseverything

Don’t forget to download our free Instagram hashtag list for photography, fashion, travel, and many other tags organized in 20 sub-categories.

Download from the form below!

Find out what hashtag techniques work best for you

Being where your target audience and customers are is vital for any brand. If you’re serious about getting more organic followers and likes on Instagram, getting that exposure will require some work, but the reward will be worth it. You’ll have a loyal user base and you’ll be on your way to finding out what works best for your audience. 

Keeping up with the ever-changing social media trends is a challenge, but the results are worth the effort. Here’s my final tip—to stay ahead of the game, make sure to follow Instagram updates, tools and trends. Instagram is quick to inform about any algorithm changes, new features and pro tips on their blog!

I hope you enjoyed this post, have fun creating your custom Instagram strategy! And feel free to share your experience with Instagram in the comments below.