Instagram for Writers: You're Doing It Wrong

Posted January 29, 2020 by Briana in instagram / 4 Comments

Instagram for writers… whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying Instagram’s prevalence in modern society. In 2019, more than 200 million users visited a business profile every day, and 60% of users learned about new products through Instagram.

So, what does this mean for you as a writer?

person holding a cellphone that shows the Instagram login page on screen, with text overlay reading INSTAGRAM FOR WRITERS: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG

The bottom line is this: you should be on Instagram. If you want to build your platform and attract an audience as a writer, Instagram is one of the best places to do so.

Problem is, Instagram is a primarily visual platform. As writers creating words and books rather than photos, it can be difficult to translate our work to fit that mold.

It’s difficult, but not impossible.

A lot of writers think they just can’t do well on Instagram, or that there is no market for their work on the platform, but this is almost never the case. As long as you’re willing to put in some effort, you can make it work for you.

How do I know? After taking some courses, studying free resources, and honing my Instagram strategy, I organically grew my Instagram account to more than 7K followers (at time of post). I did not buy any followers, nor did I participate in any follow/unfollow schemes, comment/engagement pods, or anything like that.

All I did was put more time and effort into taking and editing photos, figured out my audience’s wants, planned my posts rather than winging them, and paid attention to my analytics.

Interested in making your Instagram account the best it can be? Keep reading to discover what you might be doing wrong—and how you can fix the issues.

You’re posting low-quality images.

This is one of the most prevalent issues I see in the world of Instagram for writers. As I mentioned earlier, Instagram is a primarily visual platform, so image quality matters. You can’t just put up a low-resolution, grainy, or poorly lit photo and expect it to gain any traction. Take your photos in bright, natural lighting, and avoid using too many filters, which can muddy an image. If it doesn’t look good, don’t post it.

All you post are screenshots.

So many writers are shooting themselves in the foot by only posting screenshots. In most cases, the screenshots are at least varied, but needless to say, this isn’t a good look. Here’s a big Instagram tip to help with this one, as well as most other aesthetic-related issues: check out your whole feed in your profile, and ask yourself if you would follow your account. If the answer is no, well, why should anybody else?

It’s okay to post a screenshot every once in a while, but try not to make it a habit. I share screenshots of Twitter posts regularly, but I put them on my Stories, where they’ll vanish after twenty-four hours and don’t conflict with the rest of my feed.

Instagram for Writers: You're Doing It Wrong #writingcommunity Click To Tweet

All you post are memes.

Same concept as the previous. Unless your author account is purely a meme account (which it shouldn’t be), avoid posting memes unless they’re directly related to your work. Jenna Moreci shares memes specific to her series, which totally works for her. You are not Jenna Moreci. Besides, Instagram should showcase your creative side, and what’s creative about reposting other people’s content?

It’s all about you.

Although your Instagram is your Instagram account, it shouldn’t be all about you. I have a harsh truth for you: if you’re a new writer, no one cares about your work. You have to make them care. How? By providing value, insight, and entertainment. You have to earn their trust and develop a relationship with people before you try to sell them them.

Your Instagram account should not be self-promos all the way down. Balance promotional posts with informative and educational content. When you’re posting, ask yourself, “Why does this matter to my audience?” If it doesn’t, don’t post.

Another bad look: Don’t comment on people’s photos or DM them anything along the lines of “hey, please check out my book!” or “follow my account!!!!” It’s off-putting, to say the least, especially if you’ve never spoken to that person before.

You treat Instagram like a Facebook photo album.

One of the biggest reasons I unfollow someone on Instagram is that they post too often. I can handle several times a day as long as the posts are spread out, but when someone uploads twenty-five photos from their most recent vacation—and the photos are only seconds apart—it’s spammy, and I’m out of there.

Instagram is not a Facebook photo album. When in doubt, share only the highlights rather than every single photo, and really make it count. If you want to share multiple photos, please spread them out too.

Writers, here's what you might be doing wrong on Instagram, as well as how to fix it. Click To Tweet

If you incorporate the tips I’ve given in this post, you should see great results. I started out on Instagram with almost zero guidance, especially because there aren’t many authors on Instagram using the platform to its full potential, but I’ve grown exponentially and want to help other writers do the same.

As an author, so many of my website page views and book sales come from Instagram. As an editor, most of my clients find and book me via Instagram too. I cannot say enough good things about the platform and its role in my business.

I want the same for you.

If you’d like to see more posts about Instagram, let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have Instagram-specific woes or questions, leave those for me too and I’ll address them in future posts!


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4 responses to “Instagram for Writers: You're Doing It Wrong

  1. thanks – seems ‘on the money’. I’ve been figuring the same out slowly too, and this is really helpful. If I ever sell anything via social media, that’ll be something else! I’m game! I’ve given up with Twitter (or as I call it now Totally Worthless In Try To Engage Readers) as it seems to be a shouting match at best.