Fast & Easy Waterdrop in Adobe Illustrator

Easy Fast Waterdrop in Illustrator Design Tutorial

Every Friday on the blog I share a Fast Friday tutorial. I teach you how to do basic designer-things fast & easy in programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

In today’s Fast Friday Tutorial, I’m going to show you the fast and easy way to create a waterdrop in Adobe Illustrator.

As a graphic designer, there are certain tricks you need to have up your sleeve, or in your back pocket- at all times. And the ability to create and manipulate basic shapes is one of them!

Check out other tutorials in the links below. Otherwise, fire up Illustrator and get ready to make a basic waterdrop.

Other Easy Illustrator Tutorials:

If you learn better by watching than by reading, click the link to see this tutorial on Youtube:

Step 1: Make a Triangle

Easy Waterdrop Illustrator Step 1

Open a new canvas in Illustrator to work on. It can be any size and any resolution you like. 72 dpi resolution is good for digital art, or go up to 300 dpi if you intend to use your graphic in print.

Select the Polygon Tool from your toolbar. If you don’t see it, that’s because it’s nested under your Rectangle tool. Click the little arrow in the bottom right corner and hold down until more options appear.

Easy Fast Waterdrop Illustrator Step 1

With the polygon tool now selected, click once on your canvas to bring up the Polygon options panel. You can see my radius is set at 250.57px as default, or maybe it’s from the last time I used it? — don’t worry too much about this, because you can edit it later on.

Move the arrows up and down to get 3 sides. Can you see where we’re headed with this?

Fast Easy Waterdrop Illustrator Step 1

Now you have a perfect, equilateral triangle.

Step 2: Direct Select and Round the Corners

Fast Easy Waterdrop Illustrator Step 2

The next thing you want to do is grab your Direct Selection Tool. This is the all-white arrow in your toolbar (different from the regular selection tool), and the keyboard shortcut is A.

Drag over the bottom two corners of your triangle to select both at once. This will only work if you’re using the Direct Selection Tool.

Fast Easy Waterdrop Illustrator Step 2

You’ll see the points/controls on the corners turn blue to indicate that they are indeed selected. There’s also two little dots that appear in the corners. Click and hold on one of the little corners, and start moving your mouse up towards the center of the triangle.

See the corners getting round? Good. Drag them all the way up until they cant get any rounder.

Fast Easy Waterdrop Illustrator Step 3

And voila! Your perfect, fast and easy waterdrop is complete.

You can fill it with any color you like, mess around with the stroke and stroke weight, etc. until it fits your needs.

But what if you want to make it a little bit more.. realistic looking?

Optional Bonus Step 3 : Make it look like a REAL Waterdrop

Fast Easy Waterdrop Illustrator Optional Bonus Step 4

If you want to make your waterdrop appear more 3-dimensional, then go ahead and click on the gradient tool. When the gradient panel appears on the right-hand side of the screen, choose the second gradient Type: Radial.

Double-click on the fill to adjust the colors. I went from white to dark blue. You can also use the Direct Selection Tool again to adjust the points and move the gradient around within your waterdrop.

So how did it go? Were you able to create a fast and easy waterdrop in Illustrator? Drop a comment below if you have any questions.

Want to save this tutorial for later or share it with friends? Pin the image below!

Easy Fast Waterdrop Illustrator Infographic

Need help learning how to do something else in Illustrator? Let me know by dropping a comment below.

Happy Illustrating,

Maker Lex Signature

RGB Split Glitch Photo Effect in 4 Simple Steps – Easy Photoshop Tutorial

Easy RGB Split Photoshop Tutorial

Today I’m going to share how to create an RGB Split Photo Effect in 4 simple steps using Adobe Photoshop.

Oh, and by the way.. did I mention you don’t even have to do it yourself? That’s right, I’m including an awesome Photoshop Action as a freebie today! Find a link at the bottom of this post.

But in case you want to know exactly how to recreate this cool, colorful glitch effect for your own photos & graphics, read on for the full Photoshop tutorial.

An RGB Split Effect results in photos that have a glitch-like appearance, where the colors that comprise all white light (red, green, blue) went out-of-bounds. No idea what I mean? I’ll quit trying to describe it and just show you.

It looks like this:

The RGB split effect with css and a bit of javascript - DEV
Image by –>

This RGB split effect looks cool on text, but it looks really cool on photos. I find it’s usually most effective on black & white photos, where the cyan and red can really POP, but that’s just my preference. This method can be applied to color photos for an interesting hazy/fuzzy effect as well.

Images c/o Pexels: 1 | 2

If you don’t have any cool images of your own to use for this tutorial, I highly recommend you head over to Pexels and download something special for free.

How to Create an RGB Split Glitch Photo Effect in Photoshop

Step 1: Go to Image > Adjustments > Black & White

Step 1 RGB Split Photo Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Step 1 is optional, since you can just as easily apply this effect to color photos.

Open your image in Photoshop and convert it to black & white. There are several ways to do this, however- by going to Image > Adjustments > Black & White, you’ll be able to adjust the luminosity of individual colors in your photo, which gives you more control over the final black & white version.

Step 2: Duplicate Your Image Two Times

Step 2 RGB Split Photo Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Make two exact copies of your original image (background layer). To do this, simply click on the image thumbnail in the layers panel and drag the image over the “Add New Layer” icon, which is the square with a plus sign in it. Do this twice.

And as every good graphic designer knows, you’d better rename those layers. Otherwise you’re going to forget what “Layer Copy 1” and “Layer Copy 2” are supposed to do.

Rename Copy 1 to “Red”

Rename Copy 2 to “Cyan”

Step 3: Change the Layer Blending Options

Step 3 RGB Split Photo Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Now we have 3 photo layers: Layer 1, red, and cyan. Don’t worry about the default Background layer, just leave it alone.

Double click the image thumbnail on the red layer to bring up the blending options. In the layer style panel, under Advanced Blending Options, you see:

Channels: R ☑ G ☑ B ☑

If you haven’t caught on yet, RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue – the three primary colors that make up white light.

For the red layer, uncheck the G and B. Hint: you won’t see any changes yet!

Repeat this step for the cyan layer, except this time, only uncheck the R. Green and blue together make cyan.

Step 4: Adjust the Placement of the Layers

Step 4 RGB Split Photo Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Ready to see the magic happen? We’re so close!

If you’re following along, you probably already have the cyan layer selected. Just select one of the two copies: cyan or red. You will repeat this step for both layers.

Now make sure you have the Move Tool selected from the toolbar. It’s the very first/uppermost tool, or you can press V as a keyboard shortcut to bring it up.

Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move the layer around. You’ll see the effect start to take place immediately. Do the same to the red layer, and play around until you achieve the desired affect.

Bonus Step: Try different Channel Combinations in Blending Modes

Try different combinations of the RGB Channels in your layers. You certainly don’t have to stick to the traditional red and cyan. Achieve different looks by leaving the R and B channels on in a layer, for example, until you find something you like!

I created more of a purple/green split effect in this version:

RGB Split Photo Effect

And that’s it! Super easy. Super effective.

But wait!

I’ve actually created an RGB split effect as a Photoshop Action, and it’s yours to download and use for free! A Photoshop Action recreates this process for you so you don’t have to repeat these steps every time you want to apply the RGB Split Effect to a photo.

With this free Photoshop RGB Split Action, all the duplicate layers and channel settings/blending modes are done for you. All you have to do is move the Red and Cyan layers around until you achieve an effect you like.

To save the Photoshop Action for Use, drag the file into your Actions folder, located here:

  • Mac: Applications/Adobe Photoshop/Presets/Actions
  • Windows: C:/Users/Username/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop/Presets/Actions

Get the Free Action by Entering Your Email ->

The form you have selected does not exist.

Pin this image to save for later or to share with friends!

RGB Split Photo Effect Photoshop Tutorial and Free Action

Want more Graphic Design Tutorials?

Happy Color Splitting!


5 Places to Learn Hand Lettering Free Online

Free Hand Lettering Guides
Free Hand Lettering Practice Sheets – Printable Brush Pen Lettering Guides

There are many paid lettering courses available online, but what if you’re strapped for cash? Here are 5 resources where you can learn the art of hand lettering for FREE online!

