How To Bookstagram On a Budget
Updated: Mar 12
#hacks | #bookstagram | #money
Believe it or not, A friend told me that a mutual friend of a friend spent so much money trying to keep up with her IG. This is a concept I really do understand especially when you're scrolling through hashtags or accounts seeing influencers or large accounts that have everything idyllically set up, flaunting their success.
As a start up account, I couldn't fathom how accounts were purchasing stacks of books per month then constantly posting whether or not they were a gift. My aims are to build a calming community, not barricading you with ads or suggestions, but at the same time I need things to market to grow the account. At this point, you're losing the vision of why you wanted to set up a booksta account. I can have detrimental effects on your mental health & makes you not enjoy the hobby.
Take Photos in Bookstores
This is a totally embarrassing idea but eventually you become ignorant of bookstore workers watching you pose like a d**k. If your aesthetic is not immaculate, like mine - sorry I'm a perfectionist, this would be an ideal yet quick way of creating content. My ideal location would have to be Ikea, Barnes & Nobel or somewhere well lit but most Waterstones stores have brown wood. #Bookstagram photos tend to do better when you've posted stacks of photos rather than a single tile. I think it's because we like to browse a selection, sometimes dismissing a single book if we know we won't read it.
Get Free Books!
Over the past two years, the price of books has increased exponentially. We ALL go crazy over a book sale or charity shop haul to find the best deals. #Bookstagram Communities often share Kindle deals weekly. The general concept of our pages are to generate discussions about books rather than needing to review them all the time. What people tend to forget: You don't need to own the book.
A library is a great way to source a book for free! Some people take photos of the books in the bookstore then read the library copy at home. It is off putting for some users as they don't like the barcode on the front or clear sleeves to stand out with flash. Personally, it's been a real budget saver going into the library. There are two ways I tend to use to avoid little annoyances with library books. To avoid the flash, I use a selfie light & take the photo at an angle which doesn't reflect on the shot. To avoid the barcode - if it's not stuck on the actual cover - I un-tape the cover then re-tape it. Be warned, it can get fiddly!
There are two other ways to get free books - electronically. Most people have signed up to Netgalley, where you can request for ARCs but there are a few independent book tour companies online like Rachel's Random Resources. These are slightly different to Netgalley. Netgalley is based on reviews to the publishers where you are ranked on a percentage after each review which will give you more access to popular unreleased books. Independent tour companies host a tour within a particular time frame where you will post on a specific day, having more of a chance to do Q&A with the author or spotlighting them on your blogs ect.
To get a physical copy, not all publishers do this, is to email the publisher & request the book. It is best to include your address plus other credentials like socials & blog page to show them what you intend to do once you have the free book. Over the past few years, publishers have been very responsive with sending out books. Some have arrived much to my surprise as they don't tell you if they sent it. Some send out gifts to popular influencers. The trick with this route is to email them when it's not too late near publishing day but not too early, like they've just announced it's coming in 8 months time!
We are all trying to do something to save the planet. Oh, and some money! During any bookshop sale, I usually bulk buy all my books I intend to read over the next few months, which aren't usually many hence the name of this blog. The trouble is: Many bookworms tend to go out & buy a book, expecting themselves to read it within a month or two, but when there are many releases or influences online urging you to buy the Kindle Deal or head to this bookstore, you find yourself pushing something else back. Personally, I do own quite a few books but not as many as I have seen online. 2023 resolutions for many people have been to read the backlog or catch up with ARCs on NetGalley they have been neglecting.
"For every book you buy, you should find the time to read it" - Karl Leigerfield
It sounds corny but I always follow a particular phrase to remind myself how hard I worked to pay for that book. I'm a minimal book keeper but yes, sometimes the TBR gets too much. There are also various films that always relate to having too many books to read. One that comes into mind instantly is The Holiday's character, Amanda Woods, where she has a panic attack at the beginning feeling like she needs to get away. If you're not familiar on that clip, head Partially Booked's Instagram where the reel is pinned to the top!
Save Something Literal, Time
Since giving this blogging malarky a go for reals, I decided to invest in something that allows me to digitally switch off - an automatic socials poster app called Planoy. There are other apps you can use. It depends on what you find easier but this one works best for me. I can add posts to other social pages & stories when I'm 'out of office'. People always insinuate that I'm online or always checking my gram. It has been advised by popular users to have another side hustle rather than making Instagram your full-time job. So reading isn't what they're meaning, lol?
Use Resources Around You
The majority of Booksatgrammers like to use props that are aesthetically pleasing to their feed & mainly go on a seasonal theme; Autumn is the most popular time. Personally, I used to do this before I changed my whole niche. However, I never saw the logic to why there would be candles, leaves, dried fruits plus ten other objects lying on you bed. Some people's accounts are really pretty & organised but this wasn't my thing. I found it consuming but if you're looking for a busy background around your books, give this a go as you may get along better.
If you're looking for simple back drops for your books, try a few of these locations/props:
An attraction - Swimming Pool, anywhere you are
A blank wall
Somewhere you would consider a pretty place
A cosy #booknook in the house
The aim of my personal feed at the moment is to incorporate more lifestyle. I may wear something cosy, be visiting somewhere with cosy or clean vibes that match my colour pallet like a fancy coffee shop. I like to include places or house items that are more realistic to where or how you're reading. Once I've taken the photo, I would upload it to Lightroom where I have made a few presets to test on them until I see a post-able photo I like. You can buy inexpensive ones from Etsy where more than one preset is sometimes included but it is still centred around the look you're aiming for.
If you don't have the book with you, there are a few sneaky ways to add them into your photos! One thing I have done on occasion is use an app called Photo Layers. I'll take a photo, add the book cover & layer it again with something like my hand or a plant leaf (see below) but you can crop or erase things that you layer too. You can see where I have slightly fudged this one though.
Another great app, though quite limited is Picsart. The app allows you to add stickers & special effects like the light shimmering on glass or water. There is a brush function that I've used to make it look like sparkling confetti is on the table as I forgot to buy some over NYE celebrations. The stickers are a great way to add coffee froth toppings onto an empty mug or a plain drink but makes you look like a pro barista. I have come across one or two Instagrammers who use the same technique but their posts were really nice. You see, it's little things on these apps that can really enhance your photo effects.
Lastly, if you don't want to take photographs & you'd rather download a photo of the cover, you can always use Canva. This has been a life-saver with the little things you see on my socials. For example, the picture at the top of this post is a Pintrest template designed on Canva. It's basic but allows me to promote this post through another website. There are thousands of templates & resources on the website or app so you can always create a carousel of posts then include you top books for the month or deals you found online for cheap or outfits you think a certain reader would wear.
Ladies & Gentlemen, that's a brief guide on How To Gram On a Budget. I would like to hear some of your tips to the trade as I have learned a thing or two researching this short feature.