How to Create a Beautiful Bookstagram (+Free List of Ideas!)

Posted April 25, 2016 by lockhartbecca in Blogging Tips / 47 Comments

Start taking gorgeous bookstagrams with these bookstagram tips! Learn how to take awesome pictures & how to get them noticed on Instagram! - unboundpages.com

The latest fad in social media seems to be Instagram lately. I am constantly seeing people post gorgeous pictures of their books. For book bloggers, bookstagram seems to be almost a necessity. But where do you even start? With this post of my best bookstagram tips.

 

What is bookstagram?

Bookstagram is exactly what it sounds like. Bookstagrammers are people who take pictures of books and post them on their Instagram accounts. I recently did a round-up of some of my favorite bookstagrammers out there and since writing that post, I’ve upped my own Instagram game.

 

When bookstagram first started catching on, I wanted no part in it. I was against the idea of staging photos, yanking my books on and off the shelves, finding cute props to go with it, learning about photography, etc. I didn’t have that kind of time. That was before I decided that I wanted to make my blog my career.

 

When I decided to take my blog to the next level, I knew that Instagram needed to become a focus.

 

When I first started, I remember feeling very overwhelmed. How could I possibly compete with the big accounts out there who take stunning photos that are unique, yet also branded? It’s not as hard as you think and I really wish I had had a bookstagram mentor of sorts when I first started. It would have made me feel a little more reassured that I could do it and be successful.

 

I want to be your bookstagram mentor.

 

Why I Started a Bookstagram

I wanted to use my own photography on my blog. When I first started blogging I made terrible graphics that looked like a third grader made them. Sound harsh? Well we are our own worst critics. Even worse, sometimes I would Google images and then use them on my site. I thought that crediting where I found the photo was good enough. It’s not. Don’t do this. Somebody owns that image. If you don’t want to use your own photography, there are stock photos – some free, some paid – that you can use, but please please don’t grab random images off the internet. It can actually get you in serious trouble.

 

I didn’t want to spend hours looking through stock photos. I’ve always been creative and I wanted to do it myself. I also didn’t want to use book cover images in my reviews anymore. It’s so difficult to make your reviews stand out among the sea of book reviews out there. People are very visual. So I thought “hey, maybe if I take cool pictures and utilize them in my reviews people will be more likely to click through and read”. And once I started taking the photos I couldn’t stop.

 

Photographing books in unique ways gives me the perfect creative outlet.

 

Just getting out my camera and shooting starts my creative juices flowing. I normally spend all day Sunday blogging. And most days I start out with my camera. It jump starts my creativity and gives me the energy and the brain power to keep going the entire day. Bookstagram also gives me a great excuse to drool over pretty pictures of books all day. And who doesn’t want to do that?

 

My Best Bookstagram Tips:

 

Getting Started

Theme

The first thing you should do before starting your bookstagram is to establish a theme. Your pictures don’t all have to look identical, but you should try to come up with a theme. Be true to your brand. Yes, we’re talking about branding again. Please don’t skip the valuable branding lesson. It is so important to your growth as a blogger! My bookstagram theme is clean, white backgrounds. I like bright photos and am a bit of a minimalist as far as props go. Some great examples of bookstagram brands are the.literary.omnivore, brooknicole.reads and abi.s_cupboard. What these three specifically have in common is their ability to theme their accounts. They are great at it. If you go to their feed you see a cohesive brand. Their pictures are gorgeous and they match. They’re recognizable. I can tell as I’m scrolling that a picture belongs to them without even having to see their name because they’ve done such a fantastic job of branding themselves.

 

Gain brand recognition and you will gain followers.

 

Okay. You’ve chosen a theme. Now what do you do? Step Two of the bookstagram tips: gather your tools.

How to Create a Beautiful Bookstagram - unboundpages.com

Bookstagram Tools in My Arsenal

The Camera

Yes, I use my fancy DSLR to take all my photos. No, you don’t necessarily need one. Although I will say if you’re serious about turning your blog into a money-making machine you should probably invest in a nice camera and learn a thing or two about how to use it.

 

Visual content is a vital piece to your blog being the best it can be.

 

I use the Nikon D3300. I really like this camera because it’s super easy for a beginner to use. I seriously knew nothing about photography when I first got this baby. When I started out I shot on automatic and played with the different effects modes I could put it on. I wasn’t getting very good pictures. So I learned a bit about aperture, ISO and shutter speed and now I only shoot on manual mode. If I can learn it, you guys can too.