1. Printable PDF Hand Lettering Guides by Maker Lex

Guess what? You don’t even have to leave this blog to start learning hand lettering for free. I’ve created some incredible practice guides to take you through the whole alphabet: uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and various decorative strokes. I think they’re amazing, but don’t take my word for it. Download them now and decide for yourself!

2. iPad Lettering Guides by Holly Pixels

These iPad Lettering Guides by Holly Pixels are perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to letter digitally with an Apple Pencil. Just import the guides into an app like Procreate and get started lettering right away.

3. Lettering Stroke Practice Sheets by Teela @ Every Tuesday

Teela at Every Tuesday has tons of amazing tutorials for creating digital artwork, including these lettering practice sheets. You can download the guides and print them off to practice with a brush pen on paper, or you can use them digitally with apps like Procreate and Apple Pencil.

4. Lettering Practice Worksheets by Tombow

Tombow is the famous manufacturer of incredible calligraphy brush pens like the fudenosuke brush pen and these famous dual-ended brush pens, beloved by hand-letterers everywhere, so it’s no wonder that they created these free hand lettering practice worksheets to go along with them!

5. Hand Lettering Basics: A Beginner’s Guide by Irene Khan on Skillshare

Skillshare is an amazing website where you can learn all sorts of cool skills including hand lettering. Click on this Skillshare course link by Irene Khan. In the course description, you’ll find a link to download her free lettering alphabet practice sheets.

Have you used any of these resources to learn hand-lettering? If you know of any other places to learn lettering for free online, be sure to drop a link in the comments! Be sure to pin the image below to share this article with friends, or to save it for later.

download free hand lettering guides

Happy Lettering!

Maker Lex Signature

Hatch Mark Drop Shadow – Adobe Illustrator Tutorial

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I earn a small commission. There’s no cost to you whatsoever.

Today I’m going to show you how to add this easy hatch mark drop shadow effect to your text in Adobe Illustrator.

hatch mark drop shadow text effect adobe illustrator

I know hatch mark drop shadow text effect is a mouthful, so here’s a breakdown of what I mean.

A hatch mark simply refers to the little diagonal lines often used in line drawings or sketching to create a shadow-like effect.

Once we create the hatch mark (diagonal lines) pattern, we’ll use it to fill our text and then offset it behind another, solid color text layer.

This is a simple effect that packs a big visual punch!

And the best part is your text will remain completely editable. You can even save this effect as a graphic style to be applied to type in future Illustrator projects.

So roll up your sleeves, fire up Illustrator, and let’s get started!

Want to Learn Adobe Illustrator FREE?

Check out my Easy Beginner Tutorials on Youtube.

If you prefer to watch this hatch drop shadow text effect in Adobe Illustrator tutorial on Youtube, you can do that here instead!

hatch text effect illustrator tutorial on youtube

How to Create a Hatch Mark Drop Shadow Text Effect in Illustrator
Step 1 – Create a New Document

First, let’s create a new Illustrator document to work in. Feel free to create your canvas to your own specs, but I’m using these settings:

  • Size: 500px width by 500px height
  • RGB color mode
  • 72ppi screen resolution
illustrator document setup

How to Create a Hatch Mark Drop Shadow Text Effect in Illustrator
Step 2 – Type Out Your Text

Second, let’s type out some text to add our effect to. I think either a bold sans-serif font or a bold block-serif font looks best with this effect, but you can choose any typeface you like.

I’m using the font Gotham Bold in my design, which you can download online.

Psst! If you’re looking for some good fonts to use, Adobe now offers Adobe Fonts as part of your Creative Cloud Subscription. There’s some real gems – check it out!

type in gotham bold

How to Create a Hatch Mark Drop Shadow Text Effect in Illustrator
Step 3 – Create a Hatch Mark Repeatable Pattern

Before we go any further, let’s create our hatch mark pattern.

The pattern tool allows us to create repeatable patterns and is easily one of my favorite tools in Adobe Illustrator.

To do this, we need to go up to Object > Pattern > Make.

A dialogue box appears- click OK to continue.

object > pattern > make in Illustrator

A bounding box will appear on your screen. My bounding box is 100px by 100px, but yours will be relative to your canvas size.

I’m going to use my pen tool to draw out a diagonal line. I’ll click to place a point in the top left-hand corner of my bounding box, and then I’ll click to place a point in the bottom right-hand corner of my bounding box, creating my line.

Make sure your Smart Guides are turned on while you do this – it will ensure you get things aligned perfectly!

build a repeatable cross hatch mark pattern in adobe illustrator

Instantly, you’ll see the pattern start to take effect. The line is completely editable, so you can select it with your Selection Tool (V) and change the stroke weight and the color.

I’ve set my stroke weight to 3px and the stroke color to yellow #ffc200.

Now let’s drag out a duplicate of this line.

To do this, hold down Shift + Alt/Option on your Keyboard to drag out a duplicate line.

To make sure I have even spacing between my lines, I’m dragging my line out until my Smart Guides indicate I’ve moved it to dX: -5px, dY: 5px.

duplicate hatch line evenly

To finish the pattern, make duplicates of the line until your bounding box is filled. Press Cmd/Ctrl + D on your keyboard to duplicate the lines at even intervals until you reach the bottom left-hand corner.

This should give us ~20 lines inside our bounding box, since 100 divided by 5 is 20. Boom. Math.

fill the bounding box with your pattern

Before I close the Pattern Menu, I’ll rename my pattern to “Gold Hatch,” then Click Done in the bar above.

Our new hatch mark pattern has been added to our Swatches Menu.

Speaking of patterns..

Create an Easy Chevron Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

How to Create a Hatch Mark Drop Shadow Text Effect in Illustrator
Step 4 – The Appearance Menu

Now that we’ve created the hatch mark effect, let’s first make sure our text is selected and then open our Appearance Menu.

The Appearance Menu is either hanging out in your side toolbar, or go to Window > Appearance to bring it up.

Once it’s open, double click on the word Characters and set the Fill to None. Then click on Type: No Appearance to back out.

under Characters, set the fill to none

How to Create a Hatch Mark Drop Shadow Text Effect in Illustrator
Step 5 – Create a New Fill Layer

Now click on the Add New Fill icon at the bottom of the Appearance Menu to create a new fill.

I’m going to set this fill to a dark charcoal gray color. The hex code is #444444.

Feel free to add a stroke if you’d like. I’m going to leave my stroke on None.

hatch drop shadow effect illustrator - add new fill

Nothing revolutionary has happened yet – I know. The next step is where the magic happens!

How to Create a Hatch Mark Drop Shadow Text Effect in Illustrator
Step 6 – Create a Second Fill Layer and Offset It

Click the Add New Fill icon again to create another Fill Layer. Drag this new layer beneath your charcoal fill layer.

Set the fill color to your new hatch pattern. Yes, it’s there in your swatches!

make a new fill layer and set the fill to your hatch pattern

You can’t see it yet, but that’s because we need to offset this new layer.

Make sure your hatch mark fill layer is selected, and click on Add New Effect at the bottom of the Appearance menu.

Select Distort & Transform > Transform.

In the pop up menu that appears, under Move, change the Horizontal and Vertical Values to 8px (or whatever value you like). Make sure Preview is checked so you can see what’s happening.

offset the hatch pattern fill layer in the appearance menu

Voila! Your hatch mark drop shadow has appeared and has been successfully offset. You can keep creating new stroke and fill layers and adding more patterns and colors and offsetting them into infinity.

Do whatever you like- just make sure the type is always selected when you edit it in the Appearance Menu. Otherwise- you won’t see the changes.

finished hatch drop shadow text effect in illustrator

Go ahead and change your text to another word or phrase if you like – the beauty of creating our hatch mark drop shadow text effect in the Appearance Menu is that it leaves our type completely editable.


hatch mark drop shadow text effect adobe illustrator with editable type edit

How to Create a Hatch Mark Drop Shadow Text Effect in Illustrator
Step 6 – Save Your Graphic Style

But wait! There’s one more important step to do. Let’s save this graphic style so you can add it to text in the future.

Select your text and pull up your Graphic Styles Menu. If it’s not in your sidebar, you’ll find it under Window > Graphic Styles.

