Three Reasons to Blog for Your Business

Three Reasons to Blog for your Business | Native State Design Co.

1. SEO & website traffic

If you are consistently creating quality content on a blog through your website, your site will go up in the Google rankings over other sites that aren’t regularly updated. It really is worth spending time on an attractive and professional blog because it’s free marketing and getting higher Google rankings will win you new business.

2. Attracting clients

An interesting, quality blog is a great place to show off what you do best and to capture an audience who is more likely to purchase your services. The more people you can get to your blog, the more people who will also check out the rest of your website and potentially hire you.

3. Educating prospective clients, your industry about yourself and what you do.

Where you can only keep a prospective client’s attention on an about page for a few sentences, a blog is an huge opportunity to continue educating website visitors about yourself, your industry, your services, and your personality. It can help you weed out inquiries for services you don’t offer and can help clients know what to expect from working with you. My friend Sam of LULA hair + makeup does a great job using her blog to educate about the hair + makeup industry, to share her favorite products, and to show off the gorgeous photo-shoots she’s been a part of. I’m not even a potential bride, yet I spend time reading her posts because the content is well-written, informative, and is pretty to look at. She’s done such a good job that she’s the number one Google ranking for “raleigh bridal hair and makeup”.

I’ll continue sharing tips for how to write compelling blog posts, ideas for content, and the basics of preparing images for your blog. Is there anything you want to see covered about blogging for your business? Let me know in the comments!

Three Reasons to Blog for Your Business

How I Taught Myself Hand Lettering

How I Taught Myself Hand Lettering | Native State Design Co.


Have you always been interested in hand-lettering but aren’t sure where to start? Three years ago I was in the same spot. Here’s how I navigated the murky waters of questionable blog tutorials and gear recommendations. Let me preface all of this with a qualifier: first you need to understand your own learning style. What was helpful for my learning might not be as helpful for you, and that’s okay. Know yourself, and know how you learn to make the most out of the following advice. Personally, I am a “learn as you go” type. I learn better by just doing it and figuring out what works and doesn’t as I go. For a long time, I was held back from attempting lettering because I believed I wasn’t good enough to try, that I had no real aptitude for it, that I would be terrible, etc. But when I got over myself and decided to just go for it, I realized that like anything else, lettering is a learned skill. If you are motivated and interested in it, you can learn how to do it too! So here’s a run down of what helped me learn.


1. Feel the freedom to make mistakes.

First of all, nobody is magically able to free-hand amazing lettering with no practice. When I first got interested in lettering, I used to watch videos of calligraphers lettering envelopes free hand like it was no big deal. I thought that mastering that level of skill was when you had “made it” as a letterer and that everyone else who couldn’t do that was just an amateur. Then one day I was scrolling through instagram and noticed stray pencil marks on a post from one of my favorite watercolor-letterers. Then I realized that all the people I most respected all start by sketching. How liberating! You don’t have to be able to perfectly execute it the first try with your micron or brush pen. You can take your time sketching it lightly in pencil first and make as many mistakes as you want. It takes time and effort to letter something really great. And sure, in ten years you may be able to freehand an amazing lock-up, but don’t put that pressure on yourself at the outset. Feel totally free to make mistakes. Keep your early attempts so you can go back and look at how far you’ve grown.  It takes time and practice, but don’t get discouraged when your early stuff isn’t Sean Wes level. You’ll get there in time!


2. Watch videos or take classes from respected letterers. 

Skip wading through sketchy random, unhelpful youtube videos four hours on end and find out if your favorite artists offer workshops or online classes. Sean Wes has a really helpful video class you can take at your own pace. Locally in Raleigh you can grab lettering classes through Skillpop. Find out where you can do that in your area and go! Watch how someone you respect does it and you can learn so much. Take the time to learn the basics of typography as well. It may seem boring, but it will improve your lettering exponentially if you know how the ascenders, descenders and baseline should balance. These are the principles that you can fall back on when you’ve sketched something out and it just “doesn’t look right.”

Here are some helpful, high quality places to learn: This Sean Wes course is amazing, is a classic source, and Skill Share is another great resource.


3. Practice, practice, and practice some more.

This might seem obvious, but you will never be great at lettering if you don’t practice. For focused practice, choose a classic typeface or find a free calligraphy practice sheet, print out a whole sheet of one letter and trace it over and over until it’s like second nature. Then try to draw it just by looking at the letter. Next try to draw it from memory. Learning letterforms like this will give you the building blocks and muscle memory you need to create your own style. Focused practice is great when you have the time, but you can also squeeze in every-day practice in lots of other places—like writing your grocery list or in a note to your roommate or spouse. Get creative and take the chance to practice letterforms every time you are holding a pen. Keep all your practice pages in a chronological stack and rifle through the early attempts whenever you are feeling discouraged. You may be surprised to find that they are better than you thought they were, and you’ll be encouraged to have a tangible way to measure your growth.

I’ll be continuing this series on lettering with posts about my favorite tools, my own lettering process, and some photoshop/illustrator tutorials for lettering.

Have any questions or good resources that I missed in the post?  Things you want me to cover in future posts? Leave me a note in the comments!

How I Taught Myself Hand Lettering

Three Inspiring Documentaries to Watch

Three Inspiring Documentaries to Watch | Native State Design Co.


These documentaries have one common thread—all tell the story of individuals who were driven  to pursue greatness in their respective vocations. As a creative entrepreneur I found all of these stories remarkable and deeply inspiring for my own work and dreams.

1. Bill Cunningham New York (2010)

Bill Cunningham was the most humble, unassuming icon imaginable. He was singularly obsessed with his mission—documenting and reporting New York Street Fashion and that drive made him the best at what he does. I have so much respect for this quiet man after viewing this insightful look at what drives him. I was so saddened to hear of his passing this year, and I’ll always rank him among the most inspiring of folks.

2. Frank Lloyd Wright (1998)

While he’s the last role model I would ever look to for lessons in humility or basic morality, Frank Lloyd Wright was an undeniable, albeit rakish, genius. He lied and extorted his way through a stop-and-start, late blooming career, but his bad qualities are softened in light of the original, creative, category defying style of architecture he developed. He also overcame multiple failures and a personal life fraught with tragedy and unhealthy relationships on his path to becoming the first true celebrity architect to develop a uniquely American style.

3. The September Issue (2009)

I grew up voraciously devouring every issue of Vogue and Teen Vogue I could get my hands on. I remember this particular September issue coming out and how I cut out my favorite ads and features to paste up on the walls of my teenage bedroom. This inside look at how that issue came to be is fascinating and at times, to my surprise, tear-jerking.

And for a bonus…check out the Chef’s Table series (2015-) on Netflix for profiles of celebrity chefs candidly sharing their failures on the way to success. Not to mention every shot is breathtakingly beautiful and beyond inspiring.

Peering into other creative disciplines and paths to success is a great pick-me-up on this days when you don’t feel like the entrepreneur life is going your way. Do you have any favorite documentaries or shows? Any figures you really look up to? Share in the comments!

Three Inspiring Documentaries to Watch

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