Hey guys! I’m super excited about this post! I’ve been a blogger for less than two months now, but I’ve been a bookstagrammer for almost 10 months! I definetly don’t know everything, but I do know my way around bookstagram and wanted to help any of y’all out who just don’t know where to begin! 🙂
Bookstagram is on regular Instagram, but it’s specifically for books. Books + Instagram= Bookstagram. Similar to how bloggers geek out over books on their blogs, bookstagrammers geek out over books on their Instagram. The difference is that on Instagram, you must post a photo. It isn’t like Twitter, Facebook, or your blog. There must be a photo to go along with your caption. How do you take these photos, you ask? You, my friend, came to the right place.
A little about my bookstagram:
I started it in June of 2017 on whim. One day I was like “I’m going to take pictures of my books and post about them.” Little did I know, many (like thousands) of people had the same idea and I was only a post away from meeting some of my closest friends! It’s seriously the nicest community ever and so fulfilling! If you want to check out my bookstagram (to make sure I’m legit), look on the side bars! It should be there somewhere! 🙂
Setting Up Your Account:
So you want to do this. But where do you start? First things first, you need to create an account. You cannot use a computer. You have to use a smartphone, tablet, or any device that allows you to download the Instagram app.
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to create your account! This is where you get to express yourself, so make sure to let your personality shine through! People want to know there’s a real person behind that screen, so show them!
Your username can really be whatever. I recommend including at least one word relating to books (bibliophile, books, pages, bookish, bookie, bookworm, etc.) Including your name in some way is also great, but not essential. The key here is to pick your username and stick with it! Don’t confuse your followers and change it months after you’ve established your name!
Your profile picture is also a great way to connect with your followers and show them you’re an actual human. Profile pictures don’t have to show your face! Mine didn’t for a long time…like until a week ago. I held a book up to cover my face. I changed mine a few days ago because I’m a lot more comfortable with the community, but even now, it’s not super clear. It doesn’t scream selfie. If you are comfortable with a selfie, DO IT! You do you!! If not, no sweat, my dear!
Finally, the bio. Mine changes on the daily. It’s just awkward and I never know what to put. Here’s some ideas:
- Something about your love for books (bookworm, book lover, bibliophile, etc.)
- Harry Potter house (I’m a Ravenclaw! Any fellow Ravenclaws out there?!)
- What you’re currently reading
- Your yearly reading goal & how many books you’ve read so far (ex: 23/50)
- Rep codes/email address (more on this farther down in the post!)
Camera: phone or fancy?
Now that you created your bookstagram account, you now need to start taking photos! You don’t need a fancy, expensive camera! Your phone works just fine! Here’s my little secret: I’ve been using my phone my entire bookstagram existence. Phone cameras are such high quality now, it will work like a charm! Of course, if you have a fancy camera and know how to use it, go for it! Your pictures will be glam! If not, no big deal! Most bookstagrammers use their phones anyway!
Developing Your Theme
To be honest, I didn’t even know what “aesthetic” meant until a few months ago lol. But basically it’s your overall theme and feel of your bookstagram page. You want it to look cohesive and like a collection almost. Some people have light themes, some have dark themes. Some have warm themes, some have cold themes. Some have colorful themes, some have neutral themes. They all look great, as long as they’re clear and consistent.
To develop your aesthetic or theme, you need a background! If you look at my photos, I have a wooden background that is used in all my posts. At one point it was white wood, but now its more of a grey/brown wood. My background is used in every single photo. That’s what a theme is, my friends!
Where to get background themes:
- The junkyard. Yep. Old wood makes for great backgrounds! I actually just picked up an old pallet that I’m going to clean and use soon to create a new theme! I’m super excited!
- Your local craft store. I have a Hobby Lobby where I get all my bookstagram necessities and they have poster boards that look like wood. Perfect for your background!
- Amazon! When in doubt, check Amazon! They usually aren’t real wood, but a vinyl paper. That’s what mine is. It’s annoying, but eh, it works! Here’s a few links to good ones:
I’m going to be honest with y’all. Bookstagram can be expensive. Props can be expensive. The key is finding the deals! I usually get my props from local craftstores like Hobby Lobby and Joann’s. Those two places are always having sales, so be on the look out! Don’t shop for props until what you want is on sale! Most times you can get props half off! Here’s some prop ideas that I love:
- Flowers– not a must, but if that’s what you want to incorporate in your theme, go for it! I personally love flowers in posts, but there’s also stunning feeds without them.