 

Again, you don’t necessarily need a high end DSLR to curate a gorgeous bookstagram account. I’ve seen some gorgeous accounts from people I know only use their phone cameras.

 

Just because you don’t have the coin for the nice camera yet, doesn’t mean you can’t get started today.

 

 

Backgrounds

Have you ever wondered how people get those stark white backgrounds in their photos? The answer is so simple you’re going to smack yourself; I know I did. Poster board. There’s the facepalm. You can buy poster board at your local craft store or even Walmart or Target for like $3 for a pack of 10 sheets. You can also buy a couple of white foam boards as they tend to work better for the standing up background. No matter how much tape I put on my poster board, it always falls down and drives me crazy.

 

Please, please, please don’t take a picture with your blender in the background or other obscure objects. This is a surefire way for people to skip right over your photos. The background needs to be clean. It doesn’t necessarily need to be white, but we shouldn’t see that crumpled up blanket in the corner in the background of your photo.

 

Other ideas for backgrounds include:

 

  • Wood – boards from decks or patios work great
  • Nature – books in the grass, in a tree, etc.
  • Fabric – Any color fabric will do although I would recommend lighter, brighter colors so your photo doesn’t come out too dark
  • Your bookshelf
  • Your desk/work space (make sure it’s clean!)

 

Props

I have a whole box of props in my house that I use just for bookstagrams. It includes mirrored plates, silk flowers, mason jars, little glass jars with corks, fairy lights, candles, etc. Many of these things I found lying around my house. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get props. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

 

I once took a photo for my review of The Shadow Queen and used a Halloween costume from when I dressed up as the evil queen. And when I shot my photos for Mistborn I pulled some foreign coins out and scattered them around the book.

 

Try to find props that fit with the book – especially if the photo is for a review

 

The crown and velvet skirt fit perfectly with The Shadow Queen being a Snow White retelling. And for Mistborn, the main character is an Allomancer and uses coins to push and pull her way through the air. (Okay, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but that series is amazing so you should really check it out!) I love finding props that fit in with the story. And both of those things were already in my house!

 

Other great places to find good props are craft stores. Think Michaels and Hobby Lobby. Both of those stores are so dangerous for me to go into alone. It’s worse than Target… Garage sales and flea markets are also great places to spot weird, obscure things that will go well with bookstagrams.

 

If you’re into flowers and nature, I would definitely pick up some silk flowers. Every picture I’ve ever had on Instagram that features flowers do better. I’m serious. People like flowers.

 

To sum it up, props can come from anywhere. I once bought some macarons and refused to let my husband eat them until I was done with photo shoots. Because they were so pretty and I just knew they would be perfect. I was also at work last week and the fruit guys who (you guessed it) deliver fruit once a week brought a dragon fruit in. It was so pretty!! I had to have it for a photo shoot.

 

You can find props in the most unexpected places. Utilize anything & everything.

 

How to Create a Beautiful Bookstagram - unboundpages.com

Lighting

Okay so this tool isn’t always in my bookstagram arsenal. But some days it’s perfect. There’s one rule that you should always always follow.

 

Always shoot in natural light.

 

I’ve tried. So. Many. Times. To shoot in artificial light and the pictures just don’t look good at all! The natural light is one billion times better. Artificial light washes things out and your camera flash isn’t helping matters. This makes winter bookstagramming pretty freaking difficult because by the time most of us get home at night, it’s pitch dark!! Which is why I typically shoot all of my photos on the weekend.

 

Early morning or late afternoon/early evening are the best times to shoot. Smack dab in the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest can cause harsh shadows that don’t look good on your photos. If you’re shooting inside (I almost always do) try to set-up near a window where lots of natural light floods in. I set up literally right next to my huge living room windows and then start snapping away.

 

Later.com

This has been the biggest game changer for me in terms of bookstagram. I used to post one, maybe two photos a week. Not because I didn’t have a backlog of photos. Because of the time it took to post them. Instagram is different from Twitter in this respect. Longer captions are expected. I often times feel as if I’m writing a miniature blog post in my Instagram captions. And that’s really difficult to do from your phone! Autocorrect, fat-fingering the wrong keys, deleting one word and holding the delete button down too long so it deletes the entire thing. Not to mention typing in all the hashtags. Um, no thanks. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

 

Then I discovered Later and it literally changed my bookstagram life. Later allows you to upload your pictures right on your computer, type out your captions & hashtags and schedule a post for Instagram. Now it doesn’t actually post the photo for you. Instagram won’t let that happen yet. But you download the Later app on your phone and it sends you a notification when it’s time to post. Click the notification and it will automatically copy your entire caption (including your hashtags!) and redirect you to the Instagram app. Your photo appears, you crop it, add a filter, whatever, paste your caption and post. Takes literally 5 seconds. Now I can post a photo a day, sometimes more, with no problems.

