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Canva.com, Explained

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by Terry Doherty —

“I love that I can create original images/slides with a tool like canva.com, then upload that image as a blog post.” 

Buried within my October 2014 blog post about Tumblr (and hidden in that quote) is a diamond. It’s called Canva.com. Have you unearthed this gem?

Canva is an amazing tool that can take your visual marketing to the next level. For free. Yes, free is pretty cool, but what is really amazing is that you don’t have to be a graphic designer to make awesome images.

  • Verbs: none discovered
  • Users: anyone who wants to create images
  • Launched: August 2013
  • Definition: A browser-based tool for creating original images and graphics


With Canva, you are in charge of design, and you don’t have to have an MFA to make gorgeous images. What I particularly love about Canva.com is that you can create something completely from scratch or re-style an image from their library to fit your brand or message.

Canva does all the preliminary work for you

When you log in, you pick the type of image you want to create. The templates are already optimized the size for whatever platform you want. As you can see in this screenshot of the canva.com dashboard,the options go beyond social media.

There are 22 pre-sized templates to choose from

— Create a branded header for your email newsletter.
— Create a poster for your next school visit.
— Make an event-specific business card.

You can even create a mockup of your next Kindle book or an album cover for a podcast. The sky, literally is the limit!


You can make tailored visuals for any occasion

Because of its ease of use, Canva.com is perfect for small projects, like sharing a quote from one of your books; or big projects like creating marketing collateral for a tradeshow. After you pick your design template, you’ll go to the drawing board (that’s what I call it). This is where you will have the ability to select text styles and fonts, backgrounds, layouts, color schemes, and upload your own images, and more.

The image I created here, took five minutes. I selected the layout from the left column (circled in red), uploaded some pictures, changed the title and tagline. When I’m happy with the finished product, I can share right from the Canva dashboard or I can download it to for future use.


As you can see, from the layout drawing board, there are plenty of pre-styled images to browse. The one I chose was free, because I uploaded my own images.

Canva.com has a gallery of stock images you can browse, too. Each image costs $1.00, or you can buy bulk [11 images for $10.00]. Either way, it is extremely cost effective.

You can become a graphics design pro

When you sign up for canva.com, you’ll get a series of tutorials via email. They are very easy to understand and give you great opportunities to practice different elements of design. Canva also has a Design School where you can get ideas and tips on how to use canva.com for marketing and personalizing your brand.


Speaking from personal experience, using Canva can become addictive. I tend to see opportunities for badges or shareable images everywhere.

When using Canva’s premium images, you are buying a one-time use license. When you buy the image for $1.00 you have 24 hours from the time of purchase to make any changes to the image. I would recommend keeping it in “draft” form (i.e., saving but not downloading) until the image is exactly the way you want it.

Canva.com is an exciting tool and it can help you stretch yourself artistically. Having that gallery of samples is just what many of us need when we want to try to visualize a concept. There is a real temptation, though, to stretch “too far” or try to “force” an idea to fit. The key is to try something new without compromising your brand identity.

The Goals

Canva.com is a tool built for personal use and marketing, too. It can give you a starting point or focal point in working with illustrators, graphic artists, et al.

The variety of templates showcases its capability, as well as its flexibility – which is a win-win for users. It is entirely possible to create all of your marketing designs for free (i.e., not need Canva’s stock image library).

Fun Facts
  • Canva.com launched Down Under in August 2013 with $3 million in seed money.
  • Between August 2013 and July 2014, Canva had more than 550,000 users.
  • In that same time, Canva inventoried 200,000 new images created per week.
  • Guy Kawaski joined Canva as its “Chief Evangelist” in April 2014

Reading Worth Your Time

We would love to see your creations! Create something with Canva.com and share it with us! Be sure to tell us where you’ve used your image and include a URL (link) to it!

About the Author

DohertyTerryTerry Doherty is a voracious reader with a keen analytical eye and a lifelong passion for writing. Combine a passion for reading and kids, a natural affinity for analysis, and a love of solving puzzles, and you’ve got Terry. Before becoming a Mom in late 2001, she spent nearly 20 years as a research analyst, supervisor, mentor, trainer, and analytical program manager with the federal government. She has drawn on her acclaimed expertise as a national security analyst in her roles as senior editor and publishing director for an independent publishing house.

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