Bookish posts

The Complete Guide to #Bookstagram: Getting Started, Taking Pictures, Gaining Followers And Other Advice

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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!

Instagram bookstagram theme.png

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.

Bookstagram cheap prop ideas.png

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.

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Editing

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
  • 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.
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12 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to #Bookstagram: Getting Started, Taking Pictures, Gaining Followers And Other Advice

  1. Wonderful post, thank you for sharing all of these tips 🙂 I am not on bookstagram, even if I have considered joining a few times already, I just… need more time in the day to handle everything and add bookstagram to the list 😂 but I do love watching bookstagrammers account and pretty pictures and I love how you make it seem quite easy to handle a bookstagram account with this little guide 🙂

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  2. Oh I love your tips here they’re so great!! I’m a HUGE bookstagram fan haha.😂 I do a lot of flatlays and put a lot of things in my photos, and you can actually do it pretty cheaply too, which I love. I’m all for fake flowers from 2nd hand stores and natural lighting is a MUST. Also engaging with the community does so much?! And it’s just fun to make friends and fangirl over gorgeous books with others. It’s a really positive community too. Loooove it.

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    1. Actually one of my all time FAVE bookstagrams is yours! I love your style and how colorful your feed is, personally I create much more muted and minimalistic photos but that makes it even more interesting to see how other people do it. 😀

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  3. Oh my gosh, would people actually pay for followers? I’m happy with my 100, thank you very much. lol. I didn’t instagram for the longest time, but now that I’ve gotten into it again it’s interesting seeing how many times I see an instagram post in something. I don’t really have a certain aesthetic with my pictures, but just try to keep it bookish. I’m sure one day I’ll try to have a yearly theme or something, but I just like sharing bookish things right now. Great tips!

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  4. This might be my favorite post of yours! I have never been much of a picture-taker, I tend to either forget or think that it’s no fun to try my best and end up with a mediocre at best photo. However, I’ve been meaning to take bookish pictures for a long time — not for bookstagram, but for my blog. You’ve given me so many ideas! I am looking forward for that post about your editing style, I think it will also be a great lesson 😊

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    1. Awesome! I’m happy you got some ideas from this post. They definitely work for your blog too, I use the photos I initially made for Instagram from blog ALL the time now, it’s the best of both worlds!

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  5. Ever since I started blogging, I’ve been obsessed with bookstagrams! There are some really amazing ones out there, and I agree with you that natural lighting is everything!!! Also tea and mugs are my favourite bookstagram props! – Amy @ Amy’s Bookshelf

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  6. This was a really good informative post! Especially the tips with the editing and the props. I scrolled back up to the top to compare the edited with the unedited and I was pleasantly surprised! For props, I use the most random things. Sometimes I empty my highlighters and pens onto my picture (most of my pictures are study related) and sometimes I include things like my watch, keychains, paper clips, anything and everything can work tbh!
    As for editing apps, I use VSCO although you’re the second person I have come across using Snapseed! I should probably check that out sometime soon.
    Thanks for sharing!!
    the lunar descent

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    1. Ohh I like the highlighters and pens for props idea! I used VSCO for the longest time and I really love that app too, especially for the filters. What I love about snapseed is that it allows me to play with exposure and saturation just a tiny bit more compared to VSCO. I’m happy you liked the post and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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