Free Hand Lettering Practice Sheets – Printable Brush Pen Lettering Guides

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Free Modern Calligraphy Hand Lettering Guides

Today we’re going to talk all things hand-lettering and modern calligraphy. And at the bottom of this post – I’m sharing my FREE lettering guides with you, so you can start your own brush lettering practice at home.

Let’s get started!

Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:

  1. The difference between hand-lettering and calligraphy
  2. The basic principles of modern calligraphy/brush lettering
  3. Tools for hand lettering and calligraphy
  4. Tips for beginner letterers
  5. Practice Guides for modern brush lettering

The Difference Between Hand Lettering and Calligraphy

I often see and hear the terms hand-lettering and calligraphy used interchangeably, but technically– they aren’t the same thing.

In fact the history of handwriting is a long and convoluted one – but I’ll make it simple!

Hand lettering is any form of lettering drawn by hand, but it isn’t just cursive or script.

Come with me back in time for a moment. A time before sign shops- as we know them- existed. Take the sign shops of colonial America, for example- which wouldn’t have been equipped with industrial size printers or plastics or neon, because none of that existed yet.

If you needed a sign for your store front, someone would have had to hand carve or hand paint it for you.

And they may have painted it in any style – big block letters, script, or letters that mimicked the penmanship of those days.

Calligraphy – on the other hand- was first practiced in China in the 3rd Century BC and eventually led to cursive script, though not the English style.

English letters come from the Romans, the Latin and Gothic alphabets – and evolved over the years with the introduction of pens. Lower case letters and script were formed as a way to speed up the writing process, and many of the styles & shapes were inherent to the instrument used to form the letters.

Of course- today- calligraphy and hand lettering have taken on a new, modern style. This is the type of lettering we typically think of when we say we want to learn hand lettering:

Modern Calligraphy / Lettering

Modern hand lettering is a script style with a mix of thick and thin strokes inherited from calligraphy styles. This is the style I’ll be referring to for the remainder of this blog post!

If you want to see some inspiration or get ideas for your own hand lettering – check out 6 Hand Lettering Artists to Follow On Instagram.

The Basic Principles of Modern Calligraphy / Brush Lettering

Now that we’ve had a brief history lesson on the origins of lettering, let’s get started with the basic principles you need to know to create modern calligraphy.

Modern calligraphy – with it’s thin upstrokes and thicker downstrokes- is usually created with a brush pen. I’ll recommend some good brush pens you can purchase a little later, but for now, let’s talk about the basic rules to follow when you’re learning modern calligraphy.

If you don’t want to bother with a brush pen, check out my easy tutorial for How to Fake Calligraphy

Modern Calligraphy / Brush Lettering
Principle 1

The first principle of modern calligraphy is that the upstroke is thin. You can see this illustrated below:

up stroke calligraphy thin line

Any time you’re moving your pen up to form a letter, like when we begin writing the letter A, you will make a thin stroke.

Modern Calligraphy / Brush Lettering
Principle 2

The second principle of modern calligraphy is that the downstroke is thick. You can see this illustrated below:

down stroke thick how to fake calligraphy

Any time you’re moving your pen down to form a letter, like on the second half of the letter A, make the stroke thicker.

Modern Calligraphy / Brush Lettering
Principle 3

The third principle of modern calligraphy is that cross-strokes vary in thickness. See this illustrated below:

When you’re printing (ie not cursive) your letters, your cross stroke will usually be thin.

cross stroke how to fake calligraphy

When you’re forming script letters, your cross stroke might be thick and thin.

stylized cross stroke fake calligraphy

And those are the three basic principles to remember as you start practicing your hand lettering.

Tools For Hand Lettering and Calligraphy

With the three guiding principles in mind, it’s time to decide which tools you’re going to use to start your hand lettering practice.

Here is a list of my favorites!

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen

The Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen comes in hard tip or soft tip. I recommend hard tip if you’re just beginning and soft as you get better at working with a brush pen.

Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers

The Tombow 56185 Duel Brush Pen Art Markers have a brush pen on one end and a fine tip on the other end. They are available in a wide range of blendable colors- making them perfect for hand lettering.

iPad + Apple Pencil with Procreate App

If you want to start lettering digitally – you need this blessed triad of tools: an iPad, an Apple Pencil, and the $10 Procreate App.

At one time apple pencil was only compatible with iPad Pro (read: expensive). Lucky for us, this is no longer the case.

New model iPads are compatible with Apple Pencil and will only run you about $400 USD. However, you can find iPads even cheaper if you look for sales or wait to purchase during shopping holidays like Black Friday.

Tablet

If you want to letter digitally in Adobe CC Apps like Photoshop or Illustrator – your best bet is to purchase a tablet with a pressure-sensitive stylus.

Make sure the stylus is pressure sensitive – otherwise you won’t be able to make thick and thin strokes by applying varying amounts of pressure.

Tablets can range anywhere from $20 to $300+, and this is one of those instances in life where you get what you pay for.

If you’re planning to use your tablet only ocassionally for lettering – a $40 Huion Tablet will do just fine. This is what I have & use personally, and it’s still working great a year later. The more expensive tablets are really aimed at freelance and commercial digital artists.

Other Miscellaneous Tools for Hand Lettering

If you plan to get fancy with hand lettering, you’ll probably want to grab yourself some basic tools also.

This is where all your old school supplies comes in handy!

Be sure to check out 3 Cheap Pens For Hand Lettering – I’ll bet you probably already have them at home!

5 Tips for Beginner Letterers

If you’re brand new to lettering, it can feel a little overwhelming at first, but here are a few tips you can use while you practice

  1. Practice every day!

    Even if it’s just for a few minutes, try to set aside some dedicated time to practice your lettering every single day.

  2. Start with Pencil

    I know it’s tempting to run out and buy a brush pen right away, but practice your calligraphy letters in pencil first. One reason for this is that brush pens are pricey and can dry out quickly.

    But a better reason is that pencil is actually useful for beginners, because you can apply lighter pressure to mimic a thin upstroke and heavier pressure to form a thicker downstroke.

  3. Use YOUR handwriting

    It can be tempting to copy the same style as someone else, but your handwriting is unique! Don’t try to force it to be something it isn’t.

    Just use your own style of handwriting, and incorporate the three principles of modern calligraphy as you write. It will evolve over time into something truly beautiful!

  4. Get Familiar with how Letters are formed

    Even though everyone’s hand lettering will look a little bit different, it’s all down to the same stroke patterns: thin upstrokes, thick downstrokes, and varied cross-strokes/flourishes.

    Practice individual strokes on their own before trying to combine them, and also try picking up your brush between strokes. Eventually you’ll get a feel for it, and modern calligraphy will become second nature.

  5. Use FREE Resources

    The internet is full of free resources to help you learn lettering, so take advantage! I’ve created free lettering guides for you to start practicing with.

    Scroll down to get them absolutely FREE!

FREE! Practice Guides for Modern Brush Lettering

I’ve created a series of lettering guides for you to download. This 13-page Hand Lettering Guide .PDF is available in my Free Resource Library.

In order to access the Free Resource Library, you’ll need the password. If you’re already on my mailing list – the password is always at the bottom of every email I send! Search your inbox for “Maker Lex” to find my latest email.

Otherwise, you can obtain the password by filling out this form:

If you don’t see an email from me within a few minutes of signing up, check your Spam or Bulk Folder!

You can print these guides as many times as you like and trace over the letters with a brush pen or pencil. The guides contain 13 pages of practice sheets including strokes, upper and lower case letters, numbers, some punctuation, and a few practice words.

What are you waiting for? Go get started with your hand lettering and make sure to tag me @makerlex on Instagram so I can see what you create!

If you enjoyed this post, pin the image below to share with your friends on Pinterest, or so you can navigate back here later!

free hand lettering guides modern calligraphy printable practice sheets

Happy Designing!

Maker Lex Signature

How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop – Easy Step-by-Step Tutorial

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Make Your Own Blog GIFS Animation

On the Pronunciation of GIF

Before we begin today’s Animated GIF Photoshop tutorial, we need to clear up something extremely important.

We need to have an important pronunciation conversation (say that five times fast) about the word GIF.

On this blog, we pronounce the “g” in gif as we pronounce the “g” in girl.
We NEVER (never-ever, under any circumstance, not even silently in our own heads, lest we embarrass our own selves) pronounce it as jif.

A GIF is an animation. JIF is my favorite peanut butter.

This has been a public service announcement. Thank you.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming..

Today I’ll be showing you how to create an animated GIF in Photoshop.

What’s a GIF?

A GIF is simply an animation that plays on a loop (foooooreeeevver). It’s made from a video clip or a series of images.

And they are super duper fun, my friends. I’ve been obsessed with creating my own- and finding ways to incorporate them on my blogs– since, like, 2008. I bet you’ve seen some funny ones in your day. And I bet you love sharing them with your besties over iMessage.

