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Cool Tools: Canva – For Awesome Blog Headers and Social Shares

I’ve had a couple of people ask me how I make the blog headers and other images I use. When I shared Canva with them, I’ve had nothing but positive feedback. So I figured it was time to share it with all of you: use Canva (a free tool) to make awesome images with pictures and text.

Cool Tool: Canva

Before we get too far along, I want to clarify that Canva is a free tool (with paid upgrades of course) and there are no affiliates, meaning I get nothing for sharing this tool with you. It’s simply a tool I have found super helpful and want to share with you.

What Is Canva?

I found Canva as I’ve dived into the how-to-blog world. Amongst all the bloggers-selling-to-bloggers crud I have found a few gems worth sharing with hobbyists. With Canva being one of them.

As an online web app, Canva is super easy to get started, create images from anywhere, and use them for anything. It prompts you to create a new design based off of a ton of different pre-configured sizes like Facebook posts or Instagram

Not only is the sizing pre-configured for the usage type, but it then has a bunch of templates to build from that are optimized for the use as well. While some include premium images (little dollar sign gives it away) you can delete the image and upload your own.

You can easily change the text, fonts, colors, and even image effects similar to Instagram filters. One click later the image is downloading with no hassle from Canva to upgrade.

But Why?

Some of you may check it out and decide you have no use for an image creation tool, but you may want to check it out anyway because it has some awesome uses.

For Bloggers: I’m not going to jump too far into why images are important for your blog post (I’ve already covered it here and Thor wrote about using them to keep attention). The short of it is, images help posts stand out and get read. They are also more likely to get shared on social media.

Non-designers: Most of us aren’t designers or have the time to create custom graphics in Photoshop all the time. Canva provides a ton of examples to work off from and is literally drag-an-drop easy.

It’s Not Hard: Combining multiple images and text can be hard to make look good in photoshop, and even worse in Power Point… But I’ve used Canva to combine two or three pictures, up to a 30+ picture array for Dreadtober.

Canva Basics

I use Gimp (free alternative to Photoshop) for all my main photo editing and I used to use it to create the blog headers. Since finding Canva, it has literally saved me hours by making it so easy to switch designs, move pictures, and edit the text.

Below are the steps to create a new image (like a blog header):

1. Choose a size/style

Choosing a Canva Design

The first step is to decide what size and style you want. Most of mine are the Blog Title size but sometimes I will make one especially for Facebook or Twitter. What’s nice about this is that sometimes you need very specific sizes, like the header/cover art on social media sites.

2. Find a layout to Start From

Choosing a Canva Layout Example

After choosing the size, Canva gives you a ton of options for example layouts. As mentioned above, some of these are ‘premium,’ meaning the stock image used will cost you a dollar – but since we will probably be replacing it with images of our miniatures anyway, pick a design that you like, delete the image and go.

Note, these layouts are only example starting points. This works well for me so I don’t have to think about font families or adding boxes/lines myself. After uploading the picture I often move the text areas around to fit my need.

You could also build your own from scratch using the ‘Elements’ tab and ‘Grids’ to place picture grids. This is how I did the multiple pictures for Dreadtober and Good Reads. You can then add your own text and decorations.

3. Upload your picture(s)

To add your pictures to Canva, just drag them onto the screen. The tool is smart enough to switch to the ‘Uploads’ tab and catch the image. All your uploaded images are stored on canva and can be dragged into the empty picture locations.

This is one of the glorious features of Canva, as you drag an image over one of the placeholders (green hills and clouds), it will automatically resize and place the image in that spot. Sometimes you may need to adjust how it fits the image in, but you can quickly do this by clicking on the image and select ‘Crop’ at the top. This allows you to drag the image around in the box or increase the size.

There are a ton of options to adjust the picture too, like adding filters, adjust the brightness, or even make it transparent.

4. Change the text

You can then change the text, add new text boxes, or get rid of extra ones. Canva comes with a good selection of fonts and logo-like blocks under the ‘Text’ tab. Play around until you get something you like. I find it’s super easy to drag elements around and try new things.

5. Download and Use!

Even though Canva is a free tool, they don’t provide any barrier to downloading and using the image. You click download, it prompts you to choose the image type (jpg, png, pdf) and after crunching the image, it just downloads.

If you don’t use any Canva images, there is pretty much no license restrictions, and even the free images can be used for pretty much anything. If you are just using for your blog posts or social media, upload it and go. If you are using it in something you want to sell or other uses, make sure you read the license agreement first.

Ways to Use it for Hobby

While Canva is clearly aimed marketers and social media gurus, it still super useful for hobbyists and hobby bloggers.

Blog headers and social shares

This is what I use it for the most. Each of my blog posts now has a “Blog Title” that I use for both an interesting image at the top, but also for the “Featured Image” that WordPress uses throughout the site.

Usually, this same image is used by social media when I promote it or others share the page. It’s not always the ideal image for Facebook and Twitter but works well enough. If I really care about making it look good, I’ll create a separate image for the social shares and use that instead.

Flyers and Event Banners

For anyone who hosts a hobby/gaming event, you could use Canva to create posters, invites, or flyers to get attention. I used it to promote the Dreadtober event back in September to get people to sign up.

Posters and  Inspiration

Paint Every Day Poster

(actually a full-size poster, fell free to print!)

Another way that I plan to use it is to print posters of references and inspirational images for projects I’m working on. Since it’s so easy to combine multiple images, add some text for reference, and download there is little barrier in making your own cool posters.

Have You Tried It?

So if I’ve convinced you to try Canva (www.canva.com) or you’ve tried it before, let me know your thoughts below. Perhaps even add your favorite image you created as well to the comments so we can check it out!

Happy Creating!

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