Every creative biz owner I’ve ever talked to has this same main goal on Instagram:

Get More Followers.

But why do you want more followers?

What will having thousands of followers do for your business?

You don’t just want more followers…

You want more followers that BUY.


And the thing is, the tactic you need to turn your followers into customers is actually VERY SIMPLE.

I’m talking, right under your nose, “OMG DUH”, Captain Obvious status.

The best (and basically the only) way to get your followers to buy is to tell them to with CTAs.

And im not saying be an annoying overly sales-y jerk.

How often do you get things you don’t ask for?

Is the deli guy gonna make you that pastrami, no mayo, extra pickles sandwich if you just walk up to the counter and stare at him?

Uh, no way!

You gotta tell him what you’d like. It makes life a heck of alot easier on him, and WAY more likely that you’ll get what you want.

Instagram marketing is the same in that way. Except in this case, your follower is a deli guy.  Right now they are just lookin’ at ya (your posts), waiting to be directed.

Action will most likely not be taken unless there is direction.

And the way you direct is by using CTAs.


What the Heck’s a CTA?!

A CTA is a Call To Action.


Literally, a CTA is the words you use to tell your followers what action to take:

“tag a friend!”

“comment with your favorite color!”   

“click the link in bio to get yours!”



The whole idea is, the more clear and simple direction you give your followers, the more followers you will get actually doing whatever it is you want them to do.

And this is where a lot of people mess up.

Some people think if it’s obvious to them (as the seller) what to do, that it should be obvious to their followers.

That’s almost NEVER the case.

You’d be surprised at how many “obvious” things you have to clear up with followers/customers.

Moral of the story: Using CTAs in your posts does not make you annoying or obvious. You are helping followers take that action. You’ll never hear this from a customer,



If anything they will be thanking you for making their life easier (like the deli man) and you’ll be happy ‘cause you just made a sale!


How To Write Your Sales-Driving CTAs

CTAs are simple to write.


Because they are meant to be simple to read…

So in other words, DON’T OVERTHINK IT. YOU GOT THIS.

When writing all of your CTAs ask yourself,

“What do I want my followers to do?”

If you want to get sales, you’re going to write different variations of these:


“Click the link in bio now!”

“Click the link in bio to get yours now!”

“Click the link in bio to customize your own.”

“New colors available now in the shop. Click the link in bio!”


Notice what they all have in common?

They clearly and obviously state what your followers should do.

No frills. No fancy wording to confuse or distract them.

“Click the link in bio” gives you the action “click the link” and where to do it, “in bio”.




Where to Include CTAs + A Little-Known Strategy for Getting Even MORE Results with CTAs

Your captions AND bio.

Most people will just include CTAs in their captions. And that’s great.

You need them there for sure.

But you need to direct your followers at every step until the ultimate action (the sale) takes place.

So where do they go after they read your CTA in your caption?


Bingo. So now you need to have a CTA in your bio that relates to your latest post.


The more specific, the better, but this is okay too:


You see how conflicting CTAs could confuse your followers. Anytime there’s friction like that, you lose customers.

SOLUTION: Make sure you update your bio to match your latest post.

This way you can keep your followers on track and make it a lot easier to click your link in bio (because the whole flow will make more sense to them!

Okay so now that you have the basics covered, you’re ready to learn a little-known strategy to boost these CTA posts.

You’ll get EVEN MORE followers taking action if you use CTAs in your post image itself as well!



Just remember: More Clear Direction = More Action

By having a CTA in the caption, and the image, that’s TWO places you can direct your followers.


Plus, having the CTA in the post image is strong since when followers are scrolling through their feed, they see things in this order:

              1. IMAGE
              2. caption

Captions are super important, but your post images are more valuable pieces of real estate when we’re talking about GRABBING ATTENTION.

Important Note: Not ALL of your posts need CTAs in your images.

If you use them ALL the time, it will come across as too strong and sales-y. But if you don’t use enough, you’ll be missing out on more sales you could be getting.

The idea is to find a happy medium that works for your audience.

AKA, it will be different for every business, but as a safe guide, you could use the ratio: 4:1.

Too Many  Just Right  Too Few


How to Simply and Quickly Add CTA’s to Your Instagram Images

Now, there are a couple ways to add CTAs to your images and the best one to use just depends on your preference!

If you know Photoshop, then you can use that of course.

But I’ve got a couple simpler options for anyone who doesn’t have Photoshop in their tool belt, and doesn’t want to pay for an app.

Canva and Phonto are my favorites. I’ll teach you how to use both here:


If you take your photos with a camera and have to put them on your computer anyways, I have an awesome (and FREE, woohoo!) site where you can add really professional text overlays.

I’d like to introduce you to Canva!