When you think of GIFs, maybe the website Giphy comes to mind. Giphy has a huge database of existing GIFs, plus the ability to create your own by uploading a series of images or a video clip. It even supports Youtube and Vimeo, so you can rip your favorite clips right from the internet.

If you upload a series of images to Giphy, it will cycle through them continuously. If you upload a video clip, you’ll be able to trim it to the portion you want and have it repeat that segment forever. You can add text and stickers with Giphy as well.

It’s an awesome tool you can use absolutely FREE, so if you don’t have Photoshop, I highly recommend it. Hey- check out this beauty I made in about ten seconds.

But as with most FREE software, Giphy has its limits, so if you want to create a GIF that is 100% customized and on-brand, Photoshop is the answer!

For example, here’s a custom animated GIF I created for my twin sister, Brooke’s Beauty Bazaar in Photoshop that looks nothing like my Giphy GIF:

smokey eye makeup GIF ©Maker Lex
©Maker Lex – Custom GIF for an eye makeup tutorial by Brooke’s Beauty Bazaar

Follow the steps below to learn how you can easily create custom GIFs for your own blog or brand in Photoshop.

How to Create a GIF in Photoshop

Today I’m going to walk you through exactly how I created this simple frame animation GIF in Photoshop- which features 9 of my favorite things. It’s the sort of GIF I would include in a blog post.

Lexie’s Favorite Things GIF

When you look at the GIF, you’ll notice that the little stars move around the canvas, highlighting one item after another. This isn’t a highly technical GIF, but it’s simple to create, and it definitely adds some movement & visual interest!

After following this step-by-step tutorial, you should have a good grasp on the animation panel in Photoshop. From there, the sky’s the limit as to what you can create.

But one final word before I set you loose: resist the temptation to go overboard with .GIFs. They’re fun, but too many of them at too large a file size can really bog down your blog. And we don’t want slow blogs!

Don’t worry – I’ll cover the best practices for optimizing your GIF later in this tutorial.

Now – let’s begin!

How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop Step 1 –> Sketch Out a Composition on Paper and Decide What You want the Animation To Do

The #1 Rule of Graphic Design is to create thumbnails- aka– draw out all of your ideas on paper.

Technically I can’t force you to do this, but if you go into Photoshop with a plan, you’ll be better off. Especially if you’re new to Photoshop, that list of layers in the layers panel gets long lickety-split.

Best to sort it out before you get to the computer.

Here’s my idea:

my favorite things blog post gif tutorial in photoshop
Plan it out on paper first

As you can see, I’ve decided to create a visual representation of 9 of my favorite things to go along with a (made up) blog post. For the animation – I’m going to highlight each thing randomly one-by-one to give the image some interest and movement.

How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop Step 2 –> Create A New Optimized Document in Photoshop

Once you’re ready to begin, open Photoshop and create a New Document.

  • Your document size is going to depend on how large you want your image to be. I’m making mine 800px width x 800 px height.
  • Set the Resolution to 72 (which is standard for screens)
  • Set the Color Mode to RGB (also standard for screens)
How to Create a GIF in Photoshop Tutorial Photoshop Settings
Photoshop Document Settings

How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop Step 3 –> Start Adding the Elements of Your Composition, Layer by Layer

The next step is to start adding photos, text, and elements to your composition. Here’s my game plan for building my composition:

  1. Leave my background layer as white
  2. Type out the title “My Favorite Things” at the top & format the text
  3. Copy & Paste a picture of each item from the internet into my Photoshop document & remove the background (if necessary) from each
  4. Rearrange the items on the canvas until I like the layout
  5. Add more text – number my items 1-9 & format (change the size)
  6. Draw stars around each item with the brush tool to highlight it. For the animation portion, the stars will blink around the canvas, highlighting each item one at a time. To accomplish this, I need to put each set of stars ✨ (9 total) on a separate layer. I will also rename these layers — each one according to it’s corresponding item.
  7. Finally, I’ll clean up my layers to make sure they are labeled and organized before I start animating

Here’s what my composition looked like after following steps 1-6:

Photoshop Screenshot - making "my favorite things" GIF
“My Favorite Things” Composition in Photoshop

And here’s a closer look at my layers panel after I cleaned it up in step 7:

Photoshop Layers – Organized

You’ll notice in the layers panel that I grouped some of my layers together. That means I put similar layers in a little folder together so the layers panel isn’t as cluttered. Each of my groups contains one of the item photos plus it’s corresponding number.

There’s no right or wrong way to group your layers – just do what makes sense to you.

To group layers together — hold down Shift on your keyboard, then select the layers you want to group together by clicking on them. Keep holding down shift, and now click the little file icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

Technically–since my layers are all going to stay where they are, I could merge or flatten them instead of grouping them, but leaving it this way means it’s 100% editable if I want to go back in and change something.

You’ll notice I left out the stars for each item, because I want easy access to those layers for the next step: animation!

Pro Tip: NOW would be a great time to save your PSD file so you don’t risk losing your hard work! That’s the #2 Rule of Graphic Design – save as you go!

How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop Step 4 –> Layer Visibility Is the Key!

We’re all ready to animate! But before we bring up our Timeline, do you notice how there’s a little eye next to each layer in the layers panel?

The eye represents layer visibility.

If you click on an eye it disappears and so do the contents of that layer. Click again and it all reappears.

Great, now that you understand layer visibility, onto the Timeline..

How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop Step 5 –> Window –> Timeline

If you’re using Photoshop Creative Cloud – you can access the animation timeline by choosing Window –> Timeline. If you’re using an older version of Photoshop- this may be called Animate.

A timeline should appear at the bottom of Photoshop. It looks like this:

Timeline Panel in Photoshop

How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop Step 6 –> Choose “Create Frame Animation”

In the Timeline panel, there’s an option for Video Animation or Frame Animation. You’ll want to click on Create Frame Animation.

Immediately, a frame appears labeled with the number 1. On the bottom of the frame, it reads “0 sec.” with a drop down arrow.

First frame in the GIF animation

Right now all my layers are visible on Frame 1, but I need to change that.

I’m going to leave all my “groups” and my background layer turned on. They’ll remain on for each frame in my animation.

I’m going to turn off the visibility of all the “stars” layers except for the stars behind my fifth item, the Lindt chocolate. Remember- I turn the layers” off” or “on” by switching the eye next to each layer in the layers panel.

Then click the drop-down menu to the right of 0 sec. and change it to .5 sec — this means my frame will “play” for half a second before switching to the next frame.

From here I’m going to create another frame. Select the new frame icon on the Timeline, which is the icon next to the trashcan.

First, turn OFF the layer visibility of the stars behind the Lindt chocolate. Then, turn ON the stars behind your next item. I’m going with Item #9 – the dry shampoo.

I don’t have to adjust the time because when I created the new frame, the time automatically set to match the time of my previous frame: .5 sec.

Hit the Play button to preview your animation so far. When you look at your composition, the stars appear behind Item #5 and half a second later, the stars appear behind Item #9. They cycle back and forth infinitely. Press Stop.

Now that you see how the animation panel works, continue the animation by adding more new frames to your timeline, making just one set of stars visible on each frame..

How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop Step 7 –> Complete the Animation

  • Keep repeating the same process in Step 6 until you’ve created a frame for each set of stars. And don’t forget that all the layers that have my images on them–plus my background & text layers– will remain ON for every frame. These are the repeatable steps I took –>
    • Make a new frame in the timeline
    • Turn off the star layer from the previous frame
    • Turn on a new star layer in your layers panel
    • Adjust the time of the frame if necessary

Eventually, your timeline will look something like this:

Timeline with 9 Frames

I now have all 9 of my star layers on a separate frame in my timeline. When I press the Play button, I can preview my animation. The stars move from one item to another in half-second intervals. Since the animation is set to Forever, it will play on a loop infinitely.

At the bottom of the Timeline, click the drop down menu next to Forever to change the amount of times the animation will play.

And that’s it! You can keep playing around until you get things just right, or you can move on to the next step: saving your GIF.

How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop Step 8 –> Save Your GIF Animation

When you’re ready to save your GIF, go up to File –> Export –> Save for Web

Optimize Your GIF For Web

We need to save this GIF with web optimization in mind. That means we should keep the file size small in favor of faster load times..*much like you do with all your blog images*.

Notice in the photo above, GIF is selected in the drop down menu on the top right, as well as 64 colors. The more colors you add (up to 256) the more rich your image will appear, but your file size will be bigger.

In the lower left corner, you’ll see my GIF size is 108.8K with a load time of 21 seconds @ 56.5Kbps.

Considering 56Kbps is the speed of dial-up internet and most high-speed internet connections are moving ten times faster- or more — we should be good to go. You can view more load times according to varying internet speeds if you click the drop down menu.

