Do you ever scroll through Instagram and wonder how the hell all the bookstagrammers of the world manage to post a gorgeous, staged photo once, even twice a day? I used to. Because seriously, what do these people do with their lives??? I don’t know about you guys, but I work a full-time job. After my full-time job, I go to the gym. By the time I get home it’s pitch dark outside. Not exactly great for taking bookstagrams.
But I wanted to start a bookstagram account and grow it. I knew there had to be a better way. So I started out by just taking a few pictures on the weekend and trying to remember to post them throughout the week. Let me tell you about my memory. At least twice a week I forget my lunch when I go to work. I can never remember what I ate for breakfast the day before and don’t even get me started on my horrendous book amnesia. The takeaway here: I would never remember to post the pictures.
It wasn’t working for me and I was getting so frustrated. I knew I could never successfully participate in a bookstagram challenge because I couldn’t even manage to post a three pictures a week on my own.
Then I discovered a wonderful tool called Later. And it changed my bookstagram game. Up to this point, I didn’t think there was a tool for scheduling Instagram posts. But I was wrong. Now, Later will not actually post for you. Instagram has this weird rule where no other app can post for you. So instead Later sends you a notification telling you it’s time to post. You click it and it downloads and opens the picture in Instagram. Copies the caption you already typed up – on your computer – so all you have to do is paste and post. Life. Changing.
Best part of this whole thing? It’s free! Later gives you 30 posts a month on Instagram for free. So I can literally schedule out an entire month’s worth of bookstagrams in one day. I know what you’re thinking. No way. Still way too much effort. It takes hours to stage a photo. Not with some planning.
Every month I participate in Lisa & Becca @ Lost in Lit’s “lilbookish” challenge. So I already have my prompts ready to go. Choose a challenge to participate in. Not only does it make it easier to come up with ideas, but it’s also fun to interact with all the other participants every month! You can find challenges by search the hashtag #bookstagramchallenge towards the end of the month and you’ll find a bunch of them pop up.
If you’re looking for more ideas, I have a list of 50 photo prompts you can download here.
I’ve tried participating in multiple challenges before and it’s a little too much for me. The most I’ve done is three at a time. Most of the time I’ve been able to combine two challenges into one photo, but at a minimum, I had to post twice a day. That was too time-consuming for me. So I’ve settled down and just do one challenge every month, posting once a day. Which is a good amount for Instagram. 1-2 times a day, 3 at most.
Bookstagram Aesthetic or Theme
Just like your blog should be branded, so should your bookstagram account. I feel like so many people think branding makes your blog or Instagram boring, but that’s just not true. It actually makes it look better. Your bookstagram account will look so cohesive and gorgeous once you establish a theme. And it makes your life way easier when it comes to actually taking the pictures.
My theme is very minimalist. I take all my photos against a white background with just a few props in each picture. I do this because I like the white space in the background and also because fewer props mean less time to stage the photo. Yep. I’m all about time saving.
Come up with a theme that works for you. Maybe you want your background to be torn out pages of a book and you want to include fairy lights in every single photo. Perfect! Now you have a plan and you know what you have to do.
Taking the Bookstagrams
Take a screenshot of the challenge you’re doing and have it up on your phone. Or a list of what your photos for each day are going to be. Crank up the music and go. I have my camera settings pretty much down so I don’t have to change those much so I just stage photo after photo and crank them out. I can normally shoot the entire month in less than two hours. You’ll get faster and faster the more you do it.
Uploading & Editing
Then I immediately jump over to my computer and upload all my photos. I put them into separate folders with the date they’re going up. Then I choose my favorite photo, upload it to Picmonkey, make my standard edits (which literally consists of me clicking exposure – auto adjust), add my Instagram handle and save it. Now I jump over to Later and upload it. I do this for every picture for the month until I’m done.
Now it’s time for me to type up captions. So I jump back over to Later, drag my pictures onto the correct day and time and type up my captions. On the computer. This is my favorite feature of Later. It’s a desktop application. So I can actually type up my long captions on a computer. Instagram is a bit like micro-blogging. The captions are longer and should be engaging. Typing those up on my phone is the worst. Once I finish with my captions, I copy and paste my standard hashtags and add any other photo-specific ones I want.
Want a list of my standard hashtags? Download it at the end of this post!
Sometimes I run out of posts on Later just because of overlap when I schedule during the month. So if I run out I jump over to Buffer. They just added an Instagram feature and I am so excited about it. You can only schedule 10 posts at a time on Buffer, but normally that’s enough to get me through for the month.
All said and done, it takes me probably 4 hours to schedule a whole month of bookstagrams. That may sound like a lot to you, but the rest of the month I don’t have to worry about it. It’s four hours a month for one gorgeous Instagram picture a day. I think that’s pretty damn efficient. If I was doing it daily, it would probably take me at least half an hour a day. Instead, I choose to batch it all and have more time for my precious books.
Do you guys schedule your Instagram posts? Are you using Later to do it? Do you batch take pictures or just take photos every day? What does your process look like?