From Graphic Designer to 6-Figure Entrepreneur — MY STORY

How I got started and became a graphic designer, then became a 6-figure entrepreneur. I went from working in a small town making $30K a year to making $300K a year as an entrepreneur between age 27 to 37. This is my story of how I got started.

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Roberto Blake is a Creative Entrepreneur, Keynote Speaker, and YouTube Certified Educator. He is the founder of Awesome Creator Academy and host of the Create Something Awesome Today Podcast.

Roberto Blake helps entrepreneurs and social media influencers, through educational videos on YouTube, motivational content on Instagram and career development advice on LinkedIn, as well as offering 1 on 1 Coaching and a Group Coaching Program.

**Disclaimer: Roberto Blake is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.

Disclaimers: all opinions are my own, sponsors are acknowledged. Not financial advice, for entertainment purposes only.

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Some of you may not realize that I 
was a graphic designer and freelancer  

long before I was ever a YouTube content creator 
with 500,000 subscribers. It is actually the thing  

that allowed me to transition from retail work 
into having an actual career and profession.

And it would actually take me much further 
in life that I could have ever anticipated.  

And this video is kind of a video that is one 
of those one for them, one for me type deals.  

Want to talk about why I became a graphic 
designer and a little bit about my early journey.

The impact that it’s had on me, how it allowed me 
to become an entrepreneur later with a multiple  

six figure business earning about twenty five 
thousand dollars a month as of 2020. And I also  

made a video about that and how I spend my income, 
if you’re curious about that sort of thing.

A Link Is in the description for you. Yeah. 
Let’s let’s talk a little bit about my background  

in graphic design as well as photography. 
Now, something you need to understand is that  

I came from, you know, a single parent home 
child of divorce, the oldest of four kids,  

and grew up in an immigrant family.

So you can imagine that in my life, school was 
something that was very important for a long time  

until it wasn’t. Ultimately, I found myself  

very depressed and disenchanted in my 
last, you know, two years of high school.

I had a lot going on at home. There 
was a very specific health situation  

with my sister and her having surgeries. And 
I was also getting bullied and harassed a lot.  

And I mean a lot while I was at school.

And I also had some teachers that frankly 
just were not always great. I think some  

of you might be able to relate to this, the 
kind of people who tell you like things, the  

worst things they possibly could tell you about 
yourself and you internalize that and believe it.

So it wasn’t going great for me. I also was 
starting to come to the realization that a  

dream that I had of becoming an animator and 
a cartoonist and working for Disney and Marvel  

came the realization that I felt 
I didn’t have the talent for that.

And then financially, I didn’t have 
the resources to truly pursue it  

at the highest level and make up for 
any natural talent that I was lacking.  

So I thought about it and I ultimately 
decided that I still wanted to do something  

as a career that was passionate about something, 
as a career that really relied heavily on my

creativity, because I wanted 
to be the person, my family  

that didn’t live for their nights and weekends and 
actually pursued their creativity as a full-time  

income. And so what I ultimately decided 
was my interest and fascination and love  

of graphic design and web design 
was what I was going to pursue.

Upon leaving high school. And so 
I went to college for advertising,  

graphic design, and I was in a small 
military town near Fort Bragg. OK.  

You could you can kind of feel now. 
Interesting. It was for me growing up.

I was a military brat who had moved all over the 
place. I was born in Brooklyn. And to be in this  

smaller town, which I grew up in a lot of 
small towns, I never fit in like at all.

I was creative nerd art, nerd, science nerd. 
It wasn’t going well for me. Okay. However,  

in college, I went to a 
community college. I had to work  

to be able to pay for that because I did 
not want to take out any student loans.

I didn’t want to go into debt. 
I saw too many horror stories.  

And so I just worked my tail off. It meant 
I was constantly exhausted and overworked.  

You wanna talk about burnout? 
You want to talk about hustle?

I lived through a version of that  

maybe 20 years ago that I don’t even think 
people can fully relate to and appreciate today,  

because it was a very different time and 
it meant a very different thing back then.

Maybe some of you do understand and can 
relate. But those of you who are older,  

I’m thirty seven. I think a lot of you understand 
where I’m coming from. So back then, back in my  

day, back in mine, everything was harder and 
everything was much more cost prohibitive.

Opportunities weren’t raining 
from the sky or from the Internet.  

Like, for real. It was very difficult to find 
ways to side hustle and make money. There wasn’t  

websites like fiber. There wasn’t a YouTube 
yet. That wouldn’t happen for many, many years.

We’re talking about 2002 here. YouTube wouldn’t 
be invented until 2005, wouldn’t be acquired until  

2006, and wouldn’t become popularized until 
about roughly two thousand and fourteen. So  

that wasn’t really on the table. However, 
by the fact that in high school itself,  

I had learned how to code 
before I was even a freshman.

