So as it was my first bloversary yesterday, I thought I’d share some of the mistakes I have made during my first year as a Bookstagrammer/Book Blogger that I now reflect on. If you’re new to Bookstagram or the book blogging community, please remember that it’s OK to make mistakes like the ones I’ve made below. It’s a learning curve but it’s also a very personal experience, so make sure that whatever you’re doing, it’s for you and your pleasure!
Anyway, here are some of the mistakes I’ve made that have shaped my Bookstagram/book blog experience so far…
Not Using Natural Light In My Photos
You won’t understand the difference that natural light makes until you compare two exact pictures next to each other. I personally find that if I’ve taken a picture at night with light on, not only are there shadows all over the place, but when editing, the picture comes out grainy and just doesn’t look great.
Yet taking pictures during the day in natural light, makes a whole lot of difference. Not only do the pictures look brighter and have natural shadows, but they also perform so much better when you edit them. So my biggest tip to anyone starting out, is to use natural daylight as much as you possibly can.
Editing TOO Much
Speaking about editing, when I first started bookstagramming and book blogging, I took it upon myself to learn about the best editing apps out there and I used a bunch of different editing tools to enhance my pictures.
I loved the filters available in the Google Photos app, but they were sometimes a bit too much. I then had a play around on Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and sometimes I would just increase the brightness and contrast too much and my pictures just looked so heavily edited, I can’t believe I ever let myself post those pictures, looking back now.
I also find that the pictures I take on a whim with no planning and no heavy edits seem to be far more popular on Instagram than the pictures I’ve spent hours editing. So as always, the more natural the better.
Not Writing Easy-To-Read Captions
When I first started out, I was writing ridiculously long and quite technical reviews and I found that not a lot of people were actually reading these essays I was posting, basically because they were boring and not easy to follow.
So then I changed my captions to give a little mini review, with prompts to go and read my full review on my blog. But I found that didn’t work well either. So I have since switched it up again to now write captions that include a mini review of the book I’m posting about and a question at the bottom to ask other people if they’ve read this book.
I’ve found that people just want their information right there and then and don’t want to have to follow link after link to get the information they read. Also, a lot of people using Instagram just want quick reads that they can relate to or respond to, so having a smaller, mini review with a question at the end helps me engage more with my followers and get a better response.
Not Engaging With My Followers
Engagement is something I’ve had to learn about quickly to make sure the content I was putting out was reaching the right people. Depending on what your goals are with bookstagram, depends on how much you should care about engagement.
If you’re just booking for a platform where you can log all of your recent reads and find/speak to like-minded people then engagement isn’t worth worrying about. However, I want to inspire and motivate people with the content I post, so therefore not only does the content I post need to be relevant and interesting, I also need to engage with my followers about the content I’m posting.
One of the best tips you’ll see most social media advisers give is to not disappear after posting. For a few months, I would post at my usual time of 6pm and then put my phone down and occupy myself with something else, thinking my job is done here. And I suppose it’s always nice to let the notifications tick away and come back to loads…but that’s not going to make your followers love you. One of the best lessons I’ve learnt is to stick around after you’ve posted and even comment on some posts before you post too and trust me, you’ll be able to make more friends and benefit from more loyal followers.
Trying To Read EVERY Book
Every Bookstagrammers pet peeve. I think one downside to becoming a Bookstagrammer/Book Blogger is it has made me incredibly greedy and I’ve experienced some of the worst FOMO this year.
Seeing different people post about the same book, not only does it get you so excited for that particular book and want to buy it, but it also makes you feel like ‘I need this book that everyone is talking about in order to fit in’. But I’m telling you now, IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. You’re never going to be able to read every book that has ever been written. You can try but trust me, there will always be new books coming out all the time.
I’ve had to remind myself so many times about this and I’m sure a lot of you do the exact same thing too. The FOMO is real but at the end of the day, if you’re reading the same book that everyone else is reading, what makes you special? What makes you unique? What will make you interesting is if you’re recommending books that no one has heard of before and hyping them up to motivate others to read them too.
