Results of my Instagram Giveaway Contest

At the beginning of February, I ran my first Instagram giveaway for my Etsy with five other shops. I’ve seen a lot of small businesses do this to boost their engagement; so, I figured I’d try.

Why do a social media giveaway?

Social media giveaways incentivize people to follow you, increase engagement and followers, and may increase your sales. You can do this alone or with other businesses that complement your niche.

I chose to do a co-promotion giveaway. This way, we could multiply our audiences and promote each other’s small business. We chose a theme together and contributed something from our shops: there was a tie-dye bodysuit, a rose quartz necklace, a hula-hoop, a crystal choker necklace, and mine was an essential oil diffuser necklace and earring set with ylang-ylang essential oil.


Overall Gain

During the giveaway, I’ve netted 70 new followers. These were also real accounts that fall into my typical customer personas. I also noticed an influx of my likes on my photos. I was hoping for more followers, but I’m happy with the results for my first try.

What I learned

Everyone loves freebies, doing a giveaway challenge is a sweet way grow your business and support other businesses as well. I think there is potential to grow your businesses with these and maintain follower loyalty.

If I have the supplies and the time, I hope to do these bi-monthly.

What I would do differently next time

  • When doing a co-promotion, I would do 4, maybe 5 shops max. Given that there were 6 of us, I think people were less likely to enter.
  • I would promote it more: before, during, and after. I believe that we all could have done a better job.
  • Complimentary niches versus the same business: Given that there were 3 jewelry businesses, I think it was overkill. I would not do a giveaway with another jewelry business unless we had completely different styles.

Simple, Free Strategies to Grow Your Followers and Business on Instagram

Instagram is an excellent tool for expanding your business; posting engaging, quality content and engagement are essential for gaining followers.

Here are some strategies for gaining followers and potential customers.

  1. Use #Hashtags in your photo captions 

Hashtags are keywords used for searching on Instagram.  They are known to increase followers. Keep a list of hashtags in your notes– copy and paste them into your photo captions. Just keep in mind that Instagram enforces a hashtag limit of 30 per post.

  • Use hashtags that are relevant to your area. It may connect you with locals or people visiting in town- (I’m from Pittsburgh, so for example) #412 #pittsburgh #steelcity #steelcitygrammers #pittsburghartist
  • Tag things in your niche (e.g., my Etsy Instagram hashtags) #etsybusiness #shopsmall #etsy #etsybusiness #etsyjewelry #jewelry #handmade #handmadejewelry #madewithlove #artoftheday #artjewelry #etsyseller #shopsmall #localartist #artistsoninstagram #jewlrymaker #shopsmall #handmadeart #smallbusiness
  • Check out your direct competitors, what hashtags are they using?

It is key to use hashtags that are centered on your business focus and will target the right audience, rather than hashtags to get likes.

  1. Ask questions or use calls to action in the caption of your photo

This is a great way to increase engagement. Try to get people to comment, even its unrelated to the image. The more engagement, the more traffic your posts and profile will be seen — using these following “calls to action” wit

  • ask opinions, what city are you from, what is your favorite song/movie/book
  • comment ___ in your language below, #tagafriend, #tagyourfavoriteartist
  • let me know what you think in the comments, share your idea in the comments
  1. Posting regularly is essential but also post during these specific times

My goal is to have at least one post a day but I always aim to post at these times:

Sundays (lowest post day), Wednesdays (mid-week posts get more interactions), and 2am and 5pm are good times to post. (heres why).

Life gets busy – download Hootsuite to save time by scheduling posts. It is an excellent app for social media management.

  1. Run a contest for a giveaway

Offer a few free products, trial, or an experience: 1 like, 1 share, 1 comment with tagged friends, and/or one repost = one entry. Bonus idea: pairing up with one or more other businesses for the giveaway; find businesses in a complimentary niche who have a similar follower count. This copromotion presents an opportunity to multiply each other’s audience.

Here is a link to a free random winner generator.

  1. Utilize mutual friends 
  • Post your business Instagram to your other social medias and offer a follow-back.
  • Ask your friends to share your profile
  • Add your Facebook friends and contacts directly- go to settings>follow people> and voila! It connects you with your contacts.
  1. Ask an Instagram guru/ influencer if they will mention or tag your product

If they already use your product, great! If not, offer them a free product or trial for an Instagram review and “shout-out”. It very well could work; resulting in tons of new followers. The worst they could say is no!

