10 Things I Learned in My First Year of Bookstagram

A woman reading in a bath made of book spines to illustrate 10 things I learned in my first year of Bookstagram.

To say that my first year of Bookstagram changed my life isn’t an overstatement.  Joining the community gave me the courage to change my career entirely and become a digital marketer. When I started posting @thebookfamilyrogerson back in April 2017, I had no idea what to expect and what came out of that initial leap was a lot more exciting and meaningful than I ever anticipated.

It’s surprising to see that the top ten things that I learned in my first year of Bookstagram are still relevant today and the core aspects of this original post remain unchanged. However, I’ve added extra notes and tips about how we’ve built on these initial reflections:

1.Bookstagram is generally the most positive social media application on the web. I also hang out at Twitter and Facebook and both have their merits, but neither can match Insta when it comes to supportiveness, creativity and fun.  I count my Bookstagram followers as real friends and have met many of them in real life.

2. Bookstagram means you can be part of an international book group and read the same book at the same time with friends all over the world – known as buddy reading or a readalong! I know that this sounds obvious, but it blew my mind when I was comparing notes with readers in the US, New Zealand, the Philippines and the UK simultaneously. I must have taken part in more than 50 buddy reads since I’ve been on the platform.

3. If you want to take the pressure off producing for the main gallery then post in the stories instead.  The content is only temporary so it doesn’t need to be perfect – plus you can play with GIFs, stickers and music. Sometimes I reach more followers on stories than I do on the main grid.

4. You get out what you put in. Very rarely can you simply post photographs and expect everyone to react.  Treat people as you would in real life, appreciate it when they reach out to you and reciprocate with goodwill.

5. Snapseed is a great free tool for editing photographs. If you’re up to paying, then check out other apps like VSCO and Lightroom where you can store presets. I expand upon book photo editing techniques in my post on enhancing your Bookstagram feed.

6. Feel the fear and post it anyway.  Bookstagram is a great place to stretch your creativity. If you don’t like what you’ve produced, you can always archive it. Treat the platform as a place to play.

7. Don’t compare yourself to others. This one is really hard sometimes, but everyone will have their own doubts. Better to focus on your own vision, values and aesthetic. (This is so true 4 years on. Our numbers may not be as high as other bookstagrammers but we have had so many great opportunities both on and off the grid).

8. Likewise, try to ignore the algorithm. It changes all the time. One thing I would mention is that quality will get noticed in the long run though.  Share your best and the likes will come eventually. If you’re feeling down about your stats then this post about seeing the positives after a drop in Instagram reach will hopefully cheer you up.

9. If you want to develop your account, there’s lots of free quality advice out there, but there’s also no one size fits all. You can check out our Bookstagram post ideas here.

10. Don’t let Bookstagram rule your life.  It’s addictive so keep it contained. If you want a break , take as long as you need.  The people who enjoy your company will be still be there when you return. We left for 6 months in 2019 and although we lost followers, our core community welcomed us back with open arms and we quickly grew our account again.

What did you learn in your first year of Bookstagram?

7 Comments

  1. April 25, 2018 / 3:00 pm

    What a fun look at Instagram and social media in general. I really appreciate you spending time on the positive factors that social media can produce, as well as its addictive qualities! Thanks so much for this post!

    • April 26, 2018 / 11:27 am

      I find Instagram a overwhelmingly positive place to be compared with other social media sites. I’m not sure why this is – maybe because it involves more effort and creativity than the others so people treat it with care, but it is addictive!

  2. April 26, 2018 / 10:24 am

    I have loved following your posts and they really do light up my day. I enjoy instagram, it created lovely memories for me to look back on and a beautiful sky always lightens my load on a heavy day. Great tips and it’s something you have certainly achieved x

    • April 26, 2018 / 11:28 am

      Thanks Susan! I find that Instagram is a really happy place for memories and treasured moments. It makes it all the better when I can share them with friends like you x

  3. April 30, 2018 / 11:46 am

    I love Instagram as well, and definitely agree that it’s such a supportive and empowering community – though it sometimes takes awhile to find ‘your people’ and make friends. I also find it can easily become addictive, and it’s easy to loose track of time on there.. I’ve had to take a few breaks from it over the years, and now try to limit my time or focus on spending ‘quality time’ when I’m on there.

    • May 1, 2018 / 10:40 am

      I completely agree with the quality time Dee. I’m still struggling with balance but I hope that will come with practice and discipline. What’s your Insta-handle?

      • May 1, 2018 / 4:20 pm

        It’s @Vanilla_Papers 😃

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