Instagram is one of the hottest social media networks out there, but most writers look past its potential or don’t know how to use it effectively.
Since you’re a writer, social media is probably something you’re wary of. Sitting down to write is hard enough without the seductive pull of social media. Still, when used the right way, networks like Instagram can be effective for growing your audience and reach.
Once you’ve hit your word count goals for the day you can use Instagram guilt-free!
Below we look at why Instagram is so powerful, how writers can use Instagram the right way, and finally highlight a few pitfalls you’ll want to avoid.
When used the right way, social networks like Instagram can actually be effective for growing your audience and reach as a writer!
Instagram currently has over 1 billion users! The chances are high some of your ideal readers are hanging out on this platform. Or, if you’re a freelance writer it could be a great way to find potential clients and connect with brands you could write for.
Now, social media, when used the wrong way can be a huge drain on your time and energy. But, it still has its place.
You might already be active on Facebook or Twitter, and the thought of adding another social media network to the mix makes your head spin.
But, Instagram could still be worth checking out. For starters, you can do it all on your phone as you go about your day. Plus, any images you’re creating or taking to share on Instagram can also be used across other social media networks as well.
It’s also a great way to push new readers to your website. You can only include a single link throughout your entire profile, but the streamlined nature of the platform makes it easy to direct readers towards this valuable link space.
How to Create an Instagram Account
If you don’t already have an Instagram account, then you’ll need to create one.
Follow the steps below to create an Instagram account and give your profile the best chance of success:
Create an Account
Luckily, signing up for Instagram couldn’t be easier. Just head over to Instagram.com, and click ‘Sign Up’. Then, enter your relevant account details and you’re all set.
It shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.
Customize Your Profile
With your account created and activated it’s time to start customizing.
Here are a few important considerations while building out your account:
- Your profile image. Your profile image can be a picture of you, a logo, or whatever else you want people to associate with your work. Smiling pictures work well.
- Your username. When choosing your username you can use your real name, a pen name, the name of your brand (if you’re a freelancer), or anything else. Just make sure it’s easy to remember and makes sense in the context of your work.
- Your bio. With your bio, you have 150 characters to tell potential followers what you’re all about, and even include a link back to your site. Make sure you use this real estate effectively.
With the above steps complete it’s time to start posting.
What Kind of Content Can I Create?
You’re probably wondering, what kind of content do writers post?
Even though most of your day is probably spend staring at a computer screen, typing away at a keyboard, you still have multiple opportunities to create interesting content.
But, if you’re trying to gain traction as a writer you probably don’t only want to post pictures of what meal you ate that day. You’re a creative person, it’s time to flex that creativity.
The goal of your Instagram account should be to showcase your writing and entice your followers with interesting pictures of what your writing life looks like.
- Do you do any book signings?
- What about pictures of you reading your favorite books?
- Or, you could have your followers submit pictures of them reading your books?
- How do you spend your days? In the library? At coffee shops? Browsing old bookstores?
Beyond showing pictures of yourself and your life you should regularly include pictures of your work—you are a writer after all.
A lot of writers choose to create Instagram profiles that fully rely on quotes, with interspersed shots of themselves.
Still not sure where to start? Here are a few accounts for inspiration:
Hopefully, the examples above will get you thinking about what kinds of content you can start posting. Remember, even though your account is technically about you, it’s not all about you, your goal should be to add value whenever you post something.
Growing Your Instagram Account
Before we even talk about growth it’s important to think about why we’d want a bigger account. Of course, we all want to be famous and wealthy. Who wouldn’t want to become insta famous?
But, it’s also important to consider attracting the right followers as well. There’s no point in having a million followers if they don’t care about what you’re posting.
It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about finding and attracting the right kind of followers.
With that out of the way, it’s time to dive into a few ways you can grow your Instagram account.
Customize Your Profile
Giveaways can be a great way to network with other writers and authors in your space, while at the same time gaining new followers. For a giveaway to work you assemble a team of a few writers, or purchase the books of a few authors in your niche (if you can get signed copies, even better).
Then, create some sexy promotional graphics that include the books of the writers you’re featuring.
Now, it’s time to share.
In order for your followers to win, they’ll have to complete some task, like sharing the image, following you, clicking your bio link and joining your email list, or leaving a comment.
Then, once the time period is up, you select a winner.
You can also do individual giveaways of your own books or any services and products you offer.
Your goal with a giveaway is to create a lot of attention, encourage people to share and expand your reach on the platform.
Customize Your Profile
No matter your genre or niche, there’s a good chance there are relevant influencer accounts that essentially act as "community" pages. Think of accounts like Poems Porn and Elephant Journal. Of course, there are a lot more, but you’ll have to do some searching dependent on your own genre or topic.
Instead of creating their own content, these pages rely on user-submitted content. If you have content that’s in alignment with their page there’s a chance they might showcase your work.
Each of these pages usually has their own rules for submission. Some will select randomly from posts that use a specific hashtag, while others are pay to post.
Spend some time exploring the big ones in your niche to see if any are applicable to what you write about.
