Hey all! So this is my 4th year of marriage and my 4th year of Bookstagram this year. It’s always been funny to me how the two coincide, but because I moved out of my parents that year, that’s when I really felt the freedom to go around taking crazy pictures of books. That’s not to say you can’t take those pictures at your parents, but when you get a place of your own (or at least in my case), I felt the creativity really start to flow.
I want to talk about Bookstagram and the difference between going for the “likes” and loving your own posts. These two can live together happily and I have seen many accounts do that, but my experience and several other people I have talked with begs to differ. When I really started to get into Bookstagram everything I did was for the likes. This ranged from the books I featured to the products I purchased. I remember when my account started to really take off and every other post was ACOTAR or Sarah J. Maas themed. I love her books, don’t get me wrong, but it was draining to only post those. Not only that, but around that time I had joined multiple rep searches and at one point was repping for 7 companies at once. Because of that almost every post was a rep post, so I was posting twice a day to get my own posts in. This drained me as well, as I was taking double the pictures because I didn’t only want to share rep posts.
I love my Bookstagram and the friends I made on it, but I wish someone had laid some things out for me in the beginning. Like how to do props or how to take pictures without props or what these “flatlays” were that everyone was talking about. Well, never fear, I’m here to clear the air. I am by no means the most successful Bookstagrammer (with 3,600 followers) but I have repped a lot and have some experience over the last few years of finding myself in this bookish community. I want you to get “likes” just like I want them, but I want you to love your posts in the process, a place I really only got to last year.
Okay, this is the big thing I wish I new back when I started. What kind of camera should I use. There is a wide variation on what people use. I started with my phone then thought I needed something bigger so I bought a Canon Rebel and then bought a Sony A6500 for recording/vlogging purposes. In all honesty, you can do everything you need to on your phone. Take the pictures, edit and upload all in one place and they look fine. I thought everyone had big fancy cameras and it wasn’t until I bought mine that I realized most people just used their phones.
NUMBER #2: Photo Style
So this is another one where I wish I could shake past me and be like “NO.” I copied a lot of other people’s photo styles when I started. I bought ALL the props. I had bins and bins of props, which is TOTALLY fine, but it wasn’t my style. I was putting myself in a creative box that just wasn’t me. I actually do like taking pictures with props and I have props again (which I’ll talk more about in a minute), but what I was doing in those first years was strictly other people’s style and it was wearing me out. Last year I started taking pictures of life and books with fashion and books outside and that was something that made me super happy. In addition to that I was able to experiment with different types of editing of my photos during that time, something I never dared to do during my first years of Bookstagram. Just two weeks ago I went back to more staged photos with subtle props, but now I’m doing it my way and that makes ALL the difference!
NUMBER #3: Props
I didn’t really know anyone in the community when I first started posting and I always saw that they had these amazing props they used. Me being me, I didn’t dare ask and spent so much money I props I ended up donating when we moved. I want to make something VERY CLEAR. You do not need to spend lots of money on props! Watch for the 50% off of floral sale that Hobby Lobby has pretty much every other week and take advantage of that (or even better head to The Dollar Tree for $1 fake flowers). Also, use the things around your house! You might have a great prop you never thought of in that way. Finally, and this is my new favorite, check out thrift stores for unique and one of a kind items you could use as a prop that no one else might have. I recently bought a wicker basket, depression glass dish, clear marbles, floating candles, 2 candle jars, a misc. jar, and another small wicker basket for under $20 for my new photos. It’s easy to find what you want and for cheap, you just have to be willing to look.
NUMBER #4: A Like vs. Love
This is the last one I want to touch on. In the beginning I was so very much into the likes. I didn’t really love any of the pictures I posted. A lot of them were pretty but they weren’t me. I would spend my breaks at school checking my posts to see my likes. My evenings were consumed with how to switch things up to get more likes. And then, the algorithm happened. I started to get less likes. My account got less follows. I felt like I must be doing something wrong. That was when I started to change my account and discovered how to have fun and really love my pictures. I am someone who gets obsessed with things and I was obsessed with the likes and could care less if I loved my pictures. Now I’m the opposite, and I owe that to the bloody algorithm. Sure, it still pisses me off when I have a picture I love that only get’s 65 likes instead of the 300+ I used to get before the algorithm, but I’m loving what I do now. I share the books I love and the products I love and posts that I really do love and that’s made a world of difference.
Am I saying you need to go out and change your Bookstagram right now? No. I still get inspiration from other people’s posts, but I don’t try to model myself after anyone anymore. I have fun with my posts and switch it up pretty much every 2 months so it stays fun and new for me. Make your Bookstagram you. Don’t stress over your props or if you have the right camera or your amount of likes, that’s not what this is about. Read books, make friends, share your passions and most importantly, love what you do and post.