A lot of people ask me how to increase the number of followers or how to make their photos more presentable for the feed. Although I am not a pro at this, but these past 6 months I have learnt a few things which I am glad to share with you guys. I hope these insights help you.
Starting with Bookstagram
1. Compose the whole theme of your photograph
Are you opting to talk about a specific book? Or are you showing your favourite place to read? Whichever be the central theme, try to build the whole picture around it and use the necessary props. Once you have the main purpose of your photograph in mind, it gets really easy to execute it.
2. Clear and contrasting background
Many people try to maintain a theme for their accounts and the deciding factor for the theme is your background. A white cozy blanket, a multicoloured scarf or a wooden table, anything can act as a brilliant background for your pictures. What is important to keep in mind is that they should contrast well with the other objects in your picture. After all, the main job of a background is to help the foreground become more prominent.
Some objects that you can use as background : Coloured sheets, marble textured sheets, your mom’s smooth textured sari (I do that too often), the bright green grass in your garden, a beautiful rug or carpet, a clean desk, a white wall, bedsheets, shawls, etc .
3. Prop Ideas
Throw in a scarf to colour coordinate your books. Use that beautiful coffee mug on your rack. Freshly plucked flowers, dried leaves, twigs and branches give that earthy feeling to your photographs without stepping outdoor. Stationery, bookmarks, journals are great when paired together. Candles, fairy lights, confetti, food and beverages are good companions of your books. If you own fandom merch feel free to flaunt them. Sometimes, I use postcards, letters and art prints as props (as you can see below).
4. Camera quality is not important
Trust me, a DSLR is not mandatory to get pretty pictures. I take most pictures using my Mi 3S phone’s camera (like the one below). Use the focus feature efficiently and click in the HDR mode. You will be surprised to see that the photographs turn out pretty amazing.
5. Do actual editing and don’t apply filters directly
Instagram has tons of filters which are great for tweaking your selfie and hiding those blemishes but are not so apt when applied to your Bookstagram photos. Let go of those filters and check the editing options. Brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, if altered correctly can do wonders for that lowly-lit picture.
6. The Sun is your best friend
Natural lighting is what you need, to get those clear pictures. I tend to set up most of my pictures near the window with clear lighting or directly under the sky. That way I don’t have to worry about the graininess generated due to the increase in brightness while I am editing.
Gaining exposure on Instagram
This is the most essential tip I give out when anyone asks me how to increase their number of followers. Bookstagram is a community and if you don’t talk to the people then you are going to miss out on some amazing accounts and most people would never know that you exist. Also, bookstagrammers love following other book lovers. DM in reply to their stories, comment frequently on their posts, like all the pictures and do not do these just to get more follows or engagement. Do it because you are a book enthusiast. Nothing kills enthusiasm like generic comments trying to garner more follows. Don’t flood every picture with comments like these:
“Love your feed❤”
2. Post regularly
The new Instagram algorithm shows only the posts of those instagrammers that one has interacted most with. So if you liked someone’s picture in the past two days then it is more likely that his/her recent photos are going to show up on your feed. This means that if you don’t post regularly then a lot of people will not get to see your posts and that decreases your engagement ratio. Ultimately, all this affects your reach. Hence, try to post on a regular frequency.
3. Write an interactive caption
In my initial days, I used to do this mistake of writing one liners as caption and most of the times there were zero comments on the post. If your caption is not asking for an engagement then why would anyone bother to reply? Therefore, write well-crafted, brief yet engaging caption. It could be about anything : your current read, ranting over a recent read, your reading habits or just simply how your day was. Give your followers the chance to know the person behind those beautiful pictures.
4. Be prompt and courteous in your replies
If people are taking out time to comment on your pictures, then you should do the same and reply to those comments. Politeness goes a long way and everyone loves a witty and funny reply.
5. Keep your feed clean
Your bookstagram account is an outlet for your creativity and not some marketing page. Do not use every picture to advertise props and merches. Subtlety is the key here. Your followers are bound to get bored of captions that only read “Use my code ‘XXXXXX’ to get a 10% discount on ‘XXX’ brand products.” Instead, use your rep items as a sidekick to the central object of your picture. And be natural and real when promoting brands.
6. Use hashtags
It increases your visibility and people can find your posts easily. The most common #tags I use are : #bookstagram, #bookstagramIndia, #bibliophile, #bookworm. You can add #tags in the caption of your post. Some people choose to add the tags as a separate comment on the post.
The Don’ts of Bookstagram
1. Freeloaders are not welcome
If you are into bookstagram for the giveaways, free merch and books, then you might as well leave already and skip the rest of the post because these guidelines are not meant for you. I have seen people starting bookstagram accounts in hopes of receiving free stuff. Could they BE more annoying? When people are doing their creative best to make their feeds amazing, you can’t just butt in with expectations of free books. Let’s strive to keep this community real.
2. Do not overdo Follow Trains, S4S sessions
They might be good sometimes. In fact, I have found many amazing accounts through Shoutouts. But, believe me when I say this, no one likes seeing Shoutouts every other day and tend to skip them when they are too frequent. So, instead of doing these monotonous shoutouts for everyone, you can randomly do appreciation posts for some really creative accounts or new bookstagrammers. Nice gestures are always rewarded, so you will surely get a shoutout from them in return.
3. Don’t copy. Be original.
There have been massive failures whenever anyone tried to copy the style of other bookstagrammers. It makes you lose your originality and you end up doing something that is so NOT you. Instead, “draw inspiration” and try to recreate the pictures you are inspired from. That way, you end up clicking surprisingly wonderful photos as well as retain your uniqueness.
Is Bookstagram overwhelming you ?
1. Don’t lose yourself in the number game
Don’t forget your real purpose behind joining Bookstagram. The love for books and the desire to share that feeling should be good enough to keep you going. Don’t let the numbers (follows, comments, likes) affect you. They are, after all, only numbers.
2. Save drafts for future use
A lot of us aren’t full-time bloggers and have insanely busy schedule in real life. It is impossible to click pictures everyday and then invest time in editing. The wisest thing to do is click a lot of pictures on your idle days (and whenever inspiration strikes). I call these my “Rainy Day” clicks. These are the backup pictures that you can save as drafts on the Instagram app and which you can utilise later on the busy days.
3. Don’t let the competition get to you
As the bookstagram community grows the number of brands making fandom merch and stationery increases too. Since there are rep searches held almost every day by these companies, there comes a huge streak of competition. However, winning or losing a rep search shouldn’t measure the potential of your account. I have learned this the hard way that if you give in your creative best and your love for reading shines through then eventually opportunity comes your way. Nothing in life is easy.
4. Draw inspiration from other bookstagrammers
All of us go through the inevitable dry spell, when no creative idea comes to you and there is hardly any inspiration to click new photographs. Take this time to relax and admire other bookstagrammers’ accounts. Instagram provides the “Discover People” option so that you can find fellow book lovers. You can use the #tags such as #bookstagram, #bookworm to explore too. It will help you unwind and get more encouraged.
Most importantly, enjoy the love and creativity of this community and be a part of it wholeheartedly.
If you think I missed out anything that you would like to add to the above guidelines, feel free to comment below.
*A huge thanks to Padmaja from The Bookish Tales in contributing with her ideas and helping me write this post.*