July 7th marked my first official Insta-versary for my author platform. After sharing over 150 posts, experimenting with different image types, and researching the best practices, I feel I’m just now getting the hang of Instagram. So, what lessons have I learned in using Instagram as a book marketing tool?
Lesson 1: Decide on an Aesthetic Before Launching
One of the biggest mistakes I made when launching my author Instagram profile (@authorallysonkennedy) last year was not deciding on an aesthetic that was pertinent to my brand and authentic to who I am as an author. Instead, I shared a variety of images that clashed in both color and purpose.
I launched my Instagram before upgrading my website from a free to a paid domain, so this was when Authoring Arrowheads’s colors were the maroon and white combo. (Shout out to y’all who still remembers those days!) So, in order to keep up my brand’s appearances, some of the first images I posted maintained the maroon and white aesthetic. The issue came when the images I posted around the branded images clashed with the colors of the #bookstagram and other promotional images.
What ended up happening was my feed became an eyesore collage of mismatched photos that, if they were on someone else’s feed, would never inspire me to follow them. And, while I still gained a fair amount of followers in my early days, I feel I could’ve gained more if I put more effort into constructing my feed.
How to Build an Instagram Aesthetic
Truth be told, building an Instagram aesthetic is something I’m still to this day trying to build for my feed. While I’ve now learned to create promotional images that match the colors and feel of my website, I’m still learning on how often to post those and how to take and edit individual photos so that they all have a cohesive feel.
The best advice I have for building an aesthetic for an author account is to decide on your author brand’s colors and write their hexadecimal color values down in your planner or phone so you know the exact colors to use when creating images for your Instagram. For example, the orange I use for my blog headers are #fe7e3e and the light blue color used on the majority of the site is #dff3ff. Once you have those, it offers the basic building blocks for creating your aesthetic. Well, at least for text-heavy images.
If you’re looking for an example of a beautifully cohesive author Instagram account, check out my friend Jenna Terese’s account at @jenna.terese. Her feed is absolutely stunning and shows off her personality well to her followers.
Lesson 2: Develop a Consistent Posting Schedule
And, you see, this is where many people fall off the wagon. Including myself.
For the first month I was on Instagram, I posted every day… until someone I was close to passed away unexpectedly. After that, my posts were pretty sporadic, and though there were times when I’d try to get a consistent, once-a-day posting habit back up.
Believe it or not, posting to Instagram every day can be tough if you don’t have a game plan.
Back then, I would snap a photo a day, write the caption in a rush, and immediately post it. Over the past month, I’ve developed a more streamlined approach to tackling Instagram that has relieved the old pressures I used to put on myself.
Take Photos in Batches
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve read for creating a thriving Instagram account is to take some time on the weekend to take your photos in batches and then schedule them out for the remainder of the week. Gather a load of books or other props you’d like to use, and carve out thirty minutes to an hour of time to snap away!
If you don’t have a fancy camera, don’t worry, because neither do I! Smartphones work perfectly fine.
Edit All at Once
After I take photos, the next thing I do is sort through them and delete out any I know I don’t want to use. Once that is taken care of, I edit the potential posts on my phone using the free Adobe Lightroom app.
I’ve only been using the app for a month and don’t have much advice on creating custom presets, but I’ve found that the built-in presets work fine for me so far.
Upload the Images into a Scheduling App
This, my friend, is the most important step in my Instagram process. The free plan of the Preview app allows me to import my edited pictures, assign captions and hashtags to them, and even allows me to set reminders for when to post the images!
I absolutely LOVE Preview so far. Even though it doesn’t automatically post my scheduled posts to Instagram for me, its basic settings are easy to use and allow me to avoid the last-minute rush of sorting through my drafts on Instagram. And, the best part of Preview is that it allows you to drag and drop your photos on a grid so you can see how your aesthetic will look before posting!
Y’all… that thing is a lifesaver. ❤
Lesson 3: Utilize Instagram Stories
I had my Instagram account for over a year before I started utilizing Instagram stories, and let me tell y’all, that was a grave mistake.
I’m not a big Snapchat user, so I wasn’t used to posting stories, but y’all… it’s not hard. And it drives a lot more traffic to your account than you think, especially if you include a well-placed hashtag.
Tips for Beginners
I literally had to look up articles to teach me how to use Insta Stories, so don’t feel dumb if you’re just starting out and have no idea what you’re doing. I barely know what I’m doing. 😛
One of the best tips I’ve found is that your Stories are where you can share those random photos that you want to share with your audience that don’t fit into your aesthetic, such as a random picture of your dog or your impromptu trip to the beach. This helps you show a more personal side to your followers without “messing up” the cohesiveness of your feed. I’ve started sharing information about weekly blog posts there, and have seen increased traffic to Authoring Arrowheads by doing so.
Another is that, if you’re comfortable doing so, it’s a great place to share video content with your audience, such as a quick and personal thank you for participating in a cover reveal. I’ve also seen other authors use video stories to post quick tutorials for writing, or hold word sprints.
My top three lessons learned for using Instagram as a book marketing tool are:
1) Decide on an Aesthetic Before Launching
2) Develop a Consistent Posting Schedule
3) Utilize Instagram Stories
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
Are you an #authorofinstagram or a #bookstagrammer? What tips do you recommend?
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.