Bookstagram is an art. No, really. It is. Photography isn’t something easy to learn and if you make certain classic mistakes, your pictures are guaranteed to not turn out well. But so many people want to get into the bookstagram game. Does that mean you can’t if you’re not a photographer? Absolutely not! I’m not a photographer. I knew nothing about photography when I first started my bookstagram, but now I adjust those manual settings on my camera like a pro. Which just proves that anyone can become a pro-bookstagrammer.
But not if you make these common mistakes. I see it all the time and I want to reach out and help every single one of you. So I sit, writing this blog post for you to learn as I once had to.
No. 1: Not utilizing natural light
If you listen to just one piece of advice from today’s post, it should be this one. Don’t take your photos in artificial light. Please, please, please. I beg thee. You’ve actually probably read this tip before if you’re looking for bookstagram tips. But has anyone every explained why? Artificial light washes out your photo. See those pretty colors on that book jacket? Going to be washed out by the artificial light. It’s going to give your photos a yellowish color that just doesn’t look good.
You know those perfect pictures on bookstagram that are really bright? Natural light, baby. That’s why I take all my photos on the weekends. I’m never home in enough time during the week. The sun is down by the time I’m home which means picture taking time is over. I also try to take my pictures in the morning because that’s when the sun comes through the front window of my house – where all my photo taking takes place.
So do yourself a favor and coordinate your photo shoots with the sun. You’ll see an instant change in the quality of your pictures.
No. 2: Not using a clean background
I see a lot of people just take their photos in a random place in their house – and all over the place in their house. Listen. You need a clean background for your photos. It doesn’t necessarily need to be white. But don’t show me your blender in the background. You should also try to use the same background for consistency. This helps give your bookstagram that cohesive feel. I use a white background for everything.
I’ve also seen a lot of people use their wooden tables and/or deck. I’ve seen people use a pretty marble countertop. I’ve also seen people take all their photos outside – obviously you don’t have the same background, but you have a theme. You picking up what I’m putting down?
Carpet isn’t the best choice for background – unless it’s super clean and poofy. I’m too lazy to vacuum every time I want to take bookstagrams. Sheets and blankets are good though. I recommend a lighter color since that will help brighten up your photos. Posterboard works great as well. That’s what I started using. Now I use a photo cube. It helps capture the light while blocking those harsh shadows that filter through the window. They’re pretty inexpensive and definitely worth it in my opinion.
No. 3: Taking fuzzy, unclear pictures
You don’t have to have a fancy DSLR camera to be successful at bookstagram. I have one and I love it, but it’s definitely not necessary. Especially with phone cameras these days. They are equipped with pretty damn good cameras and are perfectly capable of taking amazing pictures.
So why do I see so many fuzzy, unclear pictures out there??? Here’s a tip. Most phone cameras focus when you tap the screen. Tap the screen first and then take the shot. AND take multiple shots!! Don’t take one photo and move on. Take a lot! I take about 10-20 shots per photo when I’m shooting for my challenges. I go from different angles, different zoom levels. Sometimes I’ll adjust some settings to brighten it up. Then when I go to edit and choose the winners, I have plenty of choices. If I have a couple of fuzzy photos in there, it’s okay, because I also have plenty of crisp, clear ones.
Moral of the story? Work smarter, not harder. You’re already taking the photo. Just snap some extras to make sure you get a good shot.
No. 4: Not using hashtags
Hashtags are the way people find your photos on Instagram. You can’t have 5 followers, not include hashtags and expect to grow your account. It will never happen. Utilize those hashtags! They are a goldmine for finding new followers that genuinely love your feed. The maximum hashtags Instagram allows is 30 per post. Now, that doesn’t mean you should use all 30. That would be a bit over the top. I typically use 10-15 though. No, that’s not excessive. It’s actually totally normal on Instagram.
I just stick all my hashtags at the end of my caption, making sure to space them out so it doesn’t look like one big block of text with my caption.
Quick tip: Sometimes getting the spacing right on Instagram is hard. Once you finish typing your text for your caption, hit enter immediately after your final period. Don’t put a space first and then hit enter. Putting a space first tends to mush everything together. Don’t ask me why that is. It makes no sense.
I actually get sad when I see a really pretty photo with little to no hashtags on it. Because I want the rest of the bookstagram community to see it, but they likely never will.
Related: Get your list of my favorite bookstagram hashtags here!
No. 5: Not being social
And finally, let’s talk about being social. Putting up a photo on bookstagram and walking away will not get you anywhere. That’s like showing up to a party and then not speaking to a soul. Do you think you’ll have a good time? Do you think you’ll make new friends? Probably not.
There are two big things that help you grow your bookstagram: hashtags and being social.
What do I mean by being social? Going out and liking other people’s photos, commenting on them with meaningful comments that spark discussion, participating in photo challenges to help meet other bookstagrammers.
Here’s my challenge to you. Spend ten minutes a day liking and commenting on other people’s photos. Choose a hashtag, click on it and start being social. Find new accounts to follow. Make new friends. That’s the fastest way to grow your bookstagram.
Now, just to wrap everything up – growing your bookstagram isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work. It takes practice. You have to first learn how to produce a high-quality photo. Then you have to learn how to utilize hashtags to their maximum potential. You have to reach out to people and start making friends. If it was easy, everybody would do it. But the rewards are so worth it. The bookstagram community is so friendly and welcoming. There’s no real drama (that I’ve seen) and we all have that one thing in common: we love books!
Have you been making any of these mistakes on your bookstagram? What did you learn from this post? What are you going to do differently? Are there any other mistakes you see people making that drive you crazy?