Hi all! This is a post in a series of posts called BOOKSTAGRAM 101. I'll be sharing tips, advice, and insights about my experience on bookstagram in these posts. To check out all the posts, click here.
Real talk: #bookstagram could easily take up a majority of my time if I let it. Between catching up on posts, responding to comments, watching Stories, and getting inspiration it can be hard to find enough time to do it all while also working a full time job (or another full time commitment you may have). I'm sharing my top three ways that I save time so I can create posts, enjoy catching up with my feed, and not spend too much time doing it!
01. Plan ahead.
This is the most essential piece for me in being successful with posting consistently while also working full time. I'll admit that I am a planner by nature but, honestly, it doesn't take that much time for me to plan out a week of posts. There are so many benefits to planning ahead: you can make sure your grid is going to look cohesive, you can schedule out your posts so all you need to do is hit 'post' on the day of, you can put your best foot forward to create awesome content for your followers, and you save so much time!
There are a few different tools that I use to plan ahead, so I'll walk you through my process. I typically pick one day of the weekend (when it's sunny) to shoot 5-7 photos to get me through the week (more on my photo shooting & editing process in a future post). After I'm done shooting photos I upload them from my camera to my phone to edit them. I always edit my photos in the VSCO app and have the filter/settings saved so that I can just copy and paste the edit on to the photos and make minor tweaks as necessary. This saves time and helps to create similar tones across all my photos so they look good together.
After my photos are ready, I upload them to the app UNUM. I love this app because it lets you arrange your photos to see what your feed will look like. You can drag and drop your photos to reorder them so you can get a preview of your feed. This is also helpful if you have two similar photos and you're trying to decide between which one you want to post. Instagram is a visual app and your feed is the first impression people get of your account when they visit your profile. I think it's so important to consider your feed as a whole instead of just post by post and this app helps with that. After I feel happy with the order of my photos, I upload them to the Later app. From there I can schedule my posts, write my captions, add my hashtags and then I'm good to go for the week! I should note that Later does offer the functionality of previewing your grid, but I find it clunky so I prefer to use the separate UNUM app.
Later has literally been a game changer for me in managing my posts for #bookstagram. I've been using it since the start and it makes life so much easier. They offer paid accounts but I have been using the free version and have found it to be more than enough to help me manage my posts. In Later, you have a media library where all your photos live. You can drag them on to your calendar to schedule the day and time you want them to post, you can type up your caption, and you can even save groups of hashtags so they are easy to just copy in to your captions. When the time comes for the scheduled post, you receive a notification, swipe, and a few clicks later your post is live in Instagram! It's truly such a helpful tool. I tend to have my posts go live in the mornings on the weekday. Usually while I'm putting my makeup on or packing my lunch for work, I'll see the notification come through and then it only take a minute to get it live. I like to use the desktop version when I'm writing up my captions because I can add my emojis and format everything the way I like. They offer some helpful metrics and have a killer blog. I have learned so much about Instagram strategy from their blog post over this last year.
Overall, this process of shooting photos and planning out my content for the week probably takes me around 1-2 hours on a weekend and then I don't have to worry about it during the week while I'm working!
02. Reclaim your feed.
Quickly after joining #bookstagram, I realized that one of my biggest time sucks in keeping up with #bookstagram was the endless scrolling that comes with the home page. So many posts! So many stories! So many books! So little time! At first, I was so excited to follow so many accounts and I quickly realized that was not going to work for me. I try to limit myself to ~1 hour per day on Instagram so I need to be intentional about what I am seeing in my feed. This also helps with motivation - it's no fun for me to open the app and scroll through a bunch of posts that don't resonate with me or that I don't recognize who is posting them. I intentionally keep my following count low so that I only see posts from people I know and content that I'm interested in. I'm a person who prefers to have a few close, good friends rather than a huge group of friends and that mindset definitely carries over in to my Instagram feed. If I'm seeing posts from people who I 'know' then I'm more likely to engage with their content and not feel like I'm mindlessly scrolling and wasting time in the app.
One method I have found to be SUPER helpful in reclaiming my feed is by utilizing the Mute feature on Instagram. I mostly use it for stories, but I do use it for some feeds too. Real talk: Stories are a lot of noise. I contribute to that noise but it feels like sometimes you could get sucked in to Stories forever and come out not even knowing what happened to you. I find that often I will like the posts that someone shares but I'm not necessarily connecting with the content that they are posting in Stories (you know the ones, where you just always swipe next when they come up). If I find myself doing this, I'll visit their profile and mute their stories. Now, I've reached the point where I can actually just watch through Stories in one go and *gasp* reach the end! I've muted most stories and only keep the ones in my feed from people I know or already have a relationship with. And don't worry - you can still see the muted stories. They are just at the end of your feed of stories and grayed out. But if you want to watch them you just click on them!
The same goes with posts - if there are posts that consistently come up in your feed that you aren't in to then I would consider muting this account for a while (especially if you're weary to unfollow). I honestly have most of the publisher accounts (minus a few of my favorites that consistently post good stuff *ahem, riverhead books* that I follow muted because I don't feel it's necessary to see their posts everyday. Usually, about once a week I'll go through and visit their pages and catch up on what they have been sharing.
I highly suggest going through your following list, weeding out accounts you might not feel connected to anymore and then heavily using the Mute feature for other content. This has helped save me from getting sucked in to the endless scroll and I've enjoyed my time on #bookstagram so much more once I reclaimed my feed. I feel motivated to comment on people's posts, respond to their stories, and general just keep up with what is going on. And, I will note, this is what works for me. I recognize that everyone has different interested and ways in which they want to engage on the platform, but I have found this has helped me with making my time on Instagram feel more manageable.
03. Take time away to recharge.
I am a firm believer in the power of rest as a way to recharge and foster creativity and inspiration. I've learned that when I'm feeling particularly stressed out about the amount of time I have, it's okay to step back from the space. Also, if I'm feeling lackluster and uninspired, time away is necessary! It allows me to recharge, cultivate some inspiration and maybe brainstorm ideas to make the space feel fresh and fun again for me. There really is no better feeling than feeling burnt out by the space, taking a week or so off, and coming back excited to start sharing my reading life again! I know some people get stressed out about missing posts but I think it's more important to prioritize your feelings rather than what you 'should' be doing.
So, tell me, how do you manage your time if you're running an active #bookstagram and trying to balance a full time job or other time commitment?