Simply click on the New Graphic Style icon to add your new style.

add hatch drop shadow effect to graphic styles menu

With your new style selected, Click on the Graphic Styles Libraries Menu and select Save Graphic Style.

name your graphic style

Give your Style a name and choose Save. Now if you create a new Illustrator Document, you’ll always be able to find this style again under the Graphic Styles Libraries Menu > User Defined.

saved graphic styles under user defined

That’s it!

If you recreate this hatch mark drop shadow text effect in Illustrator, be sure to tag me on Instagram @makerlex so I can check it out!

And be sure to pin this image to come back to this post or share it with friends.

Hatch Text Effect Illustrator

Happy Making!

Maker Lex Signature

Vector vs Raster Graphics Explained: Everything You Need to Know

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I earn a small commission – and it doesn’t cost you a thing.

vector graphics vs raster graphics

There comes a moment in every graphic designer’s life when you first encounter the term vector graphic.. it’s usually preceded or followed by another unfamiliar (and alarmingly mathematical-sounding) term – raster graphic.

If these terms automatically evoke bad memories of high school Physics Class – or even worse– Trigonometry- don’t be alarmed.

Vector graphics and raster graphics aren’t all that complicated to understand. Even better, you won’t need your calculator to figure this out.

Here’s the main difference between them: Vector graphics are path-based. Raster graphics are pixel-based.

There’s a little more to it than that, of course. And understanding the difference is important.

The sooner you master vector & raster graphics, the sooner you’ll go from total design noob to expert level graphic artist (pronounced ar-teest).

Here’s what we’ll be covering in this post:

  • What a vector is, the pros/cons, and the common file types of vector graphics
  • What a raster is, the pros/cons, and the common file types of raster graphics
  • The role of Photoshop & Illustrator in vector vs raster graphics
  • How to convert vector graphics into raster graphics and vice-versa

What is a Vector Graphic?

First off, what even is a vector graphic?

vector graphic

To put it simply…

A vector graphic is a graphic made up of paths (and not pixels).

The benefit of a vector graphic is that (thanks to math), it’s infinitely scalable. You can shrink it down or make it bigger, and it will stay perfectly crisp, clear, and proportional.

Common Vector File Type Extensions

Here are some common file extensions for vector graphics:

When to Use Vector Graphics

But other than understanding a vector graphic by it’s file extension, how do you know when to use one?

Most vector graphics are working files.

This means you aren’t usually going to visibly see vector graphics on display, if at all. But you might see the finished products that were made from vector graphics.

One occasion you always want to use a vector graphic is when designing a logo. (Even if you aren’t the designer, make sure your designer sends you this file.) This allows your logo to be editable with the right software. It can easily be converted into a cut file (think vinyl signs) or digitized for embroidery (shirts, hats, etc).

The most common vector graphic most people interact with on a daily basis is a .PDF.

Using the logo example again.. Even if you don’t have the vector file of your logo, if you have a .PDF – you can send it to your vinyl shop or graphic designer. They will be able to edit it to their specs using a program such as Adobe Illustrator.

The Pros & Cons of Vector Graphics

The PROS of vector graphics are:

  • no background or bounding box
  • no size constraints- infinitely scalable (larger or smaller) while maintaining sharpness, clarity, and proportion
  • can easily be converted to raster graphics for display purposes
  • useful for turning into product art

The CONS of vector graphics are:

  • basic in appearance (less detailed)
  • less realistic (they will always be a drawing or imitation of the real thing)
  • most vector file types can’t be opened or edited with free computer software

How to Make Icons in Adobe Illustrator

What is a Raster Graphic?

Now that we know the meaning of vector graphic, let’s talk about raster graphics.

raster graphic made of pixels

To put it simply…

A raster graphic is a graphic comprised of pixels.

Pixels are just tiny dots of light, and together a group of pixels makes up one large image. Generally, the higher the pixel count, the better quality the picture. The number of pixels that make up the image are known as the resolution.

This isn’t a hard concept for most of us to understand. After all, we interact with pixel-based images every day on our cameras, phones, TVs, etc.

Because it is made of pixels, you can’t scale a raster graphic infinitely the way you can a vector graphic. The maximum size and overall clarity of the image is going to depend on how many pixels it’s made of (aka it’s resolution).

Common Raster File Type Extensions

Here are some of the common file extensions for raster graphics:

  • .JPG
  • .PNG
  • .GIF
  • .BMP
  • .TIF

When to Use Raster Graphics

So when should you work with raster graphics?

Raster graphics are the kind you most commonly see, because they are used as display graphics. Most of us interact with them every day.

Posting a photo on social media? Driving past a digital billboard? Just texted your BFF an animated GIF over iMessage? You guessed it.. all raster graphics.

Use raster graphics for anything you want people to SEE.

In general, the higher the resolution, the clearer the image. But keep in mind that your graphic is limited to the resolution of the device it’s being displayed on.

For example, you’ll never need to create a 4K image if it’s not being displayed on a device that supports 4K resolution. And even if the device supports 4k- chances are you can get just a sharp an image with a much smaller file size. In this instance, bigger doesn’t always equal better.

Learn how to make your own GIFs in Photoshop

The Pros & Cons of Raster Graphics

The PROS of raster graphics are:

  • extremely common file types
  • can be opened, viewed, and edited with free computer software
  • lots of rich colors
  • fine detail
  • realistic

The CONS of raster graphics are:

  • will become “pixelated” in appearance if you try to scale a raster past it’s maximum resolution
  • not suitable for logo design, cutting vinyl, or embroidery
  • difficult to convert to vector graphics

Want to Learn Illustrator FREE? Check out This Video Playlist

The Role of Illustrator and Photoshop in Vector & Raster Graphics

Now we know the difference between vector graphics and raster graphics. We know what they are and when to use them, but questions remain, like:

How do we create vector and raster graphics?

How do we edit them?

There are other programs that work for these purposes, but my favorite programs are by Adobe.

Adobe Illustrator is software that is commonly used to create or edit vector-based graphic art.


Adobe Photoshop is software that is commonly used to create or edit raster-based graphic art.

As an industry standard, look to Adobe for basically anything related to the creation or editing of vector & raster graphics, but if you’re looking for free or alternative options – check out some of these:

Illustrator Alternatives:

Photoshop Alternatives:

A quick Google search will turn up even more results.

Start a FREE 7 Day Trial of Adobe Creative Cloud

Converting Vector Graphics to Raster Graphics

The final thing we should cover about vector and raster graphics is the topic of conversion. Again – it’s not as scary as it sounds.

Can we convert vectors to rasters and vice-versa?

The good news is converting vector graphics to raster graphics is simple. It’s easy to do this in a program like Adobe Illustrator.

In Illustrator, simply save as or export your vector graphic as a .JPG, .PNG, .GIF, etc.

Remember, once you do this your graphic will have a set resolution and size, so be sure to scale it up or down before saving depending on your sizing needs. You can easily change your screen resolution in the document settings as well.

Converting Raster Graphics to Vector Graphics

Now for the not so-good-news.

Converting raster graphics to vector graphics isn’t easy.

Possible? Yes.

But how difficult or easy it is depends on some different factors.

To convert raster graphics to vector graphics, you’ll need to use what Adobe Illustrator calls Image Trace. Alternatively, you could trace it by hand with your pen tool.

The trouble is that Image Trace can have a really hard time capturing all the detail of a raster image.

If the raster is comprised of just a few high-contrast colors, you’re in luck.

If it’s got lots of detail, tons of colors, and not enough contrast…Image Trace may not detect anything at all. Chances are you’re going to have quite a headache by the time you get done.

If you get it done, that is.

Long story short, when you convert a raster to a vector, you’re almost ALWAYS going to lose detail. Sometimes that’s ok, and other times it isn’t. It’s all relative.

If you enjoyed this post, PIN the image below to save for later.. or share it with friends!

raster graphics vs vector graphics easy guide to understanding the difference

Now go forth and create this vector illustration in Adobe Illustrator — then add some raster animation effects in Adobe Photoshop.

Maker Lex Signature

Free Beginner Adobe Illustrator Course with Easy Video Tutorials

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I earn a small commission (it helps me pay my Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription so I can bring you more tutorials like this one!)

Learn Adobe Illustrator Free

Do you want to learn Adobe Illustrator this year?

In an EASY format?

And for FREE?

Maybe you’re dying to create beautiful, branded graphics for your blog or business. Maybe you’ve even hired someone to create these things for you, but 1) it’s expensive, and 2) you never quite get the result you were hoping for — even after five revisions.

