Ask Me About Bookstagram #1

Good evening bookdragons,

I hope you are doing well.
I often get new bookstagrammers reach out to me on bookstagram to ask questions which I love, but I though I should start putting my experience out there for whoever wants to hear it.

So in this blog post I will be answering the most common questions I get asked in my DMs as well as the question you asked in my stories a few days ago.

I just want to point out that this is just my experience so far and there are many different ways out there to hit your bookstagram goals.  So keep reading, asking questions and reaching out to bookstagrammers who inspire you. When I first started I had some wonderful people help me on my way so I always try to do the same. Let’s kick it off shall we?

How do I get more followers/growth? 
Sorry but there are no magic answers for this and as cliche as it sounds, try not to focus solely on that. Focus on creating pics you are happy with and you’ll attract genuine followers. Try to take clear pictures in good light. I personally like to have a lot of natural light in my pics to make them bright but some of my favourite bookstgrammers have dark/shaded themes. It all starts with a good clear picture and you can filter/edit it to suit your style. Follow bookstagrammers who inspire you and engage in their posts. This is how you make some awesome new friends as well as get your name out there. Make use of the stories feature because you can do a lot of cool things there like polls, quiz’s, sharing your pics etc. Try not to take it personally if you have a few people unfollow you.

How often should I post?
This is completely up to you and what works for your lifestyle. I post once a day, maybe twice if I am doing a challenge/rep search/shout out session. I don’t think you have to post 4 or 5 times a day to get your account out there – If you want to though that is totally up to you. Sometimes too many posts in a day can bother some people. I did test this theory though and posted three times a day for two weeks and I didn’t notice a difference at all except a few more unfollows. Try posting at different times of the day to find your highest engagement window (or you can view this as a stat if you have a creator account). If you haven’t got a creator account I highly recommend it. It shows you all kinds of stats like your followers age demographic, location, impressions of posts, which of your posts have the highest engagement and times your followers are most active.

Can you tell me about hashtags?
Hashtags are a mysterious things with a lot of theories flying around. One of them is the argument between putting hashtags in your post or in your comments – both will work just the same. It comes down to what you like and I prefer to put them in my main caption. You can only put a maximum of 30 hashtags per post – this applies to the entire post no matter where you put the hashtags (comments or caption). Try to mix up your hashtags and don’t use the same ones over and over. The algorithm will thinks it’s spam and limit your exposure. The other tip I have is to research your hashtags and follow some of your favourites.  What do I mean when I say research them? Go to the search bar, type in a book related work and hit tags. Look for a mix of small, medium and large tags (they will have numbers next to them of how popular they are). If you are only using the crazy popular ones your post can be drowned out in seconds.  A good place to start is #bookishinstagram #bookishthoughts #bookishlover

Are shout outs worth it?
I love both participating in and hosting shout outs. I love them because I find  so many new accounts I never would have seen otherwise. I have followed quite a few people from seeing accounts highlighted in people’s stories. If you are thinking about hosting one then I really think you should take the leap. Feel free to message me if you have questions about them.

Do I need a theme? Everyone seems to have one.
Again there is no hard and fast rule here. I have had both and I saw my account grow with each. I have also tried different themes – I had classics and covers, classics and rainbow shelves, pink floral, pink floral and flat lays and my current pink floral and classics. It’s your account and essentially an extension of you, so do whatever makes you happy and don’t be afraid to try new things – you can always archive or delete pics if you change your mind.

Are giveaways worth it?
The short answer is yes. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to grow your account. Something you should note is always be honest and transparent. Give clear giveaway instructions, adhere to insta’s rules, have a clear price point\currency  and have an end date. Encourage entrants to tag a friend/friends so you can spread the word about your giveaway. Be clear with your winner announcement and follow through with the prizes. I publish announcements in my stories and add them to a highlight so people can see all giveaways I’ve hosted and the winners. This community is big but if you start doing dodgy stuff, it will become very small very quick. Your reputation matters more than your follower count.

How big do I have to be to ask publishers for books?
Before you approach publishers make sure you are happy with your account and pics. They will look at it and decide whether or not to work with you so you want to put your best foot forward. I did a dedicated blog post about tips on approaching publishers that may come in handy. Publishers have contact information on their website and will stipulate if you need a minimum follower count. For me, I didn’t start approaching them until I had 3k in followers.

How do I get consistent lighting?
I live in Melbourne, the city of four seasons in a day. In my book room I have three windows along one wall so when the sun is shining it’s great. However the sunny days are few and far between so when I get sun on the weekend I try to take as many pics as I can because I can’t rely on Melbourne weather. Try to find a nice spot at home that gets regular natural light, this will make editing easier. You can buy studio lights if you don’t have the benefit of natural light. You can get them of Ebay relatively cheaply if you want to try them out. I film my unboxing videos at night after work so I use two of the studio lights for that.

What should I talk about in my captions?
Your caption should be related to your pic in some way. You can ask questions about the book, genre, characters, author, if people like the cover, if they prefer people on the cover of books or artwork etc. You can ask general questions like what are you currently reading, what book did you last buy, what was you last 5 Star read, what are you reading next if you are struggling for captions related to the book. Just try not to make all your posts really general because people will stop and read expecting to see something related to what you pictured. Sometimes I’ll ask a general question then chat about the book.

Do you have general tips?
So the 9 points before this are tips but I’ll list a few short ones below
– Don’t edit your post in the first 24 hours. When you do it reverts any engagement you have had down to 0. It essentially posts the post again in the algorithm (even though the likes and comments will show from before your edit).
– If you want to see how a new theme will look before you launch it you can edit a few pics in your photo app and use the layout app with a 9 grid (any collage app will work for this). This will give you an idea of what it will look like if you are a bit nervous.
– Don’t call out companies or bookstagrammers over an issue without chatting with them privately beforehand. I haven’t done this but I have seen others do it and it can put me off following their account.
– If you are going to share someone’s pic as a repost on your feed ask for permission first and be sure to tag them. If you a post to your stories be sure to tag them as well. (I haven’t come across anyone having issues with me sharing their pic in stories but if they did, I would delete it immediately).

Be kind and have fun. We are all here because we love books, making bookish friends and sharing great pics. Give more than you take and be yourself.
Thanks for sticking around for part one of my Ask me about bookstagram series. I’ll look forward to sharing more tips with you along the way.

Kimberley Xx

Here is a pic of Colin to brighten your day.

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