When I first started talking about books on Instagram, there wasn’t a lot of people doing it in France. Actually, Bookstagram wasn’t a thing in the country yet. So we could do pretty much anything we wanted and still have a great engagement. I found back some pictures from my early Bookstagram page and my different feeds, even though I deleted most of through time.
I always see a lot of people complaining about the algorithm of Instagram, and that’s something that might be scaring you if you are looking to start a Bookstagram, or an Instagram page in general. The thing to know about this algorithm is that you have to work with it, not against it. And today, I am going to try to guide you on how to start a Bookstagram account and how to grow it in an efficient way.
Some disclaimers first: you do not HAVE to do any of those to start on Bookstagram. Because, if you want to start, you literally just have to create an account. Those are just tips you can follow if you don’t have inspiration. Also, the accounts and people mentioned on this page are all unique in their own way and work hard on their account. Please, do not steal anything from them. Bookstagram is about being respectful as well. Remember that there is not right way, because everyway is perfect as long as you are happy with it.
- What is Bookstagram, really?
- Define your passion
- Find your originality
- Define your visuals
- Introduce yourself
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What is Bookstagram, really?
Bookstagram is a contraction of Books and Instagram, let’s start there. What I am going to tell you is about to sound very obvious, but let’s start this article in the most simple and efficient way. A Bookstagram is an Instagram page on which you talk about books, and everything related to literature in general. We gave it a name because a real community was built around it and is still thriving. And it was such a great and positive thing that we needed to put a name on it.
But behind Bookstagram, what you might not see at first because the aesthetics are so present, and the feeds and the colours and the content, is the passion. A passion for words and stories and sharing the things we love to other readers. And this is where I want to start this article: the passion.
Define your passion
Yes. Books. Wow. Congratulations. You just made the first step. But the thing is, you have to be more precise, in order to follow the other steps I am going to give you. Because Instagram now is about being specific and precise. If you are talking about a niche and you really know your subject, you will catch the attention of people more easily. And you will be more confident in both what you post and the work you do.
Is your passion non-fiction books? Contemporary Young-Adult novels? Adult Fantasy novels? Manga? Comics? Graphic novels? You can be passionate about a billion different things in literature, and that’s okay. Defining what you are passionate about doesn’t mean you have to only talk about one thing, far from it. But the better you know what will be the nerve of your account, the easier it will be to define all the other things. Let’s take an example, shall we?
My dear friend Doriane from @portraitofdoriane talks about a lot of things, and yet I can tell you what her favourite kind of books are: romance novels and feminist non-fiction. And look, it shows and her work is beautiful and she knows what she is talking about. Yet, she talks about other stuff, but her passion is well define.
Find your originality
Okay, let’s dive into it. Your originality. What is going to make you special. The core of your account. And this, my friends, can be pretty much anything. It can be related to books, or not. I will talk about the feed, the colours and the aesthetic a little later, here we are going to talk about something that doesn’t have necessarily to do with your visuals. But to explain it to you in an easier and clearer way, let me take some examples.
Clara from @thebookwormofnotredame has – a beautiful feed – a very clear and defined originality: Paris. Indeed, it is even in her account name, and yet it stays subtle and light. Your originality doesn’t have to be a flashing sign, with a billion lights screaming THIS IS MY ORIGINALITY, OVER HERE. Here, Clare take us on a bookish journey through the streets and hotspot of the French capital. But this is not something she uses on every single picture. Here, she works around settings.
Another example, with the lovely Allison Nicole from @poeticallygrey I discovered some weeks ago. Her originality here is in her simplicity. Not only talking about her feed, but also her captions. Her account is built around a calm, minimalistic mood.
Your originality can be to appear on every – or most – of your pictures. I am here thinking about Kai from @kaispellmeier. I love his account because he talks about diversity a lot, but also because he gets out there. He shows himself. I am not saying you should do the same, but it is what makes his account so special, it is his originality.
I think you’ve get it now: your originality can be pretty much anything. From a setting, to a will to show yourself, or never to. For being very minimalist to having very stuffed pictures. It can be about the main topic you want to talk about, diversity or poetry or whatever, or your originality can even be that you don’t want to stick to anything. Just be yourself. And now, let’s jump into the part I was the most excited about.
Define your visuals
Okay let’s talk about something I love to work on: the feed. I would love to tell you that your visuals don’t matter, and it doesn’t if your goal isn’t to grow or getting more people in your community. But Instagram, and the new algorithm, evolve a lot around visuals. I mean, the logo of the app is a camera, and the first thing you see on someone’s account are their pictures. So, of course, you can choose not to focus on visuals, you can do whatever you want – I am just here to guide you and give you some tips – but one of the main goal of the app is to share pictures and build an aesthetic.
There are as many feed as there are people out there, which is why defining it is one of the easiest thing to do. Your feed can evolve and be built around a lot of things: aesthetic, colour, light, pattern, editing… And I definitely forgot some. To give you some examples for each category, I went on my own Instagram to see people I follow. The important thing to remember here is that being creative means finding your own way, like those people did. Please do not steal their work, get inspired at best, and stay nice!
