How To Avoid Blocked Hashtags On Instagram

Did you know that you aren’t allowed to use the hashtag #books on Instagram?
Until today, I certainly didn’t.


Instagram have been blocking some terms – mostly to do with sexism, sexual content, body shaming and bullying, or so I thought. It’s called a shadowban: posts using blocked tags are less visible than others, and repeated use can result in more definite blocking of posts or accounts.

Surely there’s nothing offensive about #books though? Yet it’s one of the hashtags that will cause your posts to drift into obscurity.

As an author, reader, book reviewer and all-round book nerd, that’s a trap I’ve fallen into more than once, but thankfully my love for tags like #bookstagram and #booklover has been saving my bookish hide more often than I ever realised.

I did find a rather extensive list of hashtags banned by Instagram, courtesy of the great people over at, but I don’t really want to go and consult another site and spend my valuable time reading through horrible words – and some of them are horrible – in order to find out if something relatively innocent is also blocked.

I’d rather be able to check quickly and easily inside the app itself. And that is quite do-able, even if you’re a novice.

Follow these handy and simple instructions to discover if a term you want to use is acceptable without consulting a long list somewhere that may even be out of date by now.

1. When you’re using the Instagram app, click on the search icon. It’s the one that looks like a magnifying glass.

2. Type in the hashtag you want to use. A list of possible tags will come up. So far, it looks like #books is okay.

3. Next, click on the Tags tab of the search window. #books is still there and still looks alright. However…

4. Tap on that tag in the list and scroll down, you will find only a few images, followed by a message that says the tag has been banned because reports have been made regarding inappropriate content.

If you go ahead and use the tag, nobody will see your tag because they can’t find posts using that tag, either. And your other tags might also end up being blocked. So might your account.

Nobody wants to end up there.

So, as authors and book lovers, we need to tag our posts differently so that other book lovers will find our posts.ScreenHunter_439 Mar. 13 19.13

When you click on a tag that is not blocked, you’ll see some further “related” tags that you could use in your posts. Notice, though, that this does not exist for #books.

I’ve slogged through a whole bunch of these “related tags” to find some great hashtags with good popularity that you can use safely – for now, anyway.

Try some of these great tags for your bookish posts:

If you’re posting images or reviews of books you’ve enjoyed, consider some of these:

My final piece of good news is that if you have been using a blocked hashtag, you can rescue your posts and make them fully visible again.

1. For each post, click on the three dots to the right of your username.

2. Choose edit from the menu.

3. Scroll to your hashtags and change or remove the banned one.

4. Click on ‘done’ and your post will be back to full visibility.


Handy hint: if you “like” your own post once you’ve changed it, your post will re-enter the general Instagram feed.
It’s a good idea to do this one or two posts at a time, not all at once, so you don’t flood your followers’ feeds.

Branded Short Links.

Branded short links make your posts instantly recognisable as yours.

Promo Seal of Approval Fur Real Nova TPOTNShort links like and are becoming more and more popular. I’ve been using as a link shortening service for my social media posts for some time, and have loved the convenience and the ability to personalise links for myself.

Last week, though, I made a significant discovery: I could have my very own short link domain, and use my own branded short links across all my social media. This makes my posts and products more immediately recognisable. It gives me consistent and affordable branding. And it means the short link I want for a particular book or post is never going to have been taken by someone else!

I read a few blogs and website articles about it to make sure it was something that I understood before I signed up, but it’s really not that complicated. I explored a few different sites to see which ones offered the best service, and although they’re all quite similar to one another, I settled on Rebrandly because it’s very simply laid out and easy to use.

Getting hold of my own short domain name was easy. I clicked on the “domains” tab and then on the “New Domain” button. That took me to a page where I could browse domain names relevant to my branding – jvlpoet – so that I could choose whichever one I liked best. There’s a range of prices, and plenty for $2 for the first year. I chose for my branded short domain because it seemed the most straightforward, and it’s easy to remember.

