When you’re running an online business, you need to create content that is eye-catching and can draw people in. As powerful as copy can be, sometimes you need visuals to really drive your points home.
And for all of us non-designers, that can be intimidating.
Programs like InDesign and Photoshop aren’t intuitive for newbies, and most of us don’t have time to dive in and learn an entire new skill set while tangentially trying to grow our businesses. That said, not all hope is lost. There are plenty of resources for creatives looking to create DIY graphic design for their businesses.
This blog post is geared at beginners, and I’ll be walking you through using Canva, a free design program, to create DIY graphics. Here is a more in-depth look at what this blog post will cover:
- What Canva is and why it’s great for course creators
- The basics of Canva
- The types of graphics you might need in your business
- Creating consistent and branded images in Canva
Easy Graphic Design Tips
What is Canva?
In short, Canva is a free design program that you can use to create graphics for your online business. It has plug-and-play templates that make design easy, and a library of resources that you can use in your designs.
Canva is great for non-designers because the templates make creating graphics as easy as dragging and dropping elements into their predesignated slots.
Of course, if you’re feeling creative, you don’t have to use the templates, but they certainly are a huge help.
Like most free programs, you can upgrade to Canva for business if you’re in the market for advanced features. I don’t think that’s necessary for beginners, so we won’t go into why people might choose to upgrade.
The basics of Canva
Canva is really easy to use, and even if you’ve never played around on it before, it only takes 10 minutes or so to get a hang of the basics.
Warning time: I’m going into this section of the blog post assuming you’ve never used or seen Canva at all. If that’s not the case, click here to skip this section of the post.
When you go to Canva’s homepage, you’ll be met with the option to select from their most popular templates. These are great because they’re designed to optimize dimensions for each different platform.
For example, the YouTube thumbnail template dimensions are 1280 x 720, which means when you upload it to YouTube, nothing will be cut off.
If you don’t see the template you need, you can click the plus sign on the far right and you’ll be taken to a page with a ton of sizing and platform options.
If you still can’t find the size you need, on the upper right hand corner you’ll have the option to input custom dimensions.
For the purpose of showing you the ins and outs of Canva, we’ll pretend that I’m making an Instagram post with Canva.
After selecting the Instagram post option on the menu, we’re taken to a page that looks like this:
From there, I’ve got the option to choose from a template, or create my own design.
On the sidebar, you’ve got six different tabs you can choose from. Search, Layouts, Elements, Text, Background, and Uploads.
Search is fairly self explanatory. If you want to find a stock image or illustration, use the search bar and type in your keywords. Canva has free options, as well as the option to buy stock images, too.
Layouts is the default tab that’s selected, and that’s where all of the templates are housed. If you want to create an eye-catching graphic without thinking too much about it, use one of the professionally designed layouts. Like the stock images, there is a mix of free and paid options.
Text is where you can go to add custom text fields to your DIY graphic design. Canva has a healthy range of fonts, too, to keep your designs from looking too generic.
Background gives you the option to change the pattern and color of the image background. There are a ton of patterns you can choose from to add texture and visual interest to your design.
Uploads is where you can upload custom elements to your Canva account. The great thing about this section is that once they’re uploaded they’ll live on your account indefinitely. It’s a good idea to store PNGs of your logo, headshots, and other business elements here.
Dragging and dropping
Canva works mostly by dragging and dropping the elements wherever you want them to go on your DIY graphics.
I dragged and dropped this template over to my design stage.
Now, I want to customize this a bit by changing the text and the background color to something that better fits the Teachable Brand.
The first thing I’ll do is click anywhere on the red background of the image. Not much will happen but you will see a red box pop up in the upper side bar of the editor.
From there, I’ve got the option to drag and drop the color finder around, or I can type in a hex code. I checked the Teachable branding guidelines, and I found a hex code for a light purple that I decided to use.
Now, I want to change the text. This is as easy as double clicking the text area and deciding what I want to say.
Finally, when I’m happy with the way my quote looks, I can download it by clicking the download button in the upper right hand corner. Make sure to always download using high resolution so the images don’t show up grainy.
DIY graphic design you might need in your business
Now, as a course creator you might be asking yourself, what graphics do I really need for my online business?
It’s easy to be content with just a headshot and calling it a day. Visuals make your brand more exciting, and help draw people in. Here are just a few ideas of how you can create visuals for your brand:
- A Twitter header to reflect your branding
- Quote graphics for Instagram
- Branded YouTube thumbnails
- Custom pins for Pinterest
- A header for your YouTube Channel
- Instagram stories
Now, that’s only the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully it got your creative wheels turning. Luckily, as we discussed earlier, Canva has optimized options for just about all of your DIY graphic design needs.
When thinking about your online course, here are a few more specific ideas of the types of easy graphic designs you can create on Canva:
- Course slides
- An “about me” image for your sales page
- Ads for your online course
- Visuals that show what your online course looks like
Creating consistent branded images in Canva
A lot of people shy away from using template sites because they don’t want their content to look like everyone else’s.
While that’s a valid fear, the key to making your DIY graphic designs stand out and truly feel like yours is by creating a consistent style guide. Style guides are documents you can refer to when deciding what colors, fonts, or images to include in your graphics. Using consistent color palettes and fonts make your brand memorable.
By using the same templates, colors, backgrounds, and fonts, you will begin to establish your branding through your DIY graphics.
I also recommend uploading your logo into Canva and using it on all of your graphics to further brand your content.
Here are a few examples of graphics I made using all free templates, images, and elements from Canva. Play around a bit and you’ll be making professional graphics in no time.
Have you ever used Canva to create online design for your business? If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!