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Four Steps to a Cohesive Instagram Feed

Four Steps to a Cohesive Instagram Feed | Native State Design Co.

I love instagram. It is hands-down my number one favorite social media platform. During my time trolling hundreds of feeds and learning through creating my own feed, I picked up a few lessons on how to create a compelling, branded instagram feed.

Step One: Identify your audience. 

Who is your ideal client?  Determine the type of client you most enjoy working with and try to think from their perspective. If it’s a feminine 20 something girl think about what kind of pretty, feminine content she would be drawn to. If it’s a busy but fashion conscious mom, choose images and write captions that will capture her limited attention. You have a free, unlimited platform to visually communicate with your clients here, so make the best use of it!

Step Two: Develop your own consistent style.

Instagram has become so popular that it’s not uncommon to run across countless accounts that are virtually indistinguishable in style. Just as you want your logo to show off what is unique about your business, you should use your Instagram to do the same. It’s easy to copy what someone else has already done, but it won’t be ultimately compelling to your audience. Be genuine, and be yourself. Find your own unique voice and use it to create quality content. People can tell the difference between fake feeds and ones with genuine heart behind them. Sure, minimal, all white feeds are beautiful, but if your style is colorful with vintage details, then it wouldn’t be authentic for your feed to reflect minimal aesthetics. If you’re having trouble identifying your personal style, take a long hard look at your business and products. Try to judge them from an outside perspective and be honest about what you see. Ask your close friends and family what they think your style is. You might be surprised by how they perceive you. Use their input to inform the style of photos you post.

Some examples of feeds with unique personal style: @mimithor, @local_milk, and @whitneyreeder

Step Three: Post high-quality content.

It’s sometimes very alluring to post a fluff photo that looks nice but has no meaning. Resist the urge. Try to post photos with story and heart behind them. You don’t necessarily need to post a long caption explaining it (in fact, I’d advise against excessively long captions), but if you are posting something that is significant to you, it will shine through. For a time, I tried to curate my feed based entirely on aesthetics. It felt fake and was not engaging anyone on a deep level. When I returned to posting photos that meant something to me, my audience became engaged, it sparked some cool conversations, and Instagram started feeling fun again.

Some examples of feeds with heart: @amandajanejones, @ruthielindsey, and @oldjoy

Step Four: Learn the basics of photography and photo editing.

As much as I am an advocate of being genuine and real, the reality is that if you aren’t able to capture images that are as visually compelling as the heart behind them, then you aren’t likely to connect with your audience. Take some time to experiment with your phone to find a comfortable style of photo and then stick to that style. For me, I tend to shoot images that have a specific focus with a lot of open background. I usually have some detail I want my audience to notice, so I set up my shot to highlight that detail. Everyone sees the world from a different perspective, and photography gives you an opportunity to share your unique perspective with others. Allow the way you see beauty in the things around you to influence the way you shoot photos. Learn how to edit your photos to show off the mood you are after—be it bright and cheerful, or muted and pensive. I’ll be continuing this series with a more practical how-to for editing iPhone photos, but for now here are a few helpful tutorials to get you started:

This helpful editing tutorial from Bethany at Cloistered Away, Another helpful editing run-down from Fall for DIY, and if you need something more in-depth, check out Bri Emery’s Social Media Workshop at Design Love Fest.

Have anything to add? Questions you want me to cover on future Instagram blog posts? Let me know in the comments!



Four Steps to a Cohesive Instagram Feed

My Day as a Freelance Designer

My Day as a Freelance Designer | Native State Design Co.

I’m fascinated by the daily routines of other people. I’ve been drawn in to countless buzzfeed, click-baited articles promising to enlighten me on the morning routines of successful people. I realized that many people, including my own friends and family, probably don’t know what I (or other entrepreneurs) do in a normal day, or how I manage to balance work with kids. So here’s a diary of my typical workday.


6:30 am

I wake up, dress and hopefully have coffee going before my kids wake up.

7:00 am

I dress, feed, and pack up the kids for a morning at childcare.

9:00 am

I drop the last kid and settle in for three glorious, uninterrupted hours of focused work at a coffee shop near the pre-school. This is when I do the heavy lifting on my to-do list. I try to stay off the internet as along as possible and stay far away from my phone, Facebook, and Pinterest during this time. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you eliminate distractions.

