Hello everyone! As some of you may know, I’m fairly active on bookstagram over at universewithinpages, and now that there are so many new accounts getting started (with everyone home from COVID), I thought it would be nice to share some tips! I think I might have done this post 1-2 years ago, so I wanted to make a new one detailing my more experienced advice.
For those of you who aren’t aware of bookstagram, it’s basically a community of book-lovers (like you reading this!) who post about books, merchandise, e-books, audiobooks, and more over on Instagram! It’s a super sweet, welcoming community, and I would greatly advise any of you to join if you aren’t already on there.
So…let’s jump right into it!
This is the absolute #1 tip I give to anyone who’s on bookstagram, whether you’ve had your account for a few hours, or even a few years. Engagement is incredibly important to thrive on this platform. This can mean a ton of different things, but some of the most important ones are:
I. Liking/Commenting other people’s posts
This is a great way to engage on other people’s posts! It makes you seem super friendly, and some bookstagrammers will return the favor and like/comment on YOUR posts in return! And while you’re at it, try to comment relevant things that your fellow bookstagrammers have mentioned in the photo description. Answering a question or responding to a event/fact that the person has mentioned sounds a LOT more personal and engaging than a simple “great post!” I spend hours each day doing this to people I follow and new accounts I encounter, and I feel like this has definitely contributed to some of my successes. I’m also not saying that you can’t have fun with this either! I absolutely love talking to people on this platform and seeing what they have to say. This should be a way for you to meet new people and bond over your love for books, rather than a drab chore.
General commenting responses:
- “I really loved ___ and I’m so glad you did too! *potential elaboration on what you liked about it or response to what the post said*”
- “*answer the question of the day*”
- “This book looks so good! I need to add it to my TBR”
Please refrain from advertising your Instagram account in other people’s comments! A lot of people can find it annoying, and it’s not as authentic.
Engagement groups totally work to make this easier for you, and it’s a great way to get attention to your posts in a more reciprocal way. I know that there has been some backlash due to people thinking that this is a way of “cheating the system,” but it seriously isn’t. Everyone in these groups has spent hours developing their photos, and it is a totally valid way of increasing your reach and getting more people to see your photos. I myself am part of an engagement group I really love, and I’ve found it to be an amazing way to find new bookstagrammers!
II. Following Others
I feel like following is a lot more secondary to liking and commenting, and I would recommend not over-doing it. You should follow accounts on bookstagram you truly love, and would like to interact more with! I engage daily with a majority of the accounts I follow (which you obviously don’t have to do, it can be a lot!), and it’s a great way to form longer-lasting bonds with the bookstagrammers in question. This shouldn’t be used as a “follower for follower or gaining technique,” but rather a mechanism that can help you continuously engage with these people and become more aware of their posts.
III. Instagram Stories
This is a more “rare” form of engaging, but it’s still just as valid! This includes everything that has to do with your Instagram story such as sharing other people’s posts, tagging them in activities such as “follow friday,” or even just participating in story games. While I would once again recommend liking/commenting over this one, it’s still a great way to engage! There are tons of bookstagrammers who share posts they love with compliments attached to them, and it totally warms my heart whenever a photo of mine is featured! This is just another way to add a personal touch and compliment someone you absolutely love.
You can also respond to Instagram stories that other people put out, but try to put relevant thoughts as a response! I’ve found it to be a great way to talk to more people. Who knows, you might just find your newest booksta-bestie!
2. Take Good Photos
Okay, so obviously taking good photos is going to lead to your account getting traction. But, what makes a good photo? What theme should I go with? What layouts should I do? These are ALL questions I had when I first started bookstagram, and it’s totally normal to have them. There are so many different perceptions of what “good” really means, but I’m going to dissect a few common elements that most popular accounts seem to have.
I. Have a consistent theme and edit your photos!
Having a consistent theme is SO important in bookstagram. Of course, there are outliers that do just as well without one, but good themes make for good accounts! It makes your account look a whole lot more cohesive, organized, and aesthetic. It can even help brand your account! It really doesn’t matter what your theme is (colorful, warm, cold, bright, dark, etc.) as long as you have one.
An incredible way of making sure you have a consistent theme is by editing your photos. Don’t underestimate the power of a good preset! Good lighting and color edits can turn your good photo into an amazing one. Here’s an example of one of my own photos before and after:
You can tell that the edit makes the photo a lot clearer, brighter, and warmer, fitting my theme nicely.
