Maybe you’re familiar with the quote, “Content is king.” It was initially written by Bill Gates in a 1996 essay.
Content might still be king, more than 20 years later. Visual content, however, is ready to stage a coup for those who are still relying solely on the written word.
It simply means you cannot ignore the desire of people to consume visual content when visiting your website, blog, or social media pages.
Because everyone needs to create visual content for their business at some point, Canva is a tool which everyone needs to know about.With Canva, you can design anything. You can publish almost anywhere. It uses 65,000+ templates, which you get to customize, with over 400 million different designs from which to choose.
This platform is available in over 100 languages, can be used on your desktop or laptop, and has a useful mobile app as well.
As long as you have a data connection of some type, you have access to Canva and its useful features.
Canva offers users access to a drag-and-drop user experience to help you create documents or designs for virtually any purpose. You can create visual content to work with e-mail marketing efforts or in-person presentations. It brings new life to your social media presence.
There is a full media library which is available to use in all your designs.
At the same time, you can store your images, organize them, and easily edit them whenever necessary. You can share your customized templates with your team for editing. Then you can publish your designs anywhere.
Here’s the best part: the essential features of Canva are free to use. You can create an account on Canva for free as well. That makes it possible to build visual content on a shoestring budget.
There are also premium features, including Canva for Work and Canva Print, which are worth considering if you have some room in your budget with which to work. Premium elements begin at $1 for a one-time use license, with a maximum cost of $100 for an extended license.
With Canva for Work, you can access exclusive features for $12.95 per month or $119.40 per year. Rates are subject to change, so be sure to visit the Canva pricing page to view current costs.
How to Setup Your New Canva Account
If you are new to Canva, then you’ll need to set up a free account before you can use its features. Go to the home page and you’ll encounter this screen.
Choose from one of the 5 different options, based on what your business requirements happen to be.
If you’re a sole proprietor or a partnership with a small startup, we would still recommend choosing the small business option. The personal experience is intended for individuals or families who are looking to add depth to a personal blog or social media page.
For the purpose of this guide, we’re going to follow the Small Business path for a new Canva account.
Then fill in your personal details to sign up with Canva. You will be asked for your name and your work email. Create a strong password that is unique from your other passwords. Then check the reCAPTCHA box to sign up.
You will see a link below the information box which says, “Sign up with a social account.” The only option to sign up besides email is with Google. If you click that link, you will be taken to the initial sign-up screen.
Canva will ask you to confirm your account. Look for this email in your inbox.
If you click on this email link, then you will be directed to your Canva home page. You do not need to confirm your email immediately to continue setting up your account. You’ll just need to confirm your email to access the free teams feature that is available or Canva Print.
For the purpose of this guide, we will move forward without the email confirmation click.
Once you click on the green sign-up button, you’ll be asked about the type of business you own. You’re given 24 initial options from which to choose.
There is also a link at the bottom of the page if none of the categories apply well to your business.
For some businesses, you may find that there are several categories which may apply.
Let’s use the example of a freelance marketing writer here as an example. There are multiple categories which apply.
- Marketing and Communications.
- Freelancer or Agency.
- Business Owner or Manager.
- Writer or Author.
We recommend using Canva for the primary purpose of your business when selecting an option here. That is because the purpose of this selection is to give you immediate access to the templates you will be using.
In this example, we would recommend choosing the Freelancer or Agency option. You are, of course, free to choose whichever category you feel best suits your needs.
Once you’ve chosen your business category, you will be asked to invite your team to collaborate on your designs. If you are setting up Canva to use on your own, then you can skip this step.
If you have more than 5 contacts to add to your invitation list, just click on the link which allows you to add another invitation.
You can also invite people from your Gmail contacts if you use that email platform.
Once you’ve sent your invitations or skipped this step, Canva will ask you what you want to create.
If you don’t see the option you want, you can click on the bottom box, which offers more design options. This will take you to your Canva account page, where you’ll be given a complete overview of the templates which are available.
At this stage, unless you’re ready to begin designing your visual content, it is a good idea to fill out the rest of your account profile.
How to Update Your Personal Profile on Canva
If you haven’t confirmed your email yet, now is the time to do so.
On your dashboard, you’ll see your account information placed in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Click on the arrow next to your name. Then click on account settings.
Here is where you confirm the details of your initial sign-up. You can change your primary email, password, preferred language, and your professional category.
You’re also given the option to sign out from all devices if you used a computer other than your own. If you find that Canva isn’t for you after trying it, you’ll be able to deactivate your account from here as well.
Once you’ve reviewed this information and made any changes you feel are necessary, you’ll want to click on the arrow beside your name in the upper left-hand corner once again. Then click on the “Your personal profile” link.
This will take you to your primary profile page where you’ll see an overview of your account. You’ll see this below your information header.
Look to the upper right-hand corner to see a green “Edit Info” button. Click on it.
This will give you the chance to adjust your profile information in several categories.
Once you’ve filled out the information blocks, the Save Changes box will turn to green. Click on it and you’ll be return to your primary account page.
