Tips and Tricks for the Beginner Bookstagrammer

As you can tell from this super-excited (and a little guilt-ridden) tweet, Instagram has finally succeeded in sucking me in:

So, I joined after three years of denial. IT WAS AN ACCIDENT, I SWEAR! Username is (same as Twitter)

Now, obviously, I have been a Bookstagrammer for all of ten hours, so I know basically nothing - NOTHING I TELL YOU - about taking bookish photographs. Insert me Googling frantically. Then, when that doesn't work, I might live on the wild side and Bing frantically too.

Luckily, it turns out the book / blogging world is really into Instagram, so thank you, everyone! I've put together this list of guides, which should take you in chronological order through the process, from the I-think-I'm-gonna-join-instagram moment to when you hit publish on your first photo. (Please, please remember that I am the exact opposite of an expert, and all the amazing advice is courtesy of other lovely people. I'll tell you who . . . promise.)

#1 - Choose a username.

I'm assuming that you've already worked out how to sign up and that you can only do most of these things on a phone. If you're on a computer, shift to your mobile (which is as smart as a pack of smarties, as ever) and download the app.

Now. Names. Although IRL, and in Shakespeare's time, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, the same is not true of Instagram. If you've got a twitter feed, making your usernames as similar as possible would save a lot of confusion. Other than that, I'd say you're fine as long as you put some thought into it, and reading the article above by Loop Digital's resident geniuses would certainly help.

This is from the amazing Matilda the Musical. If you value your awesomeness, at least Google it.
Oh, wait. Please, please, for the love of chapter headings, make it obvious who you are through your username, maybe adding the name you go by in the bloggersphere (e.g. Lara Liz) in the full name box. One of my best school friends is on Instagram, and I think I know what her profile is because I can tell by her friends, but because her username is utterly unintelligible, I can't follow her, and you wouldn't want that to happen.

#2 - Decide who you want to be friends with.

Photo credit to article linked above.
On Instagram, as with the rest of the world, powerful friends are everything. I mean, it's up to you who you follow, of course - the link above, by the brilliant Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf, just contains a few kick-butt suggestions - but if you want to mostly use the book aspect of Instagram, I'd recommend having mostly bookish peeps on your 'Following' list, so people know what you're into without having to look at the profile (I don't think they can before they've followed you.)

However, please don't think I'm trying to tell you who to follow. Follow the people who you want to show up on your home feed.

#3 - Pick a theme.

Photo credit to article linked above.
I would like to note that this step is both OPTIONAL and DIFFICULT. As far as I can work out, and for me anyway, it's really hard to know where your photo style is going to end up as a beginner bookstagrammer. I've included it here because it's a big trend right now, and a lot of people will want to at least know themed feeds both exist and are popular.

That said, if you do want to go the hard (but will-probably-pay-off-more-in-the-end) way and pick your theme when you start, this article should be your Bible. It's short and sweet, and the examples give you so much motivation because you can see the benefits. It's by Dana @ The Wonder Forest - a new find thanks to Google - and I'll definitely be keeping an eye on that blog, because although it isn't book-y (oh, the blasphemy) there are some great tips and the design is just. So. Fabulous.

#4 - Take your first photo (or, more accurately, million photos)

Photo credit to article linked above.
Taking photos is easy. Taking great photos can be very, very hard, as told by my other new find, Andrea @ Quirk Books, but like with blogging, a little thinking outside the box goes a long way. You'll have to be very patient, as one of the best ways to get the brilliantist results you can is to take photos from every angle you can, but seriously. Try anything. You can always crop or change out little things you don't like at the editing stage, and you'll slowly get used to working out what you can fix and what you can't - apparently. I'm still finding my feet here.

I'll have a quick word about cameras here as well. I have a little pink Canon compact that I got about four years ago for my birthday, and it works fine; especially at this point, you don't need anything fancy. In fact, a lot of Instagrammers just use their cameraphones, as the app intends you to, but that gets me gritting my teeth because my phone's too top-heavy. It's all a matter of personal preference, so just do what you like and bear in mind any effects your choice of tech. is having on your photos.

#4.5 - Delete the rubbish ones.

The art of photo deletion (or at least deciding which ones to edit) is a hard and time-consuming craft if you do it wrong. Just read this article by a professional photographer (check out her website here) and you'll understand.

#5 - Make your gems shine.

Photo credit to article linked above.
Oh, Cait, you are the epitome of wonderfulness. She's the brilliant brain behind Paper Fury (utterly hilarious, I promise), and first got me into using PicMonkey to its full capacity. This tutorial is one of the best places to start on the mammoth topic of photo editing, because a) said wonderfulness,       and . . .

b) I LOVE PICMONKEY! It's an in-browser editor, which can be a bit of a problem if you have a crashy browser / unreliable WiFi, but that does mean it doesn't take space on your hard drive and you can use it from any computer in the world. Plus, as long as you resist the Royale upgrades (I might be getting a subscription for Christmas) it's completely, totally, fabulously free.

(I'd also like to comment that you can use the filters on Instagram to edit on the go. But, in my opinion, PicMonkey does so much more.)

#6 - Craft your hashtags.
I'd never really thought about it before, but hashtags are important. As this post from the geniuses behind Instagram shows, it gets your photos more views and lets you see more posts on the same theme. Also, the summary in general is a great place to smash your own individuality into each and every update, so you go from being just another book blogger with pretty photos to that girl who types really long and funny sentences. (I don't know where I got that example from. . .)

Next time you really really really wanna zig-a-zig ah - *cough* - I mean post another photo, repeat steps 4 to 6. It isn't that hard, surely?

As always with tutorials, this word is not the word of absolute truth. Feel free to ignore what you want - ignore Instagram entirely, like I did for years, if you'd like - I'm just voicing my opinions in the hope they help somebody. Beginners and seasoned pros alike: do you have any more tips? COMMENT! TELL US!
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  1. Ahhh, this is GREAT!! I love your round up. (And squee thank you for linking to my post. :') I'm so so loving instagram. I think I've nearly been on there for a year?! Time flies when one is busy snapping away at photos, hehe. I don't have a themed account but sometimes I wonder if I should have?! There are too many options for places to take photos though!! I take a lot outside, but I do like the occasional white background. xD Ahem! I am rambling. But yaaay this post is great!!

    1. Yay! You are very much allowed to ramble here (I am the girl with the long sentences, remember?). And, as far as I can tell, themed accounts are as hard to make as something that's hard to make. The first two photos I've posted are kind of black, so I suppose we'll see if this continues. . .

      BTW, I must say that I absolutely adore your Instagram, and there is kind of a theme - I love how your love of grass fits in with your profile picture!

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