I’ve been approached by several new accounts on Instagram lately. I love chatting to new people, and I try my best to answer everyone’s questions. I’m no expert (by now, this almost sounds like my mantra), but I do give my most honest opinions based on what I experienced as a studygram owner. Over the months, I’ve collected a bunch of commonly asked questions, and I’ll start a guide on what to expect, how to continue, and what to do to make things easier on Instagram (and other social media platforms).
How do I start a studygram?
Just go ahead and create one! A lot of people always find themselves deliberating whether or not to start one. I say, be bold and click the sign up button! When I first started, I just wanted to share my notes and track my progress online, so I went ahead and created an email and an Instagram account. If you’re inspired by studygrams and studybloggers, you never know if you don’t get cracking and start one yourself. There are many platforms to start – Instagram, Tumblr, WordPress, even Twitter or Facebook. Instagram is great for sharing photos, and WordPress/Tumblr is great for sharing tips and write-ups. Once you’ve created your account, don’t forget to follow some fellow study accounts to keep you motivated. Viewing some feeds help; see what people post, and be inspired!
Can you use your main account for it?
I don’t recommend using your main. It’s good to keep your study life and personal life separate sometimes. You might also be spamming your friends’ timelines if they aren’t interested. Or your followers might not be interested in your life if they only want to see notes and spreads. But – if you’re finding it annoying to constantly be on so many accounts (I have about five, but I manage barely), then by all means, use your main. After all, you are the only one that can handle your account!
How do I get more followers?
Some people ask me this, but I tend to gently explain that gaining followers isn’t important. While it can make you feel excited and grateful to see the numbers, don’t fuss too much over it. The main purpose of a studygram/studyblr is not to gain followers, but rather to inspire one another to stay motivated and study harder. Of course, when you’ve first started, followers won’t come rushing in. The correct question is: “How do I get my work out to more people?”
- Tags. A lot of accounts (including me, guilty as charged) use tags to get noticed more. Common tags are: study, studying, stationery, studygram, studyblr, notes, studyharder… Just tag what your picture is. If you’re posting notes, tag #notes, #handwriting #studying, etc. What if it makes the caption unnecessarily long? Then add in the tags separately as a comment, like what I tend to do. Some account leave it under the caption, so not to worry!
- Another great idea is to make some friends. When I first started, I tried to talk to some studygrams. When the story sharing idea came about, it was easier to share and chat. You can start simple, comment under their posts, or to their stories on Instagram. I don’t like being superficial, so I only comment when I really am loving the post. Don’t post meaningless content such as “Wow, beautiful, check out my page!” Not only do those comments irk us, they make you appear hungry for attention – you’ll most likely get ignored, so don’t try it.
- Shoutouts. If you ask nicely, some accounts are willing to give you shoutouts too. Don’t be rude, and while I try my best to encourage everyone with a little post on my story to get them started, it doesn’t quite work if you are not willing to post your own content. Some accounts might also do follow backs – just don’t pester them if they don’t want to.
At the end of the day though, don’t be too invested in followings. I’m grateful to every single one of my followers, because they have helped me shape my account to what it is today, but the main point is to share your tips and study progress, so don’t get carried away.
What should I post?
Sometimes I struggle with this myself. If you’re studying, I would encourage you to post photos of your progress: your notes, daily tasks, planners, essays… Anything that you’ve done and studied thoroughly. It encourages not only you, but other people as well, and that’s one of the beautiful things of a study account! Right now I’m not studying, so I post lettering quotes, my planner, bullet journal spreads and sometimes stores I come across while stationery shopping.
I always like to tell people not to be too focused on trying to make your accounts aesthetic. For example, after writing my notes, I would sit back and take a photo of my progress, filter with an app, and it’s good to post. While it is more appealing to create gorgeous layouts, if you’re a student, don’t fuss too much on what to post. So long as it makes you happy, post it! I envy shots of flawless, white desks, but I know myself how difficult it is to maintain that.
The hardest photos to take are flatlays. Currently, with my obsession with taking photos of my spreads, I have to take about five to ten minutes setting up the post! It’s not easy, I have to admit. I’m not a student now, so I have the extra time. If you’re studying, I encourage you to ignore such beautiful posts, and spend time on studying instead. If it makes you happy though, I’m not stopping you; go ahead and set it up!
How often should I post?
It really varies on the time on your hands. Now, I have plenty, so I typically post almost everyday! If you’re busy studying for an exam, don’t make this a priority. It’s important that you focus on what’s the most important, and posting on social media is not that. You can post based on your own schedules; just remember – you and you alone can be the owner of your account, so no one is forcing you to post!
What are the recommended stationery sets to get? Where do I get beautiful stationery to take aesthetic posts?
I get my own stationery not based on its beauty, but based on its functionality. I have a post on brush pens for beginners, and where I get them from, so check it out for some beginner brands to start with! I would recommend Artline Stix for headers, provided your note paper is thicker otherwise they will ghost (leak through). Most people like to use Muji pens, and I quite like the smooth tips and the end result that you get from them, so it’s worth a try. You can also try mildliners for highlighters, which work beautifully for notes, and make your posts colourful too! I encourage buying via packs for easy storage, and the colour combination frankly works best like that. If you like colourful notes as well, I would recommend getting a set of crayola tips – they work beautifully for headers as well as highlighters. Invest in some post-its for those additional notes you want to add in, and you’re good to go! Remember, only get stationery you will use, and not for posts alone.
