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There’s no doubt that if you’re starting any type of business, you’re going to need a website to look professional and to grow your brand. However, if you’re not ready to invest your money or time into building a website just yet, keep reading to discover five tips that you can use to build your business online using only Instagram.

Let me start by saying, I am definitely not advocating for you to ditch a website all together and simply have a business that exclusively lives on social media. If we learned anything at all from MySpace, Vine, and AOL…tech stuff can be here today and gone tomorrow…but a website is a spot on the internet that YOU own.

Think of it as your home, your property. You can make changes to it, add content to it, and as long as you keep up the payments to your domain & web host it will be there until the internet itself dies…which won’t be until the Zombie apocalypse. So you have some time. 😉

Anyway…my point is…nothing can compare to owning your own little slice of the internet known as your website. However, if you’re new to starting a business I can totally understand the reluctance to investing your money and your energy into building a website (in the beginning).

Since Instagram is currently the app that shows no signs of ending anytime soon, and it’s one of the best places for foodies to share images and videos of deliciousness, I’m going to share 5 tips for how you can grow a business using Instagram as your temporary home on the internet until you’re ready to make that leap.

5 Tips to Grow an Online Business without a Website

  1. Buy a Domain Name
  2. Update & Share Your Location
  3. Add Contact Information
  4. Convert to a Business Account
  5. Connect with Local Accounts

#1. Buy a Domain Name

Wait...before you leave. Let me explain!!

I know this article is supposed to be about using social media as your home instead of a website. So give me a second to explain before you close the window and move on.

Whether you realize it or not, you can actually buy a domain name before you’re ready to use it AND even better you can use that domain to funnel people to your instagram page.

That’s right!

For this to work, first I want you to buy a domain name from Bluehost or GoDaddy or whichever domain host you so choose. Then, I want you to set up a Domain Redirect. If you’re not a techy person, don’t worry here are a few relevant links to help you out.

Instructions for setting up a Domain Redirect with Bluehost:
https://www.bluehost.com/help/article/redirecting-web-page

Instructions for setting up a Domain Redirect with GoDaddy:
https://www.godaddy.com/help/forward-my-domain-121...

Alright, so you’re going to buy the domain name. Then, set up a domain redirect, and you’re going to redirect your domain to the web address of your instagram account.

For instance, if I was doing this for the Academy Instagram account, I’d use www.instagram.com/sugarcoinacademy because my handle on Insta is @sugarcoinacademy. If I was doing this for my other business page, I’d use www.instagram.com/sweet_fest because the handle for that account is @sweet_fest. See where I'm going?

Since I know you’re going to stay connected with us and end up joining the academy, I know that you will eventually grow your business online and need a website; so, if you buy your domain today…like right after you finish this article, then by the time you’re ready for that website, you could have (1) been using the domain name on flyers, business cards or other places across the internet and (2) you would have gotten a jumpstart on aging your domain name which is super important when it coms to SEO and Google, topics that we discuss a lot inside of the Sugar Coin Academy.

So with all of that said…buy your domain name today before someone steals it from you and so you can set yourself up for online success in a few months when you realize this business thing is legit.

#2. Update & Share Your Location

If there is one thing I can’t stand on social media, it’s when location based businesses don’t share their actual location. It’s one thing for a company like Target or Amazon not to share their location because they ship all over the world. However, if you’re business is locked into one city or town and you’re not able to ship your products all over the globe, I would highly recommend that you update the location area of your profile.

Then, take it a step further and tag your location in your posts, using the geotag feature when sharing your post and then also use appropriate hashtags for your local area such as #Atlanta, #AtlantaBakery, or #AtlantaWeddings

#3. Add Contact Information

You should never rely on your potential customer to go digging for information. Online users have very short attention spans. So you should make important details such as contact information as conveniently available as possible.

At this point, Instagram has made it super easy at this point, you can add call to action buttons on your profile page so that a follower can tap a button to call or email you directly. So take advantage of those features to make running your business on Instagram even more seamless for your potential customer.

#4. Convert to a Business Account

Did you know there is a difference between doing business on a Personal Instagram Account and having a Business Instagram Account? If you’re not sure how to do it, visit this link for step by step instructions. If you’re running a business on Instagram, you should be using a Business account to gain access to features within the app that aren’t available to personal accounts such as analytics, call to action buttons, and Instagram Shopping.

All of these features are going to be super important to running a business on Instagram, especially if you don’t have a website. So, you should definitely convert your account as soon as you can.

#5. Connect with Local Accounts

Finally, if you want to grow a local business on Instagram, then you’ve got to start interacting with accounts in your area. Thanks to the geotags and hashtags that I mentioned earlier, it is going to be very easy to connect with accounts that are also a part of your local community. Target and interact with pages that relate to your industry and share a similar audience, including other restaurants, cafes, and influencers.

You should never forget the social part of social media! Do your research and start networking. Like their posts, comment and find unique ways to make those local connections on social.

Starting and growing any type of business won't be easy in the beginning, but you don't have to do it alone. Hopefully these tips have encouraged you and increased your confidence in your ability to grow a business online without a website in the early stages of your career. Then, when you're ready to take the next leap, you'll already be set up for success.