I was learning the skills of web design and 
graphic design on the very primitive Internet  

that AOL was at the time, and so I actually had 
an understanding of these things and a teacher.  

There are good teachers. Don’t 
ever get me twisted on that.

There are some great teachers. I had a 
teacher that took an interest in me and  

introduced me at a very young age to things like 
Photoshop and Premiere Pro and things like that.  

And so I had a background in video 
editing before YouTube ever existed.

I had already been passionate about photography 
since I was a child. It was something that both  

of my parents did as a hobby. My uncles did 
it. My Uncle Charlie actually taught me how  

to develop film in the darkroom because he had a 
whole studio set up in his basement in Florida.

And so he taught me how to develop film 
and shoot film at a very young age. And  

in college, I was one of the last people 
to actually use the wet lab and develop,  

you know, traditional film before 
we went to a digital studio set up.

So this all goes back way back for me 
to even my early years as a teenager. So  

it’s something that has always been with me. I’ve 
been an artist, an illustrator, a creative writer.  

I’ve been doing storytelling and creativity 
and visual art and design my entire life.

So it wasn’t a stretch for me to pursue graphic 
design, what people used to call commercial arts  

and commercial illustration. And I took a lot 
of electives in illustration and photography.  

My biggest frustration was probably the fact  

that my graphic design teacher is 
software was new to them back then.

They all came from print shops. They’d 
worked in print shops 10, 15 years ago.  

We’re now academics. They weren’t necessarily 
practitioners. And that’s no offense to any  

of them. It’s just something that then was 
frustrating for me as someone who was coming  

up in the world where software exist and not 
having any real guidance or mentorship directly

, even though that’s what I was 
paying for by going to college,  

I wasn’t really getting what I was hoping for 
when I was getting was access to resources,  

though I was getting access to the Mac lab. 
I was getting access to other software that  

I hadn’t been using, like Adobe Illustrator 
and Adobe InDesign at the time, Macromedia

, Dreamweaver and Flash. And that actually 
allowed me to at least pursue a little  

bit of animation and even make a decent 
animated short at one point. And this is,  

again, in the early, early years. 
And unfortunately, this is something  

or maybe fortunately, because it was really not 
that good, lost to the lost of the sea of time

. OK, exist only in my memories. So. I really got 
started at an early age and I was freelancing and  

I was making stuff for churches and local 
businesses, this included print fliers,  

print ads, even websites, 
you know, a lot of people.

What we do is, in fact, actually even some of 
my photography and video stuff, I came up with  

some of that in the church. This is how a lot of 
us get our start. And so when you end up doing  

that kind of thing in your local community, you 
start to build a little bit of reputation for

it. I got to also help with my tech skills,  

set people’s offices and network and stuff like 
that as more people started building that out.  

And so I got a lot of experience and 
a lot of exposure doing those things.

And it wasn’t a lot of money. But, you 
know, from a broke kid in a small town,  

something’s better than nothing. You fast 
forward to my early to mid 20s. I end up  

leaving college directly to work for 
a local company doing web hosting that  

I was planning that applied to 
that company after I got my degree

. It didn’t even take that. What it took was 
my portfolio and my website already being built  

and an opportunity and someone being able 
to vouch for me. That’s it. And so I was  

able to actually start working as a Web and 
graphic designer at a Web hosting company.

And the owner also owned some other 
businesses. So I actually also got to do  

print work because he actually 
also owned a real estate agency.  

So I was doing some of that. You know, 
all for one paycheck at the time.

So what ended up happening was I ended up 
actually getting to use a lot of my skills  

as a photographer for the company. And 
I started shooting events locally and  

I started doing stuff even for 
the local clubs and restaurants.

I ended up making fliers to on the side,  

and I just was doing whatever I could 
with what I had at the time where I was.  

And I think that’s a very important thing to 
do. I think it’s a very important message.

Right. So when when I became a graphic 
designer, it was because I wanted to pursue  

a career in creativity. I wanted to do 
something with my skills and my talents  

that I was still very passionate about. Even if 
it wasn’t at the time, my number one passion.

And it quickly became my number one passion 
when I realized that if I had thought and  

gotten my dream and working as an illustrator 
or an animator at a company, I would have  

ultimately had to make what other people want, 
not express my own creative vision and ideas.

That’s also what ended up happening to 
me as a graphic designer. At one point,  

I ended up working for an ad agency 
in New York for a little over a year.  