To get a better look, you can also Preview your animated GIF at the selected settings in a web browser by clicking on Preview.

As I mentioned, it’s a good idea to keep your file size as low as possible – this might mean you sacrifice slightly on image quality, but it’s worth it in favor of faster load times on your blog or website.

Finally, hit save and then upload your GIF to your blog post! (Or Giphy – or wherever).

If you enjoyed this tutorial, be sure to share it with friends. Or, you can pin this image to come back to this tutorial later.

How to Make Your Own Blog GIFs – Pin to Pinterest!

Don’t forget to drop your link in the comments below if you used this tutorial to create your own GIF in Photoshop! And tell me- was it easy?

5 Video Ideas If You Hate Being On Camera

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I’ll earn a commission (at absolutely no cost to you!). It helps me buy fancy yarn to knit all the things.

Five videos you can make if you hate being on video camera

It’s the age of video. Fellow introverts, beware!

Just kidding. Not all introverts are scared of being on camera. But as an introvert/enneagram 5, I have to tell you video is downright scary for me.

The same crippling thoughts seem to run through my head every time I sit down to film something. I don’t know what to say.. I come across as awkward.. I don’t know where to look.. I hate the sound of my voice.. I don’t know what to do with my hands.. yada yada yada..

This is rather inconvenient in 2019. Take for example, how social media platforms have made a huge push towards video. What would Instagram be without stories? Not to mention Snapchat. Tiktok. Marco Polo. Even Pinterest is encouraging video pins now!

The point is: video is thrust upon us whether we like it or not — both as a way to communicate with our friends & family– and as a way to market our personal brands and small businesses. So if you’re camera shy, what do you do about video content?

Why You Need Video Marketing

You may be wondering why video even matters.

Of course if you don’t have anything to market and don’t want to make videos- you’re welcome to move on with your life! I’m guessing that’s not why you’re here, though.

I bet you’re here because you want to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, explore a new hobby, or figure out how you can reach potential clients through video marketing without having to show your face.

Like many before you, you’ve realized the impact video marketing has and you need to find a way to harness that power for yourself. And let’s be honest- humans love video! Why?

Video is easy to digest, it’s entertaining, it’s engaging, it’s educational- and for marketers- it has a huge return on investment.

Even if you don’t have a physical product or service to market, maybe you want to market yourself by sharing your skills or passions with others. And news flash, bloggers: you’re not off the hook. I know you pride yourself on your written communication skills, but it’s time to get outside your comfort zone and grow your brand/engagement with video!

How to Overcome Your Fear of Video

The good news is you can do this! I know because I’ve done it. I was scared to death, but I started a Youtube Channel.. a big move for an introvert/enneagram 5.

One of the things that helped me to put myself out there with video is a book that I can’t recommend highly enough: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

If you’re ready to start tackling some of your fears- and I’m assuming if you’re reading this article –one of those fears is being on video- then definitely get yourself a copy!

The book explores the idea of growth mindset versus fixed mindset, and how having the latter might be keeping you from achieving success– whether it’s not being good at video or earning six figures (yeah, seriously).

You may have heard the term growth mindset many times- I sure had. But I didn’t fully grasp what it meant nor it’s power to transform my thinking (and therefore, my life) until I read the book. I even talk about it in my first Youtube video I ever uploaded.

5 Video Ideas If You Hate Being On Camera

Ok, so now that you’re (hopefully) in the right mindset, I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can make great videos without actually showing yourself.

*Cue the Hallelujah Chorus*

I mean- I still think it’d be great if you showed us all your gorgeous self in a video, but I understand that it’s a process. And you don’t have to rush it! While you ease yourself in, try one of these 5 Video Ideas for People Who Hate Being On Camera.

Video Idea If You Hate Being On Camera #1:
Screen Recording With Voice-Over

The main focus of my blog is DIY Graphic Design Tutorials, so I use screen recordings frequently to show people exactly what actions I’m taking in Photoshop and Illustrator. Instead of seeing me, my audience sees Photoshop. They hear my voice (without seeing my face) as I walk them step-by-step through a process.

This is a great way to ease into video, since it #1) doesn’t require you to show your face, and #2) can be accomplished with free software.

You might think screen recorded videos or voice-over are above your technical skill, but I can assure you they are not! I use Quicktime Player-which is an application preinstalled on apple computers- to record both my computer screen and my audio.

I took it a step further and bought myself an inexpensive microphone to improve my sound quality, but you don’t even need one to record the audio. You can record it through your computer’s speakers– just make sure the room is quiet!

Here’s an example of a video I made using screen recording: Chevron Tutorial Illustrator

Video Idea If You Hate Being On Camera #2:
Time Lapse or Stop Motion

When you think of a timelapse video, your mind might envision a sped-up sunrise or sunset, or a video that takes a looooooong time to record.

But here’s another idea of a timelapse: recipe videos! If you think about it – when you watch someone take a bunch of ingredients and turn them into a pan of brownies in 30 seconds– that’s a timelapse, too. Food bloggers use this style of video all the time. Like in this Tasty Video: 43 Easy 3 Ingredient Recipes

Stop Motion is another fun way to showcase your creativity through video. You don’t have to make a full-length claymation movie à la Tim Burton. You can use any medium, like clothing or makeup or even colored pencils. Check out Creativity – Stop Motion by Wayaba Filmmakers to get inspired.

Video Idea If You Hate Being On Camera #3:
Drawing/Painting/Baking/Crafting Tutorial

If you’re not worried about showing your hands and arms, then a crafting tutorial is another great way to make a video when you’re feeling a little camera shy.

I see this style of video used a lot by lettering artists on Instagram (I watch a lot of lettering videos!), but I’ve also used this method to film my own knitting videos.

The trickiest part is getting your camera set up at the right angle. You’ll likely have to invest in some good equipment to help you get the camera overhead first. Then start drawing, or lettering, knitting, crafting… do whatever you do! Your audience will love the hands on learning experience.

As an example, check out my How to Knit series.

Video Idea If You Are Camera Shy #4:
Record Your Powerpoint/Keynote Presentation

This is such a great hack I can’t believe I never thought to do this until I saw someone else do it first! Make a Powerpoint or Keynote presentation, then export it as a video— or screen record yourself presenting the slideshow.

You can share photos, text, and graphics with your audience to get your point across without ever showing your face.

I think this idea is especially great for bloggers, because if you have a bunch of blog posts written, then half the work is already done for you. Just translate your blog post into a slideshow, and voila! You’re producing awesome video content.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have Powerpoint or Keynote – you can use Google Slides, which is available FREE in Google Drive to create a slideshow.

This Video by Think Media on Youtube isn’t 100% a slideshow, but slides are inserted throughout the video to make illustrations and drive home the main points. I see Think Media do this all the time, and that’s where I first got the idea.

Video Idea If You Are Camera Shy #5:
Unboxing Video

Unboxing videos are a super popular niche on Youtube, but I understand this one may not apply to all of us.

If you’re looking to break into Youtube, though– consider making a channel where all you do is unbox a particular type of item in all it’s various forms- over and over again. It almost seems too easy, doesn’t it?

You can unbox the hottest makeup like Kylie’s lip kits. Or FabFitFun boxes, new product releases, even kids toys.. this niche has just about anything & everything you can think of. And I’ll admit- sometimes it gets a little bit weird.

Check out this Barbie Unboxing Video. I think you’ll understand what I mean about the weird factor.. but it’s clearly working, so no hate!

5 videos to make if you're camera shy

And there you have it: 5 video ideas for people who hate being on camera.

If you enjoyed this article and want to share it with friends – tweet this article, share it to your Facebook wall, or pin the image above to one of your Pinterest boards so you can navigate back here later on!

Comment below & tell me which of these ideas you’re going to use to start making video content!

How to Create a Professional Intro for your Brand or Youtube Channel FREE in Keynote (Easy Tutorial!)

This post contains affiliate links. That means that I may earn a commission (at absolutely no cost to you) if you make a purchase through one of these links.

create your own custom video intro for your brand or youtube channel for free using keynote

Do you know what the largest search engine in the world is?

You might be thinking.. that’s an easy one! It’s Google, duh. And you’d be absolutely correct.

But do you know what the second largest search engine in the world is?

You might guess Bing. Yahoo, maybe? And this time, you’d be absolutely wrong.

In fact: the second largest search engine in the world has more unique monthly visitors than Yahoo, Bing, Aol, and Ask.com combined!

Hint: it’s owned by Google.

You’ve probably got it now..

That’s right, it’s Youtube!

WHY ENTREPRENEURS NEED YOUTUBE CHANNELS

Yes, Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world, and that reveals something pretty important when it comes to establishing and growing an online business: video is the present and the future of online marketing. Even Mark Zuckerberg has embraced video as the way of the future – and since he owns two of the largest and most successful social media platforms in the world- we’d be wise to listen, right?

