How would you like to have awesome graphics for your blog posts? The kind of images that look stylish and that your readers are only too happy to share on Pinterest and Instagram.
You could work with a designer (like me!) or get a copy of Adobe Creative Cloud and try to create something yourself. But both these options will cost money, and if design isn’t your strong suit, then working in Photoshop could be a struggle.
There is an alternative though. There’s a really cool app that is both free and easy to use: Canva
Canva is an online design tool that lets both designers and non-designers create lovely images. It features a drag and drop editor that you can use to create images for your website and social media profiles as well as designs for print, like business cards and flyers. You could even use it to create an ebook!
You can use one of the many templates that Canva offers. There’s also a wealth of icons, shapes and photos you can incorporate into your design. Many of these templates and resources are completely free, and the premium ones only cost $1.
Or you can design your image completely from scratch, by starting with a blank page and uploading your own images.
Canva is ideal for bloggers, freelancers and small businesses who want to quickly create graphics without always needing to hire a designer.
But if you do want to work with a designer Canva makes an ideal tool for collaboration. You can share your designs with other users so you could work together to create a professionally designed template that you can then update on your own as you need new images. It can offer the best of both worlds!
How to use Canva to create awesome blog graphics
Ok, now that I’ve convinced you of the benefits of using it, I’m going to show you how to use Canva to create awesome graphics for your blog. See that image at the top of this post? I made it in Canva, and I’ll show you exactly how you can make one just like it.
1. Create an account
First you’ll need to create an account with Canva. You can use your Facebook or G+ accounts to sign up, or just use your email address.
2. Create a new file
Most of the dashboard screen shows your designs, where you can access your previous designs, duplicate and edit them. The top banner is what we’re interested in right now though.
Under “Create a design” you’ll see several popular file types and a “More” button – click on it and you’ll see the full list of file types. Hover over each one and you’ll see the dimensions.
We’re creating a blog image, so you could just click on the Blog Title or Blog Graphic file type to get started. But I want slightly different dimensions to fit with the images I’m already using on my blog. So click on “Use Custom Dimensions” and enter 654 x 740 px (or feel free to enter your own custom dimensions there) and then click “Design”.
3. Start designing
On the design screen you’ll see your page on the right and a variety of tools on the left. The Layouts tab will let you choose a layout template – each template has a little icon on it to show whether it’s free or will cost you $1 to use (note: as we’re using custom dimensions, the Layouts tab shows just the blank layouts; if you want to get some pre-made designs to customise, choose one of the preset file types, like Blog Title).
If you want to use one of the templates, click to add it to your page, then simply change the background picture and text and you’re done!
We’re sticking with the blank page though as we’re creating our own layout, I want to use a photo in the background and have chosen this one from Unsplash. Download it then drag it onto the upload tab in Canva.
Once it’s uploaded drag it onto the page and you can move it into position.
Tip: When you click on an image on your page, you get controls to resize and rotate it – give it a try.
4. Add some colour
Now let’s add the coloured box to the bottom of the image. On the Elements tab, click on Shapes, then find a plain rectangle and add it to the page.
Drag the edges to resize it and move it into position. When it’s selected, you can see the options for customising it.
Click on the coloured circle to open the colour picker. You can choose from several suggested colours or click on the “+” to select more. This will let you choose a precise colour value – in this case I’m using #007987 to match my branding.
Click the little down arrow on the right and you get more controls. I’m going to make it slightly transparent so that a bit of the texture of the photo underneath shows through.
Now grab a plain rectangular frame and create a border inside the image, using a lighter colour for contrast.
5. Time for text
Now to the text tab. You’ll see a bunch of pre-designed text layouts, but we’re going to stick with a plain heading. Place it on top of the coloured box.
As you can see text elements have more customisation options. First choose your font – I’m going with Raleway to match my branding. Next I’ll adjust the size then click on the down arrow on the right to get more options. You can change the alignment of the text, make it bold or italic and you can also adjust the letter spacing and line height if you want.
I’m going to use a different font for part of the title, so grab another heading element (or copy the one you just made) and add it underneath. Choose a complementary font – I’m going with Satisfy and I’ll make it a wee bit bigger to balance the layout.
6. Brand your image
Next we’ll add our website or blog address to the image for a little bit of extra branding (good for when the image is shared on social media, like Pinterest).
Place a body text element near the bottom of the image and make it smaller – because of its size it’s a good idea to stick to a plainer font so it’s nice and legible – I’m going with Raleway again. I’m also going to make it the same colour as the border.
And that’s it! You’ve just created a simple yet stylish image for your blog post.
Now it’s time to save and download your work. At the top of the screen, near the right, click on “Untitled” and rename the file to something a bit more relevant and user-friendly (such as the title of the blog post).
Then click on Download and choose Image: for Web (JPG) to get a web-ready image and upload it to your blog post.
Tip: Click on “File” at the top left of the screen and you get the option to save your work. Canva saves it automatically at intervals, but you can save it more often to make sure you don’t lose any work if your browser crashes.
Creating visual content used to be hard if you weren’t a designer, but Canva really does make it easy for anyone to create awesome graphics for their blog posts.
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