Bookstagram Tutorials: Themes and Aesthetic Grids

Next in our Bookstagram Tips and Tricks series is talking about feed aesthetics, themes, and more about your Instagram grid! This is a question I get a lot, and I just want to start off by saying, you do not need to have a cohesive theme or aesthetic if you don’t want to. It’s not a requirement, nor does it equal success. Your page is just that…yours. So take this with a grain of salt, and do what feels right to you. Growth comes from people seeing you as a human and relating to you.

Do I Even Need a Theme?

Let me first start by saying, you don’t have to have a set theme or aesthetic if you don’t want to. Sometimes, not having a theme can be a theme in itself. So, if you do want a theme or an aesthetic, let’s chat about that!

A theme or an aesthetic on your Instagram feed is just having a cohesive look and feel to all of your photos that you post. This can be accomplished several different ways. An easy way is to put the same filter over all of your photos, like a Lightroom preset. I’ll be doing a separate post on building or buying your own Lightroom preset later, so hold onto that thought for now! But adding the same filter automatically gives your photos a similar look and feel.

Another way to create a theme or aesthetic is by using the same group of props for each photo. If you look at my feed, for example, I’ve got my trusty skull in nearly every photo, and I have the same flowers in nearly every photo. Skulls and flowers, specifically pink flowers, is my thing so I include them in all of my photos to make them look cohesive.

I use both of these methods together to create my aesthetic on my page. I have a preset I created that I put on every single photo I post, but I also use similar props in each photo. It just creates a “look” that is recognizable and fits together with the other pictures I post.

How Do I Choose a Theme?

Okay, so you’ve decided that you want to do some type of theme or aesthetic, but you have no idea what you actually want it to be. This is a common thing first starting out in Bookstagram, or even for those who have been here for a while! Not to fear, I have my top 2 ways I decide on a theme or aesthetic to use.

First, do some research! Find accounts you like the look of, make note of what their “aesthetic” is, and draw together a list of what you like from these accounts, what you don’t necessarily like, and what you think you can use. This is how I got started. I found that I was naturally drawn to darker accounts for my own viewing preference, so I decided I wanted my aesthetic to be darker.

My second method, which is used in combination with the first, is to use inspiration from your personal aesthetic in real life! If you looked at my apartment, I guarantee you would be able to recognize it as mine immediately…. because the decor is skulls and pink flowers. It’s my personal aesthetic as well as my Bookstagram aesthetic.

I find this method also helps tremendously with finding and getting props. When I go shopping, my purchases do double duty as home decor that I would have out in my home anyways, as well as photo props. Just as another example, my trusty skull that you see all the time and I really need to name? I’ve had him since I was in college, and he’s always been out as decor. When he’s not in photos, he hangs out on my nightstand as decor there.

You can also choose a theme based on just whatever you want! Live your life. This is your feed and you can do ANYTHING you want with it! There’s no rules here my friends.

Okay, Now I Want to Change My Theme

You can always change things up if you’re not feeling it anymore! There’s no rules here, you can do whatever you want! I have changed my theme and aesthetic so many times since I started my page, and that’s NORMAL. When I first started, I changed my themes seasonally (see below picture). Now I stick to one no matter what season it is, but you can do whatever you want!

You have a couple options when it comes to shaking it up. You can either just start your new theme straight out from your next post, or you can do what’s called a “theme divider,” which I’ll get more into, since it’s what I prefer to do.

A theme divider is just three photos, that basically form a line across your Instagram grid, separating posts in your “old” theme and the posts that will be coming soon in your “new” theme. Theme dividers can be super simple, or intricate.

Personally, I typically have 2 photos that are exactly the same, and then the middle one is the same picture with the words “New Theme” or something similar over the top. This helps me from getting confused on what order to post them in. I just post one of the duplicate photos, the one with the words, and then the second duplicate photo and boom, divider is done!

I’ve seen some people who are cooler than me and manage to take a big image and separate it into three photos so it looks like a continuous photo across the grid. I can’t do that, I’m not that skilled. If you are, more power to you!

What About Doing Grid Planning?

Your grid is a work of art in itself. It’s not just a place to look at all your pictures, you can make it tell it’s own story! This is a more…advanced… technique to doing an “aesthetic” on Instagram, but if it’s something you want to do, go for it! It’s a bit more complicated, but it’s not super difficult. Let’s chat about it.

First, for an example of what I’m talking about, I have a friend, Britt (@lunarliterature) who did a rainbow grid for June for Pride Month. So she posts 3 photos with a red filter, then the next 3 are orange, and the next 3 are yellow, and so on. It ended up creating a beautiful rainbow effect on her feed!

You can also create other patterns or effects in your grid. Just look around and find some inspiration! I do highly recommend using a grid planning app, like Planoly, if you’re going to be doing any kind of grid effect. I can’t speak for other grid planning tools, because I use Planoly myself, but these tools allow you to upload your photos and drag them around and rearrange so you 1) know what order to post pictures in and 2) can see what your grid will look like once you implement the design.

Overall, make your photos and your feed look how YOU want it to look. You can follow all of these suggestions, some of them, or none of them! Your feed is a reflection of YOU and it should feel genuine. I tried doing the grid planning effects, and discovered they just weren’t for me. So I don’t do them myself, but I do admire them in other’s feeds.

I just want to re-emphasize that you absolutely, 100% do NOT have to have a theme or coherent aesthetic on your feed to become a “successful” Bookstagrammer. Post what YOU want to post, and be genuine. That’s how you’ll become successful. The theme/aesthetic bit is just icing on the cake to express your creativity in a different way!

Try out these tips and let me know how they work! Do you have any other tips or tricks you want me to cover? Drop me a line!