Basically- whether you’re a small blogger or a product-based business- if video isn’t a part of your content marketing strategy, then you’re missing out!

And listen – if the previous statement doesn’t sit so well with you- you’re not alone.

I’ve been working on this blog (aka my own online business) for awhile now, and when I first heard well-known entrepreneurs and marketers – whose advice I respect- talk about the importance of video content, my heart sunk.

I’ll be honest. I hate to be on camera. I don’t even like to be in front of a camera for a photograph, much less leave it rolling for an indefinite amount of time while I awkwardly stumble through some sort of verbal presentation. Oy, it’s a process- to be sure.

But as Ruth Soukup would say, “Do It Scared!”

So even though it still makes me cringe, I started a Youtube Channel.

BLOGS & VLOGS ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE

When I first joined Youtube, I was treating it as something entirely separate from this blog. In fact, I put the blog on hiatus and came up with a totally different brand for my channel, determined to just do Youtube and see if I could make myself successful over there. I even convinced myself Youtube was so much easier than blogging.

*eye roll at myself SO HARD*

Then two months after beginning Youtube, a lightbulb went off in my head, and I realized my blog and my Youtube channel are not mutually exclusive.

This is also around the time I decided to rebrand my blog. The content I was creating for Youtube was along the same niche as my nearly-forgotten blog, but I was beginning to scramble for ideas and lose momentum.

Suddenly I longed to go back to writing. I knew I’d been wrong. At first I told myself- blogging is actually easier than Youtube. What were you thinking? I guess I was trying to make myself feel better about my failures, but I know the truth– they’re both hard!

The silver lining in all of it is that when I realized I needed to combine my blog and my Youtube channel, I had some great video content that could easily be translated into blog posts. 

So whether you’re just starting your Youtube Channel or you’ve been at it for awhile, today I’m bringing you a tutorial that I first posted on my Youtube Channel:  How to Create an Easy Youtube Channel Intro for FREE Using Keynote. It also happens to be my most popular video to date.

How to Create an Easy & Professional Youtube Channel Video Intro in Keynote

As passionate as I am about designing & branding on this blog, it was just as important to me to have a professional looking and well-branded Youtube Channel from day one. Enter the all-important Youtube channel intro.

When we solo-preneurs first start our blogs, businesses, or Youtube channels, there’s usually a TON of boot strapping involved.. aka we have zero design budget and have to use our existing resources to somehow market ourselves.

And that’s where this video intro tutorial comes in!

Are you ready to up your brand identity, give yourself more authority, and create a professional-level intro for your video content?

Luckily you don’t need fancy software to create a good channel intro. If you’re a Mac user (like me), you can D-I-Y one using Keynote! If you’re on a PC user (no hate), try Powerpoint.

And for a FREE alternative (because who are we kidding?? we’re broke! or need to invest our limited funds elsewhere): use Google Slides, available with your Gmail/Google Drive account.

Here’s what we’ll be creating:

 Let me show you how I did it!

If you prefer, you can watch the video tutorial- which has some bonus tips!-or you can keep scrolling for the step-by-step tutorial.

Step 1 – Open Keynote and Choose a New Document. Select Your Background

To get started, first open Keynote on your Apple device. Keynote is available for free with iMac, Macbook, or iPhone.

On Macbook this will bring up a Finder Window. Choose New Document on the bottom left.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 1a - Open A New Document in Keynote

Next, Choose Your Slide Background. I’m choosing the plain white style, but you can use any of them.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 1b - Choose Your Background

Step 2 – Insert Your Logo File or – Type Your Channel Name and Style the Text

Once your new document is open, you can either type out your Youtube brand/channel name or you can insert your logo if you have one.

Remember to include any taglines, and take some time to format the font, size, colors, etc. to make it pop! If you opted to insert your logo file, you can also format images with some cool effects (see Step 6).

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 2 - Type out your brand name or insert your logo and style the text

Step 3 – Animate Your Logo or Channel Name with “Build In” Effects

Now comes the fun part! We’re going to add animation. Click on Animate in the top right-hand corner of the Keynote toolbar, nestled between Format and Document.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 3a - Animate Your text with build in effect

Under Animate, there are three different ways we can animate our text or logo: Build In, Action, and Build Out.

  • Build In will “introduce” your text or logo. It will play an animation, and the object will remain on the screen.
  • Action will play after the Build In, and your object can do a secondary animation.
  • Build Out will animate your object, and then it will remove your object from the screen. Poof, be gone!

We’ll stick with Build In for now and get to Build Out in the Step 5.

Build In

First I selected MakerLex and chose Pop from the Build In menu. I adjusted the Duration to .75 seconds.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 3b - Animate Your text with build in effects

Second, I selected my Tagline and Chose Cube from the Build In menu. I want this to play simultaneously- and for the same amount of time-as the “MakerLex” animation, so I adjusted the time to .75 seconds again.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 3c - Animate Your tagline with a build-in effect

Step 4 – Change your Build Order

Build Order is where the magic happens. This is how we make our animations play when-and-how we want them to!

Click on Build Order at the bottom of the Animate Menu.

Right now I have two “objects” on my slide. One is my big “MakerLex” text, and the other is my tagline. In the Build Order pop-up menu, you can see that each of these objects is listed. “MakerLex” is #1, and my Tagline is #2. You can see this in Exhibit A.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 4a - Change the Build Order of Animations
Exhibit A

Right now if I press Preview the animations play one by one, MakerLex first, and then my tagline- but I want them to play at the same time. So I’m going to leave #1 as Start –> On Click.

For #2 (my tagline) I will change to Start –> With Build 1.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 4a - Make the tagline play with Build 1

Now #1 and #2 will play at the same time.

Step 5 – Add “Build Out” Effects

Now that we have our Logo and tagline animated with Build In, it’s time to move them off the screen and make way for our social media icons to appear.

I selected “MakerLex” again and chose a Blur effect- this time from the Build Out Menu. I chose the same Build Out effect for my tagline and made the duration the same for each: .75 seconds.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 5a - Add Build Out and change the Build Order

Now I need to change the Build Order for my Build Out Effects.

In the Build Order Pop-up Menu, select the third list item and set it to Start –> After Build 2.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 5b - Make item 3 start after Build 2

Then select the fourth list item and set it to Start –> With Build 3.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 5c - Make item 4 start with Build 3

Step 6 – Copy & Paste Social Media Icons from the Internet and add Your Social Media Handle

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 6a - Find social media icons on google images

Ah, we’re moving right along! Now let’s add some social media icons. I went to Google and searched for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook icons that I liked. I right-clicked on the images in Google, chose “Copy Image” and then Pasted them into Keynote, like so..

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 6b - Find social media icons on google images and paste them into Keynote, drag the corner of the box to resize the icons

Yes, I pasted it right over my name on the current slide. I realize it looks a little messy (see Exhibit C) and could get confusing, so if it’s easier for you, paste the icons on a new slide. Part of the reason I did this was to make sure things were lining up exactly where I wanted them to appear.

Repeat this process until you have all the icons you want. You can click the individual icon and drag the corner of the box down to resize it. After I did that, I also added a text box with my Instagram handle right over-top my tagline.

Here’s what mine looked like after I added a Mirror Effect (find it in the Format Menu) to the icons:

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 6c - Add a mirror effect to your images
Exhibit C

Step 7 – Animate the Social Media Icons

Now select your icons and add another Build In Animation effect. You can click and hold Shift on your keyboard to select them all at once. I chose Dissolve for my social media icons and Typewriter for my Instagram handle. I made the duration .75 seconds for all.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 7 - Add a Build in Animation to Your Social Media Icons and handle

Step 8 – Change your Build Order for Social Media

And finally, let’s pull up the Build Order Menu one last time. You can see that each of my icons and my handle has been added to the Build Order List.

For Item 5, set it to Start –> After Build 4.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 8 - Change build order of Social Icons

Now set items 6,7, and 8 to Start –> With Build 5.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 8b - Change build order of Social Icons

Step 9 – Export as a Movie File

All that’s left to do is Preview your animation and figure out if you’re happy or if you want to keep playing around with it.

Take some time to explore the many animation effects and format effects available in Keynote. There’s a lot of power here, and you can create something longer or more complex than what I’ve demonstrated.

The sky’s the limit (or maybe your hard drive is the limit..)!

Once you’re done fooling around and happy with your final product, then head to File –> Export To –> Movie.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 9a - Export your slideshow as a movie

Make sure Playback is set to Self-Playing, and choose ALL Slides, or enter the values for the slides you want to include in the video. I only had one, but you might have two+ if you put your social media icons in another slide.

Choose Resolution 1080p.