12 noon

I pick up the kids, head home and eat lunch with them. I love this break in my work day which forces me to take a mental break from my daily tasks and focus on eating a good lunch and hearing all about what happened at school that morning.

1:00 pm

The kids (usually) are napping or resting quietly in their rooms. I use these to hours to wrap up anything from the morning I didn’t finish, respond to emails, etc.

3:00 pm

This is usually when Daniel gets home if he was working outside the house and when the kids wake up. We spend these few hours before dinner chatting about our days, cleaning up the house, and starting dinner prep. If I’m on a tight deadline, Daniel will take over the kids and I’ll hide out and work until dinner.

5:30 pm

Family dinner! And yes! 5:30! We try to make a point to do dinner together with no electronic devices every night. With an almost 2-year-old in the house, that means eating early. It’s a special time that I have come to cherish.

6:30 pm

The baby goes to bed and the big kid hangs out and helps us clean the kitchen (he absolutely loves washing dishes). More time to chat about our days while our hands are busy.

7:30 pm

The big kid goes to bed and then Daniel and I spend time together, or if one of us has an activity that night we head out. I do a lot of my illustrations and lettering during these hours while I watch the telly and have a glass of wine. It’s a nice way to wind down the day while checking off to-do list items.

And that’s a typical day! If we are working on a huge project with a tight deadline, I will work late into the night sometimes, but for the most part I am able to knock out the big stuff during my focused morning work. Some days I put in a lot of hours, and it never stops at 5pm sharp, but having set breaks in my day keeps life balanced as a business owner. This schedule is about to change completely as my five-year-old begins Kindergarten this fall, so I’ll be coming up with a new schedule and routine to keep myself productive. Wish me luck!

How does a typical day look for you? Are you a business owners? Do you have a side-hustle? How do you maintain balance in your life? Moms, how have you found ways to effectively juggle work and time with your kids?


My Day as a Freelance Designer

Raleigh Color Story Series, pt. IV

Raleigh Color Story Series | Native State Design Co. Raleigh Color Story Series | Native State Design Co.

We’ve come to the final installment of this color palette series, and I saved my favorite building for last. I’ve always had a thing for ghost signs, and this one is no exception. Not to mention the artful combination of pale peach with a faded minty blue and the pop of warm burnt-orange on the trim and brick showing through the chipped paint. This is a color palette that shows the harmony of reserved neutrals with one pop of color. Emotionally, it evokes feelings of security and stability because the majority of the system is based on “safe” shades. The burnt-orange would work well to draw the eye to important call-outs or details in a design without being overbearing or taking away from the stability of the blue-greens and peach-y beige.

What did you all learn from this series? Have any more color palette questions that I didn’t cover in this post?


Raleigh Color Story Series, pt. IV

Raleigh Color Story Series, pt. III

Raleigh Color Story Series | Native State Design Co. Raleigh Color Story Series | Native State Design Co.


I’ve always thought this was one of the most beautiful buildings in Raleigh. This color palette is another example of how well complementary colors play with neutrals. Red and green sit opposite on the color wheel, and blue sits between them. If this palette had, for example, a yellow thrown in, it would be a triad color palette. Triad palettes are tricky to pull off, because they can become busy and unbalanced if executed incorrectly. This color palette works harmoniously together as-is, and would work well for a brand that wants to communicate traditional values and dependability.

We’ll be wrapping up this series with next week’s post! Have you learned anything new about color theory? Let me know!


Raleigh Color Story Series, pt. III

Raleigh Color Story Series, pt. II

Raleigh Color Story Series | Native State Design Co. Raleigh Color Story Series | Native State Design Co.


This color palette was no accident, but it’s worth noting how well the colors here work in harmony. The reason this system works is because dark, dusty blue sits directly opposite the color wheel from the rust orange. The color theory term for this is complementary. The colors play nicely together because they are exact opposites. The contrast between the warmer hues in this palette balances visually with the cooler blue hues. If this color palette were applied to a brand, the dusty blue would be a great workhorse, against which the rust orange would add a wonderful punch for design elements that need to catch the eye. The paler shades would carry well as secondary background and accent shades. Emotionally, this palette reads as peaceful and balanced because there are calming neutral tones in addition to the balanced complementary shades.

Part three is coming up next week!


Raleigh Color Story Series, pt. II

Native State Design Co. is a husband + wife design team, based in Raleigh, NC.