Create Your Own Beautiful Graphics with Canva

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Need to create beautiful and unique graphics for social media or your blog? Check out Canva!

Yesterday, I joined social media dashboard company, Buffer on their relatively new, and very inspiring #BufferChat on Twitter.

This is the 3rd week they've held it and every week I come away with great productivity tools, and new people to follow on Twitter! Today they had guest, Peg Fitzpatrick, Head of Social Strategy at Canva, a relatively free drag and drop design platform.

I signed up for Canva when it was in beta around Christmas of 2013. However, because I'm such a photoshop junkie, I played around with it for a bit, and then forgot about it. I was reminded of it recently through a very thoughtful post by my friend Abby Glassenberg. And then, today. So clearly the Universe is nudging me!

I thought, this would be a good time to play around with it, and share it with those of you who may not have heard of it yet. So that you can add it to your bag of tools to help you design compelling content.

I'm always looking for great tools to share with my clients and readers, and Canva is a perfect fit for many reasons. I also love to play around with graphics any chance I get. (As you can see, I spent quite a bit of time fooling around with it!) All of the images here are made with Canva (except the GIF which is a pre-made template they offer), and free stock images from Unsplash, Death to Stock Photos, and Refe.

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Canva is Basically Free

Many of my clients can't afford Photoshop. Not to mention have the time or energy for the steep learning curve it holds. Due to these two hurdles, it's so great to see companies popping up like Canva (a few others that spring to mind are Pixlr, and Pic Monkey) that offer design resources at free or little cost, and allow non-designers a chance to create easily.

Nowadays, images are the eye candy of the social media world. With all of the noise online it's helpful to have an image to tease those prospective clicks. Images tell a visual story way quicker than words can. Plus, let's be honest, we've been trained to search out the images first. I'm always coaching my clients to use the best photos possible to convey their message online.

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Anyone can sign up for Canva, it's free to join. You sign up, make graphics, download your creations, and you are good to go. They do offer premium illustrations, stock photographs, and other elements that you can purchase under many different licensing options. Their most popular is the One-Time Use License, that costs $1, and you're allowed, you guessed it, one use over 24 hours.

The great thing about Canva is that their options are so dynamic, you can really get away with only using the free elements. (Although it is always nice to support a platform you use a lot!)

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Getting Started in Canva

With any new platform there is always a bit of a learning curve, so Canva gives you a 23 second walk through that is succinct and informative. Walking you through the basics of their drag and drop system. Once you watch that process, you're then dropped off on the front page which offers a variety of design templates to get you inspired:

Canva offers many different templates

As I mentioned above, I haven't played around with Canva since winter of 2013, when I made a cute little holiday card. But I really dove into it tonight and had fun. Not much has changed, it still has the same sharp layout, while the prompt for design templates are new. These were very helpful, and gave me an opportunity to really jump in and get inspired. There also seem to be way more illustrations than before, which is super fun.

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Ease of Use

Once you play around with the tools it becomes very easy, very fun, and very clear how to create your own graphics. The platform can be a bit buggy, but overall it's a pretty powerful tool, especially since it's free.

Pretty much every aspect of each element can be changed just by clicking on it and adjusting the parameters. As demonstrated in the GIF below the parameters are easily tweaked to your liking from many different fonts, to size to color, to shapes, images, and on and on. You just have to get your hands dirty and fool around a bit. I promise you'll have fun.

Canva Gif

Canva also offers a handful of options to share and save your work via download, link, or sharing it on Twitter and Facebook. Once you login you'll be creating and sharing your graphics in no time!

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Unbelievable Amount of Options

As I mentioned above there are millions of options to play with. What impresses me most about Canva is the diverse amount of design elements at your fingertips for free! All for you to create with. It can actually be a bit overwhelming, but there are plenty of places to look to get inspired by: Editor's Picks, Design Tutorials, their Blog and just the left sidebar alone where you choose pre-made elements, all will give you enough fodder for design inspiration.

It's up to you how original you want to be. You have the option to upload your own images, use their elements, or mix and match. Last week I shared a few of my favorite stock image sites, pair these with the options Canva offers and you've got endless opportunities.

So get started!

I'd love to hear what you think about Canva, and see what you get up to creating. Please share your and your images with me on Twitter, or via email.