Tuesday 13 October 2015

How Can Writers Use their Photos on Social Media?

RHS Garden Wisley

As a writer, it's worth taking photos wherever you go, on your phone and camera; and you can use them again and again: on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, with your blog posts; as well as for profile headers. Social media has become more visual, so you're likely to receive more engagement when using them. I've used the one below, taken in July with my iPhone when visiting Venice, on Instagram and Twitter at the time, then for a blog post, and more recently for neetswriter Twitter and Facebook profile headers. My work in progress is set in Venice in the eighteenth century, so this fits nicely with my 'brand'.

I snap away on days out to country houses, museums, art galleries, on scenic walks, when travelling; and when baking, although sometimes it can be tricky to make food look good in a photo. Writerly events, book launches and writers' conferences also provide good photo opportunities.

This summer I went to Italy by car with my family and took loads of photos en route, and whilst there, posting on Instagram daily. Here's my neetswriter blog post on the trip: A Grand Tour, a Deadline, and a Course 


Instagram recently turned five years old, and you can find me here. I've been on Instagram for a few years, and although I'm not there every day, I go through phases where I use it a lot.


A wide range of filters can be used to adjust photos.

Useful if you have a writing deadline or something else going on in your life, but want to stay visible on social media. It's quick, and there isn't much interaction after you've posted the photo (unlike on Twitter and Facebook). 

Lots of readers, book bloggers, publishers and agents hang out there.

Liking photos on Instagram is a way to say thank you to those who support you on other forms of social media, for example to someone who doesn't blog, but who supports yours.

You can post graphics for your books, especially when they're on offer.

Photos can be shared to Facebook easily, and you can set up Instagram so photos automatically appear on your Facebook timeline, if you wish to. You'll also need to go into Facebook and set up the Instagram app.

Instagram is: 'Generating Higher Engagement than Facebook, and Growing Fast' according to Social Media Today. 


If you share an Instagram photo to Twitter, the photo isn't displayed in the Tweet. I tend to post photos directly to Twitter instead (or as well as on Instagram), as they receive more engagement on Twitter this way.

If you add a link to a photo on Instagram, it isn't clickable. For example, if you upload a photo and link to your blog post, someone would need to copy and paste that link into a search engine. The best way around this (and a method often used) is to add text to say 'link in bio' (if the link is in your bio, of course!).

Instagram works best with phones, and is intended to be immediate, ie. posted while you're there. Most country houses I visit don't have 3G phone reception or WiFi, so sometimes I post photos from these places afterwards.

Not all of those Facebook Friends and Twitter followers you've built up have joined yet, so your reach is limited (unless you share photos to Facebook, sharing to Twitter doesn't do much-see above). 

How do writers use Instagram?

To post photos of what inspires them, their TBR piles and their writing.
To interact with other writers, readers, book bloggers, agents, publishers.
To find readers by using hashtags, or by searching for them.
To promote their books.
To post directly from events such as book launches, writing confs etc
Selfies, a little, but not so much, although I did take this one by mistake when standing in front of a mirror at National Trust property, Polesden Lacey:

How I use Instagram

Follow those who I know already on other social media, and those who post photos and videos of Italy, and of country houses.

Mainly by posting photos on days out, of TBR piles, of research books, and on holidays; also sometimes of flowers and cakes (when I get around to making them).

Taking Instagram to the next level:

By linking to Periscope videos:

See Colosseum sunset by Darius Ayra @saverome

By posting hyperlapse videos: 

I love this one of a carousel in Florence by Georgette Jupe @girlinflorence

By posting photos which are a bit different, using filters creatively:

This is one of my favourite Instagram accounts by Nicolee Drake @cucinadigitale, who posts wonderful photos from Italy.

Instagram hashtags:


You can find me on Pinterest here.

Pinterest is another way to connect with readers. You can have boards for whatever you like, connecting into your brand again. I have boards for Italy and for each of my novels. I also have a secret board for my work in progress with links to research (a handy way to keep track of them), which I'll share when the book is ready. 

