How to Build Your Brand on Instagram with Sydney Norberg

    How to Build Your Brand on Instagram | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    If you’re trying to build your brand on Instagram, you know it’s not an easy feat. Success doesn’t happen overnight for the vast majority of us, unless you’re some kind of celebrity (in that case, congrats). Behind every perfectly staged photo is a person (or people!) with a plan. And if you ask those people, they’ll tell you strategy is key for growth.

    I met Sydney Norberg, an Orlando-based photographer and owner of Sydney Marie Photography, through Instagram nearly three years ago. Not only is she one of the most creative and kindest people I know, but she’s also a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the mysterious world of Instagram (she’s even launching her own mentorship program, #captionandcreate, April 1!).

    She taught me to look at my profile in a more strategic way. By implementing some of her tips, I was able to grow my Instagram account exponentially in the past year. I reached out to her to see if she’d be willing to share some of her wisdom with you, and she happily accepted (because she’s awesome, duh).

    Read our interview below!

    Hi, Sydney! Tell us a little about yourself.

    I love taking photos and making people feel beautiful in photographs! I love adventuring around new cities and eating tacos (with a side of diet coke, please). At the age of 18, I started my photography business and jumped into wedding photography in 2016! Because of Instagram, I have been able to establish my brand in the city of Orlando and have had the opportunity to create content for awesome brands like Fossil, UberEATS and American Eagle!

    How long have you been on Instagram?

    Oh man, I think I’ve been on Instagram since I was 17. But, I started cultivating a specific look at the end of 2015.

    What encouraged you to use Instagram as a professional tool?

    As I was looking for inspiration and other successful photographers around the US early on in my photog journey, I noticed how each account was used as a portfolio for them. Just by scrolling through my feed, I knew who each photographer was because of the specific style they portrayed in their photos. That’s when I made the decision to focus on branding myself on Instagram as well.

    Why do you think it’s so important to build a personal brand on Instagram?

    Social media is such a major part of our generation. It’s a way to present yourself to people you’ve never even met (a.k.a. potential clients!). As a photographer, I want my clients, my friends, my community to know what I’m about, even if they haven’t met me in person. So, I use each photo, each edit and caption to portray my personality and passions. I feel my goal has been accomplished when I meet people that following on Instagram and they say, “You’re just like I thought you’d be!”

    Cause a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

    How to Build Your Brand on Instagram | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Creating a cohesive feed is crucial to attracting new followers. How do you plan your content? What types of locations/images do you look for?

    So when planning my feed, I put some things into account (and it hasn’t always been this way!). I’ve noticed a recent pattern of the people who follow me – teen girls, Orlandians, creatives, photographers, bloggers, and some of my clients) – so I post for them. I know the teens and Orlandians like seeing new places and shops to check out when they’re in town. I know the creatives and photographers want to see my work and photography style. And, I know my clients want to get to know me personally before hiring me as their wedding photographer.

    I also created a private Instagram account to plan my grid a bit more. This way you have a chance to see what is pleasing to the eye, what stands out and what should possibly be deleted. I highly suggest doing that — it’s a life changer!

    How has Instagram helped you land opportunities with companies/brands?

    Instagram is a huge market for brands these days. It’s an easy way for them to get their product out to potential buyers within seconds even. With that in mind, I always make sure that I am professionally presenting myself through my Instagram. And I believe from that, brands easily know who I am, know what I do and understand the content I will provide – ultimately, deciding if it matches up with their style/brand.

    What are your go-to photo editing apps?

    VSCO – 100%!

    Networking online is just as important as it is IRL. What tips do you have for someone who is looking to network through Instagram and build lasting relationships?

    I’ve met some of my closest friends through Instagram! Actually, found Natalie herself through a hashtag! (It’s true guys, she did!)

    If I had any tips to give, I’d say just be yourself & truly care about what your “insta-friends” are doing! Comment, like, share their stuff, email them, go to the link in their bio! Support & show how much you just love what they are doing & the work their putting out!

    You’ve had many of your images shared by brands with large followings. What tips would you give someone who is looking for opportunities for exposure?

    If you are looking to be “re-posted” or noticed by a specific brand or audience, the only advice I would give is – create the content they want to see. If your content/vibe alines with theirs, there is a great chance you will be noticed by them!

    What advice would you give someone who is interested in building their following on Instagram? What methods helped you grow?

    This has honestly been a tricky one for me. Followers do not make sense to me, unfortunately! I have some friends that have been reposted a few times & have gotten over 5-6k followers in a year. I have other friends that put out constant, beautiful work but have only grown around 1-2k in a year. I’ve realized though, that engagement is key! Personally, I focus on making my engagement stronger, know my specific audience (even if it isn’t 20k).
    P.S. if you want to know your engagement percentage, type in your handle on

    You’re launching a mentoring project called #captionandcreate. Why do you think people should sign up for this? What are you hoping to teach them?

