What I Have Learned So Far on Bookstagram; Pt. 1: Consistency

Posted June 12, 2020 by Amber in Bookish Things / 12 Comments

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My journey with Bookstagram has been an interesting one.

Most people, I feel, dig in and bring their followers from other platforms, join all sorts of rep searches and giveaways, and quickly sink into the community.  This tale is a little different, one of a lone voyager because I am most comfortable in my my skin when it’s just me, the ocean, and the sand.

Nevertheless!

I have passed 1000 followers and while it has been a slow journey, that’s also the speed at which I have chosen to take it, and I now feel qualified to talk about this salty sea voyage!

In order to keep the posts more concise than most my posts (haha) I am going to break this up into a series of five topics:

  • Consistency
  • Engagement Groups
  • Tags
  • Hashtags
  • Participation

So for today, I want to talk a little bit about consistency.

There are two sides to being consistent on Instagram, and they’re both important.  The first is that… hiatuses hurt.  This is true across any platform.  I thoroughly support anyone who wants to take a social media hiatus.  I think it’s one of the best things you can do for your mental health.

BUT.

Just know that the algorithm on Instagram hates you, and if you go ghost for a while… your posts are going to appear less frequently when you come back and you’re going to have to work extra hard to be back in the forefront.

I took my first instagram hiatus in March 2017.  Here’s what my feed looked at when I disappeared:

Okay, so needless to say, who would follow that and why.  I was just starting to get back into blogging in 2016/2017 and felt pressured to be present on more social media, but it became quickly apparent I had no idea what I was doing.  I gracefully stepped back to get my bookish life together, and came back in September 2018.

That hiatus didn’t hurt much, because I vaguely recall having… maybe… 16 followers.  It was fine.

But into 2018, I had started posting bookish content on my personal instagram and… it was doing alright, actually?  Like, I had a whole system, and had decided to paint a couple canvases so I had an inexpensive background.  It was Instagram + Art Project.  But I didn’t want to bug my IRL friends with so many books and so decided to split off that part of my feed and revive @theliteraryphoenix.

What I came back with was much nicer.

I’ve been on Bookstagram more or less consistency since that resurgence in autumn 2018.  My style has changed a bit as I’ve explored and found a rhythm to things and how I wanted them to work out for me.  I learned that my bright purple background made my posts stand out, and I really liked that for a while.  It was nice to have an aesthetic.

However, it was that bright purple background that nearly made me stop posting again in summer 2019.  The reason?  I hate bookstagram cleanup.  I have so much respect and love for those who create these beautiful, intricate shots with books and props all over the place.  I can’t imagine how much work it must be to set up and take down.  For me, this is a hobby and a way of boosting my numbers over at NetGalley for more approvals, and I just… yeah.  I need the photo sessions to take less than an hour, please.

So I faltered.  My feed started to look like this as I tried to minimize staging and use colorful filters to tie in my feed.  I was posting once a month instead of every other day.  Having a picture occasionally was better than no picture, right?

As it turns out, not necessarily true, and this is where the other half of consistency comes in.  These pictures, while bright and colorful, had no real theme to them, and that seemed to hurt my engagement.  Even though I performed the same linking/commenting ritual after posting that I always had.  I ignored the stats for a while and stuck with it, because we were in the process of buying a house and I had a lot of other things on my mind other than book pictures, thanks so much.

Earlier this year, I decided, I either needed to do this right, or not do it at all.

I made myself a schedule:  three posts a week.  I know more posts = more engagement, but I’d tried daily posts before and burnt out.  So I post on Tuesdays with a book feature, Fridays for #FunkoFriday, and Sundays for #ShelfieSunday.

In addition, I took Kat’s advice @ Novels and Waffles (love Kat, do check her out) and decided to build a theme for my Bookstagram.  Not just the purple canvas and lying on the floor and three hours of random props and pickup.  But consistency in the same backgrounds and props, while still keeping it to my flair and style.

Here’s what I came up with:

My bookshelves are in our dining room, so my flat lay background?  That’s our dining room table.  I liked the canvas and still have it, but not having that extra level of cleanup AND having a larger space has been amazing.

You’ll see leaves and purple and white flowers in my posts, and while they’re a little tacky IRL, I keep those in glass vases on my table all the time.  Easy clean up!  You also see my TBR stack, my “To Put Away” stack, and “To Donate” stack consistently because they live on the table.  Occasionally, you’ll see keys and raw amethysts as props, which I keep in a recycled glass candle jar on the table as well for easy access and sprucing of pictures, keeping with a rustic looks but also, purple!

Can you tell we never eat at this table?  Just special occasions.

Since I changed up my posting schedule to something consistent and started using a rotating set of props rather than “lets see what I have in book boxes?” my engagement has be so much better.  There are other factors at play here as well, but it’s undeniable how much consistency has helped my feed.

Next week, I’m going to be talking about ENGAGEMENT GROUPS which is something NOBODY EVER told me about Bookstagram?  I must have just missed out.  Anyway – stay tuned!