There are a lot of aesthetics out there, and it isn’t only about pictures, but about moods, clothes, ways to life… One of my favourite kind of aesthetics are dark academia and light academia. I recently discovered Annie from @melodicdaydreams and fell in love with her vibe and aesthetic. Her whole feed is based on light academia and it gives such a calming and soft vibe.
Another academic aesthetic, the Pastel Academia. This one might be one of my favourite and you can find a beautiful depiction of it on Monica Kim’s Instagram page @monicakim.jpg.
Yes, I have a thing for academic aesthetic, but here is an example of Romantic academia on Bookstagram. This account belongs to Loïne and his called @jupiterlibrary ! It is really similar to light academia but with more visuals related to the romantic era (such as flowers, teapots, tea, a touch of gold…)
I don’t follow a lot of dark academia pages because this is not my favourite. I do love Mariame’s page though, @redlouder. Not only because she an amazing woman, but also because her aesthetic really is pretty and well built.
By playing with colours, you can easily build an attractive and eye-catching feed. Using colours can mean a lot of things: editing your pictures for them to have a colour scheme, always using an item of a specific colour, playing with a background colour… I found some examples for you, with the use of different colours, from accounts I adore.
Kat’s account, @rusticpages, is built on green and brown mainly. It gives such an harmony to the feed, I love it. And a plus is that you can find her aesthetic on her reels as well – but I will talk to you about reels in another article.
Another very amazing account that I love to follow, @book_rambler has a big orange dominance on its feed. Shalini works with a lot of shades of orange and red for her pictures to be harmonized and I can only admire this, because it looks like a real commitment.
Light or dark?
Once upon a time, everyone on Bookstagram wall all about having a luminous and white feed and I am so so so happy this period is over. Because there is so much things you can do by playing with light and the lack of it. Let me show you some example with accounts I love.
On the light side, I love Caden’s account @athousandbookstoread ! Caden has a very light personnality and I adore her account and the mood of it all. It is light can we talk about her current last post? This dress is gorgeous.
An account using a lot of white with less luminosity that I adore: @reverieandink! I really love Brittney’s posts because they are always very calming, but also because I am a fan of her editing. The low contrast and luminosity really gives something to her feed, don’t you think?
On a darker side, we have Amanda from @amanda.the.bookish who also has the cutest of doggos and feature them a lot in her posts.
Okay, how to explain this one. Something you can also do when it comes to your feed is using the 3 rows as a way to create patterns on your page. You can, for example, alternate between pictures and posts you created from scratch (see My favourite apps as a bookworm & 5 apps for bookstagram articles if you are looking for tools). I love this kind of feeds because it can allow you to post some very visual-centered things on one hand, and discussion-centered on the other. Let’s dive into some examples from accounts I love, shall we?
The first to come to my mind is Romie’s from @romiewedeservelove. She is very creative in her posts and everything she does, and she carries strong messages that we should all listen to. As you can see, her feed is constitute from gorgeous shots of books and edits with as gorgeous pictures of her. (Can we talk about Romie’s taste in clothes? Please? GORGEOUS).
There are so so so so many ways to edit your pictures to make them unique. You can edit your work staying very realistic, or adding doodles, colours, lights, patterns… You can do pretty much everything and anything you want on your feed, so why not?
I really love the work Mohisha is doing on her account @intothepagesofficial, look at the doodles and colours and drawings, I love it so much. And the contrast between the brushes used and the backgrounds is so pretty.
On another hand, I HAVE to talk about Ellie from @elliriny. books! This wonderful woman is so talented. Her edits look both realistic and whimsical and I love them so much. She usually shares her steps in stories, and I am always very impressed.
Yes, Sherlock, to start on Bookstagram that’s always good to introduce yourself. So people know where they are, who you are and what they should expect.
The easiest way to do so is by writing a clear bio. A few lines about you, what you are going to do around here, or just stuff you want people to know when they first arrive on your page. An advice I always give is to put your pronouns in your bio, so peeps know how to address you!
You can also introduce yourself on a post. Please, do not ever feel pressured to put your face on your social media. I will talk about it on my next Bookstagram post. Yes, it is better for your growth, but if you just started, growing shouldn’t be your main goal. Your main goal should be to get comfortable around here, to find your marks and know what to do. So yeah, you can create a post and write some infos about you directly on it, or on the caption.
A story? A reel? That’s a very nice way to introduce yourself, put some music, start a a question thread, use gifs…
So, as you can see there isn’t just one way to start on Bookstagram. Actually, there are a billion. Just do whatever you want, find your way. It might take you days, weeks, months and if you are like me, you are going to look for your social media identity five years after because you aren’t capable of taking a single decision (oops).
Next week, I will give you some tips on How to grow your account on Bookstagram!
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