Make a Free Youtube Video Intro in Keynote - Step 9b - Export all slides in your slideshow as a 1080p movie

Ta-Da!

All you need to do now is save this video somewhere you can easily navigate back to it. When you’re ready to use it, upload it into iMovie or your favorite video editor.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, let me know by subscribing to my Youtube Channel or pinning the image below to share with your friends!

create your own custom video intro for your brand or youtube channel for free using keynote

Comment your video link below if you used this tutorial to create an awesome branded intro. It’s always nice to see what other people’s creative mind comes up with.

Happy Making!

Free Halloween Clip Art .PNG Files

This post contains affiliate links. That means that I may earn a commission (at absolutely no cost to you) if you make a purchase through one of these links.

Double double toil and trouble, fire burn & cauldron bubble.. Something wicked this way comes!

Shakespeare, from Macbeth

Something wicked is about to land in your inbox.

hi resolution free clip art png files

It’s October, and it’s officially the warm-up to the Holiday Season. A time for falling leaves, moody overcast days, squash-bedecked stoops, and trees haunted by ghostly grocery store bags (best upcycling craft ever).

It’s the big breath before the Christmas frenzy begins. The final time we button our pants with ease before the onslaught of Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner, and an IV containing 1000cc eggnog daily resolves us into January gym memberships.

Halloween is officially this Thursday, and I’m in a festive spirit! My Halloween bucket list is nearly checked off: 

  • I’ve watched Hocus Pocus— twice, but avoided any actual horror films. Because I’m a real life scaredy-cat. Fun fact: I also have a cat-niece named Binx.
  • I’ve successfully avoided carving a pumpkin. Because I’m a single childless 29-year old, and no one can make me!
  • I’ve supported my sister, Brooke’s Beauty Bazaar, in the creation of her can-can girl costume. If only by cleaning up her messes. Peep her can-can girl costume in the video near the bottom of this post, because she did a spectacular job!
  • I refrained from devouring the mixed bag of M&Ms, Snickers, and Twix. I can proudly say I didn’t even have one piece, and it’s fully sealed and intact for Thursday’s trick-or-treaters.
  • And.. I’ve created some Halloween Clip Art just for you!

Today I’m sharing this Frightful Free Halloween Clip Art with you, plus three fun ways you can use it right now!

HOW TO ACCESS FREE HALLOWEEN CLIP ART

The Halloween Clip Art is available to all of my readers for FREE and is accessible through my Free Resource Library. 

To access the Library you’ll need the password, which you can get by filling out the form below.

A welcome email with the password should show up in your inbox within a few minutes. If it doesn’t- be sure to check your spam/bulk folder. Or if you’ve already subscribed, then search your inbox for “Maker Lex” and check your last email from me — I always include the password at the bottom of every email.

From there, head to my Free Resource Library and enter the password. Scroll down to locate the “File Name”. extension File, and click on it to download.

HIGH QUALITY PNG HALLOWEEN CLIP ART FILES

When you unzip your Halloween Clip Art file folder, you’ll find 14 individual high quality .PNG files, plus a Personal Use License.

 .PNG files have a transparent background, so you can “stick” these to anything.

You’re free to use this clip art for personal use, but you are not allowed to redistribute these files, use the files commercially, nor resell the files.

There are so many fun things you can do with this halloween clip art, but I’ve come up with three ideas for how you can use it now.

THREE FUN IDEAS FOR HALLOWEEN CLIP ART

1. Use Halloween Clip Art in your own digital designs.

You can add these files into your own graphic designs! If you’re a blogger or business owner, you could add them to a Halloween-themed email you’re planning to send out.

Check out this simple graphic I created using the Halloween Clip Art files in Photoshop.

Create a digital greeting card for your email list!

If you don’t have Photoshop, don’t worry! You can upload these files directly into Canva, a free design tool that allows you to create flyers, business cards, email headers, and more.

2. Print out Halloween Clip Art with ready-made Avery Labels.

In recent years you’ve likely noticed a teal pumpkin or two while you’re out trick-or-treating. The teal pumpkin is meant to let trick-or-treaters with severe food allergies know that you have a non-food treat for them.

If you want to offer something non-food this year, stickers are a perfect alternative to candy for trick-or-treaters! Or maybe you need a fun Halloween party favor for your kids, students, family, or friends. 

To make this halloween clip art into stickers, you’ll need a printer (with color ink, obviously!) and some pre-made labels, such as Avery Labels.

Instead of getting little address labels, I prefer to keep the full-page labels on-hand. That way I can print all of the stickers at once and cut them out individually. But if you have the address labels, you can print each file on the label individually, too.

For the purposes of this craft, I’m using the full-page label.
Simply arrange the stickers on a blank page in your preferred Word Processor. If you don’t have Microsoft Word or Apple Pages, you can use Google Docs to do this. Then hit print, cut out the stickers, and they’re all ready for your trick-or-treaters. And don’t forget to put out your teal pumpkin!

Avery Labels make Clip Art into Stickers
Turn clip art into stickers using Avery full-page labels and your at-home printer.

Of course if you just want a fun treat for yourself, you could always make these stickers for your bullet journal!

 3.Use Halloween Clip Art in your Instagram Stories.

Another great use is jazzing up your social media with these Halloween stickers. You’ll have cool instagram stickers that your friends don’t- although I won’t hate you for sharing your insider knowledge with them!

This is simple to do! Just Just head to Instagram and record a story. Then click the sticker icon and in the search bar, type “maker lex”. You’ll be able to access these stickers plus some fun animated versions!

Watch this quick video to see them in action. (& thanks to my sister for being an amazing can-can dancer model!)

And while you’re over there, don’t forget to follow me @makerlex!

And there you have it- three ways to use this Halloween Clip Art. 
If you plan to try any of these, I would love to see what you create! Comment below, email me, or tag me @makerlex on Instagram!

How to Rebrand Your Blog

How to Rebrand Your Blog

Not very long ago, Maker Lex wasn’t Maker Lex at all. The story of this blog goes like this: In the beginning was Wondernote, and the Wondernote was. Until it got rebranded.

Of course, that’s the abridged version of the story, but the full version is begging to be told. So for those of you rolling your eyes or shaking your stick at me, yelling “just tell me how to rebrand my blog already, lady!” you can Click Here to Skip Ahead.

Otherwise, pull up a chair and let me give you the run-down of why I chose to rebrand my blog.

Why rebrand your blog?

Ten years ago I started my first blog on Blogger. No custom domain name or anything. In fact, I can’t even remember the name, because I can’t remember which of my blogs came first. That is to say: I’ve had A LOT of blogs over the years, but none of them stuck.

In 2012 I was in graphic design school, and that’s when the name Wondernote first came to me. In those days- full of hope & ambition to start my own freelancing business or successful stationery company- I was constantly brainstorming brand names. The blog I’d been writing at the time was called Wit & Wonder, but I needed a version of it that could be used to sell printable greeting cards on Etsy. Wondernote fit the bill perfectly.

Flash forward to graduation. Freelancing didn’t really pan out, and neither did any of my blogs or business ideas. All of it took the backseat when I joined the 9-to-5 workforce, and my blogs and Etsy shops and hopes and dreams lay dormant for many years.

But the creative part of me that wants to blog is always beckoning, and it reawakened in 2017 when it heard I could spend a cool one thousand doll-hairs on Elite Blog Academy and become the multi-million dollar blogger I was born to be. That was two years ago and I still work a 9-to-5, if you were wondering how that ‘s going… but stick with me, because I promise this story is about to come full-circle.

I set myself up on WordPress.org and chose Wondernote because I still loved the name, although I had to settle for wondernote-dot-org as my domain name. As luck would have it – the DOT COM wasn’t available. And then I began the grueling task of trying to make it past Unit 1 of EBA. Why is it grueling, you ask? Because I can never (and herein lies my biggest barrier in blogging) choose a damn niche.

A quick study in my many blog niches:

  • Plum Elephant – personal blog
  • Wonderknit – knitting blog
  • Wit & Wonder – lifestyle blog
  • Twinclectic – failed joint-lifestyle blog
  • Honeysuckle Way – home decorating blog
  • Fitness Wit – a fitness blog combined with my passion for writing 

And that’s just a sampling. There are others I wouldn’t dare reveal to the internet (the irony). But you see the pattern, right? I’m indecisive AF when it comes to picking my blogging niche. Is blog without a niche, a niche? Asking for a friend.

How to Decide Your Blog Niche

To solve this problem, I’ve had to get really honest with myself about what my truest, most raw, unapologetic passions are. And the one theme that kept emerging was design. As a little girl, the first job I wanted to have when I grew up was fashion designer. I had (and still have) a portfolio full of little fashions I’d cut out of construction paper, and the process brought me so much joy. As an adult, I’m into many different types of design: graphic design, web design, knit design, and even home design. 