    I am SO excited about #captionandcreate! This project has been a developing idea of mine for about a year now, so I’m thrilled to finally be opening registration April 1st!

    #captionandcreate is a one on one mentorship. It’s a way for you to sit down & really evaluate how you want to portray your brand on Instagram. And ask yourself: Who is your perfect or potential client? What is your mission? And how is it unique among other brands?

    I’ve also included a fun E-book (the #captionandcreate Tips & Tricks Guide) with current statistics & recommendations on how to further your brand & truly stand out from the rest!

    Thank you for sharing your insight with everyone, Sydney! And thank you for reading along! 

    Advice, Living, Real Life

    Helpful Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

    Tips for first-time home buyers | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    I currently rent my apartment, mainly because I love the flexibility of being able to pick up and move, and it’s reassuring to know someone will come fix the dishwasher, sink, or other scary appliance when it breaks (which has happened…more than once). But, even though renting is a great option for Fritz and I now, we realize we’re not making a real investment. You’ll hear people say renting is the equivalent of “throwing money away” each month, and it’s true. When I think about how much I spend each year on rent, it’s enough to make me cringe…

    Many of my friends are starting to buy houses, which has encouraged me to think seriously about making the investment in the next few years. If you own your home or are currently in the hunting process, you know that buying a house is a different story – a completely different story. The journey can be long, painful and frustrating, especially if it’s your first time buying real estate.

    Before I make any big decision or purchase, I like to do my research and ask around. I turned to the best, most experienced realtor I know (a.k.a., my lovely mom, Nancy), for her advice to those starting the home buying process. Read below for some of her top do’s and don’ts for a first-time home buyer (I’ll be referencing these tips soon enough).

    Tips for a first-time home buyer | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    The Do List

    Take the time to review your credit report

    A strong credit score and financial track record can help you more easily obtain a loan and at lower interest rates.

    Get pre-approved for a mortgage

    It’s important to understand the various options available and become comfortable with an estimated monthly payment for budgeting purposes.

    Think about your lifestyle today and in the near future

    Will your home offer enough space as your family grows? Remember, your first home will more than likely not be your last.

    Make a list of the features you would like in your new home and separate into “must haves” and “would love to have”

    Consider number of bedrooms, baths, garage spaces, private office, etc. This will help you make choices if you have to compromise to fit your budget.

    The Don’t List

    Don’t rush into a decision

    Take the time to review the homes that fit your criteria, but remember to keep an open mind. The best fit might not be your initial choice.

    Don’t be tempted to go over your budget

    Make sure to factor in the down payment you will need, closing costs, property taxes, and monthly expenses so you can make an informed decision. Also, you will want to set aside a budget for cosmetic changes in addition to saving for entertainment and vacations.

    Consult the professionals

    A mortgage loan officer can provide you with detailed information in order for you to understand various financing options to make an informed decision. An experienced real estate agent with years of market and negotiating experience can provide invaluable neighborhood expertise and provide you with one point of contact to view all properties of interest and negotiate the best deal possible.

    Be patient and do your homework

    If you plan and follow these helpful tips, you will know when you see the perfect home. And hopefully, you will enjoy the home buying process along the way.

    Have you recently bought a home or are currently going through the process? What are some tips you’ve learned along the way?

    Thank you to M/I Homes for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that make Natalie Was Here a happenin’ place to be!

    I recently visited a model home in M/I Homes’ new community in Minerva Park (Westerville area) and was so impressed with the layout and decor. The community will be home to 250 houses, and pricing ranges from $212,900 – $249,900 — perfect for first-time home buyers. To learn more about the new community, click here.

    Keep up with M/I Homes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


    5 Amazing Affordable Lipsticks To Wear Right Now

    I’m lipstick obsessed. I wear a color on my lips daily, whether it’s my favorite nude for during the day, or a vampy shade for weekend nights. I can never seem to walk into a drugstore without picking up a few new shades (the addiction is real).

    And because I’ve tried (and own) a million tubes and counting, I thought I’d share with you my current favorites. 

    NYX Waterproof, Extreme Color Lip Liner in “Disco Rage”

    This lipliner is SO good. I recently discovered it at Target — you know, the place that takes all of your money. Did I need a lipliner? Nope. Did I see this color and instantly toss it in my cart? You bet I did. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I do, but it’s that good. It glides on effortlessly, sets matte and stays in place all day. Also, how could you not be happy wearing a shade like this?