2018-03-04 13.33.13

The slashtag is whatever comes after that link. I can use that short domain name and then the slashtag of my choice, which I set up at Rebrandly on the “links” tab. So, is the branded short link for the universal link to my book, Nova, in all digital stores. It’s much more personal, and recognisable as mine, than

Now that I have set up my branded short links, Rebrandly keeps track of how many clicks each link has received, and when, so I can see how effectively each one is working.

They also offer a range of apps which enable me to synchronise my links on Rebrandly on my phone and tablet, and in conjunction with,, Clickmeter, Chrome, and all sorts of other services.

This gives me a tightly coordinated approach to branding and publicising my posts across social media, websites, blogs… everywhere. And thus far, all it’s cost me is $2. Even when my domain costs me $14 for the following year, it’s still a bargain for that level of visibility and recognition.


The links I’ve created with still work, so I don’t have to rebrand the images or posts I’ve already made. They’re all still great, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with’s service. I just like having my name there instead of theirs.


Author’s note: This post is not affiliated with Rebrandly or any of the other services I’ve mentioned. It’s simply my account of my choices and the steps I’ve made in achieving the desired outcome. 


What Will Make Me Refuse To Review Your Book?

You can’t promote anything worthwhile with bad behaviour.

This is a Public Service Announcement.

I find myself to be in an awkward situation: there are some individuals who have decided that it is appropriate to send messages to my inbox and to my email, asking with varying degrees of insistence that I might read and review their books.

I know everyone wants reviews and sales. I do, too. It seems they have overlooked the fact that I, too, am an author. Perhaps they think I am a professional reviewer – I’m not.

I read and review as much as I can, but I can’t and won’t take requests or demands from authors. I read and review what I want to, because it interests and entertains me, not because I am asked to, and certainly not out of any sense of obligation.

If it’s okay – and it is – for people to not want to read and review my books because they don’t read either of my genres, it has to be okay for me to make that same choice.

For that reason, there won’t be a lot of certain genres on my TBR list or book blog. I just don’t want to read them.

I don’t accept free books. It is only on a very rare occasion that I ever have. I buy books so that I can give a verified purchase review. In fact, I buy a LOT of books, and I’m more than happy to do that.

But I will not buy something I am not interested in. I work too hard for my money and my time is in too much demand for that.

So please, don’t embarrass us both by asking, or insisting, or nagging me to read and review your books. If I am interested in them, I will. If my inbox is full of your repeated demands, there is absolutely zero chance that it will happen.

I’m disappointed I had to write this post. Sometimes, though, one has to make a stand in the interests of self-preservation.

Those responsible should consider themselves warned: the next step will be a permanent block.

How to Achieve A Visually Attractive Twitter Feed.

Just because you can use 280 characters, doesn’t mean you should.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of people commenting on how they love the new 280 character limit for Twitter. I’ve also noticed a lot of people writing long tweets with no line breaks, and barely any space in them to take a breath.

My message here may be unpopular with those folks, but it must be said: just because you can use 280 characters, doesn’t mean you should.

Remember, people are basically lazy. They don’t want to have to work to figure out what you’re saying, and they don’t want to wade through thirteen hashtags to do so, either.

When it comes to writing tweets, I’ve always assumed that the rule of “less is more” applies. I want my message to be short, easily understood and digested, and easily acted upon.

ScreenHunter_439 Feb. 20 21.34

I’ve always tried to keep my tweets to well under the 140 characters, as short as 100 characters if possible. A short, effective message is more attractive to people than a slab of text.

As an author, I’ve heard more people than I care to try to count tell me that they don’t like reading. (I know, right? I don’t understand it either.) However, it’s something that I’ve taken to heart when writing anything promotional. Any ad, tweet, or invitation is completely ineffective if it puts people off before they even really look at it.

I always leave a line of space between my main message and my hashtags. It breaks up the tweet so it looks more accessible. I also think that it makes the hashtags a bit more obvious, given that some people might take notice of those before the actual message.

