I found you on Instagram! (and why that’s maybe a bad thing)


I found you on Instagram! (and why that’s maybe a bad thing)

If the title, “I found you on Instagram! (and why that’s maybe a bad thing)“, is leaving you stumped, let me explain.


Are you struggling to make sales from Instagram? The problem may be with *who* you're targeting, instead of how you're selling. | How to get found on Instagram and grow your account. Instagram tips, how to grow Instagram and get more followers, Instagram Tips for Business


Ya see… I found you on Instagram because I was LOOKING FOR YOU.

(which sounds like a good thing? Someone who is actively seeking you out? Get on with it Kate…)

Yes… but here’s the thing >>> I was looking for you because I wanted to connect with other shop owners + Etsy sellers…. NOT because I was looking for your product to purchase.


Are you seeing the problem?

I’m not your CUSTOMER. (which let’s quick clarify doesn’t mean I don’t love many of your products!!! Just follow my logic here for a sec…)

If you sell nursery decor items:
I wasn’t LOOKING for baby clothes, or items to decorate my new baby’s dresser. I wasn’t trying to connect with other moms or get inspiration on how to transform our tiny second bedroom into a welcoming nursery.

If you sell wedding invitations:
I wasn’t LOOKING for wedding color inspiration or ideas for whether I should print or use calligraphy for my invites. Hell, I’m married. I’m probably never spending that much money on stationery again. (sorry!)

*I was looking for shop owners.*

And I fouuuund you. (said in my very best Isla Fischer Wedding Crashers impersonation)

Which is bad.

Because it means YOUR CUSTOMER won’t.

That new mama-to-be who’s looking for inspiration now that she’s entering this new phase of her life – nope, she won’t find you. Even though she’s not only your ideal customer, but she’s also a motivated customer with reason to purchase… I mean there’s literally a ticking clock on when she wants to have that nursery ready.

That newly engaged bride who’s happily planning her wedding dreams – nope, she isn’t finding you either. Even though many people only spend that kind of money once in their life, she won’t even know you’re there to put your designs into consideration.


Because you’re focusing your message, hashtags + outreach on Instagram on “being a shop”.

You’re identifying yourself on Instagram, when you should be talking to your customer so she identifies herself within your brand..


Which is why I get so bummed when I see people say “I only get other creatives or Etsy sellers engaging with my posts… Instagram doesn’t work for me.” Because while that’s not true, you haven’t given your customer the best chance to actually find + connect with you.


If you’re using hashtags you found on a blog post called “best hashtags for creatives” or “80 hashtags for Etsy sellers” then yeah, you’re gonna get found by a sh*t ton of other makers.

Because you’re all hanging out at the same #etsyshop party.

When was the last time as a customer, you hopped onto Instagram and wanted to scroll through thousands of posts in hundreds of different categories to find a delicate gold ring?

Also, when was the last time you went onto Instagram and treated it like a search engine?

My guess is almost never. We turn to Instagram to escape while we’re in line at the grocery store or want to relax for a few minutes after work…or before we get outta bed. (no judgement) 

Sure, we’re often inspired to buy from posts we see or use it to stay updated on brands we love; but at it’s core, Instagram is a place for inspiration, discovery and community; it’s NOT a selling platform.

Before you go all whhhhaaaa on my ass and shout “but you have a course on how to sell on Instagram?! hypocrite!” (apparently I’m feeling aggressive today), let me explain.

My goal at The Shop Files is to change your approach to social selling.

And that means a change in thinking about how to “sell” on Instagram, use hashtags that will benefit your business (customer-focused, instead of “how many likes can this get” focused), and overall show you that social selling requires a different approach.

Instagram is not a “selling platform” and hashtags are NOT like Etsy tags or descriptions for your product.

And before we go any further, yes, of course the intention + goal is to make sales on Instagram!

But it will happen because of the trust and relationship you build with your audience through the right messaging, not because customers are hopping onto the platform with the intention of searching for products (like they would on Etsy, for example).

The number one rule of marketing is to keep your CUSTOMER IN MIND.

Tweet: Instagram is a place for inspiration, discovery and community; it’s NOT a selling platform. @theshopfiles https://ctt.ec/cu1U3+


And she can’t identify with “running a shop”.


She identifies with who you are behind the shop…

You, the mom who is raising a little girl of her own and tried to find *just* the right nursery decor. Who gets the late nights, early mornings, + all the crossed fingers hoping that this new little song + dance (quite literally) will put an end to your sweet babes tears.


You, the designer who’s helped other brides through this fun, but stressful phase and maybe is married yourself. Who gets that a new bride can be ecstatic to be marrying the man she loves, but is also freaking the f out over alllll the things planning a wedding requires. You have the advice she needs to hear, the knowledge of which paper type is best (without sounding like a confusing textbook), and you know the occasional tear while planning “the happiest day of your life” is totally okay – actually not okay, TOTALLY NORMAL.


This is about removing the “I’m the seller, you’re the buyer” relationship.

You’re just sharing like friends and and the goal is to be relatable AF. So sharing a story about a tough time in your business… probably won’t work unless your ideal customers also work for themselves.

So go back to your customer profile…

… what does she need to hear today?
… where would she hang out?

Knowing what to say is one of the foundational elements of running a profitable Instagram that makes it easy for you to sell naturally + confidently.

If you want help on finding the right hashtags for your business, I’m now offering Custom Hashtag Packages; where I’ll personally research your account to find the right hashtags to attract your customer.




  • Thank you so much for posting this, your absolutely 100% correct. I often see many websites telling people to promote with hashtags and specifics about it, but I do only get creatives or businesses wanting to interact with me. It’s frustrating because I do create some solid new business friendships but often it leads to a lot of the follow/unfollow madness which in itself is daunting.

    My question is, I understand how to change the wording in my captions and reach out to my customers; however I have struggled greatly with figuring out what are the best hashtags to use…my business sells home decor and accessories and I often wonder if I should just literally make my hashtags as simple as “velvetpillow” and call it a day.

    • ahh yeah – I’m so over the f/uf game! (or really, I never even bought into it)

      So for your hashtags, they don’t necessarily act like descriptions of your product like an Etsy tag or search term might; but instead they should be the feeds your customer may hang out in and find inspiring. So I’d start your research around tags like #homedecorating and then go more narrow from there into your specific niche or style of home decor.

      I still recommend using a few of the creative hashtags, but the community is so so worth it and amazing; but broadening to a few more specifics that help attract a potential customer will have more of a payoff.

      (I loved your post asking about plants people own – you’re great at the captions! such a good way to get people talking and interacting, so fun!)

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