You have probably seen all the wonderful images on Pinterest and wondered what creative genius was responsible for them.
Or maybe you've been trawling other affiliate marketing sites and noticed some really cool infographics and thought they must employ a graphic designer.
Well chances are they are created by your average Joe, people just like you and I.
How do they do it?
By using a free graphic design software called Canva. You too can create your own images free, easily and professionally using Canva.
Let me show you how.
Is it really free!
It absolutely is free.
They do have a paid option, so far I have had no need to upgrade to the paid option, but as I go through and show you what you can do using the free version, I will mention the paid options so you can see what more you get if you do have some spare cash.
It isn't expensive for what you get, but if you are starting out you may not have any extra to invest into your online business until it starts paying it's way.
You really don't need to pay to create awesome graphics with Canva. There are some restrictions on the free version but I have not found them to be overly onerous to get around.
The paid version is called Canva for Work and is geared towards businesses, more so than an individual. It is $12.95 per month (with a 23% discount if you take an annual subscription).
Brand Your Business - Logos
So far I have created three logos using Canva, one for each of my websites. Probably the one for this site is my most favourite, and I plan to go back and have a second try on the one for my niche site at some stage.
But let me show you how customisable they are. In the below graphic the first image is the stock standard template, and the rest I have customised from the original design.
I did not have to pay to use any of the images and for these I did not upload any images my own, I simply used what was free from Canva. There are hundreds of templates for you to start from and it is a simple matter of drag and drop to change the designs.
As with all the elements in Canva you don't need any design skills to create something beautiful. It is all laid out easily and seems quite intuitive to use. All the designs consist of a basic layout, with added elements eg. shapes, lines, coloured boxes, text boxes and images.
All you need do is add your own flair, or if like me you are a little short on creative flair, just use what they provide.
Tell Your Story - Infographics
Canva know the importance of using infographics within websites, and they have developed a huge array to choose from.
I have not customised any of the ones below, they are simply templates readily available for use as is, or to customise as you require.
Infographics have been shown to increase social sharing by 2.3 times. They are also a great way to get your information and content on to visual social media like Pinterest.
Creative, colourful infographics are not hard to create using Canva. Even if you have no idea about design elements because the templates are already set, all you need do is input your own information.
Once again these three above are just the tip of the iceberg, there are literally hundreds of free infographics, and all customisable including colour, icons, fonts, images etc.
Never be stuck for inspiration again, spend an hour trawling through Canva and you will be inspired to create informative images to please your audience.
Inspire Someone - Quotes
Once again rather than creating your own from scratch Canva provide a multitude of templates all with quotes already inserted. You can simply choose the quote that works for you and assuming you like the image download and use it as is.
The alternative if you already have a quote in mind you can customise the image completely including words and the background photos.
Canva do provide a good choice of photos, but keep in mind that a lot of people are also using them so they may not come across as being fresh and new.
As indicated above you can upload your own photos to really individualise your quotes.
I have found that using the squarer templates seems to work better. In the free version you can't modify the dimensions of the templates, that is a paid option. There are however plenty of sizes to choose from, so if you have a particular space to fill you can choose the correct shape to start with and not need to modify it.
Below are some quote images using the various Canva templates that I have created and used on this site. Some use images I have uploaded and some with the free photos offered through Canva.
Get Visual - Images
With the paid option you get unlimited storage for your own photos and images. I have been using Canva since mid 2017 now and quite heavily and I haven't received any error messages about using too much storage so I am not sure just how much you get.
The paid version you also get access to millions of photos (but you still need to pay, they start from $1 per image). On the free version you simply don't get access to them.
They have a limited number of free images available, with over 400,000 more available to you if you go paid.
As I said I use the free image downloads from Pixabay quite heavily and also Google Images.
If you are using Google Images you do need to choose the setting for Usage Rights and set that to Labeled for Reuse to be sure the images are royalty and copyright free.
I simply upload free images I find from various sources and use those, so while I do see plenty of Canva images I would like to use, so far I haven't been tempted to join up to Canva for Work to be able to access them. This may change as time goes on and if I want more specific images for my site.
The paid version also allows you to set custom templates and colour palettes to keep continuity within your brand, you can also upload your own fonts if you use a specific one that Canva does not have. Once again I don't and the free version offers a heap of really cool fonts anyway.
The templates you have available free also come with their own colour palettes which are rich and beautiful. You can change one or all colours though if you wish, each design is very cutomisable.
Increase Engagement - Social Media Templates
Canvas templates are custom sized for the various social media platforms. They have templates for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google + and more. These can be for posts or the headers for each platform.
Rather than messing around with trying to size your images, use one of the templates and it will not cut off any of your image or text when you up load them.
You can have access to a stylish header, and keep continuity across all social media platforms to really reinforce your brand.
The most shares on social media I have received was for a grouping of horse treat recipes all created in Canva. Three of the five I created all for a single blog are shown below.
They were done using one of the recipe Pinterest templates from Canva that I modified to suit my application.
Canva - Beautiful Graphic Design for Free
As a free tool Canva really allows anyone to create beautiful graphics to use on their websites and social media. It can really enhance your site and provide images to break up your blocks of content, other than straight photos.
My top tip is if you stick to their designs, don't start modifying fonts and sizes, you can customise the templates to suit yourself but still keep them looking professional. I know with some that I have messed around extensively with they just end up looking amateurish, and I always wish I'd stuck closer to the original.
Also, the more you change things the longer it will take. You can't rush great design but once you start changing every element on the original you will be there for hours. It's quite the trap and you really can waste a lot of time, moving things here and there and not actually achieving a better result.
Have a play with Canva for your next blog. Nothing to download to your computer and accessible everywhere, it really is a great free graphic design software available to everyone.
Let us know how you go and whether you enjoy Canva as much as I am.