From Closet Bookworm to Bookstagrammer: Establishing a Bookish Presence Online

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Every now and then, amidst the hustle of photographing displays for my bookstagram, reviewing the latest novels I’ve read or opening bookish mail, I’ll find myself pausing for a moment and thinking: how on earth did all this come to be? Not so long ago, reading and writing were hobbies I primarily engaged in behind closed doors. Few people knew of my literary interests and I was very much a ‘closet bookworm’. This was a situation I was more than content with and I hadn’t really entertained the thought of finding a public platform upon which I could share my bookish passions with likeminded people across the globe. That is of course, until it happened…

After stumbling upon bookstagram by accident, creating an account of my own and uploading a few pictures, I began building a small following of fellow book lovers. Upload by upload my audience began to grow and soon enough I’d discovered this marvelous community of people just as passionate about reading and writing as myself! With time, dedication and persistence, more and more bookish opportunities began to emerge and somehow I’d gone from reading under my bed sheets to collaborating with authors and publishers, hosting giveaways, participating in bookstagram tours and interacting on the daily with an engaged audience.  

Although I’m still scratching my head wondering how I ever managed to find a place in this incredible community, my experience with bookstagram has certainly taught me a thing or two about running a bookish account. As such, I thought I’d share some of my knowledge and have compiled a list of tips that may be useful for anyone interested in establishing a bookish presence online. And please note: whilst my experience is mainly derived from Instagram, the vast majority of this advice can be applied across numerous platforms spanning YouTube to traditional style blogs. Okay, enough chatter! Let’s get to it!

Elements to consider when establishing a bookish presence online:

Choosing a Username

Once you’ve created an account, the first element you’ll need to consider is a username. This will become your identifier within the bookish community of your chosen platform. Whilst there is no right or wrong way to decide on a username, do keep in mind it will be one of the first things people see when viewing your account— so be sure to choose something you like! In my opinion, some of the most effective usernames are those that are short, catchy and easy to remember. As such, it might be worth limiting the use of underscores, dots and numbers as names that incorporate these are typically harder to search for. You may choose to incorporate bookish words into your username but this is by no means a must. Simply aim to create something that resonates with you! And don’t feel rushed —sometimes it takes time to find a username that clicks!

Setting a Profile Picture

Now that you’ve got your username, you’ll need a profile picture. Again, there is no hard or fast rule when it comes to creating this and you can change it whenever you desire. You may choose to use a photo of yourself, a shot of your bookshelf or even draw a picture. I personally decided to have my profile picture commissioned by an artist I love! The possibilities are endless so do a bit of thinking and see what feels right for you!

Writing a Bio

Most online platforms provide users with a description box in which they have the opportunity to explain their account. Be sure to take full advantage of this! Let people know what sort of content they can expect from you and link any other social media in this section. Sometimes creating a catchy description that summarises your page can be all it takes to rake in those new followers!

 To Theme or Not to Theme?

Okay, this one is more Instagram specific. For those unsure, a ‘theme’ refers to the elements of a photo that are utilised consistently to create a cohesive aesthetic when viewed on an account’s feed. This can include anything from using a consistent colour palette to photographing at a particular angle or adding similar filters and digital effects. When I created my bookstagram, I decided to develop a habit of posting photos with alternating black and white backgrounds to create a checkerboard theme (pictured below). I hadn’t seen anyone else in the bookish community doing this and over time it’s become a large part of my image. Although establishing a theme for your account is completely optional, I’m a firm believer that if used wisely, this is one element that can really help your online presence pop!

waller1
Photo: @littlewaller
Gathering Equipment

It can be a little overwhelming figuring out all the equipment you’ll need in order to run a bookish account; but fear not! Most resources are readily accessible and they don’t have to be expensive. Equipment you may consider gathering include: a camera (and no, you don’t need a fancy DSLR, I use my iPhone 6 and it works great!), photo props (such as flowers, embellishments, ornaments, candles and fairy lights – I buy most of my props from the dollar store!), backdrops, lighting gear and editing tools (many apps are free to download). This list is by no means exhaustive and you’ll tend to work out what you need as you experiment with different photography/blogging/video styles!

Devising a Posting Schedule

When growing an online presence, posting at regular intervals can really increase your reach. Whilst this doesn’t mean you need to upload three times a day, it’s probably worth devising a schedule that will provide your audience with some degree of posting consistency. I personally aim for 2-3 uploads per week as this is a manageable workload for my current lifestyle.  

Engage, Engage, Engage!  

Last but not least, make sure you consistently engage with your audience! Whilst creating bookish content is enjoyable, I find interacting with the people consuming it is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of all! Be sure to reply to comments on your posts and engage with other people’s content. Although seemingly simple, it’s through this sort of interaction that I’ve gotten to know some amazing people in the bookish community whom I’m regularly able to turn to for advice, support and late-night chats!

Alright ladies and gents, there you have it! I hope this list of tips proves helpful for anyone out there interested in creating a bookish account! Getting started is honestly the biggest hurdle and although it may seem daunting at first, the pros of establishing an online bookish presence far outweigh the cons; I’m actually a little annoyed I didn’t become a more ‘public bookworm’ sooner —and this is coming from a girl who used to read in the darkest corner of her bedroom! So, to all you closet bookworms, why not take a leap of faith and see what opportunities creating a bookish account could create for you! Who knows what doors might open!

waller2
Photo: @littlewaller
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