I hear it all the time… I can’t do what you do because I can’t make those pretty graphics. Hold it right there, moxie mama. We have a rule in our house and that is: Don’t say you CAN’T. Don’t want to? Acceptable. Don’t care to? Same thing. Don’t know how? Okay. You CAN learn. If you want to. And thankfully for you, there are several tools out there to help you make graphics even without that fancy graphic design degree or expensive software. (Side-note: I have a graphic design degree, and it’s not that fancy but it was quite expensive.)
One of the aforementioned tools is Canva. For all of my freelance clients and professional design projects, I use programs like Photoshop or Illustrator, depending on the project. For most things related to this blog, I use Canva.
I realized early on into leading a team of other work-at-home-moxie-mamas, that duplication is imperative. That is, I wouldn’t ask anyone on my team to do something that I have not gone before them and done myself.
Canva makes things very duplicatable, is very user-friendly, and comes with countless templates for those who are less design-inclined. Plus, you can share graphics with your team, your friends, your mama…whoever. That’s a great feature, especially if you find yourself with an assistant, a team, or a volunteer to help you (if you find one of those let me know).
What’s even better? It’s FREE. Yes, us moxie mamas love a good, handy, free tool. There are stock images within Canva that are paid additions to your graphics, but I have only ever once used any of them at the super affordable price of…wait for it… one dollar.
There is a PRO Version of Canva.
And, I highly recommend it. It has more features, allows you to set up branding in your account for easier designing, and includes access to the aforementioned paid additions.
Using the free version of Canva
So first things first, head on over to Canva.com and create a free account.
You’ll see a screen that looks like this, just use the quick sign-up form to create your account.
Some great points about Canva:
- You can easily create a design based on a preset for a specific placement: YouTube Channel Art, Social Media Post, Pinterest Graphic, Resume, Flyer, and many other options.
- There are countless pre-made templates available for each graphic size, so you have a place to start if you aren’t naturally design-inclined.
- It’s very user-friendly. In my opinion, it has just enough options to create nice graphics while not overwhelming those who are not familiar with creating graphics.
- You can add team members to your account to share graphics with, and/or share specific graphics with other Canva users to either view or edit, which can be really handy if you have an assistant or team you are working with.
- It is also highly customizable in that you can create a graphic from scratch, with no template and upload your own art, using your own graphics dimensions, so those who are more experienced are not so limited.
- There is a library of free stock photos, and the option to upload your own photos. Side-note: I recommend using Unsplash.com if you are looking for free stock photos. I don’t really recommend using free stock photos on your blog or pins for your blog, but if you need to, it’s not the end of the world.
Now, you have an account and you know the perks. Next, watch this video tutorial I made to walk you through creating graphics with Canva. Then, read on below for some outlined tips & tricks.
Tips & Tricks for using Canva
- Once you’ve created your free account, login at canva.com and click Create a Design, you’ll be directed to a page to either pick a graphic template size, or a canvas with Custom Dimensions. If you want to create a Facebook cover, you’ll pick Facebook cover, for example.
- Next, you’ll be taken to a page with a blank white canvas in the dimensions you selected. On the left you’ll be presented with a selection of Canva Layouts, basically pre-made design templates. If you click one, it will fully populate onto your Canvas. Or, you can choose to add your own elements to create a graphic from scratch.
- If you select a template, you’ll simply click on the different elements and edit them as you wish. If you create your own graphic, you can add various elements such as background images, text, shapes, lines, frames, and you have the choice to use grids to layout the space on your graphic. All of these options are on the left-hand side of your screen and are explained in more detail in the video tutorial above.
- Once you insert or select an element, click on it to bring up the top toolbar where you will have more formatting options including Font family, Font Size, Color, font style, alignment and spacing, as well as transparency and grouping or ungrouping objects. There is also a trash can icon on the upper right that you can use to delete elements, or simply select an element and click the Delete button on your keyboard.
- You can duplicate your design using the double-page icon to the right of the canvas to make small edits in a series of graphics.
- Once you have finalized your design, you can Download it by using the Download button on the top right menu. When you select Download, you will have the option of the following file types: JPG, PNG, PDF-Standard, and PDF-Print. I recommend PNG for use on the Web, and PDF-Print if you plant to print a document like a Flyer or Business Card. You can also choose to download just one in a series. For example, just page 2 if you duplicated and only need the second graphic right now. Or you can download “All Pages” and you will get a zipped folder containing all of your graphics.
NOTE: Before you download I recommend naming your graphic something relative to what it is. This is so you can easily search and find it in your design library later, and so it is named correctly when you download it. Change the name by clicking the white text to the left of the Share button.
Using the Share button you can also get a link to share your graphic with another Canva user, or email a direct link to share editing permissions with another user.
- Once you save your graphic and close out the window, you’ll be taken back to the original Canva tab where you can Click “All your designs” to see your library of designs and open or create others.
Now you know the basics, go play in Canva! I would love your feedback and would be happy to answer any questions you have. Always feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and Koa. I am a graphic designer, website developer and aspiring author. In this space, I share about everything from parenting, working from home, food we cook, and lots of things for kids! Learn more about me here.