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How to Use Canva

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How to Use Canva

Effective use of design is arguably one of the most important aspects of creating a memorable brand. There are plenty of paid services you can use to create branded content, but new business owners often don’t have the budget (or skill) to invest in more complex marketing tools. If you’re looking for a free option that is easy to use, with almost complete creative control, look no further. Because Canva is the option you are looking for.

How to Use Canva

Canva is a phenomenal free design service that allows you to design almost anything you could possibly need for your brand’s social media marketing. With predefined templates for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest posts, along with a million other templates you might encounter as a business owner, Canva is your go-to service for branded image design.

In this easy step by step post, I’ll show you how to use Canva.

  • Visit Canva.com, and create a free account.

How to Use Canva

  • There will be a 23 second tutorial demo for you to watch. This demo goes over the basics of how to use Canva. After the demo, there is an interactive tutorial in which you can play with the features.

How to Use Canva

  • In the first step, the tutorial wants you to change the color of the circle. Simply click the circle, select the color of the circle in the Options menu, and change the color to your liking. You can also enter custom HEX colors by clicking the Plus sign in the circle under the color Options menu.

How to Use Canva

 

How to Use Canva

  • Next, we’re going to put a hat on the chimpanzee! Go to the search bar in the upper left hand corner of the screen. Enter the word “hat,” and choose from the selection of free hat icons to place on our little friend.

How to Use Canva

 

How to Use Canva

  • Now we will update the background of this slide. Click on the Backgrounds option on the far left menu. Choose from the background colors listed, or upload your own JPG or PNG file.

How to Use Canva

How to Use Canva

  • For this slide, we’ll put a picture of our favorite food in the box in the middle of the slide. Enter the name of your favorite food in the search bar in the upper lefthand corner, and choose from options provided.

How to Use Canva

  • This slide wants us to choose a custom layout for the design. Click on the Layout option in the lefthand menu, and select a layout option. To change the pictures in the layout, simply select the image, and update it according to the images you would like to use.

How to Use Canva

 

How to Use Canva

Tutorial complete! Now it’s time to create your own beautiful designs!

It really is that simple. Intuitive, functional design that even the most inexperienced small business owner can handle. They really have thought of everything!

Now that you have the basics down, you’re ready to start designing like a pro. The best part about Canva is that the majority of the services and design options are completely free. If you do choose to use a premium design or icon, it’s only $1.00. That’s right, only $1.00. If you’re wondering how “nice” the free options are, and whether that $1.00 fee will add up over time…well, I’ve been using Canva for YEARS and have yet to pay a cent. Every need has been creatively met by the available free options. 

Canva most recently released a service called Canva for Work, in which you can use Canva to create all of the branded content that you will need for your organization, as well as collaborate with other designers in your organization to perfect your branded content. This is a paid service, in which you can choose to be billed monthly or yearly, with discounts for paying annually. Even as a paid service, Canva leaves its expensive competitors in the dust by being able to create compelling and effective designs for a fraction of the cost of many of the more complex tools. 

To get your started on your design journey, here are a few idea of what you can create with Canva:

  • Social Media Headers and Featured Images
  • Infographics
  • Blog Graphics
  • Blog Headers
  • Inspirational Graphics
  • Flyers
  • Engagement, Wedding, Graduation, Pregnancy, Birth Announcements
  • Invitations
  • Greeting Cards
  • Album Covers
  • E-Book Covers
  • Menus
  • Recipe Cards
  • Email Signatures
  • Advertisements
  • Gift Certificates
  • Business Cards
  • Resumes

The possibilities are virtually endless. Happy designing!

How to Use Canva

 

PS. Remember the “KISS” (Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule when designing graphics for your blog or brand. Design tools can often have us trigger happy before we even know it, littering our marketing pieces with special icons and a million fonts with all of the bells and whistles. Ditch the clutter and reign in your excitement – Be sure any graphic you create is strategically focused and clearly depicts your voice and brand.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Rob McDonald

    October 20, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Hi Kathy,

    This is the first time I have been to your blog. I like your design, did you do it yourself or hire a designer?

    I like this article you did on Canva. I have been using Canva for about 3 years now and I really like it as a free photo editor to use. They have come a long way and now will let you download a png file, which is a big step.

    I really love to use Canva on the fly, when I can’t use Photoshop. Its web based designed and now available for Ipad. Both really work well when I am on the go.

    Thanks again for this article and I hope you have a great week!

    • Katy Blevins

      February 4, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Hi Rob. All designing is done in house with Canva and my trusty work wifey, Somer!

  2. Rachel

    October 22, 2015 at 12:01 am

    Hi Katy,

    You are a marvel. I have been thinking design and putting it off for so long now, in avoidance.

    I am registered with Canva but have not spent anytime there, as I have the attitude – another program to learn.

    However in the next couple of days I am going to start designing. I am so glad I came across this post. You may have increased my work load but you certainly have me keeping my pennies. It was only last night that I was thinking over my budget wondering how on earth am I going to get around this expensive design issue as I have so much I want to do. Thank you so much – now I have absolutely no excuse.