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Do you keep a bookstagram?  Do you stage your photos or take them as you’re inspired?  And do you have a specific set of props you use for your photography?  Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to drop me your bookstagram link!

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12 responses to “What I Have Learned So Far on Bookstagram; Pt. 1: Consistency

    • Amber

      I hear you – Instagram is a LOT of work. I’m a very low-key bookstagrammer, with a small (comparative) following. There are people who put in SO MUCH time and effort in staging photos as well as engagement. I think everyone will approach it differently depending on what they are hoping to get out of the platform. I completely understand if you’re disinterested in the series, but regardless I do wish you all the best on your various platforms! <3

  1. On my account (@/pawed_pages) I really just like to make photos that make me happy. I do mine more for my own enjoyment of books and love of connecting with others. I normally like to participate in monthly challenges so I’ll pick like 15-17 out of the days for the month and plan them out ahead of time. Then I take a day off from work and spend the whole day taking photos. I then edit the photos on the day that I post it.

    I’ve never really checked my stats (I haven’t moved to a business page and am still like a personal account) and have just recently passed 200 followers and I honestly am so happy I never thought I’d even get that many..

    As for my props, I like to use things in my house, but also I like having some set props for different seasons and just random items. I have a whole box in my room of my favorite props and another filled with different string and marquee lights that I like to use in my photos. Clearance sales and the dollar tree help me find more props all the time haha.

    Monica Laurette recently posted: Barkskins by Annie Proulx
    • Amber

      <3 I think joy really ought to be the prime motivator in Bookstagram - I love that it is for you! <3 I admit I get too caught up... a lot... in statistics. I think your way is better for the soul. :)

      Omg yes thank you clearance sales - I think all my flowers have been on clearance when I got them. The craft stores usually have really good sales! :)

      Also, I didn't realize I wasn't following you on Insta! Followed! <3

  2. Oh bookstagram how we do quarrel haha. I think I started my bookstagram back in 2017 sort of but I soon gave up because I just was not happy with it. I also was just struggling with finding a way to take photos that I was happy with without it taking up so much time. So I was on and off using my bookstagram from 2017-2019, I was sporadic at best and at worst I was just a hot mess honestly haha.

    Then this last April I decided I wanted to try my hand at it again, I’d briefly tried using my garden as a sort of back drop before and I really liked that aesthetic. So April I posted daily and I noticed that slowly my engagement was growing, my follow count was increasing and it was actually a lot of fun. It was also draining though, as you said daily posting is draining and during May I did my best at posting somewhat daily but soon I was just like no…I’m burning out we need to stop.

    So now I’m sort of on a hiatus from posting on my bookstagram but I still use stories xD I also am part of an engagement group and I can’t even begin to explain how helpful that’s been for me! I also decided to edit my photos as well this time around as previously I’d just uploaded raw photos. As for my return, I think I will definitely still keep the nature theme going but it’s definitely going to be interesting when Autumn and Winter come. As well as the fact that my bookstagram is now my main account because I just got fed up of my personal insta xD Love this post and looking forward to reading this series!

    Clo @ Cuppa Clo recently posted: Tips For Book Blogging On Free WordPress
    • Amber

      Bookstagram is really a strange beast. The communities in my experience are not as tight as blogs or book tube, but they’re there. There’s less angst on bookstagram than anywhere else, but you do have to fight a bit to be seen. 🙂 So knowing what you want out of it makes a big difference. For nature themes… have you checked out Holly (@nutfreenerd)? She has a gorgeous nature theme in the spring/summer/fall, but brings it in when she doesn’t have access to that scenery and she’s got some super cute designs. I totally recommend for inspiration!

      Oh no, sorry about your personal insta, though! I hope people weren’t being the worst. 🙁

      • Oooo thank you I’ll go check her out! Ah no I just got fed up of having a personal insta when the people I enjoy connecting with are bookish people so I just merged personal into my bookstagram now xD

        • Amber

          Oh that’s even better! 💕 Good to have one place. Most my IRL ppl aren’t bookish but the handful who are, are lovely and follow both for me. 😁

  3. Congrats on hitting 1,000 followers! I know I use mine too casually (really just whenever inspiration strikes which is 1-2 times per month) but it’s so overwhelming to think of doing more- people seem to put just as much time into bookstagram as a part time job! I like your point about consistency being key, I may try to do a few similar shots and see if that impacts my numbers/engagement at all! (I’m always worried about having varied content…)

    • Amber

      Thank you so much! I agree, people put a LOT of time into instagram and it’s super intimidating! The people who post 2-3x/day… I don’t know how they find the time, honestly! I tend to take a month’s worth of photos in one go, and now I have specific themes I go for (4 Funkos, 4 individual books, 4 book stacks) and the really helps a lot. Some people are so creative and make such beautiful messes in their photo space… all the power to them, but I don’t have the patience. 🙂