Boards linked to novels can be useful for finding inspiration: if I need to picture the green dress my main character is wearing, I find a photo online, and link to it in Pinterest.

Photos on Pinterest can be liked and shared, or 'repinned'. They can also be shared to Facebook, but I don't see much of this. I follow many eighteenth century boards which helps me to escape into that world when I'm working on my WIP.

You might see the 'Pin it' button when you read blog posts and articles. For example, if you hover your mouse over the top photo in this post, you'll see the option, which enables you to share this blog post with that photo to one of your boards on Pinterest.

Like with Instagram, reach on Pinterest is limited because not everyone seems to be there yet. I have 250 followers on Pinterest, compared to much bigger numbers on Twitter and Facebook (as mentioned above).

This brilliant, informative post by Jay Artale, via Indie Recon (April 2015) tells you everything you need to know about Pinterest as a writer/author: Building Your Brand with Pins and Boards 

When joining Instagram and Pinterest, it's worth using the same profile photo and bio from Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts so your Friends and followers know it's you.

Don't forget to add Instagram and Pinterest buttons to your blog

You can also add a lovely widget for Pinterest (see above) using Widget builder


A few more useful posts about Instagram, and one on Pinterest too:

Instagram Upgrades Direct Messaging Functionality with New Features, by Social Media Today

Instagram Ad Rollout will Make it the Top Media Buy: New Research, by Social Media Examiner

5 Years Later, The Most Surprising Part About Instagram is that No One's Ruined it, by Fast Company

Added 25 February 2016: Pinterest for Authors: A Beginner's Guide by Kirsten Oliphant, via Jane Friedman

I post links to articles like these on Twitter from my @neetsmarketing account, and on my neetsmarketing Facebook Page.

Course attendees!

Social Media Course for Writers

In other news, I recently ran a Social Media Course for Writers at The Mandolay Hotel in Guildford, where the staff went to great trouble to ensure the day ran smoothly (my feedback here on their Facebook Page). A lovely group of writers attended, and there are quotes from attendees on my website here. A possible course is planned in London, spring 2016, subject to demand. If you'd like to receive email notifications about future courses, you can contact me here.

Lorna Fergusson, Carol McGrath, and me

A few weeks ago, I went to a committee meeting as Publicity Officer for the next Historical Novel Society Conference (2-4 Sept 2016), which took place at the venue, the Mathematical Institute, Oxford University; and we had a lovely lunch afterwards. Keynote speakers at the conference are Melvyn Bragg, Fay Weldon, Tracy Chevalier and Kate Williams. Elizabeth Chadwick is a guest of honour, and Jo Baker is a special guest. The website went live this week (with lots more info on other speakers too), and booking is open! And here's the paragraph I wrote for the website. You can follow the Historical Novel Society on Twitter @histnovsoc (conference hashtag #HNSOxford16) and Facebook; plus videos from the conference in 2014 are here, and my neetswriter blog post from that conference is here.

And look at this wonderful photo taken by Lorna Fergusson on the day of our committee meeting, at the venue.

The Mathematical Institute, Oxford (used with kind permission of Lorna Fergusson)
There are more photos here, shared via the Historical Novel Society Facebook Page

Upcoming guest post:

On 6 November, I'm excited to tell you that bestselling author of medieval thrillers, E.M. Powell will be a guest on this blog with a post on Triberr.

Previous Posts:

Liz Fenwick on Using Twitter to Connect with Readers
Managing What Your Friends See on Facebook

Latest Post on neetswriter blog:

Lisa Eveleigh on What Agents Look For


  1. Very interesting and useful, as always. I've dipped my toe in the water with Pinterest, but haven't investigated Instagram yet. I'm not a visual person and I tend to forget that other people are.

    1. Thank you, April! So glad you found the post helpful. Best of luck, and look forward to seeing your pics :-)

  2. Thank you so much for another invaluable post, Anita. I'm on Pinterest but haven't ventured into Instagram yet.

    1. Thanks for reading, Wendy! Glad you found it helpful. Will check that I'm following you on Pinterest.