How to Create Gorgeous Instagram Story Highlight Covers

You may have noticed recently that some of your favourite Instagram accounts have jazzed up their Instagram Story Highlights with custom covers. The great news? These are incredibly easy to create, straight from your cell phone.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s what they look like on your Instagram profile – the lovely colored circles that sit on your profile between your bio and your feed:

 

Today I’m going to show you how you too you can create custom covers for your own Instagram Story highlights.

TIP: Too busy to create your own? Download my pack of free highlight covers below, then scroll to the end of this post to read how to upload them to Instagram.

 

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Before you start:

Before we get started with the design (aka, the fun stuff!) check that your Instagram Stories settings are in order:

  • On your profile, click on the cog icon
  • Tap Story Settings 
  • Turn on Save to Archive

This will come into play a little later on.

STart Designing With Canva

Today we’re designing with Canva, in particular, their mobile app (this has the Story Template that we’re going to customise) and is the exact method I used to create the covers on my Instagram profile.

  • Open the mobile app and scroll through the templates at the top of the screen until you find Your Story.
  • Select the Your Story icon, then select the Blank canvas

 

Now it’s time to get designing! 

  • To edit the background colour, tap on the blank canvas and a series of swatches will appear.

 

  • Here you can select from the pre-determined swatches, or click the + button on the first row of swatches to create your own custom hue. Now you can either enter your brand’s colour code (RGB) into the text field, or slide your finger through the gradient to find your perfect tone.

 

  • Click done and the colour will be applied to the canvas.
  • You now have a coloured canvas to apply your designs to.

  • Now you can apply graphics (icons, shapes, illustrations) to your highlight cover. The first design I created was a Pinterest cover to highlight my Pinterest-related stories.
  • To add icons to your canvas, click the + button on the bottom right of your screen, then select Graphics from the menu

  • Scroll through the library of graphics, and simply tap on your selection to place it onto your canvas (I started with a circle as my base).
  • Be sure to place your graphic directly in the centre of your canvas (Canva automatically provides rulers for this).
  • I kept my circle white, however to change the colour, tap on the graphic, then select a colour from your palette.

  • In this case I used 2 graphics – a circle as my base and a Pinterest icon layered on top. Have fun with your designs to give them your own unique twist.

  • Once you’re happy with your designs click Share, then save your stories to your phone’s Camera Roll.

Time to share your designs! 

In order to set your design as a cover for your Highlights, you need to first share it to your Insta Stories. If you’ve never done this before, follow these steps:

  • From your Instagram app’s home screen swipe right to open Stories
  • Drag your finger down from the top of the screen to open your camera roll
  • Select your graphic from your camera roll
  • Share your graphic

Once your graphic has been posted:

  • Click on your profile image to view your story
  • Click Highlight

  • You can create a new highlight, or add the cover to an existing Story highlight.

 

Now that you’ve created one graphic, just repeat the process for your remaining highlights! And be sure to share your designs with me on Instagram @katewilkinsoncreative!

With love,

 

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MORE OPTIONS TO PIN:

How to create eye-catching covers for your Instagram Highlights (+ 5 free covers you can download now!)

The Terms and Conditions Freelance Designers Need to Have In Place

Did you know: my background is in design, web and strategy, and I have worked in digital design agencies as an account manager for quite some time now. Over the years I’ve experienced the client + designer relationship first hand– I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t work, and where frustrations lie. Good news is, almost all of these frustrations and issues are avoidable. They magic key? Great communication.

Read more

Video Tutorial: How to Create Realistic iPhone Mockups for Your Blog

Welcome to my first video tutorial on Kate Wilkinson Creative! I’m currently stuck in bed with a cold, but I just had to share this fun tutorial on how you too can create these iPhone mockups for your blog.

Video Tutorial: How to Create a Realistic iPhone Mockup of Food Photography

Using this Photoshop template I purchased from Creative Market and just a few simple steps, you’ll be able to create these Instagram-worthy snaps in a flash!

Whether you’re a food blogger, DIYer, designer, travel blogger…. whatever your niche is, these iPhone mockups are a super fun way to share your creativity from a different perspective. Here’s how:

Step 1: Purchase the Photoshop mockup I used in the tutorial right here.

Step 2: Watch the video below

Step 3: Tag me in your creations on Instagram at @katewilkinsoncreative.

I can’t wait to see your creations!

Video Tutorial: How to Create a Realistic iPhone Desk Mockup for Bloggers

The Brand Elements Your Creative Business Must Have

Creating a strong, unique brand for your creative business is the number one (yes, number uno) important factor in establishing yourself. Whether your business has been around for some time or it’s brand spankin’ new, you need to create a brand that visually resonates with your customers.

Establishing a solid, consistent brand from the get-go will make all of your visual communication (from your website graphics, to your online store, to your ebook, to your promotional material and everything else) a whole lot easier to create in the future, plus it’ll make your brand more identifiable.