- Scrapbook paper–not many people use this, but its something I love doing! You have your theme background, but why not add a little pizzazz? Scrapbook paper is super cheap (like 50 cents cheap) so its great to use! I have some in almost every color so I can always match it to a book cover.
- Other books–I have found that when I use other books in my photos, I get more interaction with it! People love to see books, so give them lots of them! I’m fond of taking the dust jackets off of books and using them naked. It looks nice! You can then arrange them in stacks, hearts, lines, etc.
- Wood slice/round–I just started using one and love it! It looks nice and adds a homey feel to your photos (Here’s a link a photo of mine that uses one: https://www.instagram.com/p/BhH_ws4ANyw/?taken-by=remmingtonreads )
- Candles–any size, any shape, any color. They look nice!
- Bookmarks–many shops on Etsy sell bookmarks. They’re more of a treat when I allow myself to buy them, but they look amazing! I’m planning a post with all my favorite bookish shops, so I’ll delve into where to get bookmarks there!
- Random stuff–sometimes things lying around your house look bomb! Some examples: laptop, pillows, scarves, dresses, blankets, mugs, etc.
- Fairy lights–I swear by them! I will never take a photo again without them! I love them so much! They add the little sparkle that everyone needs in their life! I got mine from Walmart for like three bucks, so they won’t break the bank! Whoop whoop!
Snapping the photo:
I’ve learned a lot over the past few months on taking photos. Here’s a list of tips:
- DO take your photos in natural light! DON’T use lamp light. It clearly looks artificial and makes the photo have less “wow factor”.
- There’s many different angles you can use. I love all angles and don’t have a favorite. I gravitate more towards flat lays on my feed simply because of the background I use. It’s a hassle to prop it up and make it 3D, so I usually just stick with flat lays. I love other angles too though!
- I have my phone set to only take square photos. I do this so that my photos aren’t distorted in my overall view of my feed. I might get risky and try some rectangle photos though soon…who knows?! I just have always done it in squares. Not required, but something to think about!
- I usually take about five photos on Sundays to get prepped for the week. Photos take me a long time. I don’t know if it’s just me, but photo shoots for the week sometimes take me up to two hours. I don’t have time each day to take photos after getting home from school, so I get them ready for the week! Many bookstagrammers have different ways of doing this. Some take them daily, some weekly, some monthly. There really is no right or wrong.
- Okay this isn’t a tip, but more of a warning. Your room will become a disaster. It looks like a tornado came through my room after each photo shoot. Take a look:
^All aboard hot-mess express…^
Posting tips & tricks:
Your account is created. You’ve taken photos. It’s time to post!!
First, editing! Many bookstagrammers don’t edit their posts at all. I only edit mine a little. Some lighting/contrast touch ups is all I usually do. Every now and then, I’ll edit on some sparkles to be extra. Here’s some excellent editing apps that I use:
- Instagram–for real, it has the best editing program out there. I just love it! It’s easy to use but also really helpful! Use it!!
- Snapspeed–I use this app when a certain area of my photo is darker than I want it. Whenever there’s a shadow, I use the brush tool and make that certain area brighter to match the rest of the photo.
- LINE Camera–This one is great for adding sparkles! I don’t do it much, but it can be fun! The app has a brush tool where you can brush on sparkles of all colors and sizes! Yay!
As a blogger, it’s tempting to write long captions. Truth is, that’s not what Instagram is for. That’s exactly why I started blogging…to be able to write more! This blog post of mine delves into that more: Bookstagrammer Turn Blogger?
Just because you shouldn’t write an entire blog post, doesn’t mean it can’t be a longer caption… I usually include what I’m currently reading and my thoughts, as well as a little about my day/life. This is optional, but I truly have friends on bookstagram and we like to keep each other updated on our lives! That doesn’t mean giving us your life story, but a sentence or two about your day/life doesn’t hurt! I always make sure to elaborate on my photo and explain the purpose of it– (on your TBR, currently reading, left a lasting impact, etc.)
I usually try to post everyday! It’s tricky y’all, but try your best! People love when you’re active and engaging! While it is important to post often, remember, quality over quantity. Take beautiful photos, not tons of mediocre photos.