     7. Dedicate time to growing your social media every day

As mentioned previously, engaging is the key point behind all of these strategies.

  • Spend time liking photos, and leaving thoughtful comments and questions.
  • Search hashtags and follow profiles in similar niches; remember it is about quality, not quantity. Following people with hashtags like #f4f or #followback may gain you followers, but the likelihood of them looking at your posts and products is low – they are probably following thousands of people already.
  • Always answer back to comments and questions on your post- even to questions you may be asked repeatedly.

Ecommerce is growing 23% year over year. What makes your business stand out? Tell me about your business in the comments below!


Opening an Etsy Shop: 5 Steps for Success

Etsy is a marketplace website for vending unique, vintage, or handmade items. You can find anything from candles to prints to knitted hats. If you are crafty, starting an Etsy shop is a great side-hustle with potential to grow!

1. Define and Refine your Vision

After studying successful Etsy shops, I found that they all had one clearly defined niche (click photos below for examples). Choose one overall category rather than a hodge-podge of different things – jewelry, paper-crafts, greeting cards, paintings, digital art work, pottery, clothes, etc. etsy shop 2


etsy shop 3

etsy shop 1

Time to brainstorm and create- start with 10-20 designs/ items. Then, ask yourself: Who are your direct competitors?  What are they charging? What makes yours stand out?

After you have this information, create a captivating shop name that highlights your shop – if the name you had your heart set on is taken, try adding shop or boutique.

2. Gather your materials

Start small with your supplies and do your research! As much as we love Michaels and Joann’s, there are cheaper suppliers online: Dick Blick Art Supplies (general art supplier) and Fire Montain Gems (jewelry supplier) are two of my favorites.

Keeping inventory from the start is essential for items that are reproduced – here is a link to an excel inventory template.

3. Selling the product – Photos

Bright, intriguing photos are essential to every successful Etsy shop. There are easy ways to achieve quality photos, even with your smartphone!

For your photos, make sure to use natural daylight and take photos from every angle. Here is a DIY photo box tutorial- simple backgrounds keep the focus on the item.

For clothes, jewelry, and other wearable items, use a model so the customers get an idea of how it looks.

Lastly, download the Etsy seller’s app. It allows you to upload and edit images from your smartphone.

3.5 Product Descriptions

Great photos captivate and prompt, informative descriptions sell.

When writing about your products, always list your materials, lengths, and other important information. Considering keywords is essential too; when shopping on Etsy with specific products in mind, you typically type words and phrases into the search bar. Determine which of these keywords your prospective customers will most likely use and integrate them into the title and description

Telling a brief story about the product makes connections with the audience; try talking about the inspiration behind the piece.

4. Growing Your Customer Base – Social Media is Key

The title explains it all; here is a link to an article on instagram for growing your brand and business. For starters, creating an Instagram and Facebook page. From there like/comment and interact, run coupons, giveaways, and contests; this all will create traction to your shop.

Follow other Etsy shops and artists like yours – see if you can do a shout-out for a shout-out.

Use hashtags that are specific to your creations but also try #etsy #estybusinesses #shopsmall #localartist #smallbusiness #smallartist  #artoftheday (I keep a list of these hashtags in my phone notes and just copy and paste for each post!)

 5. Set Daily, Attainable Goals

Devote time to your shop every day – start with 30 minutes- 1 hour. It will change as you grow, but start blocking out times for taking photos, writing, social media, revision, research, and creation. I like to sit down at the beginning of the week and write out 7-10 things I can do to further my business and game plan from there.

Here is pre-launch checklist:

  • Product photos are clean, simple and from all angles and styles; also, no filters.
  • Product descriptions are thorough, yet prompt.
  • Mulitple keywords are used in your title and product descriptions—What words might someone use to search for your listings?
  • Every material listed in the description
  • Measurements are listed
  • Weight for your products measured for shipping purposes (you can print shipping labels from home, expediting the process)

Be persistent and keep positive!

Follow-up with monthly and quarterly goals. Remember, seeds take time to grow; be reasonable yet optimistic.