#NewBloggers 101, Book blogging, Discussion

[#NewBloggers 101] General Intro To Bookstagram Sophie @ Beware of the Reader Gives You A General Understanding

Welcome to Post 9 of the #NewBloggers 101 post series! In the last post, we talked about how to score cheap Bookstagram props and that not everything comes down to money. This time – I know, I know! This should have come before! But juggling guest posts is not easy!

ball skills GIF

Anyway, so that we’ll be talking about is Bookstagram in general. For those of you who haven’t started yet, this is just a general post about what to expect and how to start. There will be more info about bookish social media in general as these weeks pass, so this is just one of the posts! But this time, we should thank Sophie @ Beware of the Reader! Thank you for chipping in, Sophie. And for everyone of you who are new to the #NewBloggers 101 posts, here is the full list of the topics we have covered:

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So welcome Sophie, everyone!

First of all what are bookstagrams and why make them?

Bookstagrams are pictures of your books or array of bookish features (like cups with book quotes, book prop or bookmarks) posted on Instagram with some text and hashtag. Why make them? Because Instagram is another really engaging social media to connect with other book lovers. I know some bookstagrammers who don’t have a blog and yet have more than 4 000 followers talking books with them on Instagram.

Bookstagrams can be really simple – just some plain pictures of your favorite book or current read – or you can make them as artistic as you’d like if you feel like it. Personally, Instagram has been a wonderful discovery. I used to paint and draw, but did not have time anymore. Taking pictures of my books, setting the prop, coordinating the colors etc. was a fantastic outlet for my creativity!

How to start?

First – if you don’t already have an Instagram account – create one, of course. Similar to a blog, give a short bio about you, who you are, what you like to read, link to your blog, anything really to help people get to know you. If you want people to follow you have to be close to them. Be short and give enough, but not too much as people don’t read long introductions anymore. Instagram allows you a maximum of 150 characters for your bio.

Taking and posting your first picture can seem daunting for some. How to begin with it? I would say fake it till you make it.</p
till it happens to you GIF

It can seem challenging if you are not a photographer or an artist to take a picture of a book that looks good. It’s trickier than it seems and Pam’s post will guide you through prop and where to get it but if you already want to start I would say just find some bookstagrams that you like and seem pretty easy to imitate and begin with it.

What is important?

Instagram is based on pictures and hashtags. It’s really important to remember this. First come the pictures.

It can be of your book cover in a pretty setting with props, it can be of a pile of your favorite books, it can be… anything that you’d like to chat about. Instagram has different filters that can help you set the mood of your picture. Keep in mind that once you publish your picture on Instagram you can’t change its order in your feed. You can only delete it (archive) or edit the text but not move it. It’s important to remember this if you want to create a “story” with your feed. Some alternate a book quote with a picture. Others build a picture with several posts. Others… well, you know. The good news is that you can plan your feed with some useful tools but I guess it will come in another post as it’s already “advanced” lessons.

Hashtags

Hashtags are key on Instagram – don’t hesitate to use them. A minimum of 10 hashtags is appropriate when you publish a picture. Instagram won’t allow more than 30 hashtags per post anyway. You have to see the hashtag as keywords people use in their search on IG. With millions of pictures published every day. if a book lover wants to find something book related and wants to explore IG, they will rely on hashtags. Here are some of the ones I use (the first batch nearly every time and the other if it fits my picture and topic):

#book #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #bookstagramit #bookpics #bookphotography #photography #photo #photooftheday #art #instabook #reviewer #blogger #bookstagramfeature #bookishfeatures #bookart #bookblogger #booknerd #booknerdigans #bookworm #bookaholic #bookaddict #booklover #bookporn #ilovereading #bookaddiction #ireadeverywhere #indie #indieauthor #YAfantasy #YAlit #ya #weekend #newrelease #TBR

Captions

Now that you have your picture and your hashtags, you have to type your text. What is your goal? What do you want as reaction from your followers? If you want to write a review, then write a short one, as the word count is limited. Not as much as Twitter, but you have maximum 2200 characters per post. Even if you write a review, try to engage your reader. Ask them questions, such as: have you read this book? Do you plan to read it? etc. – Exactly like you would do on your blog.

