During one of our weekly recaps, I mentioned that I would possibly do a post on Bookstagram. I had originally planned on doing a post about tags, and I think I still will at some point, but first I thought it would be fun to talk about my thoughts and experiences as a beginning Bookstagrammer.
My History with Bookstagram
An Account was Born
I didn’t really join the cell phone world until October 2013. (Crazy, right?) When I finally did join, one of the first things I did was install Instagram. And then took a picture of my The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour booklet because that’s what a book nerd like me does.
My first few months on Instagram were pretty unexciting. For me, Instagram was just an extension of my blog. I kept my images mainly book-related, either snapshots of events I went to, book hauls, publishing work placements, some selfies (okay… maybe not entirely book-related). I didn’t use hash-tags. My image descriptions were minimal. I didn’t really respond to anyone’s comments on my photos. I only followed other book bloggers I already knew on Instagram and pretty much just liked every picture I saw, and that was the extent of my social interaction on Instagram. It was really quite pathetic.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of Instagram as a social tool when I joined. I’m not sure why I automatically decided that the site was just for pretty images and nothing else. But I did. And so for the first few months, my Instagram account was quite sad and slow growing, with my followers mainly consisting of bloggers who were returning the love after I followed them.
First Baby Steps
Once I had been using Instagram for a while, and could see how other bloggers used it and to get a feel for it, I decided to try and be a little more active with it. I started sporadically including hashtags in my posts, I responded to comments here and there from others (making sure to @ them, first!), and had fun playing with the various filters and borders Instagram had to offer.
I used a little bit of freedom for my pictures, starting to include photographs of Dave (poor boy), the postcards that were sent to me from other bloggers (which holds a special place in my heart), and footgazing shots (thanks to Kelley’s encouragement). I also tried participating in Books & Cupcakes Book Photo Challenge, but only really participated in like three days before giving up. (Fail.)
I think it was around this time that I was starting to realize that Instagram didn’t have to be an extension of my blog. I could include other things. I could have fun with it. I could actually use it to interact with others. That doesn’t mean I actually appreciated Instagram yet. No, not quite. I still primarily used it as something to do when bored. But still, it was starting to grow on me, this Instagram world.
On My Own Two Feet
And that brings me to the last month and today. I finally am starting to realize the potential Instagram has as a social networking site. I add hashtags to my photos so that others who are searching the tags may find my photos and possibly be engaged enough to follow me. I try to take interesting shots (sometimes taking ten photos before I find one I like!) and include captions that might actually lead to a conversation – and then I actually participate in the conversation by responding to the comments left on my photo! I am actually using it to socialize. Shock!
I honestly credit a lot of my recent engagement and love for Instagram to the tags and challenges that have appeared. I have been participating in Hazel’s, Rosie’s, and Georgie’s #30daysofbookstagrams since the beginning of July. Every once in a while someone will tag me to participate in a tag and I’ll do that as well. I think it really helps those who are new to Instagram, or are just sometimes uninspired, as it provides photo ideas for you. You can interpret them at face value, or try to get creative. The possibilities are limitless and it’s really quite fun to compare everyone’s photos.
But the one thing that’s changed recently this month, that I think has been one of the greatest changes for me and the most rewarding, is expanding my interaction to those who aren’t bloggers. Don’t get me wrong. I love you guys. But I already talk to you here, there, and everywhere. It was sort of a strange moment for me when I realized that maybe it would be fun to actually talk to others who I didn’t already know. So I did!
I looked up various book hashtags and followed those who posted pictures I liked. I paid attention to who followed me and interacted with me and you know what? I feel like I have been making new friends through Instagram. That it’s possible to build relationships just through pictures and captions. It’s amazing! (And I definitely have to give a shout out to Aditi (@pleasedtoreadyou) who has been so kind to me and really helped me realize all of this.)
MY top three tips for other newbie bookstagrammers
I’m not a pro at Instagram. I take my photos with my iPhone, there’s no consistency in the quality of my photographs, and though my account has been steadily growing over the last month it is still a far cry from the success of most other Bookstagrammers. Still, I thought it would be fun to share the three main things I learned, three little tips, that might be handy for others joining the big bad world of Bookstagram.
- Remember Instagram is a social networking service. I think this is huge! Just like there is an amazing book blogging community, or an amazing Booktube community, I think there is an amazing Bookstagram community just waiting for people to join. Get involved! Take photographs, use hashtags, comment and like posts by other Bookstagrammers. It’s a lot of fun, and you may just find yourself making a friend or two in the process. Who doesn’t want that?
- Participate in tags or challenges! Sometimes it’s easy to be uninspired. How can you take multiple photos of books and keep it fun and engaging? Tags and challenges really help with this! You get provided with a multitude of ideas about what to post and by using a tag for these things you’re likely to get others who are participating in the tag or challenge to see your photos as well! It’s a win, win, win situation! (And I will actually be starting a new feature revolving tags, Bookish Tags, in the future!)
- Practice, practice, practice. As with blogging or anything else you do, the more you do it the better you will get and the more you will see what works and doesn’t work. It can be easy to get put off of doing things sometimes when you see how amazing everyone else is doing it and then look at your work and just cringe, but don’t give up! Keep taking photos and working with what you have. It gets better, I promise! :)