Bookstagram: Then & Now + Tips

A long ass time ago I published a post called Bookstagram: The Why & The How and for some odd reason y’all still read it – so embarrassing! So, I thought it was time for a little update (considering Instagram has also updated since then!) to talk about how my methods have changed.

Most of the sentiments of that post are still valid so I won’t go into a huge depth for those sections. Let’s just dive in.

I still think there are three main reasons why bookstagram is a great place to be:

  • The community is great! I started over on bookstagram and I met a lot of amazing people on there.
  • Artistic expression! Some of you are just so gosh darn artsy that I’m forever jealous of your photos and other artwork. Bookstagram is another way to express that!
  • Promotion! Obviously, you can promote your blog, business, or whatever you want to promote using IG. They’ve even made it easier with Stories!

Last time I did this post I went into depth on “How to bookstagram like a pro” (I’m so not a pro but, hey, I had to give it a title). This time, I’m just going to talk about how I bookstagram because I’ve definitely gotten a lot more lax over the last year since that post.

I used to go crazy with photo shoots. I had props, a backdrop, I tried to find the right lighting, I edited it until it was perfect. By all means, you can totally do that! If you want to know how I used to do it:

I purchased cheap backdrops from Amazon and laid them out on my kitchen table (the windows brought in a lot of light). I would set aside 2 hours or so one day a week to take photos for that week. Then edit them all.

Yeah, I don’t do that anymore. Now, I take one quick photo in my backyard the day I want to post it. It doesn’t matter what my lighting is like because I edit my photos to darken them right in the IG app. Meaning I take a whopping 5 minutes to get a photo ready for my bookstagram.

Here’s my feed now:

*Some of these are from a camping trip that I used a few months later (like the mountains)

However, if you do want to be a pro here are some apps that are helpful:

  • VSCO – Everyone swears by this one but I wasn’t a fan, and it can start costing a bit of money purchasing different filters. I ended up with a bunch of filters I never used just to get the one I wanted.
  • Aviary – I used this one for whitening my photos. Sometimes the lighting is off and white will look yellow or blue, so I would take it into this app to whiten it. Also, it has spot treatment for imperfections.
  • Enlight – I used this one to edit portions of a photo. You can choose a part of a photo to edit, so if there is a shadow you don’t like or you want a different tone, it’s helpful.

This is the most important part. Why bother posting photos if you aren’t going to engage in the community? Especially now that Instagram changed its algorithm. Here’s how you can be more involved in the community, including new ways with recent IG updates:

  • Hashtags! Use the right hashtags. Don’t put random ones in your captions, keep it related to your photo and niche. Hashtags like #bookstagram and #bibliophile. Also, things like the title of the book in your photo, or the photo tag you’re doing.
  • Captions! Captions kind of go unread these days with that “read more” option. However, it’s still good to include a question in it so people have something to start a conversation with!
  • Monthly Challenges! I can never stick to these but when I do it’s fun to check out other’s photos in the hashtag. Also, it means you have an idea for a photo for every day of the month – which helps if you lack ideas for photos.
  • Stories! This is the newest addition to Instagram. At first, I hated it, but now because of the algorithm, I see it’s value. You can use it in different ways. Personally, I don’t like using it/seeing when a new photo goes up to say “NEW POST” or to do a lot of shoutouts. I like to use it for quick updates of my day or to share news about my store. I also personally don’t like it when they’re super long. It’s all up to you how you use it, though! It’s a great way to interact with others. Sometimes I even respond to other people’s stories.

  • ICYMI pt 1! I shared a hashtag and draft tip in a post last month that all of you loved, but if some of you missed it I wanted to share them again. One is creating a keyboard shortcut for your hashtags! Here’s how (for iPhones):

Go to Settings → General → Keyboards → Text Replacement → Click the ” + ” symbol → in Phrase I included all my typical hashtags → in Shortcut I put IGHASH

  • ICYMI pt 2! The other is to save your drafts! If you take photo shoots or just a few photos here and there, edit them in the IG app and then cancel. That will save it into your drafts so it’s easy to find! (If you edit using a different app, just do something to in in IG like adding a caption or upping the brightness by 1 just so it saves)
  • Later and/or Buffer! These apps allow you to schedule photos ahead of time. They won’t automatically publish because IG doesn’t allow that. Instead, you can save the photo in the app, set a date, time, and caption. Your phone will let ALERT you that a photo is scheduled to be posted. Since everything is already done for you, it saves a ton of time.