And I totally get it, because I’ve been there.

It’s frustrating!

You envision amazing graphics in your head. You sketch them out on paper – but that free graphic design software you’re using (or the guy you hired from fiverr) just ain’t makin’ it happen.

But what if you could take creative control by learning Adobe Illustrator completely FREE?


How to Make Chevron (Zig Zag Lines) in Illustrator

How to Make a Perfect Heart in Illustrator

What is Adobe Illustrator?

Illustrator is powerful software by Adobe that produces vector-based illustrations and graphics.

Hold up a second – what do you mean, vector-based?

Vector-based simply means graphics that are made of paths and not pixels (such as a photograph).

The benefit of vector graphics is that they are infinitely scalable, meaning they will retain their shape no matter how large you make them. Even from 5 inches to 50 feet — they’ll always appear crisp and sharp.

Pixel-based (also called raster) graphics, on the other hand, will get blurry if you blow them up too large.

We’ve all experienced this with photographs, right? You find a beautiful image online, print it off your computer to fit the 8.5 x 11 inch page, and it comes out looking all sad and pixelated.

Now don’t go thinking I’m trash-talking pixels here, because pixel (raster) graphics are 100% necessary – they’re just different is all.

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So where would you use vector-based graphics that you create in Illustrator?

Illustrator is certainly powerful for fine artists who want to digitize their drawings and paintings and all that jazz.. but how is it relevant for the rest of us?

Well, if you have a brand, a business, or a blog — one place you definitely want to use a vector-based graphic is in your logo design.

I’m sure we can all agree that a good logo is an essential part of your marketing strategy. But if your logo is a .JPEG image – you’re going to run into trouble!

Making a vector logo is equivalent to helping your logo reach it’s full potential in life! It will be all of this and more:

  • scalable
  • provide infinite freedom to you (or your designer!)
  • easy to edit or recolor
  • never appear pixelated
  • able to be digitized for embroidery

Vector Graphics versus Raster Graphics

It may not be immediately obvious whether a graphic is vector or raster, and truth be told – it doesn’t really matter…. until you want to use or edit that file.

The best way to know a vector graphic from a raster graphic is by the file extension.

Common vector file extensions are:

  • .PDF
  • .SVG
  • .AI
  • .EPS

Common raster file extensions are:

  • .JPG
  • .PNG
  • .GIF
  • .BMP
  • .TIF

How To Learn Adobe Illustrator FREE

Now for the fun part.

Let’s learn Adobe Illustrator together!

Well technically I’m going to be your teacher. But I’m not just gonna tell you how to do things – I’m going to be showing you literally every. single. step. to go from ZERO to Illustrator EXPERT with my Easy & Free Illustrator Tutorials.

Ok – maybe not expert, because even after working in Illustrator for 10 years, I still learn new things all the time.
But easy? I’ll do my best!
And free? You got it, dude.

But enough rambling.

We’re going to learn by illustrating this vector Christmas Village together. I have 12 tutorials in this series – all FREE- and all less than 20 minutes per day. Or– feel free to binge watch them all at once 🙂

Click the picture to start learning right now!

Learn Adobe Illustrator by illustrating a Christmas Village with me

What to Expect from these Tutorials

Look – I won’t sugarcoat this.

I know there’s lots of tutorials out there already, touting promises like “Learn All there is to know about Adobe Illustrator FAST! In just 20 Minutes You can create anything!”

Well – I hate to break it to you, but that’s probably not the case.

What you will leave these tutorials with is:

  • Working knowledge of the tools in Illustrator
  • How to look at things, break them down, & recreate what’s in your head
  • Tips & tricks to speed up your workflow
  • Tips to improve your graphics
  • How to optimize your files when saving
  • Basic animation skills with Illustrator & Photoshop

Ready to learn Illustrator with these EASY-to-follow Step-by-Step video tutorials?

Click Here to Get Started Today.

Pssst! Want my pumpkin pie recipe? Not real pie, silly. 8 slices of digital pie.

Pumpkin Pie Youtube Tutorial

Don’t forget to Pin this Image so you can 1) come back to these tutorials later and 2) share them with your friends so they can learn, too!

Free Beginner Adobe Illustrator Course for Beginners

Be sure to tag me in your creations @makerlex on Instagram or on Youtube.

Happy Designing!


Make a Snowflake in Adobe Illustrator – Easy Tutorial – Pathfinder Tool

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I earn a small commission (at no cost to you, of course).

snowflake icon illustrator

Today I’m going to be showing you how easy it is to create your own custom snowflake icon in Adobe Illustrator. This is also a great way to learn the Pathfinder Tool if you never have before!

But first, tell me. Which one of these 2 graphics do you prefer?

Graphic Design Icons vs No Icons Comparison-  How to Make Custom Icons in Illustrator Tutorial

If you chose Option 2, then you and I agree: icons have the power to make design better.

Why Use Icons?

Here are three reasons I like to use icons in my designs.

1. Icons Illustrate Your Point

Icons are just tiny little pictures that provide a visual representation of the text. Think of your favorite storybook as a child – I bet you remember the illustrations from it– maybe you remember the images more than you remember the words.

I love what Donald Miller teaches about branding in his book, Building A Story Brand.

Essentially – When people land on your website, they don’t want to waste brain power trying to figure out what you do. A good graphic consisting of good icons can tell people exactly what they need to know without having to read a thing.

2. Icons can be Customized to Your Brand/Style Sheet

There are a lot of standard-issue icons out there, but if you learn how to create your own in Adobe Illustrator — you can make icons that are unique to your brand. You can use your colors, your style, and your own illustration techniques.

After you learn how to make icons, find out How to Create Animated GIFS in Photoshop

3. Icons Make Big Chunks of Text Easy to Scan

Adding visuals like images or icons allows you to break up all the text, which increases the ability of readers to scan your content.. and well-structured, scannable content makes internet readers happy!

You can keep scrolling to read the step-by-step for creating icons, or you can watch me create a perfect snowflake in this video tutorial..

Watch Illustrator Snowflake Tutorial on Youtube

How to Make a Snowflake Icon in Adobe Illustrator

Now that we know some reasons you might want to use icons, let’s get on with how to create your own snowflake icon in Adobe Illustrator. Here’s the snowflake we’ll be creating:

You can either make this snowflake icon a stand-alone snowflake, or you can give it a circle (or any other shape) background.

Create a Snowflake Icon in Illustrator Step 1:
Open Illustrator & Create a New Document

My Illustrator Document Settings are:

  • 500px Width x 500px Height
  • Color Mode: RGB
  • PPI: 72 (Screen Resolution)

Create a Snowflake Icon in Illustrator Step 2:
Create Your Snowflake

  • First, make sure your Smart Guides are on.
    View > Smart Guides. You’ll see a checkmark here if they’re on.
  • Now choose the Line Segment Tool from the toolbar and draw out a line in the center of the document, about halfway down.

    snowflake icon illustrator step 2
  • Draw another, smaller line at an angle to your first line, like so:

    step 3 make an icon in illustrator
  • With the smaller line selected, Right Click > Transform > Reflect
  • In the Reflect Pop Up, select Horizontal Axis and click Copy
  • Holding Shift, drag the reflected line to the opposite side of your first big line until it intersects and makes a little “V” shape.
  • Select both the little lines, then go to Object > Group to group them together. You can also press Command/Ctrl + G on the keyboard.
  • With the little “V” lines selected, hold down Shift + Option/Alt and drag down a second “V”.

    Step 4 icon in illustrator
  • Press Command/Ctrl + D on the keyboard to repeat this step until you have as many little V’s as you want, then drag to select all the lines and group them together (Command/Ctr + G)
  • Now we’re going to finish the snowflake by copying & rotating this little stalk around our canvas. Choose the Rotate Tool from your toolbar. If you don’t see it, it may be hiding under the Reflect tool.
  • With the stalk selected, Click the bottom of the snowflake to place your anchor point.
  • Now click on the top point of the stalk and drag it to the right as you hold down Option/Alt + Shift at the same time. This will make a copy of the stalk and also rotate it a perfect 45 degrees.

    snowflake icon in illustrator step 5
  • Press Command/Ctrl + D six more times to repeat the rotation around our anchor point, resulting in a complete snowflake.

