You know those savvy people known as early adopters? The ones who are always on the cutting edge of new technology?
I’m not one of those people.
I wish I was as fearless as those pioneers, but usually I fall in the late adopters group, dragging my feet into the latest and greatest. (Long after it’s the latest!)
If you’re like me, a little tech challenged and wielding a limited budget, the current visual demands of ministry might seem overwhelming and unattainable. You love all those cute memes on social media but wonder how people have the time to create them or the money to have them produced. I sure did!
Over time and with some practice and experimentation, I’ve learned to love Canva, a free internet tool for creating graphics. I’ve personally used Canva to create:
- Graphics for social media and my blog posts
- Banners for my social media pages
- An eBook cover
- Graphics for my website
- Full page handouts for print
- Prints for gifts and my home
There are endless applications available, so Canva has become a priceless tool in my toolbox. Along the way, I’ve learned some tricks that enhance my use of the site.
Uploading Background Graphics
One of the beauties of using Canva is its flexibility. Although there are photos and graphics on the site available for purchase, it can become expensive if you’re buying from them for every graphic you create. Instead, you can upload free photos from sites like Unsplash. Just make sure that any art you use is not protected legally because there are stiff penalties for violating copyright.
Another way to start creating your own library of photos on a budget is to watch for sales on sites that sell copyrighted photos and graphics. One year I got in on a sale at Bigstock, downloaded the maximum each day for a series of days and ended up with my own personalized library of photos that should last for years to come. I regularly upload the photos and backgrounds I purchased on sale to Canva to create branded looks for both of my websites.
Here’s a sample of a graphic I created on Canva with one of my own uploaded photos.
(Note: It’s funny how I see the imperfections in the graphics like this that I created years ago. As I’ve practiced and learned the tools, I’ve gotten better, but the truth is that I’m not a graphic artist. Imperfect can still be beautiful!)
Using Ready-Made Templates
Although I’m still learning, I think I have a bit of an eye for visual design, and I love the change of pace in applying creativity to graphics. You might not be in the same boat. Canva has something for you too! They have many ready-made templates in which fonts and design are already applied. You can easily personalize these with your own message and photos. Many of these are paid design, but it’s not expensive compared to hiring out your design. There’s also quite a bit available for free on Canva. The more comfortable you become with using the tools on the site, the more you’ll be able to personalize the templates to match your needs.
In today’s world of communications, branding is a powerful tool. We communicators most often use words to express our unique message, but visuals can do the same. Using a set palette of colors and fonts is one way to personalize your messages.
Another way is to find graphics and photos with similar themes and feel. Since Canva stores your uploads in your account, you can start to develop a library of branded material that can be used with different applications.
When I noticed people were starting to use a logo on their photos, I designed a simple one that matches the color, fonts and feel of my personal site. It’s saved in my uploads, and I just drop it into the corner of my social media graphics. It’s a simple way to express your unique brand.
Hiring an Expert to Get You Started
Although I’m a thrifty girl at heart, there are places I’ve learned to invest. A talented graphic artist is worth her weight in gold! For my coaching business, my partner and I wanted to get serious about branding, so we hired a graphic artist to help us take a leap forward. She created a style guide for us to set our colors and fonts as well creating several templates that we continually use on Canva.
Canva allows you to store several colors for your “brand” in the free version, and the paid business version allows you to store many more set options for your branding. Using these tools after they’ve been set in place for your business or ministry can help create a more consistent and polished look.
Here’s our style guide:
Beautiful, right? And here’s an example of a graphic using a template created by our graphic artist:
How to Get Started
To get started from scratch, I’d suggest watching a tutorial video on how to create one project. For instance, you might want to start with something simple like creating a graphic for Instagram. There are lots of free tutorials online, so watch one and follow the steps to create a graphic yourself. Click here to view some of the Canva tutorials on YouTube. After a bit, you’ll start to be able to play with all the options on Canva, creating graphics for all your online needs.
Launch out today and give Canva a try. You just may become as hooked as I am!
Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s author of Breaking Up with Perfect and speaker coach at Next Step Coaching Services. You can always find her trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner.
To see more example of how Amy uses Canva graphics on her website, go visit https://nextstepcoachingservices.com/blog/.