Although they’re all design related, these topics don’t fit together into one nice, neat niche. At least not in the sense that EBA has taught me my blog content should. Discouraged, I moved on to other projects – like getting out of my comfort zone by starting a Youtube Channel called Lexie From Scratch, which was about starting and growing a Youtube Channel… from scratch. I did that for about a month, and then I had a breakthrough.

A Google Analytics report showed up in my inbox one day in October 2019. I was surprised to discover that Wondernote- which I’d put about a solid month of effort into before not logging in or posting for 6 whole months– had gotten nearly 200 views in September. I was intrigued.

I logged into my Google Analytics and found out the blog had gotten 200 views also in August, and slightly less in the previous months. And 80% of the traffic came from organic search. It isn’t a lot compared to bigger, more successful bloggers, but it was the confidence boost I needed to start blogging again! 

But I still had just one problem..

The reason I’d given up on Wondernote was because I was totally uninspired by my niche, or lack thereof. It had turned into a graphic design-ish blog, but most of the articles I’d written were based on what successful (ie: money-making) bloggers said to do, and not on what I truly wanted to do.

But after some reflection- and also the culmination of years spent reading self-help books- I decided that whatever the heck I was gonna do- I needed to ENJOY it. I needed to feel authentic. I wanted to feel in-alignment. I wanted to quit focusing on the end goal and focus more on the enjoyment of that thing itself.

The name Maker Lex came to me almost immediately, and I decided I would rebrand to my weird pseudo-niche, which I dubbed “making” and start making/writing/blogging about the things I WANT, whether they fit perfectly together or not.

That includes graphic design, web design, branding, sometimes marketing, crafting, knitting, and DIY-ing. I believe that if I’m truly in alignment and enjoying what I do- eventually the money will follow. Otherwise, I’m going to forget about it and AT LEAST enjoy what I’m doing.

And finally, that brings me to the main point of this blog post, which is…

How to Rebrand Your Blog

*please note that this article is intended for WordPress.org users only

Rebranding isn’t as scary as you might think. But when I realized it had to be done, I had some questions.

  • Is this something I can I do myself?
  • How long will it take?
  • What about my SEO?
  • Google Analytics?

To answer my own questions (and hopefully yours, too): 

  • Yes, you can do most of it yourself, but for one of the final steps I had to get my web host- Siteground- involved. I chatted with customer service online and they were able to complete my request within minutes. DIY-ing this wasn’t without it’s frustrations, though. Read through everything before you start, including this article. If you don’t think you’re up to it, then you’ll probably want to pay someone to do it and save yourself the headache.
  • It took me about 3 hours in total. I started in the morning but had to go to work, so I finished up when I got home. I hit a few snags along the way, but nothing set me back more than 10-30 minutes before I figured it out. A big chunk of this time was spent optimizing and updating my blog with my new logo, etc.
  • A 301 redirect + letting Google know about the change will minimize any negative impact on SEO. The change is going to affect your SEO temporarily. However, with very little traffic and only about 20 posts total, I didn’t have a lot to lose in this sense.

Before You Start

  • Make sure your new domain name is all set up with your web host before you begin. For me, this meant purchasing the domain name makerlex.com and adding it to my hosting plan.
  • Don’t forget about social media! You’ll likely want to change your handles to match your new site name.
  • Be ready to update your blog header, as well as all logos, profile pictures, etc. across all platforms as part of rebranding. Take inventory before you begin so you can make a plan to execute once the new site is ready.

Four Simple Steps to Rebrand/Change Your Blog Name

Now that you’re ready to begin your blog rebrand, here are the four things you need to do: 

1. Move *Current/Old Domain* to *New Domain*

To move my site, I followed the directions from How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (without Losing SEO) by WPBeginner exactly. My best advice for following this tutorial is to read the article all the way through before you begin, and be prepared to trouble-shoot.

WPBeginner was a lifesaver when it came to DIY-ing my blog rebrand. I downloaded Filezilla for the FTP portion. Prior to this, I had no experience with FTP, but I learned as I went along. Even when I had an issue, I was able to solve it by reading the comments section, or by taking educated guesses based off other articles from WPBeginner.

2. Set up a Permanent 301 Redirect

When I got to Step 4 of the article- the 301 Redirect — and needed to modify my .htaccess file, I got a little confused. That’s when I contacted Siteground (my web host), and the customer service rep was able to finish the task for me within minutes.

I kinda wondered at this point if I could’ve just asked for their help from the beginning… Oh well! 

3. Let Google Know for the sake of your SEO

Once my site was up and running on the new domain, I was so relieved that I nearly forgot to do this step. In fact, I didn’t complete it until a week later!

WP Beginner’s Article also covers the importance of notifying Google and how to do it, but it’s a little bit outdated.  Luckily Google Search Console has great documentation you can follow. I followed the documentation specifically for Siteground and was able to DIY this in about ten minutes.

**Make sure you don’t forget this step since this is the way to guarantee there are little-to-no lasting effects on your SEO.

4. Re-optimize Your Site

It’s true that the majority of my time spent rebranding was on re-optimizing my site. Since I didn’t have a ton of posts to update, this only took a couple of hours. However, I realize that many of you might be coming from a place where you’ve been blogging for years. You could have a hundred or more posts to update, and that could feel overwhelming. But here’s my best advice: focus on your most popular posts first.

Take a deep breath and then take it one post at a time. Update the posts that bring the most traffic to your blog first. The rest will come in time, if you so choose.

Some of you may be launching a whole new site design with your move, but if you aren’t — just remember to update your logo on every page, etc. Invite a friend or follower to review your site and let you know of any broken links, or anything else you may have missed.

How to Rebrand Your WordPress Blog Pinterest

…And that’s a wrap! 

Considering I’m not a pro, I’m proud of myself for accomplishing this.. I know you can do it, too! And just remember if you get confused that there are professionals who can handle this for you. And never hesitate to reach out to your web host– they will be your greatest ally and source of help/information if you hit a snag.


Congratulations on your rebrand!

3 Cheap Pens for Hand Lettering You Already Own

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

cheap pens for handlettering

There’s no denying that hand-lettering is having a major moment.. it feels like everyone I know is embracing this hobby, and I love it, too!

If your Instagram explore tab is anything like mine, you’ve probably watched letterers showcasing their free-form calligraphy on almost every surface possible (paper, clothing, tile, glass, etc). They use fancy brush pens, paintbrushes, or even traditional nibs dipped in shiny metallic ink. And these tools are awesome, but not the most budget-friendly.

(Speaking of Instagram, here’s 6 inspiring hand lettering accounts to follow on Instagram now).

You may be tempted to think you need all the tools the professionals have in order to get started, but I promise you don’t!

Today I’m sharing 3 ideas for cheap pens that will help you kick-start your hand lettering hobby (or career). And the best part is you probably have these pens at home or in your desk drawer already. 

Cheap Hand Lettering Pen #1: Ballpoint Pen

BIC Ballpoint pen handlettering for cheap

Ah, the ball point pen. The cheapest pen on the list. Accessible to nearly everyone.

Coworkers everywhere love to argue about which ballpoint pen is best and which one the manager should order for the entire office. Some ballpoint pens click open/closed, some of them have a cap. Mostly they possess black, blue, or red ink, but they are available in every color of the rainbow.  If you can’t find one at home or at work, you can order a box of 24 on Amazon for under $5 — that’s less than 25 cents per pen! But if you can’t find a dime, you can probably get one for free — it’ll even come with the name of your bank screen printed on the barrel — the next time you make a deposit or withdrawal.

I know what you might be thinking — you aren’t able to vary the thickness of your stroke with a ball point pen, which is true. BUT this is the perfect opportunity for creating modern faux calligraphy. To learn this technique, be sure to check out my post on How to Fake Calligraphy.

Cheap Hand Lettering Pen #2: Felt Tip Pen or Marker

Sharpie for handlettering cheap

The second cheapest pen to use when you’re getting started with hand lettering is a regular marker. It can be a permanent felt tip marker like a Sharpie, or a washable Crayola marker.

Single Sharpies can be purchased for less than $2.00 each, and an 8 count pack of Crayola Washable Markers can be purchased for less than $5.00! Markers make quick work of coloring in down strokes for fake calligraphy.

The best part of felt tip markers is the wide variety of ends, called nibs. Markers with tapered ends (like the original Sharpie or Crayola) can be used like a brush pen. The more pressure you apply, the thicker the stroke will be.

For markers that come with a fixed wide, flat nib.. use the corner for thin strokes and the whole nib for thick strokes.

Cheap Hand Lettering Pen #3: Highlighter Marker

Hi-liter marker for hand lettering cheap

Technically a highlighter is also a felt tip pen, but in this case, the ink is neon. It’s also more transparent than a regular marker, so you can use it as a background to make one word stand out from the others in your composition. The fixed nib size is great for drawing thick strokes, but you can also use just the corner to get thin strokes.