If you want to chat just post few sentences with questions like: do you have a long TBR? (illustrate with a pile of books) Or do you review all your ARCs? Or what are your plans for the weekend (and you tell them yours) etc. In a discussion, post your question either early on at the end of your post.
You can also have tags and memes on Instagram or BINGO (one topic per day – like on Monday read a book with a blue cover, Tuesday read a book by a new author etc.) Everything is possible really. I would advice to alternate between reviews (if you want) and personal/discussion posts.

How to get followers?

The key is the same as in blogging: follow others and comment! This is the best way to gain followers: be active on Instagram. Post regularly – at least 2 to 3 times per week. If you don’t post, people will forget you. That’s basic social media marketing: make noise, tell others that you exist. Post quite often, ask questions to have people react to your posts and comment, comment, comment on other posts.

One could think that on Instagram, being built on pictures, the aesthetic of the picture would be more important than the social activity but really, this is no different from other social media. I’ve seen accounts with thousands of followers with “plain” pictures but the bookstagrammer was very active.

You can also tag people in your bookstagram to have them look at your bookstagram but I would recommend to tag wisely.

Some useful tricks

As I said above, you can’t move a picture once it’s published on your feed. But you can plan your feed ahead or simply schedule your posts. Instagram won’t allow other tools or apps to publish in your stead and there will always be a manual intervention, but you can use some tools to write your text, upload your photo and schedule your post at a convenient time for you (at which point you will receive a reminder to post it.) If you don’t have time during the week to type long text but would like to post something, these tools are useful. I use Later.com – It allows me to schedule my posts on Instagram and at the set date and time I get a warning on my phone. All that I have to do is allow to post it on Instagram and voila.

Remember that posting bookstagrams is a learning curve, like everything else while blogging. Visit other accounts, observe, learn and reproduce, but always within your own “style”. Like anything else in blogging, stay true to yourself, be personal and enjoy what you’re doing!

Thank you to Sophie for giving us a quick rundown of Bookstagram and how to get started! I hope this post has been useful to you. What tips would you give beginner bookstagrammers, if you are already experienced?

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

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Sophie Eloy
Guest

Thank you Evelina for allowing me to help in some capacity! I hope it will be useful for others 😉

oddandbookish
Guest

Definitely interacting with other bookstagrammers! That really is the key to building a following.

Jenn @ Bound to Writing
Guest

Wonderful post! Bookstagram is hard to get a handle on, so it’s great to have this post as a reference!

Tori @ InToriLex
Guest

Awesome Tips!! I struggle with Instagram because I feel like my pictures aren’t artistic enough, but I need to engage with other more to gain more followers

Kristina
Guest

I still haven’t quite decided if I wanted to make one or not .. xD but eeeeh, if so, hey! that’s some neat starting tips you got there !

also .. im not ~reaaally~ active on insta (to be fair, used to be twitter too..) I only check my feed, some stories.. and im gone for like, half of the day ..

Lashaan Balasingam
Guest

I always thought Instagram was its own thing compared to a blog. It felt nearly impossible to be super active on it, while doing everything you do on your blog and other platforms (Twitter and all). Nice guide though. Bookstagramming DEMANDS dedication and… LOADS of time!

Sophie @ Blame Chocolate
Guest

Love this post, girls! Keep up with the series, it’s super nice and informative and I’m sure very helpful for a great number of people (me included) 🙂
It’s always cool to see everyone else’s experience and as someone who doesn’t use Instagram all that much, this was a very enjoyable post to read. I’m always keen on improving my bookstagram game (even though I’m lazy AF!)
Great job, Sophie <3

Sophie Eloy
Guest

Thank you Sophie! I’m happy if it can help you 😉

Cam
Guest

Helpful post! One tip I would suggest is to support smaller bookstagrams. Forming a community with them is much more helpful and fun because you get to interact.