So how do you create a brand that will set you apart from your competitors, build trust with your target audience and build a connection with your customers? Your logo is just the tip of the iceberg, so let’s have a look at what other elements tell your story:

The Essentials:

Your Logo

Also known as a brand mark, this is a word or symbol (or both!) that represents your brand. Your logo style will determine the design and tone of all of your remaining brand elements, so it should reflect your company’s tone and purpose.

Hint: when creating your new brand, try to separate yourself from the design as much as possible. Remember, the brand needs to speak to your target audience first.

Color Palette and Patterns

Your brand should be supported by a color palette of 2 to 4 hues, plus a black or dark gray which will act as your font color on your website. It’s important to stick to these colors when designing marketing material in the future. Yes, it’s tempting to veer away (especially after you’ve been using the same colors for a couple of years), but it’s incredibly important to stay on-brand.

Branding Color Palette for Bloggers

These days it’s quite common to also include a pattern (such as a stripe or spot) or a texture as a brand element. These may come into play when designing your Pinterest graphics, web banners, Instagram tiles, or even be included in your business card design. Graphics such as these can be as bold or as subtle as you like.

SEE ALSO: The Design Resources Every Creative Should Know About

Fonts

As a rule of thumb it’s nice to have 2 to 3 fonts that support your brand, something like:

  • A header Font: you will use this for your website’s headings and blog post titles
  • An Accent Font: this is a complimentary font to your heading font, however as a rule of thumb it’s used spangly.
  • Body Font: this is what the body copy for you your e-book, website, etc will be in.

Using more than 3 fonts across your designs becomes visually confusing for your audience as the elements start to conflict, not work together.

Here’s an example of these three styles coming together for my other brand, Tell Me Tuesday:

Font Pairings For Your Brand

There are millions of fonts out there, however most can be placed into these four categories:

Serif Font: Serif fonts have little lines or strokes attached to the end points of the letters. A great example is the Times New Roman font.

Sans-Serif: A Sans Serif font is simply a font without the “serif” (or strokes). These fonts have a clean, modern look.

Script Font: A Script font is a cursive style. Many of you will be familiar with the very on-trend brushstroke and handwritten styles. These styles add a playfulness and friendliness to your brand. Be careful though– most script fonts don’t work in uppercase, and are better off left in lowercase type.

Display fonts: These are decorative fonts and are generally only used for logos or headlines.

My brand, Tell Me Tuesday uses 2 serif fonts (for the Header and Body Copy) and one script which I use sparingly. There are endless combinations of these fonts that can work for your brand, so have a play around.

You may also want to CONSIDER:

A Sub-Marker (or Secondary Logo)

This logo follows the same style as your primary logo, however it’s used when there is limited space (i.e. your logo on a promotional pen), or if it is being embroidered (say, on a t-shirt or cap).

Photo Treatments

To maintain consistency within your brand, you may want to consider defining how you treat your photographs, whether they be your blog images or social media snaps. We all know that one of the keys to gaining fans on Instagram is to have a consistent, cohesive feed, and defining your photo treatment is the key to achieving this.

Remember, your imagery needs to fit with your brand, just like every other element, so think about your target audience and your values, and how this translates visually. Is your style bohemian, natural, environmental or rustic? Then consider warm, golden tones when filtering your snaps. Is your business innovative, cutting edge and technology based? Sharp, bright, light images will help portray this.

Photo Treatments For Your Brand's Style Guide

Social Media Banners and Graphics

Pulling all of your design elements into social banners and graphics can be a little daunting initially. Ask your designer to create some editable templates for your profile’s banners, plus quotes and tips that you’ll share on social media.

Now What?

Once you’ve defined your brand’s visual identity, compile all of the elects into a Style Guide. This is a one-page, one-stop-shop where your colors, fonts and other branding elements are laid out. Then, it’s time to start implementing your new style!

 

The Essential Design Resources Every Creative Should Know About

Whether you’re crafting your own wedding invitations, creating graphics for your blog, designing digital downloads for Etsy or producing your own e-book, there are a whole lotta creative resources available on the world wide web. But with such a vast selection at your fingertips, what’s good? And which ones are worth your hard earned pennies?

Today I thought I’d share with you the design resources that I have tried and tested, and use (almost) on the daily:

Stock Photography

Death to Stock Photo

Each month a series of free, high quality images are delivered straight to your inbox. Not all images may suit your niche, but the images are contemporary and well-shot, making them the best free stock images in my mind.

The theme month-to-month does vary greatly (from café shots to out in the wilderness) but the first 2 packs are particularly useful if you’re writing about tech/design/creativity/digital technology, etc.

Pink Pot

Super babe Chitra offers free light, bright stock images (mostly of stationary, art supplies and flowers on desktops) in portrait and landscape orientation just by subscribing to her mailing list.

Beyond the freebies there’s also an excellent range of bright Instagram-friendly flatlay and desk shots for sale, including a great series of iPhones, Mac laptop screens and picture frames that you can Photoshop your work (such as a preview of your website or a beautiful quote) into.

Stocksy

No, the photos on Stocksy aren’t cheap, but for a beautifully curated selection of Pinterest-worthy images, Stocksy is is #1 my go-to. Prices start at US$15 a pop, and if your target audience are aged in the 18-35 range, Stocksy has an incredible selection of beautifully styled, beautifully shot images that’ll resonate with your niche.

