Weekly Instagram Experiment (5/21)

Hey Bookish People,

I’ll admit that I’ve been slacking on my 5am wake up time…badly. It felt earned after the chaotic weeks of pitching agents and wrapping up all my projects but it turned into a bad habit. While it would be really easy to lounge in bed for another month or so while I’m waiting for responses it would be a much better use of my time to write more of my next book. So for this week’s self development I’ll be working on waking myself up and sitting down to work earlier again. I’d like to be up by 5am like I was before I decided to ruin my progress.

For Instagram I will focus on something simple that I haven’t been very good at. In addition to liking posts by people I follow, I want to also like at least 50 posts a day by people who I don’t. I will look specifically for posts through hashtags that I frequently use. In theory this will help people see my account and potentially make connections moving forward. I’m not sure what to expect outside of more followers but I think it’s a tip worth exploring.

Be sure to follow the blog to keep up to date on how these Instagram tips are working out for my author account and to see the results of this weeks experiment on Friday. If you want to see last week’s results you can read the post here. I promise to do a post soon where I break down the tips I’ve already tried and give you a breakdown of what I would focus on.

Happy Creating!

Weekly Instagram Update (5/18)

Hey Bookish People,

Last week I set the goal of participating in an Instagram posting challenge that was part of the Bookstagram community. If you’ve never seen one before they’re usually a single post with a collection of daily prompts and when you post you use a hashtag that is specific to that month and challenge. It’s a way to join a community of people with similar posting interests and it’s always fun to search through the hashtag and see what others come up with.

So how did I do?

Followers: 153 (+9)

Posts :204

Growth was a lot better this week than last where I only gained 2 followers. Growth has been slower than I was hoping but it does seem that participating in posting challenges does help a bit.

Photo May 18, 9 09 04 AM

I had 3 less profile visits than last week, my reach went down by 19, and my impressions dipped a depressing 188 views. I have a theory about why and I talk about it a little further down.


My engagement was lower this week than last week and I think it has to do with photos I didn’t time very well over the weekend. I dropped the ball a bit but it does seem that the photos that were part of the posting challenge were among some of my best received posts.


There wasn’t much variation between my likes and engagement this week.


After last week where my priority was commenting on other people’s posts I was a little surprised to see the dip in my comments! Just 5 to last weeks 12. Oh well. This is a lesson that my participation in the community isn’t something I get to slack on.


Ouch. My impressions went down quite a bit this week. I suspect that this is because there was much less diversity in my posting strategy this week than there normally is. Because I used many of the same hashtags every day that were centered around books there wasn’t space for people searching outside of those hashtags to see my posts. I think this is something interesting to keep in mind.

I will say that my biggest gripe about participating is that this week the majority of my posts ended up being book covers. While those have done traditionally well (and I had a ton of backlogged books to take pictures of) it left my feed feeling a little repetitive this week. I know I shouldn’t feel that way since almost all of Bookstagram is focused on one topic but it was a deviation from my normal feed.

While I appreciated the new followers and the simplicity of having my posts planned for me, I think this is likely a strategy I will dabble in instead of using all the time. I think that for June I will gather up all the posting challenges I come across and then see which days are compelling enough to participate and which aren’t. This way I can still have a few days planned out in advance and can participate in several posting communities over a month. I think that this combined with my normal posts will be a better representation of my own style and interests.

That was a longer post than I was expecting! To find out what next weeks’ challenge is going to be, be sure to follow the blog. If there is anything about my experience that you’re interested in learning more about feel free to leave me a comment.

Happy Creating!


Should You Use Instagram Stories?

Hey Bookish People,

I wanted to touch on something that I haven’t on this blog yet: Instagram stories. I haven’t been avoiding the topic so much as I had a lot I wanted to cover on the basics of Instagram before I touched on the topic. I’ll be posting more about Instagram stories moving forward and will probably incorporate them into my experiments in the future.

So why bother with Instagram stories at all? It might seem like more work to do but if you’re not using Instagram stories then you are leaving out half of the 500 million daily users of Instagram. This feature of Instagram allows you a story telling medium that the regular Instagram feed lacks. While our feeds need to be picture perfect curations with themes and color schemes, our stories can be a little different every day and they can help us form better relationships with our audience that is viewing them.

