You know you need professional graphics for your brand—but you’re limited on funds.
Maybe you’ve tried to create some graphics yourself with apps on your phone, Inkscape, or other graphic design software, but the results were not professional, or remotely anything like you had hoped for.
You don’t have an education in graphic design or the time to pursue one now. How can you create professional graphics without the enormous learning curve you’d need to tap into your inner artist or taking a big bite out of your budget to hire a designer?
That’s where Canva comes in.
What’s the Best Way to Use Canva?
One reason Canva is particularly useful for people who lack graphic design skills is that they provide more than 65,000 professionally designed templates for you to choose from.
As a beginner, the best way to use Canva is to select a template that is as close as possible to what you envision your end result should look like.
You can edit the template by changing out the images and text, and changing the colors to your brand colors.
Then upload your logo as a transparent image. You can turn it into a watermark and add it to your images, or leave it as is and include it in your graphics.
No matter what kind of graphic you need to create, Canva has a template for it. Let’s take a look at how to use Canva in more detail so you can easily create professional graphics for your brand.
Get Started with Canva
Create Your Account
Canva offers a free account that’s pretty robust. To get started with Canva, navigate to their site, and sign up for their free account.
Once you’ve created your free account, Canva will ask you what you’re going to be using their software for (Teacher, Student, Personal, Small Business, Large Company, Non-profit, or Charity.)
You’ll want to select whichever describes your business the best. For demonstration purposes, I’m going to choose the small business option.
Try Canva Pro
Next, they will offer you the option to test out Canva Pro for free for 30 days.
You can choose this option if you want to test out the pro version, but I recommend you look at what’s included in the free version first. If you can do everything you need in the free version, then there’s no need to upgrade.
The next screen you’ll see enables you to invite team members to collaborate on designs. Let’s skip this part for now. You can come back later and add your team members when you're ready to start using it for your business.
Now, you’re ready to choose a template and test drive Canva’s features.
Select Your First Template
Choose whichever template you want to experiment with. For the sake of this article, I’m selecting the Facebook Post template.
You can find the template I selected under the “Birthday Facebook Post” category.
For this example, we’re going to create a graphic for a Facebook post advertising a free webinar.
Set Your Brand Colors
So, now that we have our template selected and loaded in the editor, and we can start making changes.
The Facebook post is going to be about a free webinar on building a sales funnel. Our company’s brand colors are blue and orange, so we can go ahead and add our colors to Canva first.
To do this, you’re going to need the hexadecimal color values for your company’s brand colors.
A simple way to get these color values is to install the ColorPick Eyedropper extension for Chrome, navigate to your company’s website, and use the tool to click on each of your brand’s colors.
Then paste the color value it gives you into Canva.
Customize Your Graphics
Since this is going to be a webinar on building a sales funnel, let’s swap out the background image for something more suitable.
Click on the “Photos” option from the menu on the left side of the screen and search for “sales funnel” to find a better photo.
You’ll notice that some of the images are labeled as free while others are labeled as Pro. You get access to a lot more pictures when you upgrade from the free account. However, you’re not limited to the images Canva offers.
You can find photos from any free commercial stock photo source you want and upload them into Canva for use.
There aren’t any free options that work well for this demonstration, so I’m going to pick a Pro image to show you how to change your background.
As you can see, my background image has changed, but I do not like how it cropped the picture, so I’m going to adjust it by clicking on the image and selecting “Crop.”
Customize Your Text
Ok, we have added our brand colors and our background image looks spot on, so now we can change our text to let people know about our free webinar.
Since we added more words than was initially in the template, the text takes up more space on the screen. To fix that, I will reduce the size of the blue text from 64 to 48, and the size of the orange text from 18 to 16.
Keep in mind when you’re adjusting font sizes that your graphic needs to be readable when in use. As you’re working in Canva, it might look smaller or larger than it will be when it’s uploaded or printed.
Canva lets you adjust the size of your graphic on the screen so you can get a better idea of what it looks like at 100%.
As far as fonts go, you could use the fonts the template already has in it, but I recommend you use your same fonts across all your channels (social media, website, print advertising) so you remain consistent with your brand.
To change the font, click on the text that you want to change and browse your font options. The free version limits the number of fonts you can use.
When you upgrade to Canva Pro, you’ll unlock more fonts and the ability to upload a custom font too.
Our brand’s fonts are Poppins and Montserrat. I recommend sticking to 2 fonts — one for headings and attention-grabbing copy, and another for the body copy.
Make sure whatever fonts you decide to use are easily seen and legible. You don’t want to make readers have to squint and struggle to find out what you’re trying to say.
Since the fonts I used are larger than the ones Canva had chosen, I’ll need to reduce the size of the blue text again to make it look more like the original. Here’s what the template initially looked like, and what it looks like now so you can see the before and after.
Pricing for Canva
Canva offers three different pricing options for you to choose from, starting with the free version that we demoed in this article.
Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise are the two paid options and depending on if you pay monthly or annually, the price for the Pro version will change.
Paying annually for Canva Pro unlocks a discount, which saves you $3/month ($36/year).
If you plan on using Canva to make all your graphics, I highly recommend going with the Pro version. Unlocking all the extra fonts and the stock photos make it worth it, in my opinion.
Canva isn’t currently running any special COVID-19 promotions, but they do have some templates you can use.You can see the COIVD-19 awareness templates they have available here: Coronavirus Print & Social Media Resources to Help #StopTheSpread.
Pros and Cons of Canva
No matter what version of Canva you decide to use, they each have their pros and cons. And as incredible as Canva is, there are some things I wish they would add or fix.
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