Blog graphics can be tough for anyone who is not a graphic designer. I’m not a designer. In fact, I’m actually not artistic at all. I can barely draw a stick figure. You should see my attempt at a dog. Not pretty. But because of my lack of artistic ability, I always thought I would never succeed in the blogging realm. Because let’s be honest, graphics play a HUGE role in whether or not your audience is going to click on your post, stick around and share it with their friends. Would you pin something on Pinterest that looks terrible? Probably not. And you certainly wouldn’t share it with your friends.
Bad graphics can earn a blog failure – even if the content is great.
So what are you supposed to do if you don’t know how to make graphics? Give up? Ha! I am definitely not a quitter and I was determined to figure out how I could easily make graphics just as attractive as the rest of the worlds’. I started with Picmonkey – I’ll do a Picmonkey tutorial in the future as well – which was a great start for me. I like Picmonkey for a lot of things. Editing my photos and making graphics that I want to resize (unfortunately you can’t resize for free in Canva). But Picmonkey wasn’t helping me make the attractive graphics I now have. It also didn’t allow me to create templates like Canva does.
Picmonkey is good for editing photos or resizing images, but Canva wins in terms of blog graphic templates.
The thing I love about Canva is how intuitive it is. It makes designing easy – even for the non-designer. But before we get started creating graphics in Canva you need to establish your brand identity. I talked about this last week and created a free workbook for you to develop your brand. So hop over there and then come back when you’re done!
Let’s get started! When you first go to Canva you’ll see this screen:
1. Your Dashboard
There’s a choice for all different sized graphics, but the one I use the most is the “blog graphic” one. This image is already optimized to make Pinterest friendly graphics. You also see all my current designs below. Notice how they all have the same look and feel? That’s because I established my brand identity before I started creating. Don’t skip that step!
I’ll show you at the end of this post how to “save as” and edit your current designs. But for now, we’re going to start from scratch. Click on the blog post graphic button at the top of the dashboard:
2. The Design Screen – Choose a Layout
Once you choose what size graphic you want you’ll be brought to the design screen:
There are tons of free and paid layouts in Canva and the paid options are only $1 each. But I don’t recommend using the paid versions because you only have 24 hours to edit your design. This completely defeats the purpose of creating a graphic template. Instead, if you see a paid one you like see if you can create something similar using the free elements. For example, I really liked the one at the top left titled “10 Tips for Improving Your Blog Photography”. But it’s a paid version. No worries. We’re going to create it anyway.
3. Upload or choose a photo
The first thing I’m going to do is upload my photo. Now you don’t necessarily have to use your own photography. There are tons of stock photos out there you can grab and Canva has a ton of photos you can use as well. But I personally like to use my own photography. The part that gets tricky here is the size of the photo. I tend to take all my pictures horizontally, but as you’ll notice, this image is more vertical. There’s a reason for that.
When making blog graphic templates, choose vertical images for Pinterest optimization.
Vertical images do much better on Pinterest than horizontal ones. And Pinterest can be a huge source of traffic for your blog so do yourself a favor and choose vertical images to optimize your posts.
Start by clicking “uploads” on the left-hand side of your screen. Then click that big green “upload your own images” button. Something I love about Canva is that it saves all my uploads so if I want to reuse the photo for something else it’s already uploaded. I’m going to choose that photo outlined in blue and drag it over to my canvas.
Canva has a couple photo editing tools, but for true photo-editing I recommend Picmonkey over Canva. But there are a couple features I really love.
You can apply filters to your photos if you want. Canva has a pretty good selection of filters, although for me personally, I try to avoid filters on my photography. My favorite feature though is the transparency. Click on that and there will be a slider bar where you can make your photo more transparent. This is great when you’re going to be putting text over the photo.
Making your photos more transparent will make your text easier to read.
4. Add Text and Overlays
Now that we have our background image uploaded, it’s time to add the text and overlays. This is the fun part. When choosing your text, think about what would grab your attention when browsing Pinterest. I find myself clicking on images that include numbers. Like “3 essential things your Instagram needs” or “5 ways to increase blog traffic”. Or like the launch post of this series – 14 essential steps in my blogging process. Sounds like a pretty good title to me. Definitely something I would click on.
There are a lot of features in Canva that make me think it’s the best free graphic creator on the market right now – one being the ability to save and edit your work – but another that’s a top 3 in my list of favorite features has to be the center lines. You’ll notice as you’re moving text boxes and overlays around little dotted lines will appear. These lines are telling you if the text is centered vertically and horizontally on the image. This makes your images look a thousand times more professional. Rather than just eye-balling it like you have to do in Picmonkey, Canva will tell you exactly when it’s centered.
Now that I’m ready to add text I simply click on the “text” box on the left-hand side of my dashboard. As you can see, there are all kinds of fun text options. You can choose one of the premade font packs or you can do what I did and just click “add heading”. Now I can change my font – remember our lesson from branding your blog on fonts – and the size of the font. For this image I changed my size to 60. You want it to take up majority of the space so it stands out and grabs people’s attention.
Next change the color of your font. Again, let’s go back to our lesson on branding.
Your colors need to match exactly.
That means finding the exact color code you use on your blog and typing it into Canva.
Click on the little color wheel which you can see in the photo before this. Then click the little plus sign and type your color code into the box. Voila! You’ll also notice that I shrunk my text box a little here so the text is narrower. Play around with it and see what works best for you. Now I know you’re all wondering how I got the cute circle with the number into the graphic.
There are tons of different images you can find in the elements section of Canva. Be careful here though. A lot of them are free, but a lot of them aren’t. If they’re not free you’ll have to pay for them every single time you make a new graphic using this template. Once I insert the circle I simply resize it and change the color using the same process I used to change the color of the font. I position it where I want it and then I’m done. To add the number I just went back to text and added another heading, changed the color and centered it in the circle.
Adding the rectangle at the bottom is super easy. Just go back to the elements sections and insert a square. Resize, reposition & change the color. Click that little down arrow on the formatting bar and click transparency. Adjust the transparency so you can see the picture through the box. A lot of people like to put these over the entire photo because it makes text easier to read. I see them all over Pinterest and I’m sure you’ve seen them too. Well now you know how to do it!
Then I go back to the text area and add a subheading – change my font, size and color and type up my content upgrade or whatever bonus text I want to add. If I created a content upgrade for the post I like to promote it here. People like free things and they’re more likely to click on your image if it says they get something for free. Last but not least, I add a little bit of body text to the very bottom with my blog’s url.
5. Save your work
One of my favorite things about Canva is the ability to save your designs and then copy them and edit later. Here’s how you do it:
Rename your graphic. Normally I do the post name. And finally – hit file – save.
You made it! Congrats! You’ve made your first blog graphic template. Now in the future you can make a copy and just edit. Trust me, you are going to save loads of time by doing things this way.
Once you have a Canva account, when you go to Canva’s website it will bring you to this screen. All you have to do is click that little arrow and click make a copy. Then click on the copy, rename and edit as you please. It’s that easy!
What do you use to make your blog graphics? Have you been using Canva? Did you learn anything new today? For those of you new to the program what questions do you have for me?