This post is a part of the series 'Thrive's Top Tips' - these blog posts are focussed on a different program or system that can help you to #worksmarternotharder, with some of my favourite ways to use these programs that might be new or helpful to you!
Today, we are talking about a program I love - Canva.
Have you heard of it? Canva is one of a range of free web-based programs that allow you to have control over your graphics and content design work, without having to use a specialist graphic designer. I have been using Canva for a long time now, and I am a huge fan.
It has a free plan, with loads of functionality included, as well as a Pro membership, which unlocks even more functionality and templates to make your ideas come to life.
So what can it do?
Canva is a web-based program that has a huge range of free, and for-purchase images, templates, fonts and layouts for just about anything you may want to design for your business.
For me, it's an excellent resource to get the correct sizing for my social media posts - I can upload all of my own images, and write my content in, but can make sure that my posts are consistent (layout, fonts, colours) so that I am 'on-brand' when I post them.
Canva versus Outsourced Designer
I know, I bang on all the time about outsourcing what you aren't good at, or don't have time for. And this is no different - honestly.
If you need a high-resolution template or graphic, and you don't have the skills, time (or both) to do it yourself, you should definitely get out there and find yourself a trusted graphic designer to help you out.
You should also use a designer to help you to design or update any logos you have - to ensure that you own the finished product in its entirety.
Who owns the content you create in Canva?
Not sure what I mean by that? Canva, particularly in its free plans, has a number of rules regarding ownership of the content you create on their platform. It's really important that you know who owns the content you create in any program you use (that's a general #toptip really!).
Like lots of terms and conditions, most of us simply click 'Agree' and move on without another thought (sound familiar?). I mean, those columns of jargon and legal talk are impossible to understand, right?
Before you consider using Canva, I want you to pop over to read this excellent blog post from Emma at The Remote Expert all about ownership of designs made in Canva. It's an excellent (and understandable!) rundown of all the things you need to know about the ownership of your content in Canva. Check out the post here (maybe head here after you have read this post in full 😉).
How does Canva help my business?
I use Canva for two key elements in my business:
Social media posts
Banners and Headers
Let's look at these a little more, shall we?
Get your brand kit right!
Before you create anything, I would absolutely recommend setting up your Brand Kit in Canva. This means you have your logos, fonts and colours all pre-set as your preferred options.
This is an excellent tool to help you avoid having to manually enter these each time you want them loaded into templates, or to change the colours of elements you may add to your designs.
Canva has a great article about setting up your brand kit - you can read it here.
Upload your content
Once you have read Emma's article, you will understand why I do this. But regardless of ownership, I love to use my own images for my designs.
For me, these are my professional branding photos, as well as some of my personal photos (for when I'm sharing a candid moment from Thrive HQ!), movies, or content I have had designed for me.
I have a folder structure that helps me stay across this stuff, and Canva has capacity for you to do this in whatever way works for you - personally, I have folders for logos, branding photos, completed content by type, and design elements that I have had done for me (so I can easily find them at any time).
I love designing my social media posts on Canva.
For the record, I have a folder that has all the versions of my logo (that the very talented Caryn from Firefly Graphics and Virtual Assistance prepared for me), so I can use the completed image in the correct format in the way that best fits the content I'm creating.
I have a few basic 'rules' for my social media content.
I use the 'social media posts' blank template that Canva has on its system - this is the perfect size to use across Facebook, Instagram and Linked In without issues.
All of my posts have my logo in one of two positions - either top right-hand side, or bottom left-hand side. No particular reason for choosing those, but I never stray from these - it means my logo is always in these positions, so I have brand consistency.
I always use a white background as my starting point - it keeps my content crisp and clear (especially given my branding colours), and means there is little issue with things looking crowded or unreadable.
Wherever possible, I try to keep my actual content (the image or text I want to use) within the frame that Canva provides - this means that no matter what happens when uploading (or being viewed across different devices), it will look 'right'!
Banners and Headers
Using Canva to create my social pages banners, and the headers for blog posts and elements of my website and content has been really helpful in ensuring I have brand consistency, as well as ensuring I can get my content in the right size to fit each program correctly!
While I'm not a designer by any stretch (and I use one for elements that are beyond my skills), Canva lets me take the elements I do have and play with layout and text to find different ways to use the pieces I have paid for.
I like to think of it like a wardrobe - I've purchased the pieces and the wardrobe (Canva) houses all of them together, so I can create different looks to test out before sharing them with the outside world.
Again, I have a couple of simple rules:
Use the appropriate blank template in Canva - they have different ones for Facebook and Linked In banners (due to the sizing differences), as well as blog post headers and Linked In article images
Keep the text minimal, in front of a white background, and away from the focal image
Use the frame provided in the template for the text - images can spread further, but the text needs to be within that frame (or risk getting it cut off!)
What else can I do?
To be honest, the options are only limited by your imagination and skillset. For me, I play around with the other templates to see what I can do as I need something, or if I think it would be useful to have.
I've created documents for clients, using their own images and text, on Canva's blank report template - this can be a great alternative to using Word, particularly if you are creating something graphic or design heavy.
The business card designer is also great - I've created business cards in Canva, as well as getting them printed through their ordering service. They were a little more expensive than some of your usual suspects, but the quality is fantastic, and they arrived really quickly.
Want to try for yourself?
Canva is a great tool, and has an excellent range of functionality and inclusions even at the free plan level.
If you are interested in seeing what Canva Pro could offer you in addition to the free plan, you can trial the Pro version by clicking on the image below.
Disclosure: I am a Canva Pro affiliate - should you click on the link in the image above, and subsequently sign up for a Canva Pro membership, I will receive a commission from Canva. You can read Thrive's Affiliate Disclosure for more details.