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How I Got Started on Bookstagram

How I Got Started on Bookstagram

Recently, I’ve had a few people reach out to me to ask how I created an established Bookstagram. One of my favorite things to do (other than to read) is to try and share the best practices that I’ve accumulated throughout these past 3 or so years with newer bookstagrammers, so I thought I’d start out by sharing my story.

What made me start a bookstagram?

Honestly, I have NO idea. I wish I could remember how I first got introduced to the platform, but however it happened I am so happy it did. I started my blog and my Instagram at the same time in April 2016. I had just finished my doctorate and wanted to keep up my writing. They say write what you know and since I’d been keeping track of my reading since 2010, it seemed like a good fit.

I also want to write a book one day and came across Cait’s post about Why You Should Start a Book Blog. The part about building an army of readers for your not-yet-written-or-really-even-conceptuaized-book-yet really spoke to me. Brilliant! (And kudos to Cait for now being the author of TWO book babies, A Thousand Perfect Notes and The Boy Who Steals Houses).

What did I post?

In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing. I found some accounts that I liked, followed them, and tried doing what they did. I didn’t have a huge book collection yet, so I posted the books that I already owned mixed in with some library books. (I still post library books today— highly recommend.)

Some of my first follows:

L to R: @andieswanderings, @novelheartbeat, @newleafwriter, @lifeinlit

My photography started out rough. Exhibit A: This sad little TBR stack. (I’ve still only read two of these).

First IG Photo | TBR etc.

I then thought I needed a bunch of props in order for my feed to be pretty and interesting. There are some accounts that do this VERY well, but I eventually, after lots of trial and error, found that props are not for me. See also: not talented enough to make them work.

Bookstagrammers that use props well:

L to R: @paperfury, @foldedpagesdistillery, @eviebookish, @candaceclark22

After a lot of trial and error, I figured out what works for me. The key was sticking with it until I found an aesthetic I could sustain. And eventually figuring out lighting, better angles, and how to lightly edit. I like more “lifestyle” styled photos that show books in the moment, and I try to do this when I can.

Bookstagrammers that do this very well:

L to R: @thespines, @natashaniezgoda, @deebibliophilia, @bookpairings

At one point, I did give up.

I probably had less than 1000 followers and found myself getting frustrated that no one was seeing my posts. I think I got busy with work and was posting sporadically, so since I couldn’t be “perfect”, I stopped posting. I figured if I couldn’t do it right it wasn’t worth doing.

Then I started to miss it. I had just finished The Underground Railroad and had to share my thoughts with someone, so gradually I began to post again. Ever since then (January 21st, 2017), I’ve posted once a day, every day, and haven’t stopped. That’s my biggest tip to anyone interested in bookstagramming- stay consistent! And don’t strive for perfection, just post what you can and what you love.

My growth on Instagram was slow and steady- until it wasn’t. It took me until September 2018 to reach 10K. There are some accounts that get there in months and some that don’t ever get there. The 10K number is so exciting, especially if you’re also a blogger, because it means you get the “swipe up” function in Instagram Stories. This means you can directly link your posts to Instagram. I will say- I don’t know if it’s gotten me a ton more traffic here, but it definitely didn’t hurt.

Then in December 2018, on New Years Eve, Taylor at The Daily Tay shared my 5 star reads of 2018 post. You want to talk about influencing… I literally gained a couple thousand new followers that day. (I guess we both have a lot of reach to people who aren’t big on New Years’ ;)) I highly recommend checking out her blog and Instagram if you like comedy, rooftops, dogs, and t-shirts.

All in all, it’s been fun. I’m proud that I’ve managed to stay consistent with it and that I’ve gotten 24K followers to date. (What???) I still want to grow- not because I think I need more, but because I want to make the best content I can and most of all- to keep talking books with people who love to read.

So- if you’ve been thinking about starting an Instagram page dedicated to books, just start. Start anywhere- take pictures of your own books, library, whatever you've been reading. I promise it’s a good community that is always welcoming to new readers.

And if you ever find yourself getting frustrated… remember my 18 things to let go of if you want to stay happy on Bookstagram :)

What made you start?

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