Now you’re ready to begin navigating around your home page. All of your commands are found on the left-hand sidebar, underneath your profile icon.
All your designs is the link to the primary homepage for your account. This is where you are able to create something new or view your existing work.
Shared with you will take you to designs that others on Canva have shared with you. Unless you already have a team on Canva, this section will likely be empty.
With Create a team, you will be able to add your team members to Canva.
Find templates allows you to search for new design options for specific needs at any time. Your primary templates, based on the business type you selected, will always display in the header of your dashboard. This option allows you to explore the tens of thousands of additional templates which are available.
At the bottom of the screen, you will find two additional options: Learn to design and Get design inspirations. With the former link, you’ll be taken to the tutorials page for Canva.
With the latter, you’ll be given the chance to see recently published public designs that were made on Canva.
At this stage, you’re ready to begin designing with Canva.
How to Create a Design on Canva
When you’re ready to create your first design on Canva, you’ll need to determine what the purpose of your project happens to be. That is because Canva offers more than 60 different document types from which to choose.
Click on the green Create a design button below your profile information located in the upper right. That will take you to a page that will look similar to this one.
Your choices are based on the type of business you chose, so they may be different than what you see here.
Once you decide on the correct document type for your needs, just click on the thumbnail of the template to select it. This will take you to Canva’s editor.
For the purpose of this guide, we’ve chosen to create an Instagram post.
Notice that the editor automatically defaults to the layout option for you.
Within the editor, you will find all the options you need to begin your first design. At the top, you’ll see a status bar available to you. Here you will find your classic design commands: undo, redo, resize, save, and make a copy.
Some commands must be accessed through the File command on the status bar.
The object panel is the primary working area on Canva.
This is the blank slate you’ll see next to the layouts which are available. Here you have the options to search for images, choose your layout, work with elements, add text, change the background, or upload your own file.
You’ll find the object panel commands along the left-hand sidebar.
The first step is to choose a layout. Notice that some layouts are marked as being free. Unless you’re purchasing premium features on Canva, these are the only layouts from Canva you can choose for your design.
If you don’t like any of the options available to you, it is possible to scroll down on the layout choices to find more options. Continue scrolling until you find one that you like. Here’s one we found.
If you made changes to the initial template, they will not be saved if you replace it with one of the free template designs.
Once you’ve selected your template, you can begin to customize all the existing elements on it. We’ll start by editing the text.
As much as we might like International Cat Day, this social media graphic works better for the message we try to share about our CRM.
Changing the text is very easy. Just click on each text element you want to change. It will highlight the text box for you within the editor. Then replace the template text with your own.
If you need to make changes to the size or font of the text, then select the Text option from the sidebar. You’ll be given several options to alter the text, including adding headings and subheadings to the image.
Make sure to select the free text elements to keep your costs down for the visual content you are creating.
Once you’ve selected the text, you’ll be able to make changes to it from the editor toolbar as well. It appears above your selected image within the editor.
Don’t worry about needing to constantly save your work. Canva does this for you automatically.
Once you have the text set, you might want to change the background of your graphics. You’ll want to click on the Background option along the left sidebar. This will give you access to the document colors already incorporated, a default palette, and several free design options.
We decided to give the background a little less pink and some extra definition.
You can upload your own graphics to your image if you prefer.
You’ll find it at the top of your dashboard. You can also read how to format illustrations and icons for even more customization, if you prefer.
Working as a Team in Canva
Canva offers you access to two types of teams. You have free teams and there are Canva for Work teams.
All accounts have access to the free option. Each free team is permitted to have 350 members, including yourself.
You are permitted to assign member and administrator roles to your team members. The person who creates the team is automatically assigned the role of owner.
With Canva for Work, you unlock the full functionality of the team experience. You’re given an additional role, Template Designer, that can be assigned to team members as well.
When your team is setup, you can begin to take advantage of the key features that are available to you on Canva for Work.
Administrators are permitted to manage team members, create design templates, and edit the brand kit which is available to teams.
Template designers are permitted to edit your brand kit as well. They’re also permitted to create design templates for your brand.
Team members are permitted to create or share designs. This makes it easier to create consistency within the designs that your business creates. It also encourages collaboration within the team.
Once you’re satisfied with your graphic, you can begin the publishing process.
With Canva, You Can Publish Your Designs Anywhere
You’re ready to share the work you’ve just completed. That means you need to choose a publishing option for your visual content.
Canva gives you a lot of flexibility here.
- You can save your design to your computer for publication anywhere.
- You can directly publish your new visual content on social media.
- You can send your work via email.
- You can incorporate your work into Canva’s presentation mode.
Through Canva Print, you’re also given the option to have professional prints of your work ordered and sent to your business.
To save your visual content to your computer, then you’ll need to click on the Download box within the status bar. You’ll be given 4 format options from which to choose.
“JPEG’s ability to reduce file size up to 15% without losing quality makes it useful for web pages,” writes Melanie Pinola, “especially for colorful photos. PNG is great for logos and might be more attractive than JPEG and GIF, depending on if file size is an issue or not.”