Things I Post:

  • I take my audience through my day: writing routine, strange happenings, hilarious moments.
  • I use my Instagram story to update my audience on projects: Updates can get lost on your Instagram feed where people might scroll right past your good news.
  • I take my audience on ‘field trips’ with me: Show people around your city. I post photos and videos when I go to new places, whenever I end up at the zoo to volunteer, or anywhere that’s particularly photogenic. I’m pretty lucky to live in beautiful Seattle but there are probably points of interest to help you audience connect with you and where you live.
  • How to’s: If you want to teach your audience something use a combination of pictures, text overlay, and video to help them learn something.
  • Book reviews: I haven’t done a video review for my audience yet but I think that the short video format of Instagram stories would be a great place for an occasional quick book review.
  • Pictures I love that don’t fit my theme: I’m a multifaceted person and I can’t always fit everything about me and my creative life into a picture on my Instagram feed so I use my stories to post things I’m in love with and need to share. Show your enthusiasm!

In short, yes, Instagram stories are something we should be leveraging for building our brands and engaging our audience. Use stories to keep your followers up to date and invested in your life and projects. It’s a useful tool and I think it’ll serve us well to invest the time.

This Week’s Instagram Experiment (5/14)

Good Morning Bookish People,

I’m excited to try something a bit different this week that focuses on building community on Instagram. Last week I worked on commenting on other people’s photo’s in order to increase engagement and this week I’m looking to increase my following.

Those of us who are writers and #bookstagrammers have probably seen Instagram posting challenges in the past. It’s usually a post on Instagram that has its own hashtag and a list of things to post for 30 days. I have strayed away from these challenges ever since I developed more solid categories to post about but when I participated in the past I do feel like it helped me find interesting people and helped people find me. After a bit of searching I found a challenge that I’m going to jump into for the week that still fits with my categories.

I don’t know that this strategy of posting exclusively challenge pictures will work long term but I think it might work well as a larger part of an Instagram strategy. I’ll be testing it for the rest of the week without a break but I imagine that you’d get some of the same benefit picking and choosing days that you like the prompts and posting those days. I also suspect that you might benefit from dabbling in several Instagram challenges at once, but those are experiments for another week!

So here’s the post that I’m pulling from this week:30926834_399939900474542_1071159315999490048_n

I spent some time looking through various challenges that are ongoing and this is the one that I feel will fit best with my plans for the week. I have already planned out my week of posts and I’m looking forward to seeing how this particular strategy works out.

Do you participate in Instagram posting challenges? How have they worked for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Follow the blog to make sure that you see the results!

Weekly Instagram Update (5/11)

Hey Bookish People,

Time for my weekly update on my Instagram experiment. I posted a few days ago about the challenges I was facing with my task and I have to say, it never really got any easier! So, while my goal was to comment on 5 posts a day it ended up being 3 a day. While I was excited to interact I just couldn’t commit to spending my whole day scrolling and searching for something to interact with.

Now, this was just for the accounts I already follow. There is certainly potential to search out other content and to comment on that in the future and I think that I’ll make that one of my weekly challenges another week.

Now how did my account do?

Photo May 11, 7 48 46 AM

As of today I have:

  • Followers: 144 (+2)
  • Posts: 197

Obviously my growth this week wasn’t spectacular but I have seen some fluctuation in my numbers with a trend going up, so I see that as an overall win. This week was more about engagement anyway.

My reach was down by 7 people which seems like it’s within the range of normal. My Impressions did go back up by 217 and I had 3 more profile visits then last week.

Let’s look at engagement then:


A selfie from the aquarium got the most engagement (although none of them were comments!) and a picture from the farmers market and my border collie tied for second. Surprisingly my flat lay photographs, which did really well last week, did worst.


Surprisingly a selfie got the most likes, which I find strange considering how badly the last picture of me did, followed by my dog (she is pretty cute). Really the number of likes on these pictures just surprises me. This week kind of just violates all the patterns I’ve been seeing the last couple weeks.


Now for the data I was most excited to see! I had hoped that my comments would increase with commenting on other accounts and I am happy to say that my comments were higher this week then the last few! While 12 comment in one week isn’t the most exciting thing to happen, it certainly does show an improvement and a reason to keep up commenting on accounts when I see the opportunity. Community building is important!


My impressions were higher than last week but like my observations about my Likes this week, I don’t see a real pattern. This week was a strange one and I’m hoping that being able to see my data over time will help me make better sense of it.

Well, that’s it for now. I will call the increase in comments this week a success for commenting on other people’s posts! I’ll be adding this to my Instagram strategy and I’ll attempt to increase it as well.

