A recent Tip Post, Get The Picture: DIY Photography for Small Business, provided advice for finding great free images to use for your small business marketing needs as well as how to take and create your own pictures and graphics. But, once you have that compelling image you need to effectively put it into action across all of your small business sales and marketing channels.
Previous tip posts have covered free image editing tools such as Photoshop Express and GIMP; free Video Presentation Apps for iOS and Android like Slate, Voice, and emaze; and free desktop publishing tools including LucidPress (for flyers, brochures, and newsletters), and FormatPixel for “web top publishing.”
Another free online design option, Canva, combines many of the components of the above tools to provide a single tool you can use for a wide variety of your small business projects. It is a very simple drag-and-drop interface, packed with templates, fonts, images, photo editors, and filters you can use to create stunning online and offline marketing materials. A unique feature is its many templates for social media marketing such as Facebook posts, apps, and covers, Twitter posts and headers, YouTube channel art, blog graphics, Kindle covers, Etsy banners, Pinterest graphics, and Instagram posts.
The Australian based company started in 2012, launched to the public as a free web application in January of 2014, and released a free iPad App in October, 2014. According to the site it currently has 3.7 Million Users who have created over 27 million unique designs.
To get your free Canva account and start designing, simply provide your email address and create a password. You’ll be provided access immediately. Then, select a project category. Current options include social media posts, documents, marketing materials, social media & email headers, blogging & ebooks, events, and ads. Once in a category, select a project type such as an infographic or Facebook ad, then select a template. It comes pre-loaded with content that you can change and swap at will. Simply select an element from the side navigation bar and drag it to your canvas. When you’re done you can export your finished project as a high quality image or as an Acrobat .pdf file. You can also share it on social media.
Canva provides a nice catalog of free images, fonts, icons, and other graphics; but makes its money by selling additional images and graphics for $1 each. (So, if you use a bunch of these in your projects, the cost can add up.) However, if you don’t like the stock images and graphics available you can pull in your own free public domain photos and graphics from sites like Pixabay, or you can import your own images. Then use the Canva image tools to perfect the images (brightness-contrast, color correction, touch-up, filters, etc.).
A full overview of the Canva tools can be found here. Also check out their great set of graphic design tutorials. The tutorials will help you both learn beginner to advanced design techniques as well as learn how to effectively use Canva.
Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and for better or worse the visual element is make-or-break in today’s quick-glance social media world. Give your small business a leg-up with Canva. Create a free Canva account today to use the web-based version, or download the free iOS App.