Why I Became A Bookstagramer

If you’ve followed my blog for the last 2 years, you will definitely know What Amy Did has been predominately a fashion, lifestyle and beauty blog with a sprinkle of mental health thrown in for good measure. Writing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I started blogging 7 years ago after just being made redundant from my job and helplessly searching for a hobby to fill my time besides sending my CV to 100 companies per day. Just like everything, my blog has evolved, matured and, experimented with new content every now and then. My mental health posts have only been within the last year when I grew some balls and decided to tell the world all about my struggles to hopefully raise awareness. However, if you follow me on Instagram – if not, give @amysbookshelf a follow – you’ll have noticed that my content has changed from sharing snippets of my style and favourite facemasks to one solid topic: books.

From a very young age, I’ve always been a bookworm. Growing up, my Mum used to take us to the local library and looking back, it’s a prominent feature in my childhood that brings back immense nostalgia. I can remember the excitement I used to feel browsing the bookshelves, picking out my chosen books and being so eager to get home to start one. Most of my pocket money was spent on books and I was that girl at school who always had the new Jacqueline Wilson book when it was just released.

Reading was something I kept up with in my early teens but from there, I became more preoccupied with music, makeup and general girly things. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve picked up reading again and since then I’d go through phases of reading obsessively to going months without picking up a book whatsoever – until last year. When my anxiety and depression reared its ugly head, I started looking at coping strategies online to explore some habits people have adapted to cut off from their mind. When many people listed reading as a pivotal part of their self-care routine, it was something I thought I would give a try but, my anxiety had me cynical about the whole idea – as always, trying to convince me that I would never be able to tame the wicked beast that was my mind.
Oh, how I proved you wrong anxiety! Reading became my solace. A way for me to cut off from the worries that circled around my mind and allowed me to escape to a place far from reality. It relaxed me, excited me and most of all, inspired me. I used to dabble in creative writing – another hobby my mental health fell victim to but since taking up reading, I’ve been inspired to write again. Something that I find so comforting and an integral part of my recovery.

I stumbled across an Instagram hashtag – #currentlyreading and couldn’t believe the abundance of accounts of people sharing their current reads, reviews and hauls. The community was called Bookstagram. I found myself spending hours trawling through accounts for future reads and inspiration. I set up a Goodreads account and luckily, this was in December 2016 so set myself up a reading goal for 2017. 30 books seemed ambitious but I’d discovered so many great books that I wanted to read as much as possible. The more time I spent following these accounts as the months went by, the more I began to wonder; could I be a #Bookstagramer?

It seems like a stupid question but I’ve had my Instagram for my blog for 2 years at this point and I didn’t want to set up a whole new dedicated Bookstagram account because I already had a personal Instagram too. 3 Instagrams = too much to juggle. Could I pull off a transition into posting just about books? Would my audience embrace the change or unfollow me in droves? I was hesitant and to test the water, posted a few book photos. The response was something I didn’t think would happen. It was positive, people actually enjoyed the content and in turn, members of the Bookstagram community began to follow and engage with me. As the months flew by, I began to feel something I’ve spoken about not feeling before; like I was part of a community.

I have friends who are occasional readers but I don’t know anyone who reads as much as I do and #bookstagram gave me the opportunity to speak to likeminded people, discover new books and generally just feel good about the content I was putting out there. After the algorithm change on Instagram, like everyone else, I felt like it was a losing game. No growth, nobody seeing your content, followers dropping like flies – I’m sure most bloggers can relate. But since I started posting photos of my books, I enjoyed it so much that these things didn’t even come into account anymore. I was truly just posing something I was passionate about and by wanting to keep posting content, I kept reading which I believe played a big part in my journey to a better place mentally. Not to where I want to be but definitely on the road there. It was a huge gamble but *touch wood*, it seems to have paid off. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve lost followers and I totally understand why. It’s not everybody’s jam and it’s so far from what I used to post but, I’ve gained so much contentment and a sense of belonging in an online community that it has been totally worth it.

Now that I’ve begun the transition on Instagram, I want to bring more book content to my blog. I toyed with changing my URL but I do still want to post lifestyle and mental health content from time to time. I may have found my ‘niche’ as such but I want to be able to still write about topics that are important to me. When it comes to sharing my style, I’m considering keeping this solely to my Instagram stories so keep an eye out for that – I’m still all about sharing my new boots as I am about books.

Have you ever dramatically changed your content? Did it pay off for you? I’d love to know your thoughts below as always or you can give me a tweet at @amysbookshelf_ or Instagram me at @amysbookshelf. The fact someone already has the what would be matching twitter handle bugs me so much, grrrr. Thanks for reading as always and I hope you’ll stick around for what is in store.