    Step 6 create an icon in illustrator
  • Now group the whole snowflake. Object > Group or use the keyboard shortcut, Command/Ctrl + G.
  • With the snowflake still selected, play with your stroke effects until you have an appearance you are happy with.
  • To open Stroke Options, go to Window > Stroke. I set my stroke thickness to 11px and selected Round Cap to give the lines a rounded appearance, like so:

    step 7 snowflake icon in illustrator

Create a Snowflake Icon in Illustrator Step 3:
Join Your Strokes with the Pathfinder Tool

  • When you’re happy with the appearance of your snowflake, convert it to a shape. Converting to a shape means the snowflake will always keep the same proportions when you scale it.
  • Object > Path > Outline Stroke
  • Outlining the stroke makes each little line a shape, but we’re going to combine all the shapes into one using the Pathfinder Tool
  • To access the Pathfinder Tool, go to Window > Pathfinder
  • Under Shape Modes, Select Option 1: Unite. Now our little lines are all one big shape.

    Pink Snowflake Illustrator Icon Tutorial
  • You can change the color or scale the snowflake to your desired size.

    Icon Tutorial Illustrator Step 8
  • You can save your icon on it’s own like this, or you can go to the next step to add a background..

Learn How to Make A Perfect Heart in Illustrator

Create a Snowflake Icon in Illustrator Step 4:
Subtract from Shape Area – Pathfinder Tool

  • A lot of icons are in the shape of a little circle or square. Let’s add a circular background to this snowflake icon.
  • Choose the Ellipse Tool from the tool bar. If you don’t see it, look under the Rectangle Tool.
  • Click once on your canvas and put in the dimensions of your ellipse. I chose 500px width x 500px height to make a perfect circle the size of my canvas.
  • Center the circle vertically and horizontally on the canvas with your Align Tool. If you don’t see it, go to Window > Align.
  • Right click the circle and choose Arrange > Send to Back. This will put the circle behind your snowflake.

    Make sure to also center your snowflake vertically and horizontally.

    I make the circle and the snowflake different colors so it’s easier to see.

    make an icon in illustrator step 9
  • Now drag to select both the circle and the snowflake.
  • From the Pathfinder Menu, under Shape Modes, choose Option 2: Minus Front

    make an icon in illustrator step 10
  • Now the area where the snowflake is has been cut out of the circle, so it’s technically transparent. In the image above, the snowflake appears white because it’s on a white background. If my blog had a blue background, the snowflake would show through as blue.

Enjoying this tutorial? Check out these 8 icons I created just for you.

As part of this post, here are 8 FREE Winter Holiday .PNG Icons for you. You can download them from my Free Resource Library. If you don’t have access, fill out the form below. I’ll email you the password, but be sure to check your Spam folder if you don’t see an email from Maker Lex within a couple of minutes.

Create a Snowflake Icon in Illustrator Step 5:
Save your Icon as a .PNG

  • Now go to File > Export > Save for Web and save your icon as a .PNG or .GIF if you want to maintain the transparency. Otherwise you can save it as a JPG
  • You can open and edit .PNG or .GIF files in Illustrator, so you’ll be able to change the color of the icon in the future.

How to Make Chevron Zig Zag Lines in Illustrator

That’s it!

Now you know how to create an icon in Illustrator, and you also learned about a lot of cool Illustrator tools along the way..

  • line segment tool
  • rotate tool
  • stroke options
  • pathfinder tool
  • keyboard shortcuts

Now I challenge you to make a pizza icon and share it with me by tagging @makerlex on Instagram!

By the way, have you read my Holiday Gift Guide for Bloggers?

If you enjoyed this tutorial, be sure to Pin this image so you can come back to it – or to share it with your friends!

How to Make a snowflake in adobe illustrator step-by-step

Thanks for following along,

Maker Lex Signature

Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Bloggers 2019 (+ Black Friday Deals)

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I earn a small commission (at no cost to you, of course!) I may use it to buy you one of the gifts off this list 🙂

Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Bloggers

Stressed about what to get your friends and family for Christmas this year? Let’s face it: it’s 2019, and we’re all online. Chances are, you know someone who uses the internet for actual business purposes – and not just to share cat memes.

If you know someone who has their own blog, business, or website, then the gifts in this blogger gift guide are going to surprise and delight them this holiday season. These presents are as unique as they are (ok- with the exception of the last one!)

This is the Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Bloggers in 2019.

Blogger Gift 1: Skillshare

Skillshare is an online learning community, and it’s at the top of my Christmas list this year. There are classes in tons of topics, all pertinent to creative entrepreneurs. Classes in Drawing, Lettering, Photography, Business, Design, Web Development & more.

According to the Skillshare Website, there are more than 24,000 classes available! If you or someone you know has a creative business or side-hustle, there is something here for them to advance their skill or trade.

You can purchase gift cards in the amount of a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription. This time of year, all plans clock in at less than $100.00

Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Holiday Deal: 20-47% OFF subscriptions

Get Skillshare HERE

Blogger Gift 2: Masterclass

Masterclass is where you go to learn from the stars. Gordon Ramsey teaches cooking, Annie Leibovitz teaches photography, and Margaret Atwood teaches creative writing. It’s Skillshare, but brand-name.

A class with Anna Wintour teaching creativity & leadership launched recently, and my sister reminds me daily that it is what she wants for Christmas this year.

Courses can be purchased for $90, or get a yearly all-access pass for $180.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Holiday Deal: Last year was Buy One All-Access Pass, Get One Free. *Crosses Fingers* for a repeat offer!

Get Masterclass Here

Blogger Gift 3: Adobe CC Subscription

Programs like Photoshop don’t come cheap, but they are invaluable for creative entrepreneurs and bloggers. Looking to level up your graphics, ebooks, and digital products? Adobe Creative Cloud is a must have.

There’s a ton of bootstrapping in entrepreneurship, and especially early on- the budget for a designer doesn’t always exist. Don’t let them use free internet software that makes their stuff look the same as everyone else’s. Get them Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign.. they’ll learn new skills for their resumé, and one day they’ll be thanking you.

Psst! You can point them to articles like this one for design tutorials.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Holiday Deal: Up to 40% off Subscriptions. That’s $29.99/mo for all Creative Cloud Programs, or $15.99/mo with the student discount, through Nov 29 (& I’m sure it will be continued..)

Get Adobe Creative Cloud Here

Blogger Gift 4: Apple Pencil or iPad

I’ll be honest – I find iPad more useful for watching Netflix than I do blogging or designing. In fact – in my most humble opinion- iPads are for babies.

But there is one thing I simply can’t live without when it comes to iPad: the Procreate App with Apple Pencil. If you know someone who’s trying to get into lettering or digital illustration, Procreate does it well. There are lots of features to play with, so many that this could be a great (and affordable) replacement for Photoshop/Illustrator. Lol, jk. Not for me, but maybe for some.

Black Friday – Cyber Monday – Holiday Deal: Watch this article for the best deals on iPad anywhere. If you’re not getting the base model for less than $299, you’re not doing it right.

Get them here: iPad | iPad Pro | Apple Pencil

Check out my Free Hand Lettering Guides. Download them into Procreate to use them digitally.

Blogger Gift 5: Digital Drawing Tablet

If the Apple iPad + Apple Pencil are out of your price range, a tablet is the next best option- and waaaay more affordable.

I use this one by Huion when I’m working in Photoshop and Illustrator on my Macbook. I’ve had it for over a year, and it’s never let me down so far. The stylus has a pressure sensitive tip – very important for digital lettering. And at $30, it’s a bargain!

Black Friday – Cyber Monday Deal: Keep a lookout on Amazon for great deals on Huion and Wacom tablets!

The Affordable Tablet I Love: Huion Inspiroy H640P or Wacom CTL4100

Blogger Gift 6: A Blogging Course

What does your favorite blogger want more than anything? A paid course to show them the ropes! There are blogging courses for virtually everything: how to build an email list, how to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog, how to make money blogging & more.

A lot of bloggers latch onto one particular teacher, so do some digging to find out who the blogger in your life is idolizing. Then buy them a course from that person.

Black Friday – Cyber Monday Deal: A lot of courses only open up once per year for enrollment, but most successful bloggers are going to offer some sort of Black Friday Deal. If there’s a course or teacher you’ve been following for awhile – make sure you keep an eye on their feed or site.

