How to Get Started on Bookstagram
Okay, maybe you’re wondering What is Bookstagram? so I’ll start with the basics!
Bookstagram is a community of book lovers on Instagram. If you read a lot and/or post about books you’ve probably seen the term before. If you’ve thought about creating an Instagram account for your bookish posts, I say go for it.
If you already use Instagram and don’t want to dedicate your personal account to solely book related posts, it’s super easy to add another account. I have three Instagram accounts, a personal one, my book blogger one, and a third for my side hustle of re-selling vintage toys. It’s easy to go back and forth between accounts, and/or to connect them to existing Facebook and Twitter accounts for quick cross posting.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a bookstagram account, my biggest piece of advice goes for this and many other ventures in life:
Don’t second-guess yourself, just start!
You don’t have to be a book blogger, work in publishing, or any other “professional” book related field. All you have to do is love books and know the basics.
So here are my tips for getting started.
How to Get Started on Bookstagram
Choose your account name. Yes, I know this is hard. All your ideas might be taken. Be creative and explore all options of your ideal account name. Then pick one and stick with it. Once you have followers, you won’t want to change it unless you do a total rebranding.
I decided to use my actual name instead of my blog name for clarity, and to get my name out there. You can do something similar or choose a book related name.
*Side note: When you start a new account you’ll need to choose if it’s a Business Account or Personal one. That’s totally up to you. If you’re joining Bookstagram strictly for fun, stick with personal. If you want to track your stats and possibly “profit” from your account, go with Business.
Choose your style. I’m using the S word loosely here. This is something I’m still working to figure out for myself. Peruse established accounts, or do some Google searching for advice on sticking with themes or specific esthetics. Some people use the same color scheme or props all the time.
I strive to produce posts that are authentic to my personality and my “brand.” I include my pets in photos often, as well as flowers/plants. I have a few backgrounds I reuse including my coffee table, my brick walkway, and my book cart. As an avid thrifter, I’m always on the look out for small, cheap, cute props. Fun coffee mugs are good, as well as fake plants, I even found a small tin mailbox recently for 99 cents that I’ve used a few times already to pose with books I get in the mail.
Use good photos and edit them. The right lighting is crucial. No one wants to click on dark or blurry photos. Rarely do I take a photo that comes out as I imagine on the first try or that I post as is. I like the TouchRetouch app for removing unwanted items from a picture, like a dead spot in the lawn or a light switch on the wall, or my dog’s leash.
Include yourself. This is another tough one. Initially I thought people are here to see books, not me. I quickly learned that including myself from time to time makes a difference in connecting with others. Sometimes I have my husband take a staged of me, but most of the time I’ll snap a selfie with what I’m reading when I feel inspired.
Write your captions. Don’t go straight to the hashtags! Tell us a little about why you’re reading this book. We want your thoughts on what you’re showing us (but keep it fairly short.) Ask a question at the end for more engagement. Include emojis that relate to your caption/photo to break up your text and give it some tone. Most of all, be honest. Don’t say you loved a book if you didn’t, even if that’s an unpopular opinion. Find your voice that’s genuinely you and stick with it.
Use hashtags. This is what is going to get your post spotted by others. You can do endless research online about which hashtags are “best” to use. I have no idea how relevant all that is. Trial and error has worked best for me to figure out what gets me seen. I have a couple I repeat in every post (#whileiwasreading #bookblogger #bookreviewer) and the rest I use based on my photo. It takes extra time, but I like customizing my hashtags to each post to reach a wider range of viewers. If a post has my dog in it, I’ll use #bostonterrier #dogmom #booksanddogs and I’m not going to use that on every post.
Engage with others. I’ve found this to be the biggest “time suck” part of bookstagram, but it makes sense. If I want people engaging with my content, then I need to give that to others. Follow likeminded accounts. Respond to all your comments and Direct Messages. Search for and join challenges hosted by other bookstagrammers. I’m doing one right now called #BethsBookClubChallenge hosted by @BethsBookClub_ Each day there is a prompt and I post a bookish photo that fits. It’s nice for inspiration and connecting with a new group of bookstagrammers.
Have fun. This should be enjoyable, not a chore. I need reminded of that some days! Don’t burn yourself out or drive yourself crazy with comparisons. Do your own thing and be your genuine self. That’s easier said than done, I realize. But when you can participate in social media in a healthy way, it can enrich your life and allow you to share yourself with others who appreciate it.
So what do you think? Will you start a Bookstagram account now?
If you already have one, do you think I covered the basics? What would you add?
Now find me on Instagram @RamonaMeadBlogger
*All screenshots in this post were used with permission from the poster.