When it comes to hashtags, I wrote a few months back about ‘How To Avoid Hashtag Hell’ in social media. I advised then to use two well-chosen hashtags, and no more. Given the increased word limit, I’m about to start experimenting with using three to increase the discoverability of my tweets, but that would be my upper limit. This isn’t a rule, as such, but simply my desire to keep my tweets looking simple and attractive. I’m no expert in advertising or design, but I go by what I experience myself: when a message is easy on the eye, it’s going to get more attention.

On that same assumption, I always include an image. People are very visually oriented and will, more often than not, look at the picture before the text. I try to make the image relevant to the post, and will often superimpose text and web addresses on the image in a way that won’t detract from the visual effect I hope it will achieve. Where appropriate, I use logos that will build familiarity with my work. Otherwise, I use my own images or stock images that are copyright and royalty free, so that I’m not infringing on copyright, either. There are lots of places that offer them, but I find and to be excellent sources of quality images that are free for reuse for any purpose.

ScreenHunter_437 Feb. 20 21.33I use a link shortening service so that half the tweet isn’t taken up by an enormous web address or link. is free, so are many others. I use Buffer to schedule my tweets, and it shortens links automatically, so that’s a double win!

A further advantage of using Buffer is that it enables me to recycle my tweets so that I don’t have to spend hours each week coming up with new content. I regularly change the hashtags and messages on a reused tweet so that I’m not just giving people the same old thing time after time.

When it’s done a few rounds, I’ll rest a great tweet for a while, and pick it up again down the track if it’s still relevant. I save them in files in Evernote, so all I have to do when I come back is copy and paste it into a new message, attach the image, and off I go.

ScreenHunter_439 Feb. 20 21.33

Some of my tweets don’t have links. This is a deliberate decision on my part – sometimes I just want to offer a thought, a joke, or a compliment to my audience without asking them to do anything in return. That’s not a rule either – it’s just how I like to do things.

Finally, mix it up. If all you tweet is ads for your book or service, or quotations from your work in progress, it can get a little humdrum. I keep things varied by tweeting about great books, free reads, short reads, book reviews, magazines, great blog articles, and interesting tidbits of history, science and general interest far more than I tweet ads for my own books. My books are worthy of advertising and attention, and I would love to find more readers, but I don’t believe in shoving them in people’s faces at every opportunity, either.

I know all that seems like a lot of work, but being active on social media does take effort and thoughtfulness if you’re going to have something meaningful to offer.

Since I have been following these guidelines, I have had new followers every day. I started 2017 with just over 300, and now I have 3000 more than that. It’s slow growth, but it’s organic growth – my audience actually wants to be my audience! And that is worth far, far more than being able to fit a bunch of stuff in one tweet.

Making Your Facebook Pages Easy to Like.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints recently about Facebook removing the “Like Page” button from Facebook page links in comments and posts.

I absolutely agree – it’s a pain.
But I have found another way to share links and like/follow pages more conveniently than having to open every page and click on “like” or “follow”.

If you tag yourself or your page in an individual person’s post, people can hover over the tag and click on the “Like” button in the small window that pops up.

To tag your page, start typing its name. It should cause a small window to appear with your page name in it. Click on the correct option and your page will be tagged.

ScreenHunter_424 Jul. 03 11.33

Once tagged, your page name should appear highlighted. Then you can keep typing.

ScreenHunter_424 Jul. 03 11.34

By putting more than one link in your post, you’re saving a lot of work and tidying up those “like for like” threads that can have hundreds of comments in them.

ScreenHunter_424 Jul. 03 11.35

Keep in mind that this won’t work in groups or on pages, but it does work on individual people’s posts.

To tag your page in a group or page post, you need to do the same thing, but use your page @username instead.

ScreenHunter_424 Jul. 04 18.02

You can still use more than one tag in each post.

ScreenHunter_424 Jul. 04 18.03

Great Hashtags for Indie Authors

Following my previous post about how to use hashtags effectively, I thought it might be helpful to provide you with a list of hashtags that work well for Indie authors.