I’ll be Looking for Courses of Offers From:

Check Out These Real Results from A Brand New Blogger

Blogger Gift 7: Art Print

It’s an ugly business making your blog or website look pretty. The back-end of WordPress isn’t exactly inspiring- and don’t even get me started on sorting through complicated code. An art print will spruce up your blogger’s space, or at least give them something to look at when they need a break from the screen. Check it out – I made some art you can gift for FREE!

Free Blogger "Just Keep Blogging" Art Print Download

I designed this special print just for bloggers. Download it from my Free Resource Library. If you don’t have the password yet, you can sign up with the form below and I’ll email it to you STAT! If you don’t see the email within a few minutes, check your Spam/Bulk folder.

Black Friday/Cyber Week Deals: Keep an eye on Minted, Society 6, & Etsy

Get My Favorite Prints from Etsy

Blogger Gift 9: Apps

Gifting an App is as good as gifting a blogging course or subscription- and even more practical. Most bloggers are using apps to plan or perfect their social media content already, so you know they’ll use it. Plus, no one really feels good about paying for Facetune. It hurts less when you foot the bill for them.

P.S. – Think Apps beyond just smart phones!

Black Friday – Cyber Monday Deal: If you don’t know which apps they want or use- get them an iTunes or Google Play gift card. You can usually buy bundle packs of gift cards for a discounted rate, especially around Christmas.

The Smart Phone Apps on my personal wish list:

Online Management Apps on my personal wish list:

Blogger Gift 10: 2020 Planner or Journal

With a world gone digital, sometimes you just need some good old fashioned pen & paper to sort things out. Plus – physically writing out your thoughts and to-do’s makes them sink in so much better. A Planner or Journal will help make sense of blogger’s scattered brains.

Black Friday – Cyber Monday – Holiday Deal: I would check out your favorite planners ahead of time on Amazon – then check them during Black Friday & Cyber Week in case of discounts. & Remember- not all planners are created equal. Here’s a Planner with a Unique & Helpful Format.

Or Check out the Most Popular Planners on Amazon

Blogger Gift 11: Personal Development Books

We should all read more, shouldn’t we? As Dr. Suess said, “the more you read, the more you know.” And while I love a good fiction novel, lately I’ve been wanting to know more about myself (and my human condition) by devouring personal development books.

I think this is a great gift for everyone on your list, but bloggers and entrepreneurs especially can reap the benefits of learning to be a better leader who makes a bigger impact.

Two books I’m loving right now:

Pro Tip: If your blogger/biz bestie is short on time — How about an audible subscription instead so they can “read” while they drive? Get the first 3 months for just $6.95 & keep an eye on Amazon for updated offers during the holiday season.

Blogger Gift 12: Blue Light Glasses

If you’ve noticed that the bloggers in your life have dark circles under their eyes, not to worry. They spend their days staring at a computer screen during their 9-to-5, and then they come home and stare at a screen while they work on their side hustle each evening until 2AM. So it’s no wonder their eyes are dry and tired and probably aging at 4x the speed of regular humans. Blue glasses might help, or they might just be a marketing scheme. Either way, I’m falling for it. And they make me feel smarter.

Pro Tip: This is one of those unsexy gifts (like a vacuum cleaner) that could go horribly wrong, so it’s best as a stocking stuffer.

Black Friday – Cyber Monday Deal: Check Amazon Here!

I own & love these blue light glasses in the leopard print.

Blogger Gift 13: Starbucks Gift Card

Last but certainly not least – the Starbucks gift card. It may be the most unoriginal gift on this list, but just remember that bloggers are tired. Plus, it makes a great complement to my previous gift suggestion- blue light glasses. They need lots of coffee to fuel. LOTS, I say. So don’t cheap out – get them at least $10, though $20 is better.

Black Friday – Cyber Monday Deal: You don’t need a deal. You’re going to be at Starbucks on Black Friday anyway – downing a venti coffee to fuel your shopping spree. Pick up some gift cards while you’re there.

So which gift are you going to get your blogger friends? Got any recommendations to add? Leave a comment & let me know!

If you enjoyed this post, Pin it for later, or share with your friends!

Ultimate Gift Guide for Bloggers Free Art Print

Happy Holidays!

Maker Lex Signature

Best Podcasts for Creative Entrepreneurs (by Women)

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I earn a small commission (at no cost to you- of course!)

list of best podcasts for creative female entrepreneurs by women

Remember when you were a kid hanging out with your parents or grandparents – and they would turn on the dreaded talk radio?

I hated it! So boring, right? Why couldn’t we just listen to music?

Oh, the irony! I get it now, guys. Nine times out of ten, I would rather listen to a person talk about a topic I’m interested in over listening to music.

Don’t get me wrong, because music is great.. but sometimes I get stuck listening to the same thing on repeat until I’m sick of it, and I feel grumpy when I have to find new music to like. Is that normal for almost 30 years old? Asking for a friend..

Anyway, podcasts are where. it’s. at. Some are entertaining, some educational, and some help us grow as individuals (my personal favorite). No matter what interests you, there’s probably a podcast for that.

And since creative entrepreneurship is one of my biggest interests, today I’m sharing 9 of my favorite podcasts for creative entrepreneurs. AND they’re all by women! #gogirls

All of these podcasts are releasing new episodes weekly, and they are chock-full of useful information for wanna-be online business owners, from advice on when to quit your job to how to set up an email funnel or create your first course.

1. Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher

Jenna Kutcher has got to be one of the most relatable human beings in the online business community. I love her tale of hating her corporate job, to buying a $300 camera on Craigslist, and then never looking back. She grew a six-figure wedding photography business and traveled all over the globe, and now she teaches creative entrepreneurs how to turn their passions into profits. I’ve admired her for a long time, and I mean it when I say she is one of the most down-to-earth genuine people you will find online.

New Podcast Episode Every: Monday & Wednesday

Available on: iTunes, Spotify, & all major podcast platforms

2. Online Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield

When I first discovered Amy Porterfield’s podcast, I binged every episode I could. First of all – she has the best radio voice! But she also gives away so much great insight and so many actionable strategies that I sometimes can’t believe it’s free!

Amy is an ambitious go-getter. She worked for Tony Robbins before striking out on her own, so it’s safe to say she knows her stuff. She has tons of free resources to help you market your online business as a creative entrepreneur, and she also offers courses.

New Podcast Episode Every: Thursday

Available on: iTunes, Spotify, all major podcast platforms

3. Do It Scared by Ruth Soukup

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Ruth Soukup. I mentioned her in my post, Real (Honest) Results of a New Blogger. She is the creator of Elite Blog Academy, a course I’m enrolled in, and she has also authored several books. I even owned one of her books and didn’t “put it together” until after I purchased her blogging course!

Her podcast, Do It Scared, is the first thing I check on Monday mornings. She has some incredible guests, but the Get Ruthed episodes are my favorite. In Get Ruthed, bloggers just like me get a one-on-one coaching session with Ruth — super helpful insight if you’re trying to grow your blog/business!

New Podcast Episode Every: Monday

Available on: iTunes, Spotify, all major podcast platforms

4. Don’t Keep Your Day Job by Cathy Heller

I was sold on this podcast from the moment I read the title. I first heard Cathy Heller as a guest on the Creative Pep Talk podcast and was inspired by her story and her down-to-earth approach. She’s real and focused more on making an impact rather than just making profits. And that’s refreshing.

Cathy Heller paved the way for her own success as a singer/song-writer in Hollywood, and wants to help others find work that they are passionate about as well.

She just released her book: Don’t Keep Your Day Job: How to Turn Your Passion into Your Career

New Podcast Episode Every: Monday & Thursday

Available on: Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher & all major podcast platforms

5. Style Your Mind by Cara Alwill Leyba

Cara Alwill Leyba is well known for her successful blog The Champagne Diet, but her podcast is new to me!

I love the way Cara focuses on helping women with their mindset and understanding their own worth. Her podcast is very feminine-focused, which I appreciate. I listen to plenty of podcasts about business that are hosted by men, but in reality- business is different for women, and Cara does a good job of celebrating that!

She has also authored many books, including her newest: Girl on Fire.

