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Dear Rookie Bookstagrammer April // 9 things I Wish I Could Have Told Myself When I First Started Out

Oy! How are we feeling today??

Honestly not my best. I am so tired in every way possible and kind of feel like crying over the slightest of inconveniences. Even emotional support breakfast foods or wearing my cow print bucket hat all day hasn’t lifted my spirits. But it’s fine. Fingers crossed that I won’t feel so mentally drained tomorrow.

Anywayyy in slightly more exciting news, I hit 2k on bookstagram yesterday! There have been so many milestones in the last week (on year blogging, one year on insta, #) and I am so thankful for it all. It’s totally wild how far I’ve come in that last year and I can’t wait for another great one ahead!

For my last post I reflected on my first year of blogging. Well guess what! It’s bookstagram’s turn. Once again in letter form, writing tips I wish my past self would have known. Let’s hop right into it.

Why do you scroll like you’re running out of time?

It is so easy to get sucked into the recent post feed. Especially in the very beginning, you spending hours upon hours on Instagram per day. Was it healthy? Definitely not. As time went on I became better at managing my time spent on instagram, and ignoring it’s black-hole like tendencies. Setting a time limit was super important for me, otherwise I would still be floating around the endless void of space that is bookstagram. 

Create guidelines for yourself. You know yourself and your limitations, so try to come up with an approach that makes sense for you. Does a theme stress you out? Skip it. Does the idea of posting every day make you want to embody your inner groundhog and live in a dark hole for all of eternity? Don’t do it. Post when you feel like it. Do you know that once you start scrolling you’ll never stop?? *pointed look at my past self* Set a limit.

It’s all about knowing yourself and deciding how you want to run the account. Don’t let the account run you to the ground, I promise, it isn’t worth it.

Don’t stress, put your planning to the test

There was a small while where I considered quitting bookstagram because nothing was working like I imagined in my head. How were people using emojis and aesthetic and editing ebooks so seamlessly??? I was struggling with captions, hashtags, and talking to people. Every time I saw a little red notification pop in I would dread opening it. It is supposed to be fun. Take a break if it isn’t. 

One thing that really helped me get out of my funk was to plan everything out in advance. I have a handful of nifty templates that I create (to be filled out later) and just make sure everything is locked and loaded. Having a routine and system literally saved me. My process is as follows…

Take photos in advance (in batches works for me). I use the preview app on my phone to store my photos, arrange them in a grid, and then edit them. Having that visual grid is super helpful when playing on a theme or aesthetic!!

Then, I have a folder on my Google Drive labeled with the month. I create 31 docs, labeled according to the picture description and date, and just write them all out. Some are more templates and can be filled out on a daily basis and others are fully done.

It is not super fancy, or even complicated for the matter, but it works for me. Planning it out might not work for everyone, but I know if I had started it sooner it would have relieved a lot of stress on my part.

I mayyy have an excessive amount of docs and spreadsheets dedicated to Instagram, but it I’m ok with docment overload because it’s easier that everything overload. I’m especially thankful for it when I’m juggling 16 tests and a chocolate chip bagel in one hand and anxiety and oversleeping on the other. Booksta won’t be adding to your adding to your stress because it’s just a quick copy and paste away. 

Props can be anything, because not everyone owns a random aesthetic wood plank

Scrolling through the feed you’ll see so many books, fan art, wood planks, candles, this, that, ya de da de da and everything in between. The pressure to have the latest books, the most aesthetic shelves, and hip-est merch is real.

If you want to go all out and get booksta props, more power to you, but I found that 99% of my props could be stuff I already had. Beads? Prop. Fluffy blanket? Prop. Random candle stick I found in the basement that gives off Clue vibes? It was Miss Peacock, with the candlestick (prop!)  in the basement. Flower hair pin I wore when I was a flower girl in a wedding when I was eight? Prop. Shells I collected to put in my fish tank? Prop. Placemat, scrapbook paper, scrabble tiles? Prop, prop, prop. The point is, anything can be a prop if you make it so. You just have to will it into existence. 

There is no need to go out and buy a gaggle of bookstagram props (unless you want to!). With a touch of creativity, the photo possibilities are endless.

Don’t Be a Box of Doritos, be a Mixed Chip Box

Ok, that title sounded wayyyy more clever in my head. But I like it, so it stays lol. In this charming metaphor, the Doritos are going to be the category of reviews. When I first began I thought that every post had to be a review. How was I supposed to read enough books to review every single day?? I ended up reviewing books that I had read in the past before I realized wait a second, I could mix these up. Now, I have a variety of post types when it comes to both captions and photos, thus the mixed chip approach.

First being the review post. It took many, many, many drafts and layouts before I hit the one that actually worked. Originally I was including the Goodreads synopsis, writing large chunks of text, so on and so forth. I’ve definitely adapted over time to fit my star/night/moon aesthetic while keeping things brief and to the point. The key here is to make is easy to read. Blocks of text are scary

Secondly, there are three moon bullet points detailing  what I’ve been reading as of late. It’s super easy to whip up templates and fill them in on a day to day basis, so that’s a bonus as well. Currently reading and life updates are perfect bookish feed fodder for when you don’t have any reviews!

And last, but not least, we have Reasons Why You Need to Read This Book, like yesterday. Caption wise, it’s pretty simplistic but it does require more editing. And it can only be done when my handwriting is feeling pretty otherwise it looks like straight up death. 

So yea, sprinkle those bad boys around the feed and you have that ~mixed chip~ vibe going. It’s always fun to experiment with new formats, editing styles, and layouts so it never stays exactly the same for long! Not everything has to be a review, or even book related if you don’t want to. Feel free to be flexible and creative when coming up with posts, that’s what makes it fun!!