 

Start taking gorgeous bookstagrams with these bookstagram tips! Learn how to take awesome pictures & how to get them noticed on Instagram! - unboundpages.com

I’ll do a more extensive post on Later in the future, but if you’re looking to get started Amanda at Nellie & Co. has some great information on how she uses Later to make her bookstagram life easier. I also highly recommend following her if you want to up your Instagram game. She posts some awesome tips and tricks and regularly hosts fun bookstagram challenges.

Getting Noticed on Instagram

So now you’ve got some gorgeous pictures. But how do you get people to tap that heart, comment on your photos and ultimately click that follow button?

 

Go forth and comment

You know when you first started blogging and everyone told you a great way to get noticed is to go comment on other people’s blogs? (Consistently and with a comment that actually adds value!) It works the same way for Instagram and other social media outlets. People don’t know who you are! Get your face out there. Go like other people’s photos. Comment on them. Again, with comments that actually contribute. Not just obscure emojis or a “fantastic!”. Write something thoughtful. You may have to comment on a lot of photos, but eventually people will start to take notice. The most important thing you can do is be genuine. It will be really obvious if you’re commenting for the sake of commenting.

 

Be genuine and thoughtful in your comments and people will start to take notice & return the favor.

 

Something I think a lot of people forget is that Instagram is a social media outlet. Keyword being social. You don’t just post your pictures and walk away. Social media is about forging relationships, making friends and being – you guessed it – social!

 

Hashtags

Hashtags can be a game changer on Instagram. Use them! But don’t overuse them. I normally put mine directly in my post after I write my caption. I try to keep it to 8-11 hashtags. If you want to use more you can always put them in a comment on your own photo. But don’t just use any hashtags. Use ones related to your niche. For us, that’s bookstagram! Here’s a list of some popular ones I use regularly:

 

#bookstagram #bibliophile #booklove #bookworm #reader #booklove #bookporn #bookphoto #ireadya #bookish #bookblogger #booksandflowers #booklove #coverlove #lovebooks #bookobsessed

 

I store my hashtags in a note on my phone and my computer so I can just copy and paste when I’m posting to Instagram. Then I add and/or delete as needed depending on my photo. You can do some hashtag research on your own as well. Look at the bookstagram accounts that you follow and pay attention to what hashtags they’re using. Jump on them! And then… browse them! And comment and like other people’s pictures!

How to Create a Beautiful Bookstagram - unboundpages.com

Photo Challenges

I participated in my first ever bookstagram challenge this month and it was so much fun! It was hosted by Amanda from Nellie & Co. and Erica from Novel Ink and I had a great time participating. It gave me a community to participate in and I’ve found some amazing bookstagrammers to follow and chat with through the challenge. There are always challenges going on so find one (or more!) and participate. You don’t have to post a photo every day to “win” at a challenge. I did this past month, but that obviously won’t work for everybody. So participate as much or as little as you want to!

 

Actually doing the work

Photo Ideas

Coming up with photo ideas can be one of the hardest parts. That’s another great reason to participate in a challenge. The prompts are already there for you. I’ve also created an awesome list of 50 ideas for you to get started which you can download at the end of this post. Don’t be afraid to reuse the same ideas with different books. That’s the best thing about bookstagram.

 

You can take the same picture with different books and get a completely different effect.

 

Books and flowers for example. I have lots of pictures featuring the same flowers on my Instagram, but they’re with different books, shot from different angles, in different light, etc. so they look completely different!

 

Practice Makes Perfect

You’re not going to become a master photographer overnight. If you look at my Instagram I think you can see my progression from mediocre to getting better. I still don’t think I’m great, but I’m more proud of my pictures every week because they’re getting noticeably better every week. Nobody expects you to be perfect right away. It’s takes lots of practice, but you’ll get there. Play around with different angles and lighting. Take pictures outside and inside. Find out what works best for you! And if there’s a bookstagrammer you love, reach out to them and ask them for tips. I think most of us are more than willing to chat and help each other out.

 

One of my favorite things about book blogging is the community and that community extends to bookstagram.