Sophie Eloy
Guest

You are totally right Cam! James Trevino formed a community this week at @mybookfeatures as he wants to help others get more like. You could always join 😉

Brian Joseph
Guest

Another interesting and informative post. Bookstagram sounds like it can be such a great vehicle for bookish creativity. The only thing that is holding me back is the time it would take to delve into it.

Aj @ Read All The Things!
Guest

I’m so bad at bookstagram. I started last December and still don’t know what I’m doing, so this post is helpful. Thanks for letting us know which hashtags you use. I was never sure which ones to pick.

Sophie Eloy
Guest

Confessions: I googled the most useful hashtags for bookstagrammers 😉 I also looked what others used and seem to work.

Jennifer | Book Den
Guest

I avoided bookstagram for so long because I thought you had to spend money on props and spend hours setting up pretty photoshoots. I was wrong. All I do is prop my books on my bookshelf or put them down on my wood table and snap a pic. I’m not aiming for a viral following so take it how you will, but I’m having bookish conversations every time I post a pic and that’s all I’m after. I should have joined a long time ago. 🙂

Sophie Eloy
Guest

You are right jennifer! Some look for really artistic accounts to follow but the majority just want to see what you are reading and talk bookish features.

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[…] [#NewBloggers 101] General Intro To Bookstagram […]

Daniela Ark
Guest

I used to love Bookstagram but the new algorithm is driving me crazy, I never get to see my favorite accounts anymore I have to go digging for them! So I’ve been taking a break from IG hopefully temporary Great post!

Andreea
Guest

Another great post in this series! Bookstagram is not really my thing, mainly because I use my Instagram account as a personal photo journal, but books make an appearance too. Anyway, this blog has lots of tips and tricks in case for people who are interested in bookstagram, although the insta algorithm is ruining the fun when I don’t see the pictures of my favourite bookstagramers.

Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages
Guest

Nice post! It will really help the people who are new to bookstagram. Instagram is my favourite social media and I love to spend time there, though my interactions is quite less these days because of my busy schedule.
I love to see all the beautiful accounts out there. I must admit that I love to see an organized feed.
Insta new algorithm is really killing all the fun though, but now there is news that they are correcting it. let’s hope for the best 🙂

Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra
Guest

What a great post. I’m not a new blogger but I haven’t tried bookstagram yet, although I have been thinking about it. This will be a great resource for me so I’m definitely bookmarking it. 🙂

Olivia-Savannah Roach
Guest

I spend a lot of time of bookstagram! I love taking photos and flatlays, and it doubles up for me because I then use the photos I share on my instagram in my blog posts too. So then I can be using my own images! All of these tips and tricks are very useful. I agree with fake it till you make it entirely. I would still say I am doing that xD And commenting and captions are very important over there too.

Di @ Book Reviews by Di
Guest

What an excellent guide! As a new bookstagrammer I found this incredibly helpful! Plus a new account to follow!!! Thanks to both of you!!!

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
Guest

I’m pretty miserable at taking good Instagram pictures, and I’ve sort of given up. BUT maybe a few simple steps could help some without me driving myself crazy. Thanks for the advice!

Jen
Guest

Such a fabulous post! We just started our bookstagram in January of this year even though we’ve been blogging since 2014. We’re a little late to the game lol. So thank you for all of the advice, it’s been a lot of help! 🙂

Karla Strand
Guest

This is a great post. One thing I have found is to not overpost either, just as you shouldn’t underpost. I think the guide of 2-3 times a week is good, perhaps once a day but I have unfollowed many accounts because they post over and over again throughout the day. This is a media where sometimes less is more! That being said, my insta is still focused on travel as my previous blog was, so I am still navigating how I might start adding books into it more. Always more work to do! Thanks for this post!