How do you bookstagram? Do you have any neat tips for taking photos or anything bookstagram related? Are you super organized? Or are you more relaxed about it? 

  • I am terrible at growing my social media audiences, particularly Instagram. I just forget to post photos and the ones I do post look really edited… *long sigh*

    • Girl, mine are SO edited. They look it too. But idc, I like them & its SUPER easy lol

      • Haha I always think about stop using filters, but never do, because without them my photos are boring looking

  • Melissa Veras R.

    I left bookstagram for a good six months, and the six months before that I wasn’t on a regular schedule. I was so stressed out because I HAD to post something everyday or every other day… Doing tags and arranging the books in fun ways (rainbows, cubes, towers…), adding the watermark in exactly the right place, waiting for the sun… But now I’m starting again and I’m enjoying it as much as the first time. I’m a lot more relaxed now, too, so I hope to stick to bookstagram for awhile 🙂

    • Aw, that’s so good! Sometimes breaks are necessary. I thought about breaks a few times but I always come back only after like 6 days lol

  • Ugh, I’m the laziest with bookstagram. I love sharing photos and being on it, but I’m always so lazy to take photos and such. I’m such a procrastinator. 😂

    I use PicMonkey to edit, which I love! Then, if the photo is a little off-center, I’ll go in Photos and tilt it a little. I have VSCO, but I just use it to see how my profile will look and if my new pics match my theme!

    I feel like community is so hard to build on Instagram! It’s less like blogging and Twitter where people find you in comment sections and threads, and I honestly barely look at comment sections on photos! Then there’s the fact that the same people get shout-outs over and over again on stories, and bookstagram promo accounts seem to promote the same photos from profiles with over 100k followers already. That’s not even factoring in the fact that people will unfollow you for no reason! It can get frustrating at times. 😬

    • Same! I just put a book next to a plant outside and snap a photo. SOMETIMES I add a few props if I’m feeling like it, but it’s rare lol

      PicMonkey is on the desktop though right? Or is there an app for that? I use my drafts to see if it’ll match my theme. I have a few of my already posted photos saved in my drafts so I just check it out like that >.<

      It's very hard! Especially now that they changed the algorithm, it's even harder! I feel like its pushing a lot of people AWAY from using it because it's so much MORE work now. I've given up a few times, but in the end I still love it and just put in the work that I can. I don't stress too much about it now.

  • I am uber lazy and just take pictures of my current reads with my coffee in the morning, my book hauls and sometimes me just reading. I love looking at other people’s crazy set ups and stuff though. Sometimes I feel it gets a little too obviously just promoting the free crap people sent the bookstagrammer. I am not super into that though. But i know I am n the minority there!!

    • haha that’s basically me, I just go outside and put the book next to a bush >.< hahah I don't get a lot of free stuff so wah lol

  • Kelly

    I love the idea of having a great bookstagram account, but I’m just not committed to the effort it must take! Haha

    I’m more of a, take a picture when I feel like it and post if I think it turned out well. I use Snapseed for most of my editing 🙂

    • I’m sort of the same way now. I used to be obsessive about posting every day, but I’ve gotten quite lazy over the past year. I think it’s okay to post whenever! of course, the more you post the more followers and engagement you’ll have. But it’s supposed to be fun, and if its not fun to post every day, don’t! No worries! 🙂

  • I don’t tend to use instagram but these tips are so interesting. Wish I could take good pictures!
    Megan @ http://wanderingsofabookbird.blogspot.co.uk/

    • Girl, my photos suck. I just edit the crap out of them hahahah Anyone can take good photos for IG!

  • I am such an Instagram fail! I wish that Instagram WOULD allow things to be scheduled in advance because I think I could do a better job of it if they did. But i like your idea of it saving it in drafts! I had no IDEA that you could do that! That would actually help me a LOT. I need to look into Aviary too, because the lighting in my house is kind of weird, I think that would help me a lot too! I agree with you about VSCO. I tried it but got annoyed haha. I also had NO idea that stories affected the algorithm, but I also do not AT ALL understand the algorithm, and find it to be wildly annoying. I just think Instagram as a whole isn’t that user friendly, which is probably why I get so annoyed with it 😉 These are awesome tips though!

