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Instagram for Writers


When I first started using Instagram a few years ago, I was clueless on three things:

1. purpose

2. content

3. hastags

Luckily, I've always been a keen photographer. Even more so once I invested in a phone that took good photos. When I started out, I used my "big" camera, downloaded the photos, fixed them up a bit and resized them in Photoshop, and then sent them to my phone to upload to Instagram.


What a pain! Nowadays, my camera sits on a shelf and I take the majority of photos with my phone. I did a few free Iphone Photography workshops to figure out the gadgets and gizmos (filters mostly) and haven't looked back.

Then I decided that I needed to tweak my purpose for using Instagram and moved toward book marketing as well. It wasn't easy at first, but a few more free workshops later, and a session of planning, and I came up with the following purpose.

Grow awareness of my brand (me and my books) by posting regular content that feature a range of images: book covers in various poses, topics related to what I write about, topics related to my research, and photos of my research trips (also the occasional flower, pet, and holiday snaps).

Instagram can be great for writers if you go into it with a plan, start small, and understand that you need to commit to this over a reasonable period of time before you get the really good results.

Here's a few "rules" I've learned over the last 18 months.

First rule: Avoid making it all about the book. This will feel like spamming to your followers and they will start scrolling past you so fast your head will spin. Worse! They'll unfollow you.

Second rule: Be generous. Search for instagram accounts that are of interest to you generally as well as book related. Like and comment. Liking is easy. Commenting might require a little more thought but you don't need to write an essay. A couple of words and some emoji works quite well. People will start to follow, like, and comment back.

Third rule: Use hashtags, but don't go overboard. Keep them relative like #books #authorsofinstagram #bookstagram #amwriting and connected to the image you've posted. For instance, don't bother using #bookstagram if there's not a single book in your photo. The book or books should have price of place in any photo targeted at #bookstagrammers. If you're not sure, type your hashtag into the search bar and see what other people are posting in connection with that topic.

Fourth rule: Post regularly. A few times a week is a good start. Start with simple photos of flowers or books or your cat.... Whatever you take lots of photos of and feel comfortable talking about.

Fifth rule: Write a description. Unless your photos are the kind that people stop and gush over (like amazing scenery), you need a good description. Again, no essay required. What is the photo of, where did you take it, why did you take it, etc etc are all good starting points.

Sixth rule: Have fun with it! If you're not enjoying engaging with Instagram there's really not much point continuing. Find something that works for you.

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