Be sure to follow the blog so that you’re sure to see my post on Monday about what this week’s Instagram experiment is! You can also follow the Instagram account for this blog here. It’s a space for my to give more frequent updates and to have conversations about what’s working for you.

Happy Creating!


Insights on Instagram Engagement

Hey bookish people,

If you caught my blog post on Monday then you know that my experiment this week is to see if leaving more comments on other’s posts will increase the engagement on my own page (see the blog post here). Well, It’s only been a few days and I have had some insights on this experiment that I want to share.

The most important takeaway is to GIVE OTHER PEOPLE SOMETHING TO ENGAGE WITH.

I know that this is something I touch on in my post about first lines of your captions, but I don’t think that even I realized how important it was until I forced myself into a daily commitment to comment on people’s posts. It has troubled me the last few months how unmotivated I often feel to post on anyone else’s posts but I think I can finally see why that is. There is a shocking lack of posts that are easy to engage with! I have been struggling to find 5 posts a day among the 250 accounts that I follow!

I want you to think about what that means for you in terms of growing your audience and engagement. If you are the 1 account out of 100 that gives your audience something to engage with then you’re really ahead of the game. You’re also more likely to have someone engage with you.

So, I’m not saying anything terribly new, but do yourself a favor and ask your audience questions (preferably in the first line), ask for their opinions, ask for recommendations. Look at your captions and ask yourself if you could use it to start a conversation. People are looking for that connection on social media and you can be one of the few that encourages it.

Rant over.

I hope that this post is the kick in the pants you need to think about audience engagement on your Instagram account. Follow the blog for other insights, tips, and to follow along on my journey as I grow my author Instagram account one experiment at a time.

Happy Creating!

How to Plan 30 Days of Instagram Posts: Part Two

Hey Bookish People,

Sorry that part two took so long to get posted! If you saw my post yesterday you know that last week was absolute chaos but here is the promised part two of planning your Instagram posts!

Day of:

The day before my photo shoot I know what I’m going to take photographs of, have my props gathered, picked out a location with good light, and know what backgrounds I’m going to use. The day of the shoot there are still a few last second prep items that I have to tend to.

  • Brewing coffee
  • Preparing tea
  • Arranging food

I tend to work with food less because it is time consuming but when I have tea and coffee in my pictures I brew that the day of because I’m not sure I ever have leftover coffee sitting around (although I frequently forget about steeping tea).


I usually shoot with my iphone camera and I don’t think you need anything fancier than that to get your photographs. The day of:

  • Make sure your phone is charged!!!
  • Clean the camera lens (it’s probably full of smudges).
  • Make sure you have enough memory for all those pictures you’re about to take.
  • Make any necessary phone updates


Now that our props and camera are ready we can start arranging our items. You can either lay out your photographs one at a time or lay out a few photographs at a time and shoot them in one go. I personally only do one at a time which does take more time but I also am never satisfied with the layout the first time.

Don’t be afraid to move things around!

I will often take a picture of my layout and then adjust depending on what ends up in the frame. Not everything has to make it into the picture. Be willing to pivot if things don’t work out or you think of something better. Take pictures from different angles, take them up close and a little further away and see what works best.

Tip: I take all my pictures for Instagram with my phone camera setting on square pictures. This ensures that you won’t have to crop pictures and that what’s in the frame will be what you post on Instagram.

And have fun with it! I know that photography is a long way off from writing since it’s a visual art but I try to think of it in terms of a storytelling medium. If you frame your pictures in terms of the story you’re trying to tell your Instagram followers about yourself then it becomes a little more interesting. I also think that learning a visual art has helped my writing. I always thought of myself as a word person and now I’m learning to branch out.

Go through the list that you put together ahead of time and make sure you have covered everything you need. I would also recommend looking back through your pictures to make sure that there’s nothing you would like to reshoot.

When you’re satisfied with the number of pictures and the way they look then you’re all done!

What next?

When I’m done taking all those pictures I congratulate myself on getting a ton of work out of the way! Then I go through and delete anything that clearly went horribly wrong and won’t get posted. I will also use a photo editor to play with any images that I don’t feel are quite right (but I don’t think this is a necessary step).

You can also batch your captions ahead of time. I like to write my captions up on my Mac in Notes because they automatically upload to my phone and I can just copy them into Instagram without any problem.

If you’d like to learn how to write eye-catching captions that have been increasing my engagement, check that post out here. 

Be sure to follow the blog for more posts like this and feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you’d like to see more of.

Happy creating!