Another way to track down these pages is to find the accounts of other writers in your space and see what photos they’ve been tagged in. You might find certain community accounts have shared their photos in the past and could be a great target for your work.
Create a Compelling Photo Style
To compete on Instagram you need to create an engaging photo style. This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert photographer, but your posts need to have a consistent feel to them.
Spend some time looking through the top accounts in your space. Ask yourself what makes their photos so good. Why do people share them and comment consistently?
You should be able to pick up some nice tricks this way or be able to find a photo or account style you can create that’s equally appealing.
Use Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are a relatively new feature, but they can be a great way to connect with your audience. Essentially, these stories are either photos or videos that are temporary (similar to how Snapchat works).
Although not directly related to account growth, they are an important feature and can improve your account engagement.
You can use these videos to give readers a glimpse into your daily life, to promote a book you’ve just released, show off what you’re currently reading, and a lot more.
Plus, when you record and post an Instagram story, it highlights your profile in the story feed, which makes your followers more likely to engage with your profile.
Promote Across Other Channels
If you’re looking to get some initial followers for your account, then consider sharing your account across any other platforms or channels you might have.
For example, if you have an active email list let your subscribers know that you’re active on Instagram, and encourage them to follow you!
There’s also a built-in feature that lets you follow any users who are currently active Facebook friends. Although this might not be your ideal audience, having some followers can help to build some initial traction with your account.
Engage With Your Audience
Throughout all of this, it’s important to remember to regularly engage with your audience.
Even when you just have a few followers, you’ll want to show these people that you value them. Comment back whenever they leave a comment. Like their photos. Engage however you can.
Building a community of engaged fans has to start somewhere. You never know who is going to stick with you and support your writing for life!
The tips above will help get you started, but there’s not enough space here to dive into advanced level Instagram strategies.
If you are interested in skyrocketing your Instagram growth, there are a few courses worth checking out. Note that most of them are sizeable investments, but if you’re serious about building up a massive Instagram following, then they’re worth checking out:
Instagram Pitfalls to Avoid
By now you’re probably jumping off your seat, dreaming about getting a book deal off your massive Instagram account, thinking about the hordes of followers waiting for your new release, liking every single post. And that’s fine, dream away...
But, when you’re done dreaming, come back to this point.
Below you’ll learn four of the most common pitfalls that most writers fall into when getting started on Instagram.
Not Posting Consistently
With Instagram, you need to create and stick to a regular posting routine. When you’re first getting started you’ll want to ramp up your content creation efforts so you have a nice looking feed for your initial followers.
The frequency of your posting depends upon your goals with the platform and how much time you have available.
But, at the very least you should post a handful of times per week. Some Instagram experts even recommend posting up to a couple times per day. If you’re spending most your time writing, don’t beat yourself up about it.
But, you do need to maintain a regular posting schedule. This will help keep you at the top of your follower's minds and help you build a deeper relationship.
Overlooking the Importance of Content
Your Instagram content needs to be professional. As a visually-oriented platform, your image quality is super important. This is doubly true if you’re using your Instagram to ultimately drive readers to your site.
Spend some time looking through the top accounts in your space to see the aesthetic and quality of images they use.
Whether you’re sharing quotes from your work, images of your books, snapshots from your daily life or something else entirely, you’ll want to have a consistent feel across all of your work.
Luckily, most smartphones today are equipped with a high-quality cameras, and there are image creation tools like Canva, Easil, and Adobe Spark that can help you create attractive and enticing images, graphics, and stories. Even if you have no previous design experience.
Failing to Optimize Your Bio
A lot of writers fail to realize the importance of their bio. It might be obvious, but your bio is one of the first things people see. It’s your chance to grab their attention, convey what you’re about, and get people interested in your work.
If you followed the steps in the first section, then you already have a solid username and some kind of text in your bio.
But, you can take this even further by crafting a compelling bio, adding a call-to-action, and including a link to your site.
Spend some time browsing through some of the top accounts in your space and see how they utilize their bio space.
Not Using the Right Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to increase your overall engagement and even get new followers. However, just making up your own hashtags, or choosing one that’s clever won’t cut it: you need to find the right hashtags!
Your hashtags need to be relevant to your content, and actually, have a decent amount of followers if you want to gain any traction.
Here are some tips to choose the right hashtags:
- Describe what your account is about
- Describe the kind of writing you do
- Describe your target audience
- Find community hashtags that describe a specific group
If you’re stuck on finding relevant hashtags then find a few influencer accounts in your space and look for what kinds of hashtags they use in their posts, and add them to your list!
Also, when you search for certain hashtags you’ll notice there’s a little drop-down box that shows related hashtags. See if any of these are worth using as well.
As you can see Instagram can be a great way to expand your brand as a writer. It doesn’t have to be a total time sink—like you thought way up there in the introduction.
Instagram can be a great way to flex your creativity, build an audience, connect with your readers, and take a break from writing.
Hopefully, the tips above have been helpful in growing your understanding of the Instagram landscape and how you can use it more effectively as a writer.
Have any questions about how you can use Instagram as a writer? Ask away in the comments below.