 

Ask for advice in a real way though. Don’t just go ask them to follow you or share your photos. That’s not cool. Be nice. Tell them how much you love their photos and then ask your question. Build relationships. Forge a community. Be yourself. Use that creativity to drive your bookstagram and your blog to the top of the charts.

 

Wow that was a crazy long post. Thanks for making it to the end! To get you started, I’ve created a list of 50 bookstagram photo ideas you can try out! Comment on this post with your Instagram handle so I can go check out your gorgeous pictures! You can follow me @unboundpages.

How to Create a Beautiful Bookstagram - unboundpages.com

Are you just starting out as a bookstagrammer or are you a seasoned veteran? What tools do you use to up your Instagram game? If you’re just starting out, what theme are you going to go for? Don’t forget to leave your IG handle in the comments so I can go check out your account! 

Tags: , , ,

47 responses to “How to Create a Beautiful Bookstagram (+Free List of Ideas!)

  1. tonyalee

    Great tips! I wish I were must better than I am, but I am SO much better now than when I started. And I pretty much do the same thing as you, take all the pics on the weekend, pic and chose, make small edits and go! 🙂

    • lockhartbecca

      Yes! I think I get better every single week when I take pictures so it’s fun to see the progression. Do you shoot with a fancy camera or just your phone?

  2. OH I LOVE INSTAGRAM. I LOVE IT A LOT. :’) Although I confess to failing at the networking aspect. Gahhhh. It’s my goal to work more on that, because I dream of hitting 10K followers by the end of the year. ehehheh One CAN dream, right?! 😀 I’m actually kind of happy because I was taking bookish photos before bookstagram really was taking off. #hipster 😂 I mean, I wasn’t exactly good at it, BUT IT WAS FUN. So it transferred to instagram really seamlessly for me. I do lack a consistent theme, but i’m working on that too. I LOVE YOUR TIPS. SO HELPFUL.

    • lockhartbecca

      I just got into it this year and I love it!! Taking pictures of books is so much fun! Except when you have to clean up said books…. *sigh* Your Instagram is gorgeous, Cait! Definitely an inspiration for me. 🙂 And I think you have a consistent theme! I see your account as kind of chaotic with lots of pens strewn around and the baby’s breath flowers. It’s gorgeous!

    • lockhartbecca

      Instagram is becoming such a huge social media platform which was one of the reasons I decided I needed to focus on it this year. It’s been so much fun too, quickly becoming one of my favorite social media outlets. Instagram and Pinterest are my two favorite social media outlets right now being a very visual person. I hope the tips help you! Let me know if you have any questions!

  3. Claire

    I started my account (@fulltimereader) in March and I love it! I only have a small following but I am growing slowly, and would love if you checked out my feed, thanks for all the tips!

    • lockhartbecca

      Wonderful! Isn’t it so fun??? I’ll definitely check your account out. I’m glad the tips were helpful!

  4. I love Instagram so much! I used to have a theme but I hated having to use props and trying to get good lighting was killing me. And now I love what I have, which is mostly pictures at coffee shops 😀 I always take a bag full of books lol

    • lockhartbecca

      Yes, I’m starting to develop a more minimalist type theme mostly because I was sick of cleaning up all the props. But I’m liking what I’m doing lately. Hopefully that turns into an actual theme. I feel like I’ve been using the past three months to just figure out what works for me.

  5. Aisha

    Thank you for the tips. Seriously, I was beginning to give up on my account. I’ll go check you out on IG. @thatothernigeriangirl is my handle. Thank you once again

    • lockhartbecca

      You’re welcome! I’m glad it inspired you to try again! Instagram can be so much fun once you get the hang of it! I love browsing through all the pretty book pictures every day.

  6. Thank you for writing this! I’m really hoping to improve my photography and prop use as I find it so difficult at the moment to arrange it all. Will keep browsing the tips across the web! Cheers 🙂

    • lockhartbecca

      Of course! At first, it can be tricky, but once you figure out your theme and what works best for you, it’s a breeze! Glad I could help!

    • lockhartbecca

      Hi, Areli! Glad you liked the post! I love the mix of nature and books you have on your account! 🙂

  7. Thank you so much for the help! I only just started a bookstagram account and i only just found your website but it is amazing and really helped me to start off! I love all your Instagram pictures so much!!! My IG is @booksonthebrain

    • lockhartbecca

      You’re so welcome! I’m glad I could help! Thank you for your kind words about my IG account! Your account looks good so far! Love your Snape funko! Let me know if you have any other questions about bookstagram! 🙂

  8. Wandererofpages

    Thank you so much for making this! I recently started my bookstagram and found it difficult to find that one theme, now I realise it might just be because I’m not certain about my background yet! I’m currently using my windowsill for stand-ups and a wooden table for flatlays, but now I might just need to get my hands on a crisp white background to switch to that. Do you have any advice for usernames? Because I’m not sure what to use, currently I have @wandererofpages (but I used to have meadowlxrk).