    Rachel.

    • Katy Blevins

      February 4, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Hi Rachel, You’re awesome! I know exactly what you mean – the frustration of learning a new tool is a definite detractor from getting started. We love sitting in our comfort zone, don’t we?! I’m glad this post gave you the ammunition to jump up and get started on something new. Please let me know how it works out for you!

  3. Heather @ Viral Upcycle

    October 23, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Hi Kathy, I’m bookmarking your post. The directions seem clear and easy to follow so I will definitely be giving this a try. Thanks!

  4. Karla @SmallTownRambler

    October 23, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for all the tips! I love using Canva but still have so much more to learn!

  5. Danielle @ tiny-trots

    October 24, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Hi from VA Bloggers!

    I’ve heard of Canva before but haven’t used it. I currently use PicMonkey for my infographics, but I’ll check out Canva out. Thanks for the helpful tutorial!

    • Katy Blevins

      February 4, 2016 at 7:14 am

      Absolutely! Let me know how it works out for you!

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Organizational Tips

Top 10 Family Safety Tips from @GetReadyNowPack

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Family Safety Tips

Life as a busy working mom is more than hectic! The best way to combat the crazy and chaos is to do our best to prepare in advance whenever possible. Emergency preparedness is one area we often skimp in, leaving us stressed and scrambling when disaster strikes (sometimes even by our own doing!). Our friends at Get Ready Now have a few simple routines, habits and family safety tips that will keep us in control when life strikes back.

Family Safety Tips

Regular Car Check Ups

We’ll admit, guilty as charged! We often overlook the basic maintenance that keeps our car running and in tip top shape. Then, when our car decides to bite back with a little reminder about how much we’ve been neglecting it, we’re stuck in all the wrong places at all the wrong times. If you have trouble remembering to give your car some much needed love, be sure to download our Google calendar reminder list!

Keep Your Phone Fully Charged

Oops…guilty as charged again! We hate hunting down our phone chargers and have a really bad habit of tossing our phones under our pillows instead of plugging it in at night, which usually means it’s teetering near death right when we want to make an important call the next day. Invest the few dollars to keep phone chargers handy. One in the kitchen, one in the office, one in the bedroom, one in the car. Do your best to stay charged up so you have some mileage on your phone’s battery when you need it!

Stay Tuned to Weather and Disaster Warnings

We all have our phones within reach around the clock, so be sure to sign up for phone alerts or download your favorite weather app to stay in the know and be ready to move and take action when regional warnings are issued!

Have an Evacuation Plan in Place

This is a big one. Whether it’s talking about your family plan to exit the house in the event of a fire or learning your local evacuation routes and shelter locations, take time to sit down with your family and make sure everyone, young and old, understands exactly what you’ll do, where, when and how should you need to evacuate your home for any reason. This can feel like a scary conversation, especially for little ones, so we often avoid it and then reality is much, much scarier when emergency strikes and we are not prepared. Bite the bullet, map out your routes and practice it as a family!

family safety tips

Know How You’ll Reconnect With People Who Matter

If your phone died right now, would you know how to reach the most important people in your life? Yup, us too. Busted. Memorization not your thing? Make sure you store contact information safely in a few different places so you can reach out to friends and family in the event of an emergency from wherever you are. When it comes to evacuation and fire escapes, set up family meeting points where you will all head should you get physically separated. Plan for the worst case scenario!

Learn What to Do if You’re Caught Away From Home

This is more about having a plan A…through double ZZ. Emergencies breed fear and fear breeds panic, so our best defense is a good offense. Spend some time thinking through the different scenarios that might result in your being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be, unable to get somewhere you do what to be. What will you do? Where will you go? Confronting your fears, establishing plans and considering your options will empower you to act with clarity and purpose when life goes awry.

Have an Emergency Kit (or Ten) and Know How to Use Them

An emergency preparedness kit is only helpful if you know where it is, can easily get to it, know what’s in it and how to use it. Thankfully, our friends at Get Ready Now can help us there. They have vehicle packs, grab and go packs and have thought about everything you’ll need in an emergency from start to finish. Their bags are waterproof (win), clear (double win) and the supplies inside are good for 5 years (triple win!). Their website has complete lists and even videos detailing exactly what is in your pack and why it’s important. Use the code FREESHIP for free shipping! Woot! Woot!

Don’t Forget to Plan for Your Pets

Many of us overlook preparing in advance for what will happen with our pets in an emergency. We adore these beloved family members and can hit a wall of panic when disaster strikes and we realize we have not accounted for their needs along with our own. Make sure your emergency kits have extra pet food and include your pet care in evacuation planning and practice.

Stay in the Know and Sharpen Up on Your Emergency Skills

Are you CPR certified? Do you know how to safely perform the Heimlich Maneuver? Do you know how to start a fire outdoors? Consider signing up for a local safety or survival skills course. When disaster strikes, our knowledge base fuels our ability to stay calm and act effectively, which can save crucial time in an emergency or even save somebody’s life!

