Sup dawg?

Name's Matt, and I've been a member here for a bit, but this is my first post. I've found myself drawing ever closer to cartography as a hobby. It began a few years ago, when I decided to take my writing more seriously, and I started to draw maps for the fantasy worlds about which I wrote. Lately, though, I've been thinking that perhaps my love of world-building -- and my apparent inability to finish a novel other than my first -- may indicate that cartography, and the creation that goes with it, may be an end of itself.

To be honest, I'm a little bit intimidated. So far, most of my maps have been pretty basic, drawn only for my own edification as I wrote. I didn't care too much about aesthetics, standards, or geography. But I'm trying to get better with all of that, and that's a lot of stuff! I've watched some youtube tutorials on software and its methods. I'm reading a few books on physical geography. But I figure it's probably time I dive right in and get going.

Currently, I'm wrestling with a new world I'm creating for a novel. I'm trying to find a way to get a city-state type conglomerate/protectorate based in a very hot environment near enough to a frozen wasteland culture... it's not very easy! In my head the hot culture is desert, but they also never wear clothes (or at least barely any), and that wouldn't make much sense, since desert cultures typically want to keep the sun off them, you know? I don't know. I'm going to let it percolate. I've created a basic map for it, but I think it may work better if I literally flip it to a different hemisphere...

Anyway, here I am! If you have any tips on where to start, how to familiarize myself with the basics of map-making AS WELL AS physical geography, you let me know, okay?