    Revlon “Black Cherry”

    This vampy shade has been a staple of mine for years now. I’ve gone through several tubes in that time, and that’s because I can’t get enough of it. To make it work during the day, I lightly add a little to my lips and blend out with my fingers. 

    e.l.f “Velvet Rope”

    I love e.l.f’s Velvet Matte lipsticks because, like the name suggests, they’re highly moisturizing. This shade is an orangey red, which is a perfect color for spring and summer. 

    Maybelline “Touch of Spice”

    “Touch of Spice” is my favorite every day nude. It’s a pinky brown shade so it doesn’t wash me out like other nude lipsticks do. It smells like vanilla, too (can’t beat that). 

    Colourpop “Trust Me…”

    Because every girl needs a good red lipstick. Colourpop is a brand I discovered recently, and the quality is amazing for the price. Their Lippie Stix are travel friendly and easy to apply, and the color offerings are out of this world.

    What are some of your favorite affordable lipsticks (asking for a friend….)?

    Beauty, Real Life

    5 Simple Ways to Practice Self Care

    How often do you practice self-care (a.k.a., how often do you treat yo self)? If the answer is “not very often,” I get it. It can be difficult to make time for yourself, especially when dealing with juggling job, family and personal responsibilities.

    We often get so caught up in pleasing everyone else around us, that our own needs take a backseat. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. And it shouldn’t be! Taking care of yourself doesn’t need to be a lavish endeavor. It could be as simple as squeezing in a morning run or applying a face mask after a long day at work. 

    Below are some of my favorite ways to practice self-care. They’re super easy to incorporate into your own routine, too! 


    5 Simple Ways to Practice Self Care | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle BlogEating well makes me feel good mentally, physically and emotionally. Sometimes, it’s hard, though. I’m usually running out the door most mornings (literally), and it’s almost always more convenient to grab whatever’s around. But, greasy, sugary or fatty foods leave me feeling lethargic and bloated.

    My favorite go-to snacks and meals when I’m on the go are hard boiled eggs for breakfast (they keep me full for awhile!), a kale salad with grilled shrimp for lunch that I prep the night before, and lean protein + roasted veggies for dinner.

    You really are what you eat. So, reach for the good stuff.

    Healthy recipes to make tonight: Anything Goes Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing, Southwestern Rice Bowls with Chipotle Ranch Dressing


    5 Simple Ways to Practice Self Care | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle BlogMost of the reading I do these days is on my phone (not good for my eyes, posture or sanity, to be honest). There’s nothing quite like cracking open a real book. My recent favorites are “Big Magic” and “You are a Badass.” I also love flipping through Apartment Therapy and See San Francisco for a little visual inspiration.


    Winter is rough on the skin. When Patchology reached out to me, I knew I had to give this brand a go. I’m a huge fan of sheet masks, not only because they feel indulgent and are easy to apply, but because they work. 

    I love to apply the Hydrate FlashMasque right after my shower to prevent moisture from leaving my skin (my skin is literally the Sahara Desert in the winter months). The Eye and Lip Gels are also great for adding a little extra hydration to your under eye area and lips!

    Products listed: Hydrate FlashMasque (my all-time FAVORITE product for dry skin) | SmartMud | Eye GelsLip Gels (enter NATALIE25 for 25% off your order at! Offer expires May 1, 2017)


    The Mayo Clinic recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. I’ll be honest – I don’t get as much sleep as I should. It’s definitely something I’m working on.  If this is something you struggle with, try eliminating distractions from the bedroom such as your cell phone (GUILTY) or the TV. I’ve found reading a book usually helps me nod off faster.


    5 Simple Ways to Practice Self Care | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    As much as I hate getting out of bed in the mornings, there really is nothing better than being awake before the craziness of the day starts. Mornings are quiet and peaceful, and one of my favorite things to do is enjoy a cup of coffee and watch an episode or two of my favorite show. Having time to yourself makes the 6  a.m. wake-up call worth it.

    What are some of the ways you practice self care?

    Thank you to Patchology for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that make Natalie Was Here a happenin’ place to be!

    Fashion, Real Life

    Brunch at Hotel Covington with Hannah Breidinger

    I hung out with Hannah (lead photographer and owner of Hearts and Color Co.) a couple weekends ago and it was the best. If you don’t know her or haven’t seen her work, you definitely should look her up, stat. All of the images she produces are stunning (think deep, moody, romantic and full of emotion), and she is just as sweet as she is talented. I’m so happy we had the chance to meet IRL, and I’m looking forward to many more photo adventures to come! Shout out to Instagram for bringing us together.

    We met at Hotel Covington for brunch, talked about photography and took turns in front of and behind the camera.