A lot of my bujo/planner supplies are from Kawaiipenshop, because the owner is very nice and gave me a code STUDYRELLA10 for 10% off! You can get muji pens, mildliners, and a lot of washi tapes and stickers there. I’m not in a hurry to get them too, that’s why I use the shop since there’s also free shipping. Other shops you can try include bricksxcastle (the code works there as well), and many more etsy stores for stickers that I love: moonlume, itspaperco, paperkumaco just to name a few.
How do you post a variety of things (having different backgrounds, stationery etc) while keeping your feed consistent and clean?
If you’ve seen my Instagram feed, it doesn’t quite look perfectly white or bright like several other studygrams out there. While I admire their consistency, I can’t ever do that! I tend to post whatever I like, usually with the same filter. In the early days, I used the iPhone’s fade filter. Now, I use an app called Snapseed. It’s free and makes your photos brighter, which helps me a lot since the lighting in my house is terrible! A lot of people use it for white feeds, especially the Drama filter (Bright 1/2). You can play around with other apps and filters (e.g VSCO, etc), but this is my favourite one. I tend to reuse backgrounds: my study desk, my comforter, sometimes shots against my wall.
My feed is hardly consistent – sometimes there are darker photos against the bright ones. I’m not too concerned over how it looks, I just post photos I’m satisfied with. You can test out your feed by adding all studygram photos into a separate photo album in your phone if you’d like, and see it your new shots fit your current feed.
How do I promote/grow my account and get it noticed?
Apart from what I mentioned earlier on, if you really want to, you can try Instagram’s promoting feature. I’ve never used it, nor felt interested to try so I’m not sure how much you have to pay, but please try not to use that – you aren’t having the account for the sake of followers, I hope!
I know of some accounts who try shoutouts for shoutouts – you exchange shoutouts to get across to more people. This can spam your timeline though, so maybe try it via the story feature on Instagram.
How do I keep people interested in my account in the long term?
I know it’s difficult, but people like an engaging account with regular posts. If you disappear for a month, people will lose interest. I like to use my account to keep track of my study progress, so I was fine with posting regularly even during my busy days. Some people don’t like distractions, and that’s fine too. Sometimes I take multiple angles of my bujo/planner/notes, and save them for another day. Not only does it motivate me to study harder, they make people happy too.
Interacting with your followers helps too. Nobody likes a one sided relationship! I recognize some followers that never fail to comment on my photos, and that makes me excited to post new content. I try to post personal stories on Instagram as well, like my favourite bubble tea, or the scenery I want to share. Not too much, but enough to show that I am human! A studygram means posting notes and planners, yes – but you have a life too! Don’t be too worried over what to post; what matters most is whether you love it.
Where do I start learning calligraphy/lettering?
Having a study account does not necessarily mean that you have to be into lettering. Many accounts get into it to spice up their notes and bullet journals, and it develops into a hobby. It started off as curiosity at first, but now I’m hooked and looking into improving everyday. There are some sites that may offer worksheets to start off – they may be free, or you might have to pay a sum. Practice is the most important though, so do set aside some time to master it. I recommend to follow some lettering accounts and watch a few lettering videos. And of course, get some brush pens! Again, you can refer to my previous post about them.
How do I join the bujo/studying/planning community?
Once you have an account, you’re in! No matter what community (kpop, lettering, books, studying), people automatically assume the large accounts with ten over thousands of followers will shun the smaller accounts or are exclusive. That’s not true! I know many account owners out there that are friendly and answer everyone’s DMs. Treat others like how you want to be treated. Be kind to everyone, not just big accounts. I’ve encountered rude accounts that only want followers and don’t bother about motivating others. Any community is welcoming to all, so long as you are willing to be open and grateful!
What is the basic layout or way to photograph a spread?
There isn’t really a standard way of capturing your spreads; so long as it’s clear, it’s good. There are some common ways to take photos though:
The most time consuming one; you’ll need to have a lot of time and patience to pull through this. Grab a bunch of stationery, preferably the ones you used for the spread. This can range from brush pens to highlighter sets, or washi tapes and post-its, sometimes sticker sheets and books you’ve been reading. You’ll need a large surface too, so clear your desk! There are many different ways to set up a flatlay, so experiment while you go. This is one of my favourite ways to photograph my spreads now that I have a lot of free time. I recommend making use of Instagram’s saving feature to save any flatlays from studygrams for inspiration too.
2. Using the wall
If you’re going the simple route and there’s not much time, just grab your planner (if it’s small enough!) or bullet journal and hold it against the wall. It’s very easy and just takes literally five seconds!
3. Close-up shots
If you love any part of your planner or bujo, be it a quote you lettered beautifully, or some doodles you drew in, this is great to showcase that. You can use any background for this – your bed, your comforter, your desk… Try them all! If you find it a little too bare, throw in your favourite pen or some stickers as well.
4. Unique shots
Instead of going the boring way and following everyone’s standard top view shots, you can try photographing at an angle as well. If you can manage it, play around with the focus, depending on your phone/camera’s quality. Some areas can be blur and others can be clear – whatever works!
5. Study Notes
I personally like a messy lay out for notes, basically your desk after completing a set of notes (because everyone knows it’s bound to be all over the table). Throw in some stationery – some highlighters you used, or the pens you swear by, and it’s good to go.
I hope this helps, and maybe motivate you to start a studygram. It’s not too difficult, and you’ll meet great people along the way. Shoot me a DM on Instagram or a comment for a chat and I’d be happy to answer any of your questions! I would love to try to help you out along the way.