You know how to set up an Instagram account and it’s starting to grow due to consistent posting and engagement with your audience. So, where do you go from here? How can you create an account that looks beautiful (or at least coherent) and why is that important anyway?
Instagram is a visual platform– although captions are important, the first thing anyone who finds your account will see is your feed. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your photos are individually; if they don’t mesh well together, your feed will end up looking like a mishmash of ideas (don’t get me wrong, mine definitely looked like this at the start). Theming is arguably one of the most important parts of growing your account- having a coherent and unique theme not only means people will press that follow button quicker, but that followers will recognize a photo as yours even before seeing your tag (just like having your individual stamp on each post). So, how can you create a theme that works for you?
1. Find your aesthetic
Your aesthetic is basically how your feed looks and what it shows about your style- is it bright and vibrant, muted, pastel, crammed with props, just featuring books? All of these are great options- it is about which one represents you and which you think you can pull off the best. Decide what is at the core of your account and stick to that.
This is definitely easier said than done and takes a lot of trial and error, but it is so important. Certain looks just aren’t for everyone- I admire bright and vibrant accounts but I can’t pull that off, so mine is more muted and golden. Maybe you enjoy nature, and want your photos to be outside, maybe you love the colour purple and want that to feature in all of your pics. Whether you are more of a minimalist or maximalist, finding your own style and sticking to it is key.
2. Choose a backdrop
This isn’t to say in any way that you can’t swap around your background, but having a similar (at least similar coloured) backdrop to start with is super important (and helps a lot with establishing an aesthetic). This doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, you can pretty much use anything:
- Your bedsheets/ head board
- A blanket or sheet
- Or even in the garden if that kind of setting works for you ?
I like to use my bedsheets or blankets, and I always try to keep my background soe shade of grey- this is a really easy way to link photos together.
3. Use a filter.
When it comes to the actual pictures, filters are so important. I always recommend taking your pics in natural lighting, because this keeps the brightness of each photo similar, and then experimenting with which filter looks best and sticking to it for all your photos. Some of my favourite apps are VSCO , Snapseed and Darkroom.
4. Choose a constant
I’ve mentioned backdrop and filter, so this point is more focused on your choice of props. Props can be pretty scary at first- where do I get them? Do I have to pay a lot for the best ones? How do I even use them? Fear not! Props don’t have to be expensive, in fact, you can pretty much use anything lying about the house. I have a lot of bookmarks and bookish candles that I’ve gathered over the years, but I also use cushions, jumpers, scarves, baskets, trays, mugs and so much more that I already have!
Props can be a real tool in crafting a theme– for example, I have a pretty gold vase that appears in a lot of my photos and I also try to always include candles (I’m obsessed ?). You don’t have to strictly include one prop in every photo, but its just an extra way to link them together.
5. Never stop experimenting!
Perhaps the most important point of all; you won’t find your theme overnight, it will take a lot of playing around and testing out styles of photos. I change my theme regularly to see which I like best and which types of photos perform the best. A really great app for this is Preview– it does exactly that, lets you preview how your feed will look before posting, so you don’t have to go through the struggle of deleting photos when you realise they don’t quite fit your theme (which I still do on a regular basis ?).
6. Balance your feed
Although creating a coherent theme might seem easier if you just stick to one type of photo, that will definitely get boring. Having an aesthetic doesn’t mean your feed can’t be full of different types of photos, props and colours. Consistency is key, but even more important is that there is a human behind each account and followers want to connect with you the human. This will be a lot easier if your feed has a bit of… pizazz.
By this, I mean try out as many styles of photos as you can- this could include but is not limited to:
- Shelfies– maybe my all time favourites, shelfies may seem easy, but trust me, I can spend hours arranging nd rearranging my pics for the perfect photo
- Flatlays– perhaps one of the most common types of posts on bookstagram, flat lays are just that- setup that are flat, at one level. The trick with flat lays is to ensure you have a focal point (you, a book, etc) and that no props or other parts of the pic distract from that, only enhance it.
- Angles/ portraits– these can be super fun to set up and involve creating level in your photo (through book stacks or building up props). Its so easy to get a lot of different looking pics by taking the same one from different angles, maybe with a couple of books or props swapped out.
- Featuring the bookstagrammer– if you can include yourself, your legs or hands in the photo, this will likely bring you a lot more human connection. Your followers want to see you and to know that there is someone behind the camera.
- Photo challenges– these are such a fun way to not only engage more with the community, but have consistent prompts and ideas for your bookish photos. You can usually find monthly bookish photo challenges to join on most big accounts on bookstagram.
Below are some examples from my own Instagram account:
And don’t fear! As long as you continue to edit the photos in the same way and maybe keep a similar backdrop, you won’t lose your theme, but you will make it even better!
7. Do your own thing
Don’t worry if you find it initially difficult to find your own aesthetic or theme consistently- you’re on Instagram because (I assume) you love books (or writing, travel, etc) and want to share that love! Don’t lose sight of that! Take the pictures you enjoy and don’t let yourself be held back from taking photos of your favourite things just because you think they might not look quite right.
8. Look for inspiration
Last but not least, a helpful little tip if you’re searching for a style: make sure not to copy anybody’s photo too closely, but there are so many amazing bookstagram accounts with so much inspiration for your own posts and theme. I am constantly recreating photos I have seen on Instagram and taking notes of the props and backdrops I notice.
Pinterest is also brilliant if you’re looking for inspiration- I have boards dedicated solely to Bookstagram inspiration , as well as boards with my Instagram and blog posts for other bloggers or bookstagrammers who are looking for inspiration. My explore feed is just a page of gorgeous ideas and I am constantly inspired to try out the angles and props I see there in my own photos.
Are you a bookstagrammer? Is theming something you find difficult or did you establish a coherent theme at the get go? You can let me know in the comments down below or dm me on any of my social medias.