    • I agree! I used to post EVERY single day but now I’ll go a full week without posting something. Scheduling would be so much nicer. And I already use the Later app for notifs for my store, and you can’t use 2 diff accounts for that. So I just never remember to post for my bookstagram lol. But drafts do help! I try to keep a few in there so that it doesn’t take me as long to post when I do.

      I don’t think stories affect the algorithm, but because the algorithm sucks, stories comes in handy because it’s at the very top. If people watch them, they’ll most likely see your story and possibly never see the photo you posted.

  • I used to spend so much time taking bookstagram photos, but now I’m more casual, I don’t use Later to schedule my posts anymore and I stopped stressing on numbers. I agree with you for VSCO, I purchased a couple of presets during Black Friday, I spent less than 3$, but I ended up never liking how my photos looked like with those filter, I think it would be helpful to see a before/after comparison to actually understand how the filters are, plus I don’t like that when you open VSCO there is the feed and then you have to import your photos into the library. Now I use only A Color Story because the free filters are amazing and more similar to my own style plus you can use multiple filters in the same photo stacking them (like on Afterlight, my app of choice before they released ACS).

    • That’s what I hated about VSCO. It got so annoying to try a filter, save, import it again, add another one, just to end up not liking it. It got so frustrating haha. That’s really cool about A Color Story! That’s how it should be (even IG doesn’t allow that!). Maybe I’ll check that one out. I just edit my photo in the IG app and use their Slumber filter to darken my photo then mess with the individual options. It’s so fast haha

  • I quit bookstagram very quickly, because I didn’t have the ability to get creative with my pictures. And, I think the weird part is that you kind of have to have a theme going in your photos, which is very hard for me to establish some sort of trademark.

    But, your website has so many nice tips, Molly. I’m new here, so I wanted to say hello and share my experience with bookstagram. Awesome post

    • Eh, themes aren’t necessary! I’ve loved a lot of accounts that don’t have themes. I think its more of quality? Like, a lot of people don’t like photos that look like they were taken really quick on a messy bed or something like that. I don’t know lol Just do what you like!

  • I’ve given up on being an Instagram pro, but you give several tips here that would be HUGELY helpful to someone like me who doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on it. I didn’t know there was any way to schedule–that would be a giant help!

    • yes! I’m lazy so the schedule thing helps. I just have to then remember to do that….lol

  • Hey, I should add you 🙂 it’s great that it only takes you 5 minutes now. For me, IG is something… unknowable. I just fumble there 😀 one problem is that I don’t even have books, regionally I can only get ebooks, so I’m stuck taking pics of only my kindle. That, and I’m not very good at pics. I feel like there’s a learning curve and I just.. need more time xD

    I’m not sure how stories work though :0

    Man, that’s a GREAT idea about hashtags. I don’t have an iPhone, but I could keep a text file somewhere with all of the hashtags. Cause that’s THE MOST BORING part of posting on IG, lol.

    • ebooks can work for photos! I think the trick is just to lower the brightness on your screen. It will make it look better in the photo.

      • That’s not the thing 🙂 the visibility is fine, plus Kindle doesn’t have any brightness setting, it’s e-ink. It’s just that taking photos of e-books means taking photos of THE SAME OBJECT over and over again, while print books are all different. It also means your covers will always be black and white cause Kindle doesn’t have colors. So it instantly makes your photography options a lot more limited, especially if you weren’t that good at pictures to begin with.

        • OHHHH okay. I read on my iPad so it’s different. I can see why having black and white covers wouldn’t be any fun to take photos of, though.

        • ahhh I can definitely see that being an issue! I use my iPad so there are colors so it’s not too bad. You could just have a really awesome Black and White theme! 😀

          • Maybe one day 😀 that’s an interesting idea, for some reason I just didn’t think about that at all 😀

  • I love this post Molly because Bookstagram is my new obsession. 🙂 Like you I used to spend a lot of time to take a pic with props and all now I use my backyard too 🙂 I still need to learn how to engage better with the community! Thanks for sharing

    • Aw yay! I’m glad you like it! Bookstagram is fun. I definitely got lazy with photos but that’s okay, nature is pretty 😉 It’s a lot of work to stay engaged with it, I slack sometimes but I try! You’ll get the hang of it 🙂