New Episode Every: varies

Available on: Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher – all major apps

Ultimate Gift Guide for Bloggers

6. Creative Biz Rebellion by Kelly Parker Smith & Caroline Hull

These biz besties felt that information was lacking for product-based businesses compared to what was available to service-based business, so they started the Creative Biz Rebellion podcast.

Kelly owns a stamp + stationery business called The Homebody Society, and Caroline focuses on modern hand-lettering, design, and producing podcasts. I love hearing about their personal experiences as they interact with their guests.

Their latest series, PR For Makers, can help you learn how to pitch yourself as a maker!

New Episode Every: Tuesday, varies

Available on: Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher

7. She Did It Her Way by Amanda Boleyn

To summarize, Amanda Boleyn wants to teach you how to leave your 9-to-5 and create your own service-based business with the skills you already have. –

Her podcast covers a wide variety of topics for the creative entrepreneur from mindset to money, motivation, marketing, systems, and making the leap from your day job into working for yourself.

Amanda offers one-on-one coaching for clients and chats on the podcast with tons of successful female entrepreneurs.

New Podcast Episode Every: Monday

Available on: Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher

8. The Product Boss Podcast by Jacqueline Snyder & Minna Khounlo-Sithep

If you own a product-based business, Jacqueline and Minna are a gold mine of information. Where most of the other podcasts listed here are oriented more towards service-based business, this one is different.

Both of these ladies have impressive backgrounds in creative entrepreneurship: Jacqueline with a fashion-based consulting business and B.F.A. in Fashion Design, and Minna with degrees in both advertising and business- is an Amazon Seller expert and owner of Lil’ Labels. In other words.. their podcast isn’t their only business.

So much of entrepreneurship has to do with mindset and personal development, but when you need some tangible advice concerning physical products, inventory, and sales- give this a listen.

New Podcast Episode Every: Thursday

Available on: All major podcast platforms

9. The Marie Forleo Podcast by Marie Forleo

Marie Forleo is a popular online entrepreneur who teaches her strategies to others in her course: B-School. She coined the term “Everything is Figureoutable” and just released a book by the same name.

What’s funny is I actually followed many of Marie’s successful B-School students before I ever found her (some of her students are on this list)! And that really speaks to the impact she is making in the lives of creative entrepreneurs.

On her website, she describes herself as an “unshakable optimist” — and who can’t use more optimism? Marie is full of business-savvy and good mindset advice. Also check out her weekly video show, MarieTV!

New Podcast Episode Every: Monday & Friday

Available on: All major podcast platforms

Shop My Favorite Authors for Bloggers + Entrepreneurs

If you enjoyed this list of best podcasts for creative entrepreneurs (by women)- be sure to pin this image and share it with your friends!

9 Best podcasts for creative entrepreneurs (by women)

Tell me what you thought! Do you listen to any of these podcasts? Are there any you think should be added to this list?

Maker Lex Signature

REAL (Honest) Results of a BRAND NEW Blogger // Place Marker Series – 1

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission (at no cost to you, of course!).

actual results of a brand new blogger

As a brand new blogger, I have a burning question.

How do brand new bloggers start earning thousands of dollars from their blog so quickly?

If you browse Pinterest for blogging tips – you’ll see loads of articles with click-bait titles like How I made $10,000 in my first 3 months blogging! or How I Replaced My 6-Figure Income with Blogging

*Sigh*..if only!

While I do believe it’s possible to earn a full-time income from a blog, and that some bloggers are able to do it very quickly — I am here to tell you that my blog doesn’t earn a single penny yet.

So if you’re a new blogger, too, and you’re wondering whether your blog will ever take off, start earning money, provide financial freedom, or allow you to quit your dreadful 9-to-5 job, then trust me– I’m right there with you!

Since I’m not earning yet – I can’t very well tell you how to make a fortune with your blog.. at least not from personal experience. Though if you want to know (generally speaking) how bloggers earn money, feel free to read this article.

Until then, I’m going to be starting a new series that I’m calling my Blog Place Marker Series.

Blog Place Marker Series

In my Blog Place Marker Series, I’ll be documenting my journey as a new blogger. Each month I’ll give an overview of my blog growth, including my actual gross income (if any), expenses, Google Analytics, and my action growth plan.

I hope this series will encourage you on your own blogging journey, and give you a real, honest glimpse at what it’s really like to blog for a living. Or, for now — as a side hustle!

Don’t forget to join my mailing list so you don’t miss one of these posts! When you join, you’ll also get access to my Free Resource Library where you can download all sorts of design goodies- like this Blog Post Printable Planner Page!

Free Blog Post Printable Planner Page Download

My Real Results As a New Blogger

Table of Contents

In my first Blog Place Marker Post, I’ll cover:

  1. How Long I’ve Been Blogging
  2. Courses and Blogging Strategies I’m Using
  3. My Blog Workflow & Amount of Time I Spend Blogging
  4. What I’m Focusing On With My Blog
  5. My Google Analytics & Income
  6. My Action Plan Moving Forward

1. How Long I’ve Been Blogging

I’ve been blogging on and off for at least 10 years, but I never took it seriously until now. My previous blogs were all in the Lifestyle niche, and my only strategy was to imitate the pseudo-famous bloggers of the time. Blogs like:

I still follow some of them — in fact, every one of them is still blogging and/or a badass business-owner babe today! And honestly, that gives me a lot of hope that blogging for a living is both doable and sustainable.

But how long have I been writing this blog?

I started this blog, which was previously called Wondernote – in 2017 when I purchased Elite Blog Academy. However, I didn’t put in real, consistent work until this year- 2019.

I started 2019 strong – creating content like crazy while listening to every available podcast on self-help and entrepreneurship. I was doing it ALL, or trying to.

Check out this List of My Favorite Podcasts for Creative Entrepreneurs.

My workflow in January looked something like this:

  • writing blog posts
  • researching keywords
  • creating video content for a Youtube channel
  • posting on Instagram and #hashtagging like crazy
  • aiming for perfect SEO
  • pinning on Pinterest to grow my traffic
  • designing my WordPress site
  • designing my logo & branding
  • setting up email opt-ins
  • designing paid products for my Etsy shop

If you follow Ruth Soukup, you may be familiar with her new book, Do It Scared, in which she helps you identify your Fear Archetype. Mine is Procrastinator, which also means Perfectionist.

Basically I was trying to make my blog and every single post perfect. I didn’t want to make a mistake or be seen as less-than-expert, so I was doing way too many things at once. BAD IDEA.

Burnout caught up really fast when I didn’t see immediate results, and I came to a FULL. STOP.

I started doubting all the work I’d done. I felt confused about my message, my blog name, my content, my tagline, my audience, my WHY.

And I wish I could say I came up with an answer to my doubts quickly, but the truth is — it took me months to sort this out. For the better part of 2019, I didn’t blog at all.

I was too discouraged to keep blogging, but I didn’t want to quit altogether,  so I decided to focus my creative entrepreneur efforts elsewhere: I started a Youtube Channel over the summer of 2019 and also spent some time trying to grow an Instagram account.

If you’re thinking of starting a Youtube Channel, Check Out These Video Ideas for Bloggers. They’re especially helpful if you hate being on camera.

Then one day in October I logged into my blog email and saw a message from Google Analytics with the subject line “In July, you had 158 users visit your website.”

​My interest piqued and I immediately logged into Google Analytics, wondering what my results had been in August and September. To my surprise, I was at 188 for August and 272 for September. I was growing!

And it looked like Organic Search was my #1 source of traffic. Yay, SEO!

From that day, I found a whole new motivation. I rebranded my blog (long story, but feel free to click the link and read about it) and got to work again! I’m happy to say my traffic is growing, but more on that later..

2. Courses & Blogging Resources I Use

I feel like it’s important to say I haven’t been blogging blindly. Below are the resources I’ve purchased and used to guide me on this journey so far.

Elite Blog Academy by Ruth Soukup

I mentioned earlier that I started my blog in 2017– which is the year I purchased Elite Blog Academy. Obviously it’s a big investment, but I was tired of piecing together all the info on my own. I was ready for someone to tell me how (and give me the steps) to make money with a blog!

I started Unit 1 in 2017 but didn’t get far. The course sat collecting dust for more than a year.

I’ve restarted it many times, but I still haven’t made it beyond Unit 3. I like to skip around and read ahead and neglect to do things in the order Ruth lays out- which I finally realized was costing me my sanity!