I love these highlighters because they have a transparent nib so you can see exactly where you’re highlighting. A clear nib is one of those things I never knew I needed until I used it for the first time, and now I’ll never go back.

My favorite way to use highlighters is for a drop-shadow effect that adds major dimension to your hand lettering. This is the perfect way to start getting fancy and exploring styles you thought were only achievable using digital tools.

Free Lettering Guides

Ok! What are you waiting for? Go ahead, grab your pens and markers and give hand-lettering a try!

If you need a place to begin, I’ve created a lettering guide .PDF for you!  Download  my Free Hand-Lettering Guides now in My Free Resource Library. If you need the password, fill out this form:

learn to hand letter using pens you already have

6 Hand Lettering Artists to Follow on Instagram

Today I am rounding up my favorite hand letterers to follow on Instagram, and all of them happen to be women! #girlpower

These ladies are seriously talented, and most of them are doing this for a living (#goals). So if you’re interested in developing hand lettering skills, or just looking for inspiration, make sure to check out these Instagram accounts.

6 Hand Letterers to Follow On Instagram

hand lettering accounts on instagram

1. Jessica Hische | @jessicahische

The first time I stumbled upon Jessica Hische was while listening to this episode of the Creative Pep Talk Podcast.

I liked what she had to say so much that I immediately followed her on social media only to discover that I recognized so much of her work already. I’d seen it pinned on Pinterest and shared across the web hundreds of times, & usually without proper credit.

Lettering is Jessica Hische’s actual profession (hello, dream job), and she has worked with some major brands/companies. Think Starbucks, Mailchimp, Wes freaking Anderson, and my personal favorite: Jeni’s Ice Cream.

Within moments of following her, I purchased her book, In Progress, which details her lettering process from rough sketch to finished design. I haven’t finished it yet, but I love it already.

2. Lauren Hom | @homsweethom

I love Lauren Hom’s Instagram feed, full of bright colors & big murals & mega inspo. I’d say she’s the most “Instagram famous” person on this list. She’s well on her way to 200K followers, and I’m sure she’ll grow far beyond that because she’s clearly very smart and a hard worker. Lauren has a down-to-earth/open-book vibe that I love.

And spoiler alert: you’ve probably seen her work IRL. Specifically while standing in the checkout line at everyone’s favorite store: Target! Yes, Lauren Hom has designed hand-lettered gift cards for Target. I think I actually squealed when she posted it on her Instagram and I realized I’d admired her Thank You gift card hundreds of times. It just makes my heart happy to know that Target invests in artists like Lauren Hom.

Lauren’s Instagram and website is super helpful, too. She has tutorials, classes, resources, and a great FAQ page with all the answers you’re looking for.

3. Martina Flor | @martinaflor

Martina Flor is based in Berlin, and I recently started following her on Instagram. She is- of course- a super-talented letterer, but she also travels around speaking at all sorts of amazing conferences. The kind of conferences I want to attend. Like Tedx and Adobe Max, & even Apple.

Like others on this list, she has a ton of resources that can help you learn lettering – and as an added edge – she offers classes, books, and other resources in other languages besides just English.

I plan to check out her classes on Skillshare soon.

4. Becca Courtice | @thehappyevercrafter

How about some love for Canada, eh? That’s where you’ll find Becca Courtice, a master of modern calligraphy.

If you’re looking to explore lettering as a hobby, and maybe one day have your friends hire you to hand letter the seating chart at their wedding, then Becca Courtice is your girl. Her blog has tons of practical tips for every lettering scenario you can think of.

Rather than just a collection of works, Becca’s Instagram feed and her website are heavily focused on learning. She can teach you the basics of modern calligraphy, and then she’ll show you how to turn your new skill into a business.

5. Amanda Arneill | @amandaarneill

Amanda Arneill was one of the first ladies I stumbled upon on Instagram who was practicing, perfecting, and pretty soon.. teaching hand lettering.

It was her hand lettered sermon notes that first got me hooked, because I am the biggest sermon note taker. And I wanted my sermon notes to look. like. that. Plus, she shows you how to do all sorts of fancy things with pens and markers like combining colors, shading, flourishes, etc, etc. And she letters funny things her kids say.

Anyway, Amanda has a ton of courses on lettering & more. She’s teamed up with friends to offer classes on watercolor lettering, iPad lettering, illustration, and even social media.

6. Eline | @elinescreativeprojects

I haven’t been following Eline for very long, but during that time she’s already grown from 100ish followers to over 2500! It isn’t hard to see why. She’s only fifteen, creating amazing hand lettered artwork and watercolor illustrations, and making it look easy. Consider her a hand letterer to watch.

PS – after seeing her recent post I’m ready to go buy some sparkly gel pens.


Hand Lettering Accounts to Follow on Instagram

Know someone who you think should be featured on this list? Let me know in the comments!

How To Fake Calligraphy – Easy Tutorial

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

How to Fake Calligraphy - easy step-by-step tutorial

(Skip the lengthy explanation & head straight to the Easy Fake Calligraphy Tutorial by Clicking Here.)

Hand lettering is all. the. rage. right now.

Like, when was the last time you saw someone’s blog logo that wasn’t either 1) hand-lettered or 2) typed from a hand-lettered font?

Yeah, not since 2008.

And when I say hand-lettered in this post, what I’m actually referring to is what I like to call modern calligraphy.

It looks kinda like this:

Simple Calligraphy Wedding Invites Dunkirk Designs
https://www.dunkirkdesigns.com/products/simple-calligraphy-wedding-invites-salmon-pink

And today, I’m going to show you how anyone & everyone can write like this without any special tools or skills. Yep, you heard me: ANYONE, even you!

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to easily & quickly fake calligraphy.

Tools for Modern Calligraphy

First things first: what tools do you need?

The professionals use a brush pen, or even a paintbrush. To achieve the thick strokes, they apply more pressure with the pen on the down-stroke of the letter. On the up-stroke, they apply less pressure, and they get a thinner line. The finished result looks gorgeous, but the skill takes a lot of time to master. If you want to get technical, mastering calligraphy is down to muscle memory, which requires a lot of practice, and patience, and time, and did I mention practice?

The good news is that for fake calligraphy, there is no brush pen required. And you don’t need to worry about varying pressure or muscle memory, either. You can apply the techniques I’m about to show you to any style of penmanship, print or cursive.

And – you can use any writing utensil you have. Check Out 3 Cheap Pens For Hand Lettering You Already Own

Tools You Need for Fake Calligraphy

Ready to get started?


Learn From These Hand Lettering Books


Calligraphy 101

Before we start forming our fake calligraphy letters, there are three simple characteristics of calligraphy to know.

When forming letters, you move the pen up (up stroke), down (down stroke), and across (cross stroke).

Calligraphy Characteristic #1: Down Stroke = Thick Line

The down stroke is a thick line. Notice the down stroke in the letter A, as illustrated below:

down stroke thick how to fake calligraphy

Calligraphy Characteristic #2: Up Stroke = Thin Line

The up stroke is a thin line. Again, notice the thin up-stroke in the capital letter A, illustrated below:

up stroke calligraphy thin line

Not all up & down strokes are as obvious as in the letter A. Think about the letter C. This one is a little tricky, but just visualize writing a letter C in your head. You’ll start in the upper right corner and move the pen up just a little, then pulling the ink left, you’ll round the top of the letter and stroke down. Finally you’ll round the bottom of the letter towards the right and do a little swoop back up. So, in the letter C, there are two small up-strokes.

letter C how to fake calligraphy up stroke thin and down stroke thick

Calligraphy Characteristic #3: Cross Stroke = Thin Line/Add Style!

And finally, the cross stroke. Cross strokes happen when you’re moving your pen from left to right, or east/west instead of north/south. The cross stroke is usually thin.

Again, I’ll demonstrate with the letter A:

cross stroke how to fake calligraphy

It’s worth noting that a cross stroke is a great place to add style. So if you’re going to draw a fancy A, you might have a cross stroke that is both thick and thin, like the ones below:

stylized cross stroke fake calligraphy

These cross strokes don’t just move east to west, they are up and down and even loopy, so they take on the characteristics of up and down strokes, too.

How To “Fake” Calligraphy

Understanding those 3 characteristics of calligraphy strokes is going to help us understand where to draw in our thick lines and where to leave our line thin as we fake it… because faking calligraphy is all about faking the down-strokes/thick lines!

Ready? Let’s do this.

