Let me start off by being perfectly honest with you… I am OBSESSED with Canva. This easy-to-use online resource makes me feel like I’m the A+ graphic designer in my family (shhh, don’t tell Brian). But how could someone who’s never taken a graphic design class and doesn’t know a blur tool from a selection box feel like a total pro? Well, I’ll show you.
Canva comes in a few different versions, a free one, Canva Pro, Canva Enterprise, and Canva for Nonprofits. Enterprise is just like Pro but for larger businesses who need more storage. Canva for Nonprofits is exactly Canva Pro, except your organization can have it for free if you're a registered nonprofit. My team uses Canva Pro because it allows us all to work on projects together with shared folders. In other words, I can create a new Instagram graphic and someone on my team can go in and make changes to it without having to send any files back and forth. It’s made our creative collaboration so much more efficient, and we’ve had a lot of fun with it too!
Another thing I really love about Pro is the Brand Kit. This lets us store brand guidelines for clients, such as color hex codes and fonts, making everything you need easier to access. Again, it’s all about efficiency.
Now, with all that said, I want to emphasize that you don’t actually NEED Canva Pro in order to design incredible graphics for your business or organization. The real magic of Canva is its huge inventory of templates to choose from, all of which are already sized perfectly for the type of graphic you need. That includes Facebook posts, Instagram Stories, flyers, e-mail headers, business cards, menus, and even promotional t-shirts! Seriously, it has just about anything you can think of for your business, and all of those pre-sized templates come with the free version.
Whenever I use Canva, I always start with one of these templates. If you’re worried about finding them, don’t be. There are several ways to access these templates, whether you’re on the Canva homepage or not. I tend to just click the bright teal button that says “Create a design” in the upper left.
From there, a dropdown menu will appear allowing you to select the kind of graphic you’ll be making. You can scroll through the provided options or you can search from here.
Once I click, I’ll be taken to my design—a perfectly sized blank slate. In the upper righthand corner, there will be a place for you to title your design. Replace the placeholder text (“Facebook Post – Untitled Design”) with a title that you’ll recognize.
Over on the left side is where all of the Canva magic really happens. When you first begin a new design, you’ll always start on the Templates tab.
This tab not only offers you categorized templates, but it also allows you to search for something specific, like Christmas! Note that any recent searches you may have made will be saved in your history, that way you can go back and find your favorite templates faster.
Notice that once you search, a curated selection of templates appears. All you have to do is scroll through and find your favorite one. Plus, if you select one only to decide you don’t like it, just pick another! You’re never locked in or limited.
Once you’ve decided on a template, the fun really begins. Because now you can make it your own! The first thing I tend to do is put in my brand colors to see how they look. To do that, just click the colored box at the top left of the design area to open a new panel. If you don’t have Canva Pro and your brand colors aren’t already stored in the Brand Kit, then you can search your hex code here.
You don’t always have to go with your brand colors for every design. That’s completely up to you. As long as the look and feel stays consistent, give it a try! Add photos, change out graphics under the Elements tab, add text, delete text. Use Canva to explore all that is possible with your designs. Who knows, you might just be the next Picasso.
Ultimately, you’ll find what works for you, and your design will go from this…
in no time!
Now, if you’re thinking, “wait Lisa, how did you even get there? Can you walk me through it?” Yes, I can. There is SO MUCH you can do on Canva that this blog article cannot fully cover. This will hopefully get you started, but if you want to learn more about how to use this incredible online resource, watch for my FREE webinar on Canva basics coming in early 2020. I’ll walk you through every step of creating your own design LIVE. You will be able to ask questions in real time, take a ton of notes, and I’ll even send you a full recording once we’re done. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you will be the first to know once we release the date and time.
In the meantime, dive in and experiment a little with my absolute FAVORITE design resource out there—Canva!
Thank you for your genuine interest! My video course series will motivate, educate, and maybe even entertain you a little bit. I'll let you know when they are ready!