You do not have to post everyday. I repeat: You do not have to post every day. 

I stressed myself the hell out when I began. I thought I had to take photos, write captions, and post ever. single. day. And when I didn’t have one for the day I would set the time to a different time zone on my phone, read, post, and then set the time back. I really don’t know what I thought I was doing there (like come on April! Changing the time zone of my phone does not create a pocket of time). I had a really bad mentality and created some unhealthy habits when I first began because I put such an extreme pressure on myself.

Now, I try to be a little more chill. Which in case y’all don’t know, I am the very opposite of a chill person. It was defintetly a mental hurdle to get over to convince myself, no you do not have to post everyday. Sometimes it’s still hard to skip a day, but I’ve gotten better with it. I wish I could smack past me and tell myself to chill my biscuit.

Point is, choose a schedule that works for you. It’s your account and it can cater directly to your time restraints. 

You Are Not An All Knowing God

You’re not going to know everything, and that’s ok. For the most part you can ask people and they will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction. Or you can do what I did and panic and facetime your friend at odd hours of the night asking how to do those bingo, story things (screenshot it!). 

#hashtagsareimportant #useall30 #yes

Hashtags freak me out. Every advice post ever tells you to use all 30, vary the sizes of them, mix them up, don’t use the same ones too much. And being the chronic Pinterest-post-advice-reader that I am, I became overwhelmed really quickly by all that advice. There were days when I didn’t post, just because I was worrying about hashtags and couldn’t come up with more. 

So, my advice to the ghost of April’s past would  be: compile a library to like 100 hashtags to copy and paste into your post. Have your hashtags ready to go and stored somewhere, because there is no way you’re going to remember 30 of the top of your head day after day. You can always find common bookstagram ones by looking at other’s posts or using key terms like “read” or “book” or whatever to look them up.

Or, even better, use a hashtag generator! My favorite one is displaypurposes.com I like to come up with a couple specific ones per post, and then use the other generated ones. Stress free!

You Do Not Owe Anyone Anything

Your bookstagram account is purely yours. Unleash your photography genius (or have fun trying!). Try that new editing style you’ve been dying to give a go. Be creative, have fun, and most importantly be you. Your account is 118% yours, so if you need a break, don’t be afraid to take it. As long as you’re taking care of yourself, you’re not letting people down, I pinky swear. 

Where is my booksta squad??

When I first started it seemed like everyone had bookstagram friends. They had inside jokes and had people to tag during giveaways and seemed super close. I felt super disconnected during my first few months. Was I being antisocial? Was I doing it wrong?? 

The answers are no and no. It definitely took multiple months, but after a while you find your people. You’re not going to click with every person you meet, but you will eventually find people you do click with. The key to get there is just to interact with people. Go comment on posts, reply to stories, join book clubs, do buddy reads, soon enough you will find some book buds. 

Buddy reads honestly are the biggest source of talking to people. It’s so much fun to talk about books with other bookworms, but it’s equally as fun when your conversations go wildy off track and you end up debating the hierarchy of jam flavors (strawberry is the best) or the best way to defeat a portal dragon (sticks, tin foil hats, and acid-proof suntan lotion) instead of talking about Pride and Prejudice like you we’re planning. 

While a lot of conversations do start more book-related it can most certainly be a jumping point for other conversations. Maybe you both like the same musicals? Or want to discuss the magical properties of bagels?? Or maybe you want to draft prophecies that rhyme and most certainly end in pain?? Whatever it is, just have fun (and remember internet safety!) (ew why did I sound like every informative video that gets played in health class) (ehh the point still stands).

Most people are really nice and more than willing to talk books, so be bold and talk to people. And to other newbie bookstagrammers out there, feel free to tag me in challenges or dm me about your favorite book, I’ll be your booksta buddy : )

Are you on bookstagram?? If you are what’s your handle, I’d love to follow you?? What are some things you wish you knew when starting??

16 thoughts on “Dear Rookie Bookstagrammer April // 9 things I Wish I Could Have Told Myself When I First Started Out

  1. ah i joined bookstagram a couple of months ago so the stress is real and i resonated so much with what you said, and so thank you for this post… ah but let me not get too emotional and instead whoop: CONGRATS ON 2K FOLLOWERS THAT’S SERIOUSLY AMAZING!! t

    hank you for sharing, i’ll definitely have to learn how to not spent hours worrying about catching up, pictures, posts and friends on instagram and it’s so heartening to hear this from you, who tbh is one of the bookstagrammers that inspire me loads !! (also i love the hamilton and beauty and the beast reference, brought a huge smile to my face) congrats once more and cheers to many more milestones, april!! ❤

    Like

    1. ahhh for sure!!! EEE THANK YOUUU!!!! the whooping is much appreciated lol.

      it was honestly such a struggle, there is always so much happening and i want to be there for it all. i’m glad my words had an impact there : ) gah i think my brain is overloading rn so i’m just going to say thank you thank you THANK YOU on all fronts!!!!!!!!!!!!! (hehe i’m glad to hear it, i too got a kick out of them lol)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. i’m currently on hiatus on bookstagram but this is actually super helpful?? i honestly have no idea how to edit the pictures i take and make them look halfway decent 😂 i’ll definitely start with canva <33

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  3. This really is what I needed when I first started my bookstagram too! I held myself to such strict rules, I had certain days I would post no matter what, tried to stick myself to a certain aesthetic and felt down when I couldn’t adhere to it. I haven’t been active on my bookstagram for a while now but I feel whenever I start once more, I’ll be much happier. I’ve learned to let go of these things!

    Like

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