The site itself is so easy to use, allowing you to create an endless series of “galleries” for you to save and categorise your wishlist for future purchases.

Life of Pix

It’s no secret that us bloggers despise paying for stock imagery, and free libraries are few and far between. Life of Pix is one of those rare-as-hen’s-teeth free stock image libraries with great quality, high-res images. There are no copyright restrictions and images can be used for free for personal commercial use. Can I get a “hallelujah”?!?

Graphics, Icons, Templates & Mockups

Creative Market

All hail Creative Market! If you want to save time (and money) on creating collateral for your business– whether it be a business card design, brochure, e-book or a mockup of your eProduct–Creative Market is your new bff.

In the early days of establishing your creative business, hiring a graphic designer is not always a financially viable option, and Creative Market sells a plethora of fantastic resources. There’s everything here: fonts, stock photos, Photoshop filters, patterns, paper textures, website themes, brochure templates and so.much.more.

Iconmonstr

This is icon mecca– from social media buttons, to web-user icons and everything in between, Iconmonstr has an excellent range of icons for your designs, buttons and widgets. Best of all, they’re free for personal and commercial use.

Flat Icon

Flat Icon has a really great selection of great looking icons and vectors. The design are grouped into packs, meaning it’s super easy to find a whole suite of icons that work together.

The search engine makes the icons easy to find, and the packs includes a really clever Photoshop plugin which inserts your icons directly into your artwork. There is a free (but limiting) plan, and paid plans start from $9.99.

Endless Icons

The name really says it all. Endless Icons is the home of an excellent range of free icons for your blog and biz, from the obvious (social media, tech), to the not-so-standard (food, beauty, shopping, sport and more).

Pixeden

High quality free design graphics. Here you can download everything from WordPress themes, background textures, PSD mockups, email templates, resumé templates, social media icons, vectors, illustrations and a tonne more.

Graphic Burger

Yet another excellent source for 100% free design tools and graphics, with stock imagery, stationary mockups (great for Etsy sellers!), textures, fonts, icons, packaging mockups, text effects, UI kits and so.much.more.

Show It Better

Mockup your latest web design, app, inspirational quote or social media grab on this range of mobile, tablet, desktop computer, laptop and picture frame mockups. There’s a great range of situations, from hand-held devices to light, bright work desks. Best of all, they have a wonderful contemporary feel that’s not too stock-y. Their free mockups can be found here.

Fonts

MyFonts

MyFonts is my go-to for finding great looking, contemporary fonts. It also has a great search tool called WhatTheFont! where you can upload a picture of a font you’ve spotted and it searches its database for a perfect match. Pretty cool, right?

Font Squirrel

Font Squirrel has a great selection of free and *almost* free fonts (like one of my favourites, Bebas Neue) for commercial use. Yes, really! F-r-e-e.

Da Font

Another free library of fonts, including one of my all time favourites, Master of Break (it’s a lovely script font).

Google Fonts

Another excellent resource for free fonts, this time brought to you by the good folk at Google.

Software

Adobe Photoshop

When I worked in fashion (approximately ten thousand years ago), Adobe Photoshop was the first photo editing tool I learnt to use, and it’s been hard to break my love affair with this program since. Yes, there’s now a plethora of free photo editing software available on the market these days, but for all of the bells-and-whistles for editing snaps from my photoshoot, cutting out images, creating Pinterest pins, designing social media graphics and more, Photoshop is worth the investment. Note: you can now sign up for a month-to-month, cancel anytime plan which is a great option if you don’t need to use it every month.

Canva

aka, “the game changer”. I’m a member of a number of excellent blogging groups on Facebook, and tens of thousands of members wax lyrical about the wonders of Canva. In a nutshell it’s a incredibly easy to use graphic design tool. With Canva you can create posters, social media banners, blog post images, “thank you” cards…. and so much more using their drag-and-drop design tools. It’s incredibly easy to use, and there is a (basic) free version too.

Inspiration

Color Lovers

My friend Kathy often tells the story of how we first met: we were both 5 years old and I was sitting at my school desk with all of my colored pencils fanned out in a perfect rainbow gradient. She thought I was the coolest kid going around, and needless to say my obsession with color has never ended.

Color Lovers is the home of millions of colors, palettes and patterns, submitted by clever creatives all over the world. This site is particularly useful when creating a new brand.

Flat UI Colors

Looking for some color inspo for your next digital design? Flat UI Colors is a no-frills, online color palette. If you like a particular hue, simply click on the tile to copy the color code.

Pinterest

As a creative, it’s hard to imagine life without Pinterest– the holy mecca of design inspiration. Not only do I use Pinterest for my own design inspiration, but also for my clients. On a side note, Pinterest is the biggest driver of traffic to my site.

Do you have any resources, programs or tools that you just love to use? Pop them down in the comments below– I’d love to hear from you!

* when using these design resources be sure to check the license agreement to ensure your use meets their t&c’s