Four Ways Writers Can Use Instagram

Saturday, April 09, 2016
Over the past few months, I’ve slowly started using the photo app Instagram more and more. I love the different filters you can use and I can’t help but reminisce a little about the Polaroid cameras of the past (if you’re too young to remember those, never mind!)

At first, I mostly posted photos of my kids, food, and dogs, but then I started following the accounts of other writers. I began researching different ways I could use my own account for self-promotion as a freelance writer. Think of the app as a visual min-portfolio of your work, if you will. If you're trying to decide how Instagram can fit into your writing life, here are a few ways you can use it:

1. To announce upcoming books and events.

Just this morning, one of my favorite authors, Elin Hilderbrand, posted this photo teasing the release of her latest novel. I salivated into my coffee just a teensy bit:

A photo posted by Elin Hilderbrand (@elinhilderbrand) on

Writers also post photos from conferences they’ve attended, book signings, or to drop hints on upcoming projects. These are all things that can be done via Twitter and Facebook too, but Instagram adds a more visual element.

2. To promote articles and clips.

Author and writing coach Christina Katz regularly posts shots of her clips in parenting publications, such as the one below:

This is a great idea, as it showcases her experience to editors who might be looking for a writer or a reprint on a specific topic. She also posts motivational quotes taken straight from some of her books about the craft of writing:

3. To showcase your writing skills.

The daughter of one of my friends is a foodie and started an Instagram account a few years ago chronicling her food adventures. Not only does she regularly post stunning (and yummy!) images, but her captions are always clever and spot on.

Because of her account, she’s attracted the attention of other prominent food blogs. If you’re looking to pick up more work blogging or copywriting, Instagram is a good place to show off what you can do.

Also, unlike Twitter, you aren’t limited to a certain number of characters. It’s okay to post a thoughtful and longer caption to go along with an image. This past week, I posted a handwritten copy of a poem I wrote back in high school with the hashtag #nationalpoetrymonth. It was a nice blast from the past.

4. To show off your silly side creatively.

I tend to be a little too serious in my social media postings. After browsing through author Lauren Oliver’s Instagram feed, I found myself laughing out loud. Her photos show a great mix of humor, book promotion, foodie photos, snap with her pets, and motivational things like this:

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty inspired right now and know I could be using my Instagram account for much more (besides calling out my dog when he’s stalking me):

A photo posted by rlroberson (@rlroberson) on

Do you use Instagram? I'd love to hear how you use it in your writing, whether it's for promotional or creative purposes.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also blogs at Renee’s Pages. Follow her on Instagram at rlroberson.


Angela Mackintosh said...

This is great, Renee! Instagram is SO addicting. I love the immediate feedback. I've used it for my business, writing reviews of new flavors we get in. You're right, it doesn't limit the number of characters you post, but figuring out how to space paragraphs is tricky (on my Android anyway). I've also used it for graphic design--instead of posting photographs, I post illustrations, photoshop collages, t-shirt designs, etc. that I create, serving as a design portfolio. It can be a major time suck though, so I stick to using it for either my business or other businesses I'm working for...'cause dang, I could be on it all day!

Sheila Good said...

Renee, this is wonderful. Although I have an Instagram account, I use it only to keep up with friends. I don't have a book to promote, yet, but I do have a number of articles out there. Thanks for giving me the how-to on Instagram. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

Michelle Mach said...

Great tips! I've just started on Instagram (I know, finally!) and am looking at ways to use it. I love your reminder that words still matter even on a heavily visual medium.

Mary Horner said...

Very helpful advice, Renee. I was just talking to my daughter about the visual aspect of Instagram and how I should try to use it to promote books, etc., but so far am not succeeding! Your posts will help me and a lot of other writers. Thanks!

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