Hashtag_exampleMy aim in this post is not to give you every hashtag that writers use, but to provide you with a functional list of the most common, and therefore the most valuable.



Hashtags for connecting with other authors:


  • #AmWriting
  • #AmEditing
  • #WordCount
  • #WriterWednesday (or #WW)
  • #WritersLife
  • #PoetTues
  • #IndieAuthors
  • #NaNoWriMo
  • #WritingPrompt
  • #Creativity
  • #WIP (work in progress)
  • #WritersBlock
  • #WritingTips
  • #WriteTip
  • #WritersTellMe
  • IndieAuthorsBeSeen

Hashtags for identifying and connecting with other bloggers: 

  • #blog
  • #blogger
  • #blogging
  • #bloggerswanted
  • #bloggersrequired

Hashtags for connecting by genre:


  • #Romancehashtags_o_2430667
  • #SciFi
  • #KidLit
  • #PNR  (Paranormal Romance)
  • #MGLit (Middle Grade Lit)
  •  #MemoirChat
  • #FlashFic
  • #Romance
  • #Horror
  • #FanFic
  • #YA
  • #History
  • #Poetry

Hashtags for connecting with publishing colleagues:

  • #GetPublished
  • #BookMarket
  • #BookMarketing
  • #PromoTip
  • #SelfPublishing
  • #SelfPub
  • #Publishing
  • #AskAgent
  • #AskAuthor
  • #AskEditor
  • #EBooks
  • #IndiePub (or #IndiePublishing)
  • #BookMarketing
  • #PubTip

Hashtags for connecting with readers:

  • #books
  • #bookworm
  • #FridayReads
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #MustRead
  • #ReadingList
  • #WorthReading
  • WhatToRead
  • #StoryFriday
  • #TeaserTues
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #free
  • #kindle
  • #nook
  • #iBooks
  • bookslover
  • bookspecials
  • bookpost
  • IndieBooks
  • IndieBooksBeSeen

Hashtags for Instagram only:

  • #writersofinstagram
  • #readersofinstagram
  • #poetsofinstagram
  • writerscommunity
  • #readers

Your own hashtag:

In addition to these, you can also make a hashtag for your own book or brand.

However, if you’re going to do this, make sure it’s unique to you or your book so that you don’t get lost in a haze of brand confusion.

You can see here that #jvlpo was good, but not good enough.

ScreenHunter_416 Apr. 12 15.39







However, #jvlpoet was completely unique to me. I did this same search on both Twitter and Google when deciding on my domain name,

ScreenHunter_417 Apr. 12 15.39


Why You Should Always Have A Pinned Post.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any other social media where you can pin a post, you should.

Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 07 15.29
other social media where you can pin a
post, you should.  Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Here’s why.

It is an immediate way for people to see what you’re about – your book, your favourite charity, an upcoming event, social justice issues, whatever it is. 

It also serves as an easy way for people to share your posts and get your message out to even more people. Some of those people will share your interest, and either share your post or follow you. Some will do both. 

In short, it’s a great way to get more attention with minimal effort. 

If you have a good number of new followers on a regular basis, you can change your pinned post each week or each month to give followers and “click-throughs” something new to share on your behalf. 

It’s also a great way to get feedback on the effectiveness of your post.

The stats at the bottom of a pinned tweet tell me how many replies, shares and likes that post has had. Clicking on the little graph icon at the far right gives you even more detail about how far your post has travelled.

ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 07 15.32

It can get you more followers and more shares. 

There’s another thing to consider, too. If people click through to your profile and all you have is shares or retweets, they can easily decide you don’t have original thoughts to share and lose interest. Given that they’ve been interested enough to click through to your profile, that’s probably a bunch of shares and prospective followers that you’ve missed out on. 

To pin a post is easy.

On both Twitter profiles and Facebook pages, each post has a little down arrow at the top right-hand side. Click that, and choose “pin etc”.

That will remain your pinned post, and always appear at the top of your profile, until you choose to pin something else there.