Letting ‘The Hype’ Ruin New Releases
Ahhh, ‘the hype’. I cannot tell you how many times I have bought a book because EVERYONE on my feed has posted about it (here’s an example of FOMO again) and it’s ended up not being half as good as I expected. And to be fair to those boks, if I had picked them up in a bookstore and not heard anything about the book before I bought it, I probably would have loved them. Yet the hype made them sound so incredible that when I ended up reading them, they were just a let-down.
And I’ve seen it happen to other people too. For example with the book Queenie, this was a book I just happened to pick up in Tesco one day, read it and was completely taken back by the writing, the humour and the story. Now Queenie is one of the books that was HEAVILY hyped up last year and I’ve seen Bookstagrammer review it after all this hype and said they didn’t understand why everyone loved it.
You see? So as much as Instagram and social media is a great way to spread excitement and hype about books, it can also be damaging to your personal reading experience because the hyped book is already ruined before you read it. So my advice to you would be, yes, of course see what other people are reading but also let yourself decide if you like books yourself.
Posting When I Don’t Feel Like It
Somewhere along the way this year, (I want to say around September/October) I lost my way a little bit. I think I had been trundling along all year not really acknowledging the effect that lockdown was having on me and how my life had changed so much in such a small period. I also lost my job as a result of the pandemic and became one of the daily statistics you read/hear about in the morning news. So obviously my mental health and my creativity (and even my love for reading) went completely out of the window and I found myself wanting to give up and subsequently forcing myself to post or be active on social media when it was actually the last thing I wanted/needed to be doing.
But I had this fear that if I didn’t post everyday and I wasn’t all jolly and happy when posting/being on social media, then people would lose interest and as a result I would become irrelevant. And that fear completely drove me to carry on posting when I had lost my love for it and obviously, that meant that when I was posting, I wasn’t engaging and I wasn’t posting content that people enjoyed or cared about…because I wasn’t doing it with the love and passion I had been giving before.
I’m pretty sure that if you were to scroll down my Instagram grid, it’s quite clear (to me anyway) where my creativity and love for all things blogging and books was fading and it pains me that I still carried one and didn’t just stop.
Since starting a full-time job again, it’s taken me a while to come to terms with how reading and blogging now fit into my daily and weekly routine. Yes, I’m not creating half as much or reading half as many books as I was doing back in April, but when I am reading/creating, I’m doing it because I want to and because I enjoy it. Don’t ever feel pressured to be something you’re not on social media.
Trying To Please Everyone
And that leads me nicely onto my eighth and final mistake that I’ve made during my first year as a Bookstagrammer and that is trying to please everyone. It’s easy when you first join bookstagram and the book blogging community to love all the support you’re getting but let’s be honest, you may start to crave the love and support from other bookstagrammers and bloggers so much that you end up losing your sense of identity.
This goes back to my earlier point of being unique and I definitely found myself wanting to consistently post about the books that other people have posted about to make me seem relevant and ‘in the know’. Whereas really, I was reading and posting about books that I either didn’t enjoy or that I would have never read if it wasn’t for this desire to be like everyone else.
Now I know some Bookstagram accounts pride themselves on their ‘edgy’ and ‘unique’ book recommendations but truthfully, I found that I couldn’t post about the books I wanted to or the book sI wanted to read because people didn’t know about them and therefore wouldn’t like or relate to my posts/content.
It’s hard to get out of this mentality and when you’ve posted every day for three months and been told that everyone loves you and your content, you start to fear that one wrong post might make everyone turn on you. Especially now when we live in such an age where cancel culture is HUGE and have cost many celebrities their fame and livelihood because not everyone agrees with their opinion. Of course I’m not standing up for the racists and transphobic celebrities out there because they deserve to be ‘outed’ for their backward thinking, but I think the moment you get some sort of following on social media, it becomes hard to show your real likes/dislikes in the fear that someone might not agree and persuade others to do the same.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that not everyone will like the books you recommend and not everyone will agree with your opinion of a book. Yet that’s OK and it doesn’t mean you should just say a book is good because everyone else thought it was. Be human, have your own thoughts and more importantly voice your own opinion because at the end of the day, people are following you and praising your content because it is ‘real’ and unique. So embrace that and DNF that book if you’re not enjoying it.
And there we have it…
So those were the eight mistakes I made during my first year of being a Bookstagrammer/Book Blogger and I wonder what mistakes I’ll make in my second year haha!