As you may have noticed, I’ve made a fairly sudden return to the blogosphere. My book blog has been completely inactive since March and this blog little better, but now that I’m finally living in one place, not trying to do a degree, and reasonably settled, I thought it was time to fix that.
My stats, however, have suffered from this extended break, and while the numbers aren’t why I do this, it’s still fairly discouraging to write a post only to find I’m getting fewer pageviews than any time since 2014. (Also, comments. I used to get SO MANY COMMENTS, it’s wild.)
So, I sought out some advice on how I might grow my blog again and bring it back to its former glory (which, admittedly, was never all that glorious). And several of the articles I read suggested I needed to use Pinterest.
I do technically have a Pinterest account. I recently cleared it of some years-old boards that I’d forgotten existed, and tried to fathom out how the platform worked. But honestly? I still don’t have a clue. I made a few cursory efforts to pin some of my own book photos, but I don’t understand the platform or how it’s supposed to work.
It also seems to me like a huge timesuck that I don’t need, given how much time I already spend on social media. Pinterest, I decided, is not for me, and instead of trying to find new forms of social media, I should concentrate on figuring out the ones I’ve got. So, I did a stock take:
I’m always on Twitter, and I post quite a lot. Don’t have a huge number of followers but that’s okay; I’m happy with my Twitter activity. What else?
I have a Facebook page — that could use some attention. My blog posts automatically cross-post there but that’s been more or less all that’s been on it for the past year, which doesn’t give people much incentive to follow it.
I have Tumblr, and while I’m always online, I’m usually lurking, occasionally reblogging things to my private side blog instead of the public Miriam Joy Blogs page. Also, this account has mainly been focused on sharing Cambridge info and pictures, and answering people’s questions about ASNaC. This is a unique selling point that I no longer really have, so I needed to figure out what to else I could do with it. (It turns out the answer is books.)
But the main platform I was failing to use properly is Instagram.
I’ve had Instagram for about three years, and it’s been a jumbled personal account consisting of books, dance, and pretty landscape photos taken while on holiday. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I decided I wanted to make a concerted effort to commit to a theme, and that theme is books.
Part of this involved splitting my dance posts off into a separate account, but mostly it was about committing to that #bookstagram aesthetic. It’s a crowded market; there are a lot of beautiful photos of books out there that people must spend hours on, and it’s hard to compete. But I figured I’d give it a go.
My first photoshoot saw me spend a full hour trying to get the perfect shot before managing one I was happy with and, looking at it now, I still have problems with it. But it was surprisingly fun, so I took a few more, experimented with some different styles, spending way too long on it each time.
I also started using Instagram Stories. I’ve avoided them until now because they seemed too much like Snapchat, which is another platform I just don’t understand, but I’ve realised they’re actually pretty good when I want to randomly share things without spamming everyone. Mostly I’ve been going for behind-the-scenes pics of the photos I’m taking, as well as sharing what I’m currently reading.
So far, I think I could say this Instagram experiment has been a success. Okay, so I don’t think it’s improved my blog stats in the slightest, and I’ve spent more time this week taking photos of books than actually reading them (I reckon I’ll speed up once I get the hang of it). But I’ve gained about fifteen followers in a handful of days. People have started commenting on my posts. I feel like I’m creating something — something that’s slow and frustrating at times, but a whole lot easier than writing, and which doesn’t hurt my hands. That feeling is worth having, because most of my creative hobbies are pretty hard on the wrists.
I’ve also started doing #spinepoetry, which is fairly self-explanatory, but involves making poems out of the spines of books. I used to write a lot of poetry, but I’ve drifted away from it by virtue of not having much to say. Spine poetry, though, doesn’t require a MESSAGE, and lets me enjoy the word-puzzle of combining titles and phrases to make new imagery and ideas, without the pressure of originality. Maybe this is how I’ll find my way back into writing my own poems again.
I’ve taken a few and intend to post them over the next couple of weekends (Saturday is #spinepoetry day), but here’s the first one I shared:
Lament the giant
under the snow;
the dark flight down.
Half the world burned,
A skinful of shadows
but the song,
Anyway, I’m under no illusions about my future on Instagram. I know I’ll never have the patience to do the kind of elaborate setups that make some bookstagrammers so popular, and that in a few months I’ll inevitably get distracted and stop committing to it.
In the meantime, though, I’m enjoying it. Certainly a lot more than I’m enjoying Pinterest, which is incomprehensible to me as a platform. I’ll probably post a round-up of my best posts at the end of each month, along with some highlighted reviews from my book blog (This Month In Books, maybe), but if you want to see all of them, you should definitely come and follow me.
Also because my Stories are great.
Do you think I’m missing out by not using Pinterest or some other platform I may or may not have heard of? Or do you think I’m wasting my time on social media and should just concentrate on, like, actually blogging? Let me know!
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