How to Fake Calligraphy Step 1: Write out the Whole Word

Write out your whole word, whether cursive or print. I’m going to write out the word “hello” in both script and print. See the two examples below:

how to fake calligraphy step 1
how to fake calligraphy print step 1

How to Fake Calligraphy Step 2: Draw in the Down-Strokes

Think about which parts of the letters are “down” strokes, and now you’re going to draw in a line to help thicken that stroke. Below, I’ve drawn the down stroke lines in purple so it’s easy to see:

how to fake calligraphy step 2
how to fake calligraphy print step 2

How to Fake Calligraphy Step 3: Color in the Down-Strokes/Thick Lines

Now that you’ve drawn in the down-strokes, you need to color them in to get the visual effect of a thick line. I’ve colored in the strokes in blue, so it’s easy to see what I’m talking about:

how to fake calligraphy step 3
how to fake calligraphy print step 3

How to Fake Calligraphy: Finished Word

When you’re finished with Steps 1-3, you’ll have a finished result that looks like this:

how to fake calligraphy step 4
how to fake calligraphy print step 4

& Voila! That’s fake calligraphy.

How to Fake Calligraphy: Letter Reference Sheets

Upper-Case Letters

For reference, here’s a list of Capital Letters in both print and cursive/script, so you can see where the down-strokes should be. For some of the letters, I left a secondary down-stroke thin, like with the letter H. This is my personal preference, but it’s up to you how to form the letters and where to put your down stroke.

Remember, your letters don’t have to look exactly like mine.

Lower-case Letters

For reference, here’s a list of all Lower-case letters in both print and cursive/script, so you can see where the down-strokes should be drawn in. Unlike with the upper-case letters, I pretty much added all the down strokes possible to these letters. Again, this is a personal preference, so if you don’t want to add another downstroke on the arch of the little “h,” that’s cool, too.

Fake Calligraphy – Numbers

Guess what? You can apply this hack to numbers, too. You’re bound to need them. Here’s a list of faux-calligraphy style numbers, so you can see where the down-strokes should be.

how to fake calligraphy numbers guide

A Note About Making the Most of Your Handwriting

While this is an easy hack for faking calligraphy, you may not end up with wedding invitation-worthy modern calligraphy just yet. If you don’t like the way your handwriting looks, just keep practicing and let it evolve over time. Find your own style of lettering!


Read The Beginner’s Guide to Hand Lettering


Free Download: Modern Calligraphy Reference Sheets

Download my FREE Hand Lettering Practice sheets, available in my Free Resource Library. You’ll need a password, but you can get it by entering your email below. Look for an email with the password in a few minutes – and if you don’t see it, be sure to check your Spam or Bulk Folder.

The letters you’ll be practicing in my Lettering Guides were made with a brush pen. However, you can also use them to practice fake calligraphy. Just use the hacks we learned in this blog post!

free hand lettering guides printable

So what words or letters are you eager to get started with? If you decide to try this tutorial out, send me a picture of what you come up with!

Happy Lettering!

FREE Printable DIY Mother’s Day Card

Free Printable DIY Mother's Day Card

Mother’s Day is only 2 days away, and this FREE Mother’s Day Card is all ready for you to download and print off at home!

Perfect for when you procrastinated getting a card until the last minute and all the good one’s are gone… *story of my life.*

The inside of the card is blank, so you can completely personalize it to your mom. You can even re-purpose it. Use it for mom’s birthday, or as a thank you note, or just to let her know you’re thinking of her. No matter the reason.. be sure to tell her in lots of words how much you love her and appreciate all she’s done for you — she deserves a novel!

Follow the steps below to download, print, cut, and fold this Free Mother’s Day Card at home today!

Step 1: Download the FREE Mother’s Day Card

I hand-lettered and designed this floral Mother’s Day Card, and I’m giving it to you completely FREE! Just head to my Free Resource Library to download it now.

Hint: to access the Free Resource Library, you need the password available exclusively to my email subscribers. If you don’t have the password yet, you can request it here. I’ll send you the password immediately!

Once you’re in the Library, scroll down to the .PDF section, where you’ll find the link to download the FREE Mother’s Day Card. Depending on your internet browser, the steps to save it may vary, but either navigate to your Downloads folder on your computer, or if the card opens in a new internet browser tab, right-click and choose Save As…

Step 2: Print the FREE Mother’s Day Card

FREE Floral Mother's Day Card Printable

If you have a printer at home, you can print this off immediately. I’d recommend printing it on a thicker paper such as card stock, but it’s NBD if you don’t have the fancy-schmancy stuff. Just use whatever paper you have.

In your Printer Settings, print it full-scale, don’t choose scale to fit. The whole card is 10 inches wide and 7 inches tall, which will fit on a standard 8.5×11 inch page.

Now, I will say– hopefully one of the things you have is a color printer. Being the designer, I am obligated to tell you that this design must be printed in color, because these florals want to be seen in all their colorful glory. I specifically designed this card to be bright and fun, just like Mom! However, if your mom is neither bright nor fun, I guess you can print it in black and white.. but remember that lady lugged you around for nine months inside her body and then birthed you, so.. you can probably shell out some change in order to have it printed at Office Max.

Because surprise! I don’t have a printer at home… *gasp*… so I uploaded the file to Office Max and got mine printed on 110lb white card stock. So fancy. The print only cost $0.54 + tax, and picking the prints up from the Print Center at Office Max costs only mild frustration.

Frustrating because.. for one, the ladies standing at the self-service print station were engaged in an explicit medical conversation that was TMI. And for another.. after ignoring me for a solid five minutes, the girl working at the print center looked over at me standing in the queue and asked, “are you in line?” as if she wasn’t aware that all signs pointed to STAND HERE FOR HELP. She was visibly annoyed that I needed assisting, so she made me wait another seven minutes before coming to the counter. I don’t hold it against her, because speaking from experience, I know that the people in the world who need the most grace (more so than anyone else in the entire world, mind you) are retail employees.

Anyway, then this lovely employee discovers that there’s nothing there for me. Nothing at all. She just keeps repeating all the names for orders she does have, which suggests that I must not know my own name. So I called my sister to ask if she happened to pick it up earlier when I asked her to (which OF COURSE NOT), and then I kindly explained to this print-chick that I had an email confirmation. She hadn’t really planned on helping me to further solve this problem, but I finally convinced her to look around some more, and she eventually found the prints hiding under some other stuff somewhere.

But like I said, guys– it’s only a mildly frustrating experience, and I’d imagine that your mom’s pregnancy was much more than mildly frustrating most of the time.

Step 3: Cut Out the FREE Mother’s Day Card

FREE Floral Mother's Day Card Printable

Phew, now that we have the printed card, let’s trim it. For cutting out this free Mother’s Day Card, I’d recommend the following tools:

  • Cutting mat or thick cardboard to bear down on
  • X-acto knife
  • Ruler

Or, if you don’t have those tools, use:

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

Or, if you’re already at Office Max, you can:

  • Use the paper cutter at the self-service print station

The finished size of the card is 5×7 inches, and the .PDF file includes guides to help you line everything up and cut it out perfectly.

Score the Fold of the Card First

FREE Floral Mother's Day Card Printable
I forgot to take a picture of this until I’d already trimmed the edges and folded the card!

Before you trim all the edges off the card, I’d recommend scoring the fold of the card lightly with your X-acto knife. There are guides to line your ruler up. If you don’t do this first, you’ll cut the guides off and have to wing it with the fold later. Use a light touch, you’re not trying to cut all the way through the paper. You’re just creating a nice crisp guide-line to fold along later.

Line Up Your Ruler Along the Guides

FREE Floral Mother's Day Card Printable
See the little marks to the right of the ruler? They’re on all corners of the card.

There are cut guides in all four corners of the card. Just line up your ruler with the guides on each end of the card to ensure a straight edge while you cut.

If you don’t have an X-acto knife, line up your ruler along the guides, then use a pencil to lightly draw a straight line from one point to another. You can then cut along the pencil line with scissors, ensuring perfectly straight edges.

FREE Floral Mother's Day Card Printable
Ruler lined up along the corner guides

Trim Off the Edges

FREE-Mothers-Day-Card-Printable-©Wondernote_6
Be careful when cutting with your X-acto knife along the ruler!

Be careful while you make the cuts. Now that the ruler is aligned, hold it down with your free hand so it doesn’t shift around. Run the X-acto knife next to the ruler, applying pressure, to cut off the excess. Repeat on all four sides.

FREE Floral Mother's Day Card Printable
Voila! All the edges are trimmed.

Fold the Card

Free Mother's Day Card Printable
Finished folded card

Now just fold the card in half. If you scored the card lightly before trimming off the edges, this step is even easier, and the fold will be perfectly crisp.

Again, the finished card size is 5×7 inches, which will fit perfectly into an A7 envelope. You can purchase colorful envelopes at your local craft store or office supply store. My envelope is from a Hallmark card I never used and totally too big, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Free Mother's Day Card Printable

Remember if you want this Free Mother’s Day Card, head to my Free Resource Library to download it. Request the password by filling out this form:

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