A fun thing I love to do is take photos of books instead of reading them.
Which makes complete sense and is absolutely not the reason my TBR is out of control and frequently waves small knives at me and sends me elegant death threats because of how much I neglect it.
I’M F I N E.
And there are honestly so many reasons to love being part of the book community on instagram! People are super encouraging and we usually celebrate the books we love instead of just salt and roast and burn (I swear blogging is 67% a cooking show) books we don’t like. Not that there’s anything wrong with ranting! But positivity is refreshing! Also, um, did we mention — ALL THE PHOTOS OF PRETTY BOOKS TO STARE AT FOR HOURS.
Ugh everyone’s so talented. My eyeballs are in love.
I’ve been on instagram since July 2014! Which is a long time and I feel old. I was also horrendous when I started, but somehow I’ve just passed the threshold of 43,000 followers and a lot of people ask me “WHY!” and “HOW!” and…I barely know what to tell you, mate. Dark magic??? Probably???
But in an attempt to actually share some useful advice, I’m going to spill how I passed 40,000 on instagram!
Also you should follow me. How’s that for some subtle hinting!
Here we have my very first photo, July 2014!
And it actually took me 93 years to scroll through my 2,300+ photos to even find this monster. AND LOOK AT WHAT IT IS.
It’s not even in focus.
All that needs to be said is: if I can rise from this mire — so can you.
My feed was basically this, where I tried to be “arty” with some angles.
But at least I slowly realised you can’t take a nice photo with an iPod touch gen 3.
Small miracles, go me, well done.
Also I know you can’t see my face but I STILL LOOK SO SMALL. AWWW!!! LITTLE BABY BLOGGER ME!!!
In 2015 my style matured to going outside and hoping the neighbours didn’t see me planting books in the flower garden.
I’m still proud of the colours in Fire & Flood though.
I was using my parents camera and actually it rained 363 days of the year when I lived here in Lismore. So I DON’T KNOW. WHO WANTS TO CRY IN THE MUD.
2016 saw me go INSIDE and thus I have remained for the rest of my life.
Also I was going for a minimalistic look? Sort of??? Like all the cool kids were doing black-and-white and such so here am I.
Also the Stiefvater obsession begun. It’s been 3 years now. I can’t be made to stop.
2017 is when I started to find MY style.
Lots of rainbows. Squash a ton into the frame. I mean why be minimalist when you can be moreamlist. (Ok that word sounded better in my head.)
I also edited everything quite dark?! Because I’M DARK INSIDE, MUM, IT’S NOT A STAGE, IT’S WHO I AM.
(The disappointing thing is, though, that I actually have the same likes here as I’m getting now in 2018…but I had half the followers. Why doth instagram hate us.)
And finally, hello @ 2018! Which is a lot lighter, way more colourful, and absolutely my favourite.
74% of my photos are just odes to Maggie Stiefvater or A Thousand Perfect Notes, like EVERY FEED SHOULD BE.
I’m just really happy with how I progressed?! I have my own camera, my bookshelf has grow’d up so strong, and I absolutely love taking photos. I usually spend all Sunday stockpiling for the week and it just is my !! favourite !! thing !!
My progress is obviously not going to be YOUR progression. My style isn’t your style. I’m about to launch into some tips that should help most accounts, but you have to remember to:
a) take the style of photos YOU ENJOY
b) if you do engage in dark magic, hydrate !! this is important !! water is good !!
c) it’s okay to experiment
d) half the time I have no idea what I’m doing but I just hope for the best ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Seriously this is the #1 thing that I’ve found helps you grow, no matter if it’s your blog or twitter or IG. Be there. Don’t post a ton and then disappear for a few months. You can still take breaks! But I’ve been posting twice a day (nearly anyway) since 2014 and it works!
OUTWIT THE ALGORITHM…(HAHAH SOBBING)
I mean, it constantly changes so who knows if these tips will remain helpful?! But currently I’m finding these help:
- don’t use outside apps that schedule your posts (apparently IG treats you as a bot if you do)
- also don’t post at exactly the same time every day (but near-abouts is ok)
- using less hashtags seems to work better for me?! you can use up to 30, but I find using less than 10 gets me more likes
- NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE UGH
- posting frequently on Stories does help (!!) although I get over double the views on my stories that I get on my posts ugh
- joining in Challenges is a super fun way to connect to others / have ideas of what to post about (here’s an account that posts challenges per month that are running!)
- funny or interesting captions DO make people engage
- (but shorter captions over mega long ones)
- more books in the photo = more chances someone will see a book they recognise = they’ll like it
- also popular books do get more likes (I often pair popular vs underrated books together to sneak around this)
- SHELFIES ALWAYS WIN OUR HEARTS
BUT SERIOUSLY THE ALGORITHM SUCKS
It’s unknowable. Sometimes my photos totally flop. And I do only get like 5% engagement. THAT ISN’T MUCH. But I’m stabbing in the dark to find what works. I like stabbing. It can be therapeutic.
PUT OUT CONTENT THAT GIVES TO OTHERS
People are little gremlins and they want things. So I give. I write things that are funny or I write things that are helpful. I make my pictures bright and my style isn’t super typical so I do stand out! But if you give to your audience, they tend to come back.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY
I prefer to spend my (small) spending budget on books. So I either make my props, use other books as props, or use cheap flowers from eBay or thrift stores! I seriously got a TON of my flowers for free from a garage sale once!! (Also, slightly off-topic, but I actually hate how people assume I’m super rich?! Peoplessssss…I probably spend $40 a year on books. I get given books from publishers or I use book vouchers that I get paid in for freelance blogging. Library sales. Thrift / op shops. You don’t HAVE TO BE RICH TO HAVE A BOOKSTAGRAM.)
You can even use food!! If you don’t eat it before taking the photo!! I swear this is harder than it sounds!!
COMMENT / LIKE / INTERACT
Although, full confession…I often don’t do these as much as I should (I need more tiiime in my day) so I don’t know if they actually help boost your likes or not. But they do get you friends. Those are nice. Collect a whole set.
RECOGNISABLE BOOKS ARE GOING TO GET MORE LIKES
This isn’t always fair, but…it kinda is what it is. So if you avidly avoid ALL popular / hyped books, it might backfire for your likes.
THEMES ARE KINDA EVERYTHING
Look!! I definitely don’t want to say “yOU HAVE TO HAVE A THEME” but I’m 89% sure it helps a lot. My account only really took off after I started with a consistent theme. But you can have a relaxed or broad theme! Also anything works. Rainbows, minimalism, a certain colour scheme. Figure out what you have around and just work with it. Some different styles of themes (that I adore) are @cosyreads, @eden.hammond, @thereaderandthechef, @bookish_mai!
DARK MAGIC THO
Or sacrifice some souls. Doesn’t have to be yours! Are your neighbours annoying??? Siblings??? Have at ’em. The trees may hear your pleas before the actual structure of Instagram does. We can have a go anyway. Singing/weeping…all worth trying. Because sometimes I do EVERYTHING and I still end up wailing to my friend how hard it is to get likes.