One of my favorite parts of the book community is definitely Bookstagram. What is Bookstagram? I know, I could hear you asking that question. Basically, Bookstagram is Instagram specifically for books.
You might have a personal instagram where you post pictures of the highlights of your life. The great food you eat, the cute kids you have, the fun parties you go to. Bookstagram is just like that, but we only post pictures of books. Because books are basically our social life. I’m not joking.
Today I’m going to guide you through the world of #Bookstagram. But before we get started, feel free to follow me over at @Books.andrants
Why would you want to use it?
Well obviously because it’s a lot of fun. But if you’re a part of the book community there are also some other benefits. But I still stand by the fact that fun is the main reason to join Bookstagram!
Promotion. Especially if you have a blog of BookTube channel, your bookstagram will be an extension of that. With Instagram stories it has become even easier! See it as a way to broaden your audience and reach people you normally wouldn’t reach.
Artistic expression and inspiration. Not gonna lie, bookstagram inspires me. Some of the people I follow make their pictures so incredibly pretty and it inspires me to try out different ways of creating my own photos, how edit them etcetera. Experimenting is the only way to grow!
Tips before you get started
I know you’re probably dying to post your first photo, but before we get there I want to talk about the things you need to consider before actually filling up that feed!
Pick a username that matches your blog or YouTube channel. Seriously, DO IT. It makes it so much easier for people to find you on instagram if they follow your blog and vice versa. Of course your username might be taken and you have to be a little creative. @Booksandrants was taken (grr!) which is why I have @Books.andrants. I also recommend a name that somehow makes it clear that you are a bookstagram, something with ‘book’, ‘page’ or ‘read’ in the title is always good.
Write a short bio. I know, I know, writing bio’s is the hardest thing ever. But at least put your name, and maybe where you’re from, what genres you like to read, your favorite authors or hobbies. I don’t know, get creative!
Add a link to your blog. You only get one ‘clickable’ link on Instagram (links in photo captions don’t work) so make it count!
Creating your photos
Finally, now it gets REALLY FUN. And also hard. There are a lot of different components to a good bookstagram photo, so let’s go over them one by one.
Your camera: I know what you’re thinking: Dalindcy, I don’t have a fancy ass DSLR camera to take photo’s with, so I will never be a successful bookstagrammer. Wrong. I have a DSLR and I still take half of my pictures with my iPhone 8. Of course your followers like good quality pics, but you do not need a $1000 camera to get there. With some editing, your phone pictures can look gorgeous.
Your aesthetic: you need to decide how you want your photo’s to look. Do you want to do flatlays or not? Lots of color or black and white? Do you want minimalistic photos or not at all. Or do you just not care and do you want to post whatever? There are no rules when it comes to book blogging, but I have noticed that accounts that have a specific ‘theme’ do get more follows. But make it personal!
Above you can find an example of my feed: No, not all of my pictures are exactly the same, but they do fit together, which brings me to my next point!
Cheap prop ideas!
Something that can make your photos interesting and coherent are props! I hear you thinking ”but I don’t have the money to buy props!” The great news is, props don’t have to be expensive. A few cheap props that are great for photos:
- Coffee and tea mugs. Both look SUPER cute in photos. You’ll probably have at least one mug in your house.
- (Fake) flowers: You can buy a bunch of fake flowers for less than $5, and they do great in photos! Dive into your local Wal Mart, Target or Dollar Store and get some flowers in your favorite color (or that fit your feed!)
- Pages of things! Especially old books. You can glue them on a large piece of cardboard or just scatter open books on a flat surface as a backdrop. It looks cute!
- Old nicknacks from thrift stores: Spoons, candles, old coins, glasses, keys or watches. I’m sure your local thrift store has a bunch of nicknacks no one wants but that will look great in your photos.
Actually taking photos
If you take one thing away from this video, please remember that natural lighting is everything. You might not see it looking at my photo’s, but a lot of them are taken on a bed next to a window. Going outside in natural daylight is also a good idea. The above picture of Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea is taken on a table outside in my yard.
Take a bunch of photos with a bunch of different angles. If you do a flatlay, try different ways to put the props. Move a spoon, change the coins, maybe this flower will look better on the left instead of the right. Just play around, things look different in photos compared to real life.
Be aware of your background! Is your messy room in the back of your photo? Probably not a good idea. This is why I’m a fan of flatlays, my room is often pretty messy (books everywhere!) but with flatlays you’ll never notice.
I make almost all of my flatlay pics on my bed next to a window. Nothing fancy, but you’d never know if you just saw my pictures.
This is where a photo really comes to life for me. Compare the photo at the top of this blogpost with the one you just saw. It’s almost the same photo: same camera, same book. The difference is that the one at the top of this blogpost is edited!
There are tons of different photo editors out there. You don’t have to know the ins and outs of photoshop to properly edit your photos. Personally, I’m a big fan of the app Snapseed, and I use a combination of that and the editor that’s integrated in the Instagram app.
If you want your photos to all have a similar aesthetic, you have to edit them the same way. All of my photos have the same filter and I give them a purple haze using the ‘color’ function on Instagram. Play around with different color palettes and other settings.
I’m currently planning to write a separate post where I go over my personal editing process, so stay tuned for that. 🙂
Around the community and gaining followers: Do’s and Don’ts
Now that you have your Instagram profile and content down, you also want people to actually see your content, no? There are a few do’s and don’ts as far as Bookstagram and Instagram as a whole.
- Do follow other people and engage with their content.
- Don’t comment generic words or emoji’s on other people’s posts just because you want to get noticed. It’s super annoying and spammy!
- Do use Instagram stories. Make a picture of the book you’re reading on the go and tell us what you think! You can also do shoutout for shoutout with other users on Instagram stories, they’re becoming more and more popular these days.
- Don’t post a bunch of photos in a row, this is also considered spammy.
- Do use locations, relevant hashtags and don’t be afraid to tag relevant users as well! I use locations often (especially when I’m in a big city) and I regularly tag authors in my photos. I’ve even been reposted by them a few times!
- Don’t pay for followers or likes. I know it’s tempting, especially at the beginning when you’re still growing your account. However, Instagram actually often shuts down accounts that buy likes or followers. Not to mention that ghost followers never actually engage with your account, they just inflate the number. It’s super obvious when someone has thousands of followers but only gets 30 likes on a photo.
- Do post consistently and don’t give up! It can be a pain in the ass to grow an Instagram account at the very beginning. But I promise t’s worth it. Bookstagram is a very welcoming community and in my experience other users, even bigger ones, are always supportive.