    • lockhartbecca

      Yes! Theme is actually something I myself still struggle with I’ve actually been switching my theme once a month which has been working out because I get bored so quickly. But I do love the cohesive look you get when you stick to one. As far as usernames go, I would just try to go with something easy to say and remember. To me, wandererofpages is a little difficult to say. Maybe you could shorten it to something like wanderpages? Just taking out that extra “er” seems to help. You also want your username to be unique so make sure no one else has anything similar. Hope that helps!

  9. Hello, I know this is a late reply, but I just came across this. I am a book blogger and I’m trying to incorporate bookstagramming for the books I’m reading and reviewing. The problem is, most of the books I get for reviews are ebooks. I still want photos of them because that’s what I’m reading, but I’m not sure how to take a good photo of a screen and I can’t seem to find any tips on it online (all I get are instructions for screenshots). So, do you have any tips or places I can look? Is this even possible? I mean, I have seen some people do it…

  10. It’s been a really helpful and enlightening post. These are simple and sound advices! The only topic I’m still struggling with is how to place the props, holders etc. Like in triangle or always have an even number. Flat or erect etc. But now I know what to look for. Thanks!!!

    • lockhartbecca

      I’m glad it was helpful! Yes, I think layout is definitely one of the hardest things to get down when it comes to bookstagram. The great news is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it, you just have to figure out what works for you. I love taking flat-lay photos. My photos are usually zoomed in with a just a tiny bit of white space to one side. But I also love accounts that get their flat-lays in a perfect square. 🙂

  11. Akshita gupta

    I too am a beginner in this bookstagram community and i really want to build a community that actively participates in my posts and engage with my comments. I’m already so much in love with thie community i already have. ❤ My bookstagram username – ___bookish_reads 🙂

    • lockhartbecca

      The bookstagram community is definitely the best bookish community out there. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions along the way!

  12. Ash

    I’ve been bookstagraming for a little bit but recently I decided to take it a bit more seriously and work on my brand/blog as much as I can around work/kids/life 🙂 my handle is Logophile_Chronicles.

    • lockhartbecca

      Hi! Good luck with your bookstagram! It definitely helped me develop my brand more and it forces me to take awesome pictures to use on my blog which I love.

  13. Thank you so much for this list! Indeed, I’ve always been in love with beautiful Bookstagrams and never been able to create my own. I’m trying your advice. Thank you…

    • lockhartbecca

      Hi, Nevey! I do hope the advice helps! I have become so obsessed with bookstagram!! It’s amazing. 🙂

  14. Nafeeza

    Thank you so much for your great tips! I recently started my bookstagram @TheB00kdragon and your advice is really helpful. I am not sure of my theme yet (maybe simple with earthy tones?) it is so intimidating and your support here really helps. So thank you again for that! 🙂

    • lockhartbecca

      Hi, Nafeeza! I’m really glad my tips have been helpful! Love interacting with you on Bookstagram! Keep it up! You’re doing great!

  15. Hiiii! I’m really liking your blog. I just entered the blogging world and bookstagram (I suck at it, im not even kidding)
    But your posts are so helpful and sweet to read. I read a post everyday from your site when having breakfast! 🙂
    Thankyou so much for the tips! If you have time, you can check my blog at https://thereadersbay.wordpress.com/ and let me know if you have any suggestions!
    Take care!!

    • lockhartbecca

      Thank you so much for your kind words! And welcome to the wonderful world of book blogging and bookstagram! I’ll be posting a lot more on bookstagram tips in the next couple months so stay tuned for more tips and tricks. I just visited your blog and really love the layout. It feels very cozy and like I’m sitting in a quiet coffee shop or old bookstore reading. 🙂 Happy reading!

  16. Michelle

    Thank you! This is such a helpful article! I’m trying to get started in the Bookstagram community 🙂 I’m literaryomnoms on Instagram. And btw- I checked out your account and your pictures are beautiful!!

    • lockhartbecca

      I’m glad it was helpful! Omg I love your Instagram name! Welcome to the bookstagram community and thank you for your kind words about my photos! <3

Leave a Reply