HASHTAGS! Use them! Be one with them! They’re your friends! That’s how people find you! The next section will be all about hashtags, so look below for more info!
Growing your bookstagram:
After spending a lot of time taking photos, you want it to pay off and people to see your hard work! Here’s my go-to’s on gaining more followers:
- HASHTAGS!!! This is how people find you. Use relevant hashtags to draw in traffic from organically interested people. I post my hashtags in a comment below my captions because my captions get very long. Some bookstagrammers put their hashtags in their original caption, either way works! Instagram allows a max of 30 captions, so keep in mind how many you use. Here’s some I use: #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #yabooks #bibliophile #igreads #blogger #bookish #yafantasy #yaromance #[insert book name here] #[insert author’s name here]
- Do not use irrevelant hashtags. Do you know how annoying it is when I am scrolling through #yabooks and a random zebra in the ocean eating cake pops up?! Okay, that hasn’t really ever happened…just keep it real, my dudes.
- Do not use #books!!! This seems weird, I know, but Instagram has actually banned that hashtag. Using it makes your post invisible to non-follwers, so stay away!
- BE FRIENDLY! Y’all most of my time on bookstagram is spent in DMs (direct messages) catching up with my book friends! Get to know people in the community! It’s seriously amazing and you’re sure to find someone you click with. Like, comment, and follow bookish accounts and get to know them! Chances are, you’ll get a follow back! 🙂
- Group shout out for shouts. This basically means that you and other bookstagrammers team up and run a little game! You post in your feed/stories that if someone gives you a shout out on their story, you’ll do the same! It’s a great way to meet new people and gain new followers! I did one about a week ago with about five other amazing ladies and we all gained around 50 new followers!
- Giveaways. I’m not a huge fan of this, but you do you! Basically you run a giveaway and state that to enter, they must be following you. In doing this, you gain new followers! It’s great, but also kind of expensive You of course have to have something to giveaway and shipping can be a real pain in the neck. I usually do Amazon e-gift-cards so I don’t have to worry about shipping!
Rep search 101:
This is something you’ll see a lot on bookstagram. In the blogging world, you may receive review copy of books, but in the bookstagramming world, you see rep searches! Repping for a shop means that they send you their product and you promote those products. Usually, the shops are book-related, selling things like bookmarks, candles, prints, etc. I love repping for companies, but it is a commitment! You are usually required to post about those sent products around 4-6 times a month, so if you do enter one, make sure you can fulfill the requirements!
How to become a rep:
- Stay on the lookout for shops having a rep search. I frequently visit the hashtag #repsearch to see what’s up. Many bookish rep searches use this to get their rep search known, so its a good tool!
- Once you see one, enter! Create a collage of your photos and write a little about yourself in the caption! Fulfill any entry requirements the shop is looking for.
- After the designated amount of days, the shop will announce their reps!
Keep these points in mind:
- Companies want to make their shop known. If you only have 100 followers, they probably won’t chose you. Build yourself up before entering a rep search, so they know you’re reliable and can get their name out there!
- Even the most perfect bookstagrammers get told no. I’ve been certain that individual bookstagrammers would get chosen, but then they don’t. Companies are looking for particular people, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t seem to secure a rep position. It took me a good three months before I got chosen as a rep. All in due time, my friend! 🙂
For some inspiration, here are some of my favorite bookstagrammers! Kind people with some serious talent:
- Laura: @to.read.is.breathe
- Rojean: @duchess.page
- Brittany: @bookishlybrittknee
- Jen: @bookbookowl
Wow! You made it that far?! You must be devoted, darling! You totally can do this! Just have patience with yourself and remember it’s a process. I’m constantly telling myself that as I venture into the blogging world. It’s a process. You’ll get there! Oh and if you’re already a blogger, thinking about starting a bookstagram, let me tell you…bookstagram is way easier than blogging. I’m definitely learning that as I try to grow my blog. Bookstagram is on Instagram–a platform with millions of people already on it, so gaining traffic is a thousand times easier than blogging! Why not give it a try, you have nothing to lose! 🙂
If you have any questions, leave a comment below or message me! I’m here and happy to help! Also, if you’re a bookstagrammer, leave your username below! I’ll gladly give you a follow! 🙂
I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend. – Augustus Waters.