I realized the only solution was to go back to basics, but it’s meant I’ve had to spend way longer in each Unit than I thought I would. I hope to post a full review of the course one day!

In the meantime, one of the most valuable things about the course has been access to the EBA Facebook Group. Admittedly I’m more of a lurker than a participator in the group (blame my INTP/Enneagram 5 personality), but there’s a ton of helpful blogging information that gets posted and discussed by other members. It’s my favorite resource!

The Pinterest Launch Plan by Jennifer Maker Marx

The next course I’ve purchased is Pinterest Launch Plan by Jennifer Maker Marx.

Jennifer Maker Marx is a well-known and highly successful Elite Blog Academy student. She’s primarily a craft blogger, but she’s also created some great resources for bloggers.

The Pinterest Launch Plan is only $27, which is an incredible value.

I know there are other Pinterest courses out there, but the reason I chose this one is because Jennifer had a course called List Love Quick Start that came as a Free Bonus with Elite Blog Academy, and I loved her no-nonsense teaching style.

I have implemented some of the strategies from Pinterest Launch Plan, but I haven’t finished it yet. Womp, womp. It’s on the list of things to do, but since returning from my blogging hiatus, I’ve chosen to focus on staying consistent with the basics first!

Stupid Simple SEO by Mike Pearson

Oh look! Another course I purchased and have yet to crack open.. this one was a pricey investment at $297. Admittedly I bought Stupid Simple SEO on a whim after reading tons of good things about it in the EBA Facebook Group.

Just like the Pinterest course, I know this is going to be a good resource for me one day, but I’m not ready yet. My primary focus is just writing and creating content right now!


To grow my email list, I’ve been using Mailchimp. In January I made my list a priority by setting up opt-ins and pop-ups on my site.

So far I’m still using the free version and have 34 subscribers total.

I hate to say it– but I have not nourished my email list at all. I’ve set up a welcome email with the password to my Free Resource Library where subscribers can go to download their opt-in freebie, but apart from that they’ve only heard from me one other time– when I sent them Free Halloween Clip Art.

Needless to say, my list strategy needs work!

My Financial Investment in Blogging

I thought it would be interesting to share how much money I’ve invested in this blog so far. Notice the additional costs due to my rebrand.

  • Elite Blog Academy – $1,000.00
  • Pinterest Launch Plan – $27.00
  • Stupid Simple SEO – $297.00
  • Domain Name – $ 14.95/yr for 3 years + 17.95/yr (due to rebrand)
  • Siteground Hosting – $143.40/yr for 2 years + 75.35/yr (due to rebrand)
  • Mailchimp – $0 (I’m still using the free version up to 1,000 subscribers)
  • Total: $1749.00

3. My Blog Workflow & Amount of Time I Spend Blogging

I spend as much time as I can on my blog, and I make certain sacrifices in order to do it. That’s all any of us can do, really, but I know I have it easier than some.

For one, I’m single. And for another, I don’t have any children. That means I don’t owe a significant amount of my time and attention to a spouse, boyfriend, or kids. I don’t even have a pet!

To put things in context, I do work a full time job Monday- Friday, 8am-5pm.

On weekdays I wake up early (4am) to exercise and also spend about 30-45 minutes on my blog each morning before work. Otherwise, I work on my blog most weeknights between 6-8pm. This isn’t a strict rule, but I try to prioritize it.

I’m human, though (surprise!)- so sometimes I go out for dinner with friends or family instead of working. And other times I’m stressed and overwhelmed after work, so I sit on the couch and knit and watch Gotham or Gossip Girl or The Great British Baking Show (or apparently any show starting with the letter G) on Netflix.

In total, I’d say I’m spending an average of 2 hours/day on my blog.

Ideally I’d spend the whole weekend blogging, but in reality I usually take Saturday completely off and only spend another couple hours on Sunday.

This adds up to about 12 hours/week spent working on my blog.

Is this enough time spent working to “make it big”? Time will tell.

4. What I’m Focusing On Right Now

Right now my focus is creating CONTENT.

Content, content, content, content, content. And when I say content, I mean blog posts specifically. I have 24 posts right now, but my goal is to post at least twice per week.

I’m trying to write pillar posts (or evergreen content), meaning each post should stand the test of time. Some of them require that I make post-specific opt-ins. And many of them are tutorials, which require way more work than simply writing. Therefore, it takes me awhile to craft a good blog post – several days, even.

As I’m writing, I focus on implementing everything I know about SEO, and I try to use little tips or tricks I’ve picked up along the way, such as:

  • Linking to my other posts within every post
  • Inviting or incentivizing people to join my email list in each post
  • Focusing on a keyword or key phrase
  • Optimizing the Meta Description with keywords
  • Optimizing my Images with keywords
  • Writing long posts (1,000 words or more)
  • Using hierarchical headings for ease of reading/scanning
  • And always – creating at least one pin for Pinterest

Other than creating SEO-friendly content, I am also Pinning on Pinterest like a madwoman in an effort to bring more traffic to my blog. I pin for a few minutes each morning and each evening, but I know my strategy needs work. It’s time I finished Pinterest Launch Plan, eh?

5. My Google Analytics, Pinterest Analytics, & Income

Now for the fun part! Here’s an honest glimpse into my real results after blogging for a year-ish.

Google Analytics

This is a screenshot of my Google Analytics from January 1 to present (Nov) 2019.

Google Analytics new blogger

When my blog was brand new in January and February, I felt so defeated with no page views, no measurable results. I would hear people say that SEO and Blogging were long games.. but I still had unrealistic expectations for myself.

Anyway — the graph — my traffic — as small as the numbers may be — it’s moving up. *AHHH* It’s moving up!

This is proof that it’s possible to start and grow a successful blog even in 2019. Proof that I myself needed more than anyone else.

So if you’re discouraged right now, keep doing the work. My results aren’t anything to brag about, but they are undeniable proof that if you keep working, results will come.

I certainly don’t want to quit now and wonder in a year where I could have been if only I’d just kept working.

Pinterest Analytics

And since I’ve been working on Pinterest these past couple of months, here is a screenshot of my current analytics:

There’s literally NOTHING until October (last month!), lol. I don’t have any strategy yet — I’m just trying to pin regularly and get some of my own pins out there. That’s it!

My Email List

Right now I have 34 total subscribers in Mailchimp. I have one main opt-in freebie that pops up on my site, which is a set of hand-lettered Adobe Illustrator Graphics.

I also have a couple of opt-ins within individual blog posts- and I think I’m going to switch the Main Pop-Up Opt-In for something else soon, like my Hand Lettering Guides.

Real results from a new bloggers email list
I even have some unsubscribes!

Check it out — I have 2 unsubscribes!

After looking at this growth chart, it jogs my memory — I guess I was working on my blog in March & April – I just wasn’t writing anything. I was setting up all my Email List stuff.. and in all honesty it was a pain!

My Current Blog Income

Here’s the real result of all this work as a new blogger..

I’ve earned $0.00 blogging so far!

Woop, woop!

I also want to mention that I applied for Amazon’s Affiliate Program (perhaps prematurely), but I don’t have any affiliate sales yet, so there’s a chance I’ll have to reapply in two more months.

6. How I Hope to Improve

If I can just keep showing up, consistently writing, posting, working.. I’ll be happy.

That said, I do have some goals for my blog.

  • I want to make it past Unit 3 or 4 of EBA. Can’t remember which I’m in 🙂
  • I want to finish my Pinterest Course from Jennifer Maker Marx
  • I want to start Stupid Simple SEO
  • I want to get the 3 Affiliate Sales I need in the next couple of months so I don’t have to reapply to Amazon Affiliates
  • I want to grow my List and Email them regularly
  • I want to set up some drip email campaigns


That was a long one, but if you made it all the way through this post, I hope you gained some insight into the real results you can expect as a new blogger.

At the least, I hope this is relatable. That it will encourage those of you suffering from premature burnout to take a deep breath, scale back, and then move forward anyway.

Don’t give up! Keep blogging.

I’m sure if you have a clear message, work smart, and have a plan— you CAN grow your blog into a money-making business. I believe it for myself. Will you believe it for yourself?

Psst! Don’t leave without getting your Blog Post Planner Freebie!

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