No Cheating! Check Those Smoke Detector Batteries Regularly

Admit it. We’ve all done it. It starts beeping, out of love to let us know that something’s up and it’s not in prime shape to save our lives. And we beat it to death with a stick, rip out the batteries, and cuddle back up in bed. And then leave it. And then leave it. And then leave it some more. NO MORE. Get those batteries in, set calendar reminders to test all smoke detectors regularly and keep your family safe, starting in your home, today.

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Use the code FREESHIP for Free Shipping on Your Order!

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Blogging Resources

How to Add Custom Facebook Tabs to your Business Page

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Custom Facebook tabs are a great way to spiff up your business page with touches all your own. In a visual flow format that’s mostly controlled by the social media platform itself, making the most of these tiny advantages and calls-to-action can be pivotal to expanding your reach. Take steps to prompt your audience to actively engage and direct visitors on your business page to your areas of greatest interest (i.e. subscribing or following you on social media). Custom Facebook tabs give you the opportunity to plant a tiny seed of interest by highlighting applications that otherwise tend to be ignored.

Implementing custom Facebook tabs starts with activating the appropriate applications on your business page. Connect your TwitterPinterest and Instagram feeds directly to your business page (Did you know you can set up your Instagram to post directly to your Facebook business page?). Explore your email subscriber tool for Facebook integration. If you’re using LeadPages via WordPress, activate the auto-Facebook tab (amazing!).

Search Facebook for App

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Your next step is to order your Facebook tabs so that your top 3 (the ones you plan to create custom Facebook tabs for) are at the top of the list. You can do so easily by navigating to your business page, clicking “More” on your top tab bar, and then selecting “Manage Tabs.” From there you can drag up or down to order your list and even delete tabs that serve no use for your page.

Click -More- and -Manage Tabs.- Then

Now we are ready to create your custom Facebook tabs. This feature is kind of hidden…which is why most people don’t customize their tabs! The phrase we hear most often when introducing this to our clients is “Wow! I never even knew that existed!” Click on your page Settings and then navigate to Apps, which should show a complete list of the programs you just integrated with your page. Click “Edit Settings” on one of your apps and there it is! You can accomplish two special customizations here. You can change the tab name (i.e. from LeadPages to Free Motivational Planner) and upload a custom tab image. Yay!

The appropriate size for custom Facebook tab images is 111 pixels wide by 74 pixels high.

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Customize your Tab Name AND your Tab

And there you go. You now have custom Facebook tabs that can drive traffic to subscriber portals, other social media profiles and more. Make sure your custom Facebook tabs are in line with your brand style and message. Maybe try a few different styles to see if any convert more than others. Take the opportunity to make the page your own and entice your audience to take the next step by clicking through.

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Blogging Resources

How to Make Custom Pinterest Board Covers and Upload Pins

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There are so many little ways you can personalize your online profiles and increase engagement with your market simply by improving your visual presentation. This week, we’re introducing a few ways to sharpen your Pinterest profile. The most visual of all the social media platforms out there, and second only to Google for searching for just about anything…Pinterest is an application that no small business owner can ignore. The case for Pinterest and how to maximize market engagement could be a whole blog in and of itself. We’ll have more tips and tricks to share later, but for now, let’s start small. Today, let’s talk about how to make custom Pinterest board covers and how to manually upload and edits pins (without hitting the “Pin It” button).

Custom Pinterest board covers create a strong visual consistency in your profile that can help visitors understand your brand, intent and authority in your area of the business (or blogging) world. To create them, you’ll need to understand how to manually upload and edit pins, so we’ll start there.

Log into your Pinterest account and open one of your boards. See that nice little “Add a Pin” button? Click it!

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Once you click that button, you’ll have two options. Add from Web or from your Device. When you click from Web, it’s going to remind you that you should just use a “pin it” button (and they’re right). For this lesson, let’s click from your Device. It will prompt you to upload a photo and you’ll browse your device (in this case, my computer hard drive) and choose the image to upload. It will automatically trigger the pin box and you’ll be able to choose your board and add a pin description. Voila!

What does your head shot say about you-

You’re probably going…something is missing! Where does the newly created pin take you? And you’re right. We’ve got one more step. Once the pin has been created and uploaded. Click to edit the pin and then add the URL that you want your audience to click through to in the Source box. Now…ta da!!! Voila!! You’re done!

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The process for adding custom Pinterest board covers is 90% what you just learned and 10% PicMonkey fun. Click “Custom” to get started.

The magic dimension size for custom Pinterest board cover is 217 pixels x 147 pixels. 

Once you have your board covers created, you’ll upload each of them via the process above. You don’t have to add a source URL to click through if you’re just going for Pinterest pretty, BUT…our recommendation is to take the opportunity to link through to your website wherever you can! So, if you have a landing page on your website that relates to the items on your board, link your custom board cover through to that page! You never know who might click! To assign the new custom boards as the cover images in your profile, click “Edit” and then “Change Cover” and you’ll be able to scroll through to the new cover image. Click “Save Changes” and you’re done!

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