Then I ended up going into marketing 
and becoming a marketing manager  

while also still doing the company’s website and 
the beginnings of their social media before then

going independent. And I became independent, I 
became a freelancer, started working for myself,  

became self-employed, and I used those skills and 
my abilities to utilize social media to be able  

to get my own clients, as well as my search 
engine optimization and all that good stuff.

Right. What ultimately happened is as a result 
of that and then becoming a content creator on  

YouTube, I was still using all of my skills 
in terms of knowing how to work a camera,  

the video editing skills 
that I played with as a hobby  

when I was a kid, and then also the 
videography skills that I picked

up helping the church film. So when 
you combine a lot of those things,  

the side hustles, the wedding photography, all 
of that. I learned how to basically build a  

successful client services business. 
And as my skills evolved, so did the  

scope of what I would do as an entrepreneur, 
a business person, and even a content creator.

YouTube let me used every single skill in my 
toolbox and sharpen and polish it and learn how to  

match it to the needs, wants 
and desires of an audience.  

And ultimately, I still ended up making money 
specifically as a graphic designer, not only by  

getting clients when I was a freelancer, 
but when I transitioned beyond that into

consulting and things like that. I ultimately 
ended up building a digital product off of  

my graphic design skills for YouTube content 
creators who don’t have any graphic design skills  

called the YouTube starter kit. 
And that is something that well  

over a thousand content creators 
have used and benefited from.

So being able to create value for a thousand 
people and have them buy something that you’ve  

made is a big deal and something that any 
creative person, any artist would love to  

have happen. And so what I will tell you is things 
don’t always go the way that you think they will.

I started with one idea of my life and my career  

had to pivot and pivot and pivot. And the 
interesting thing is I continued to learn  

and grow and experiment and take some risk. 
Some chances. Probably not as much as I could  

of or really should have to get a higher 
level of reward, but worked out really

well for me and put me in a situation that allowed 
me now I changed my life, but the lives of my  

family members, some of my friends, and ultimately 
the people who now work with me, my team. And it’s  

something that I really owe a lot of to the 
early people who invested in me within my own

family in terms of taking the time to teach 
me things that they were passionate about.  

I think that’s ultimately what 
brought me to YouTube, was  

I wanted to share things I’m passionate about 
and teach people because it was done for me.

I don’t think you have to be a pro or an 
expert to share the things that you love  

and your understanding of them. I think you have 
to be upfront that you’re not pro or an expert.  

But consider the fact that I was still underserved  

by people who are pros and experts 
in academia and not getting what

I needed from them. There is an underserved 
market of people who are not getting what  

they want out of the traditional market or 
academia or even at home from their family,  

and they’re seeking it out. And if 
we as creative people make things for  

people like us, if you’re a creative 
person, if you’re an introvert, if you’re

a nerd, if you’re whatever, if you 
make things for the people like you  

one, you’ll feel less lonely. And 
two, it’s ultimately satisfying  

to feel like you might have made a difference 
that you would have appreciated if it was you.

So that’s the story of how and 
why I became a graphic designer  

and what led me to becoming a content creator. And 
I think that it’s important once in a while for.  

The audience to hear your story, to hear  

where you came from, why it matters and why you 
do what you do and what you’re passionate about

. At some point, I might do a video 
about photography. A lot of you know  

that it’s like I’m a sucker for camera 
gear and I’m very passionate about it.  

Recently gotten very into wildlife photography. 
In fact, something I want to share with you.

You don’t have to feel any obligation. I 
made a new website CreateAwesomeThings.com,  

because, you know, my philosophy, create 
awesome things and share them with the  

world. So CreateAwesomeThings.com. It is 
a Shopify store that I made so that if I’m  

doing photography, you can buy 
some of my wildlife stuff as

prints and posters or as canvases. And then I 
do plan to do some stuff with my own personal  

digital art in the future. And if you want 
to buy some cool posters around any of that,  

any of the motivational stuff as posters.

Then it’s going to exist in this 
online store that I built. I also,  

of course, plan to do a how to build 
a Shopify store from scratch tutorial.  

That’s something you’re interested 
in. You definitely want to stay tuned.

But I just wanted you to know that this 
thing exist. You don’t have to support  

it. You don’t have to buy anything. 
But I do want you to know that exist,  

if it is something you’re interested in 
or if you just are curious about my work.

Question of the day. What is a passion 
that you’re pursuing? And is it a hobby  

or a career? I’m really interested. Let me know  

in the comment section. If you enjoyed this 
video and getting to know me a little bit better,  

maybe you should watch this video where I 
tell my story about how I went from being

broke to making six figures in detail. 
And it’s actionable advice for videos on  

creativity and staying inspired. Check 
out my playlist. Both of these will be  

linked in the description down below. As 
always, thank you so much for watching.

And don’t forget, go out there and create 
something awesome today. Take care.

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