Original photo taken on iPhone 8
Edited photo after Lightroom/iPhone photo editing
Speaking of photo-editing apps, I would highly recommend using Photoshop Lightroom if you don’t already. It is one of the most popular apps that people use to edit their photos, and it’s extremely user friendly/easy to use (once you get the hang of it of course)! A few other popular ones are Vsco, Picsart, and Snapseed. Many users even edit their photos multiple times, using many of these apps, in order to get the result they want. I won’t go into detail onto these apps specifically (as it would be an INCREDIBLY long tangent) but please do let me know if you’d like to read a blog-post on that!
Finding a good theme for your photos takes a lot of trial and error, and don’t expect to find the perfect one immediately! I do a ton of experimentation while I’m editing my photos, and it’s taken a long time to get to the theme I have today. And remember that you aren’t locked with your theme for life! You can always change it up if you’re in the mood for something different!
II. Take high quality photos-but don’t run out and buy that $1000 camera you’ve been eyeing!
Taking good, high-quality photos is incredibly important, but that doesn’t mean you need a professional camera! I personally use my iPhone 8 for taking photos, and it’s been going great! As long as the photos you take aren’t grainy in any way, it is good enough to start. Of course, a professional camera would make your photos even better, but it is absolutely not a necessity for your average bookstagrammer.
III. Use natural lighting or a lightbox!
If your bookstagram theme calls for any lighting at all, I would highly recommend using natural lighting! Using your average lamp lighting in your living space will not produce the same clean effects as natural lighting will. The best times of the day will obviously vary, so it might take some trial and error! I personally take my photos between the hours of 9am-4pm in the summer time, but this time frame definitely narrows in the darker months like December, January, and February.
If your living space does not have any lighting, I would recommend using a lightbox. This is obviously a monetary commitment, but I know a ton of other bookstagrammers who use it, and it seems fairly helpful. It helps create “soft light” in a particular space that mimics the feel of real, natural lighting. There are a ton of them on sites like Amazon that you can purchase. Please note that I do not use a lightbox though! I’m simply going off of other peoples’ experiences on this.
IV. Use Props!
Bookstagram props truly help fill spaces that books cannot! It makes your photos seem more elaborate and put-together. But the thing is-literally anything can be used as a prop! These can include any bookish merch (candles, mugs, pins, etc.), blankets, sweaters, folded books, string, flowers, glasses, or anything you can imagine. You don’t have to go out and buy anything, and most of the times, you can construct a perfectly good photo from the things you have in your house. However, for all of you who want more ideas, here are some common props that you may need to go out and buy:
- Crowns – Look up “medieval crowns” on Amazon and a ton will show up! These are fairly popular props, and even though I don’t use them, I agree that they look stunning!
- Swords – Look up “sword” on Amazon and a ton will show up! There are some real, expensive swords that show up, but there are just as many cheaper props if you sift through.
- Artificial Flowers – Look up “artificial flower” on Michaels and there are literally hundreds that pop up! Obviously, there are going to be many other places you can find these, but this is my go-to store. There are almost always coupons to use to save money, so please check beforehand! I almost never pay full-price here because they have so many discounts.
- Wooden Crates – Look up “wooden crate” on Michaels! These are a great way to frame your books or add another element to your photo.
- Wooden Circle – Look up “country round” on Michaels (weird name, I know)! I use this all the time and it helps add an additional layer and additional depth to my photos.
Of course, there are a ton more, but these are just some of my favorites! Since I have a more warm, rustic theme, I’ll also sometimes look up “rustic” onto Michaels or Etsy for even more prop ideas.
V. Layouts don’t matter that much!
There are so many different types of layouts for bookstagram that you can take (shelfies, flatlays, angled shots, stacks), but it seriously doesn’t matter that much. There are so many successful people who focus on just one of those layouts and others that mix things up. Just do whatever you want to do, and whatever you feel comfortable doing. I personally try to vary things up because it’s more fun for me to try different things out!
And I think that’s going to conclude this post! I honestly can’t believe I even wrote this much, and there’s still more stuff about bookstagram I want to talk about. I’m thinking of doing a part 2 but let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in. You can even subscribe on the right-hand bar (on the very bottom of the page for all you mobile users) over here in order to get updates for my future posts (and to be alerted when there is a part 2)! I want to create content that YOU will enjoy as the reader! And as always, feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below!
Thanks for reading along, and happy bookstagramming!