    The hotel lobby was the perfect backdrop — it’s a gorgeous space. It’s bright, open and inviting with a modern contemporary vibe. If you’re in the Cincinnati area or plan to take a trip there in the future, I’d highly recommend making a pit stop, even if it’s for brunch, lunch or dinner. The food is amazing. I’ve heard the drinks are, too.

    Sweater: H&M | Jeans: Banana Republic | Boots: Target | Rings: American Eagle | Hat: Forever 21


    Spring Style with A&F: Two Looks for the Upcoming Season

    Military Twill Vest | White Eyelet Dress | Bandana

    Spring is so close, guys. So close. Soon we’ll all be packing away our sweaters and boots in favor of warmer weather pieces. When it comes to shopping for the new season, I’ve turned to Abercrombie & Fitch (something I didn’t think I’d say after 8th grade). Why? Because a) I’m nostalgic and b) it’s SO GOOD now. Even better than the old days, if you can believe that (the prices are better, too!).

    I put together two spring appropriate looks with some of my favorite pieces from A&F, and I have a feeling I’ll be wearing everything on serious repeat when the temps rise.


    This dress is pretty on its own, but I love how it takes on a completely different vibe when paired with a military vest, ankle boots and bandana. That’s what I like to call versatility. Who says a feminine dress has to stay that way? Toughen it up a bit!


    Blouse | Skirt

    This blouse is my go-to for literally everything — work, weekend, date night. You name the place or activity, and chances are I’ve been there and worn this (I’m actually wearing it to work today, ha!). It’s my favorite Abercrombie find and it’s such a steal right now! I love the way it looks paired with this denim skirt and my favorite pair of over-the-knee boots.

    Thank you to Abercrombie & Fitch and RewardStyle for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that make Natalie Was Here a happenin’ place to be! 

    Advice, Real Life

    Adulting 101: Things to Consider when Shopping for Insurance (+ a video!)

    This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. I purchased my own insurance at normal prices and all opinions are 100% mine.

    Insurance. It’s something everyone needs, but you probably won’t hear your friends strike up a conversation on the topic at a bar on Saturday night. When I graduated college and started my first job in the real world, I knew nothing about insurance. Literally, nothing. And looking back, I really wish I did.

    If you’re in the same boat and don’t even know where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve asked a lot of questions and learned some valuable lessons the hard way. Scroll below to read some of the tips I’ve gathered over the past few years:


    Things happen. Fender benders and break-ins and trips to the emergency room happen. That’s why we have insurance. It protects us if and when we end up in these types of situations.

    When shopping for insurance, it’s crucial that you find the right plan that will cover you when you need it to. A lot of times, people go with the plan that’s the least expensive, but if you don’t have adequate coverage, this could end up costing you more.


    Peace of mind. It’s a beautiful thing. And when it costs roughly $15-$22/month (depending on the value of your belongings), it’s a no-brainer. I’m talking about renter’s insurance. Something I thought I didn’t need when I moved into my first apartment, but after most of my closet was ruined after a sudden stream of water leaked from my ceiling, I quickly realized I made a major mistake.

    So, what do you need to know? Here’s the 411: Most renter’s insurance is on a “named perils basis” which typically covers things like fire, vandalism, wind, hail, theft, and smoke damage. A Special Form, also known as “all risk” policy can protect you against additional perils than those provided under your standard policy, for an additional premium.

    You will want to consider adding replacement cost coverage. Without out this, your belongings will only be covered for their depreciated value. With replacement cost coverage, your belongings will be repaired back to it’s current condition or replaced with a new, similar item.

    You really never know what can happen, so if you ask me, $15-$22/month is well worth the cost.


    A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to attend one of Nationwide‘s Member Connections meetings at Coffee Connections in Hilliard. I didn’t know this at the time, but Nationwide has been hosting these meetings for over 60 years. The core mission of the Member Connections meetings is to give Nationwide members the opportunity to provide honest feedback and build relationships with other members and Nationwide leaders. It’s actually a really great idea when you think about it. And it made me wonder…why aren’t more companies doing this?

    First things, first. I loved that the event was held at a local coffee shop. The atmosphere was so relaxed, and I had the chance to grab coffee and meet with other members of the community and people who work at Nationwide. It was a great way to start the morning before I went to work.

    One of the key takeaways I learned from my experience is this: it’s so important to go with a company that listens to you. Prior to this experience, I thought of insurance companies as these giant, faceless corporations with long customer service wait times. My entire view of them changed that morning. I had a voice. I had coffee with people who have voices too and can implement change within the organization. They were receptive to my ideas. And I left the event feeling energized and excited. Everyone wants to feel heard, and Nationwide really listens.

    After the event, I had the opportunity to sit down with the team and share a little more about my experience. Take a look!


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    Feature image by Erika Gene Clark Photo