You know all those pretty images brands post on social media that totally look like a graphic designer made them?

You: “Dude, I want my stuff to look that good!”

As it should! And that’s just the look you’ll get with Canva.

And here’s how to create a graphic designer-worthy image in just 5 steps.

Step 1: Log in (or make an account first!)

Step 2: Select the “Social Media” graphic



Step 3: Choose a background image (there are free ones, but the cooler ones are gonna cost ya) or upload your own product image:



Step 4: Choose from the text templates and customize it with a CTA to direct to your bio or promote a contest you’re running.



Step 5: Download your fancy-pancy image and it’s all ready to go, for your Instagram!


If you take all your images with your phone, or you already have them on your phone, it’s a lot easier to edit right there so you don’t have to save, transfer, email, and all those shenanigans to get them on IG.

So if you want to edit straight from your phone, I’ve put together a list of awesome cheap and free phone apps for adding text here.

My favorite is Phonto because,

  1. it’s free
  2. it’s freaking easy to use

Here’s how to use it:

Step 1: Download Phonto from the app store

Apple or Android

Step 2: Open your image with Phonto

Step 3: Write out your text and CTA


Step 4: Adjust your font, color, and size options



Step 5: Save your image!

And BOOM, there you have it. Two free and really simple ways to add CTAs and text to your images for Instagram.

If you want to try out some other ones, here’s a list of other options (some paid):


Reasons Why Your CTAs Might Not Be Working

CTAs do work.

But they cannot work purely on their own. They are an important PIECE of the Instagram puzzle.

You have to have other parts working with them.

Before you start using CTAs to actually get you more sales you have to understand these things:


  • You need to have somewhat of a following first


Like any sales strategy, if you don’t have an audience to see it, you won’t get any results.

You could create an attention-grabbing, super clear CTA post image and caption with everything set up 100% correctly, but still get no sales.

That’s because you need the foundation that is an engaged audience.

So before you can expect CTAs to really start showing serious results you’ll need to:

  1. Define your target audience and create your buyer personas
  2. Get more followers from that target audience by using these hashtag techniques
  3. Start trying CTAs when you hit 500-1,000 followers

It’s all a numbers game, so the more followers you have to work with, the more results you will logically get.


Let’s say for each sales CTA post you share you get 1% of your followers to buy.



If you have 1,000 followers, that means you’ll get 10 sales.


But if you only have 100 followers, that’s only 1 sale, maybe (because you aren’t as credible yet).

Moral of the story: You need to focus on growing your followers to a substantial number before you start telling them to buy. (Those posts linked above will help you with this).



  • Each and every post needs to have ONE main goal


It’s just the way it works… you can’t ask your followers to do too much. If you do, you’ll risk them probably, definitely, most likely not doing anything at all.

Yikes. We don’t want that.

The solution = ask them to just do ONE thing per post.

Your Instagram posts can have one of these goals each:

  3. new followers (tag a friend)
  4. click the link in bio

So that means, when you have a CTA post telling your followers to “click the link in bio”, that post will probs get less likes, comments, and new followers.


Don’t be concerned when a ‘click the link in bio to shop” post doesn’t get your usual number of likes. Chances are, it’s because they were too busy clicking the link in bio!


You’re upping your chances of getting one action at a time.



If you mix up your content and dedicate other posts to the other goals you want to focus on, it will all add up and be worth it.




  • You have to follow the entire marketing path


Instagram is a tool to direct followers to the sale.. BUT the sale doesn’t actually happen on Instagram…

…unless you’re doing a direct sale like this:


But most likely, you are directing followers to your online store, Etsy shop, or another site where they can actually buy.

SO, just like you added direction in your bio as the next step in the sale sequence, you have to follow through ALL THE WAY TO THE SALE throughout the entire marketing path.

But basically it means you have to add CTAs and related images on your actual site where you are selling all the way till the end.



Otherwise you lose customers, and all the work you put into your CTAs on Instagram will be for nothing.

So, make sure you continue to direct followers with related CTAs and images in your store/site so you’ll see the real, really awesome results from your killer CTAs. :)


As long as you keep these 3 things in mind and get these foundational pieces locked in, your CTAs will get you real results.

Remember, you have to tell your followers exactly what to do, how to do it, and make it as easy as possible for them to do so!


What to Do Right Now:

Know a creative biz owner that wants more sales from their Instagram? If they are frustrated with less-than-worth-it results, you could change their world right now!

Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and share the help!


PS. Notice how I just asked you to do ONE THING? Yep… CTA in action baby! ;)




Rachel Daley
Rachel is the resident Content Fairy at MadeFreshly, the ecommerce platform that makes your passion pay off. Click here to get her actionable tips and inspiration for entrepreneurs every week!