GIF is not a publishing option with Canva at this stage.
Once you’ve selected the correct file type for your needs, it will automatically save your work in your Downloads or designated folder. Then you can upload the file you’ve saved to your website, to social media, or your blog – wherever you have the need for the visual content.
If you plan to publish your content in other ways, Canva offers the option to directly share your work. Click on the Share box within the status bar to start this publishing process.
That will bring you to this pop-up screen.
The People category allows you to publish your image via email. This is a helpful option if you are working on a computer other than your own. Just type the email address into the box. Separate email addresses with a comma to send the image to multiple recipients.
Then change the accessibility options for the email recipients with the dropdown box on the right. Your recipients can either edit the image or they can view it only.
If you click on the Social category, then you’ll be given the option to share your work on either Facebook or Twitter. You’ll need to connect your accounts to allow for direct posting.
You can then write a caption for your image. You will be required to offer permission for Canva to post on your behalf if you use this publishing option.
If you wish to share to your other social media profiles, such as Tumblr or Pinterest, you’ll need to download the image to your computer, then upload the image to your preferred platform.
Before continuing, ensure that the correct social media account is being linked to Canva. Only one Facebook or Twitter account can be connected to your Canva account at this time.
For those wanting to collaborate with their team members, then you can share a direct link to your image through the Link category. As with the email publishing option, you can choose to let recipients of the link either edit or simply view the work you’ve completed.
For those who need visual content for their website, the Embed category is a fantastic option. Your image receives automatic updates and requires no downloading. To take advantage of this feature, you must set your visual content to public.
The embedding code works on a variety of publishing platforms, including WordPress, Blogger, and Wix. Once the design is public, you’ll receive a specific code from Canva for your project.
Take that code and paste it into your website.
If you are making multiple pages for a presentation, then you’ll want to activate presentation mode by clicking on the presentation button, which is next to the zoom settings on your project.
You can also use Ctrl-Shift-Enter as a keyboard shortcut to enter the presentation mode. This shortcut works on Windows and Mac computers.
Then use the arrows on your keyboard to navigate through your presentation.
Once all of your page designs have been created, Canva offers you the option to share your design as an interactive website. A simple navigation bar appears at the top of your screen, allowing you to scroll between or change pages.
For those in North America, Europe, or Australia, Canva gives you the option to order prints from your design as well. Click on the Professional Print option within the status bar to begin this process.
You may not see an ordering option on your Canva dashboard. You can check to see if your region is available through the Canva print availability help page.
You’ll be asked to choose an invitation, a business card, or a post card for your design. Posters, letterhead, and flyers are also options.
Once you’ve selected your printing choice, you will be asked to update the format of your image. Your original image will still be saved for you.
Then you’ll be asked to begin the order. You’ll be given a variety of print and pricing options. You’ll be asked to choose a shipping option as well.
Once you’re satisfied with your options, click on the Begin Order button at the bottom left of your screen.
This will bring you to the resolution checker. If your images are not in a high enough resolution, this part of the ordering process will let you know if something needs to be fixed.
You will then be asked to verify the bleed area of your visual content. Your design must extend beyond the dotted line to prevent any gaps or white lines appearing on your final product. Adjust the dotted line as necessary to remove the white edges.
Then a PDF will be generated of your graphic. You will be asked to verify the information contained within the file as your proof for the printing process.
Once you have verified your visual content as being accurate, you’ll be asked to fill out shipping and billing details. You will be given an estimate of when your delivery date will be before being required to pay for your order.
If you’re unhappy with the delivery date or you’ve changed your mind about printing your visual content, just choose the back button on the ordering screen at any time.
Clicking on the Pay Now button will initiate the transaction. You will then be given an order number. A confirmation email is then sent to the address which is associated with your Canva account.
Final Thoughts About Using Canva
Canva is available all day, every day, anywhere you have access to the internet or a data connection. There may be times when the platform is down, though Canva is good about sharing the current status on any fix that is happening.
There is a troubleshooting page for users who are experiencing issues when the status says that everything is working as it should.
The nicest aspect of Canva might be its overall accessibility. Even if you’re using an iPhone, an iPad, or an Android device, the user experience is almost the same as it is for desktop users.
You’re given additional sharing options when you create your visual content on a mobile device as well. You can share your designs on Instagram, Snapchat, as a blog graphic, or even as YouTube art.
The iPhone and iPad apps are a little more user-friendly than the Android app from a sharing perspective. All apps make it easier to publish to platforms which are designed to be mobile-friendly.
“If you need to make beautiful posters, invitations, cards, website graphics, or even multiple-page presentations, Canva is a design service you’re going to want to use,” noted Yaara Lancet and Erez Zukerman for PC World.
We fully agree with this sentiment. It is simple to use, encourages creativity, and makes the publishing process super simple for everyone.
No matter how big or small your business happens to be, you will be able to generate more attention over time with Canva by your side. Use this guide to try it out for yourself and take advantage of the free plan offered today.