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Bloggers don’t just “blog.”
We write, edit, and rewrite. We market, manage, and motivate. We network. We engage. We collaborate.
And one of the most often overlooked aspects of our work is that we design.
Everything. Literally everything.
If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you’ve no doubt stumbled upon the amazing-ness that is Canva. Canva is a free platform that allows anyone to create gorgeous designs to use online and in print.
If you’ve been blogging for longer than five minutes, you’ve also probably come across many different tutorials that teach you how to use the most basic functions of Canva.
I’mma just let you know right now…that ain’t this tutorial.My Favorite Secret @Canva Tips & Tricks for Better DesignClick To Tweet
My Favorite Canva Tips and Tricks
A quick rundown of Canva’s popular features:
- You can edit ready-made templates for a variety of different social media graphics.
- You can pull from Canva’s extensive library of free stock images.
- You can edit these images with Canva’s available photo filters.
- You can add different texts and overlays to create one-of-a-kind designs—fast.
If you’re a blogger, I’m going to assume that you’re already pretty familiar with how to do all of this. You’re probably a pro by now.
You know you are. Just go on and admit it.
In case you’re still getting comfortable with the ins and outs of Canva, you can browse their Design School for a lot of helpful tutorials (30 to be exact!) to get you started.
But what a lot of people overlook are some of the fancier and little-known Canva hacks that can take your designs to a whole other level.
I’ve been using Canva in my own blog designs as well as those that I’ve created for other people for about 3 years. In fact, I believe I started using Canva when it was still in its beta-testing stage! It’s hands down my absolute FAVORITE blogging tool that I’ve ever used.
Canva, you da real MVP.
Since I’ve been using it for so long, I’ve naturally learned a few tips and tricks here and there that not everyone knows about. These “Canva hacks” have made it easier for me to design more elaborate and professional graphics without the use of professional (and much more expensive) software.
Now, I’m sharing these hacks with you. Let’s dive in.
1 | Move text around in small increments.
When you click on any graphic element inside Canva (such as a square or a photo), you’re able to move it easily by dragging your mouse or using the arrow keys on your keyboard. You can also use the same method to drag a text box.
However, I like my text to be as perfectly centered as I can get it, and this often involves more small-scale movements.
To move text on the screen in smaller increments, click on the text box. Once the text box is selected, hover around it until your cursor turns into the “move” symbol (4 arrows) and click on the dotted border around the text box. If you’ll notice, the option to make the text into a bulleted list is now grayed out; this tells you that you can now move the text box using the arrow keys.
2 | Precisely center text.
Like I said above, I can be pretty anal when it comes to making sure the text on my designs are centered. It’s a perfectionist thing, okay?
When you’re working with a text box, it helps to size down your box (by using the “stretch” dots on the side of the box) to fit snuggly around the text inside in order to center it better.
Well, when your text box is bigger than it needs to be (in other words, when there’s extra space surrounding your text on both sides) and you try to center your text, Canva’s built-in lines are centering a box meant for bigger text. When the text box fits your text exactly, Canva can better center your text because the text box is a more accurate representation of the size of your text and how much space it fills up inside your canvas.
3 | Quickly add text.
If you love to use keyboard shortcuts, you’ll love this trick. While in your Canva design, press “T” on your keyboard to utilize the text box shortcut—a text box will pop up on your screen. Nifty, huh?
4 | Browse through only Canva’s free designs.
I hate scrolling through beautiful stock photos or graphic elements on Canva that I can’t afford…it’s like mindlessly online shopping when you know you’re broke. Where’s the fun in that?
If you want to view just the free elements in Canva, you can use these secret codes: “brand:BAAMOuJH0Ec” and “brand:BAAAAP7rQ8M.” Just type (or copy & paste) them into the search bar at the top left-hand side of the page. Each code seems to bring up a variety of different elements, so play around with them if you like.
5 | Create website or product mockups.
I also used Canva to create the graphic I made to promote my free blogging course. The picture I chose for my promo graphic looks like a normal photo I took with my own iPad.
Well, it’s not. I made it in Canva using a stock photo and magic. Just kidding, but there was some pretty fancy maneuvering going on.
You can create your own website or product mockup in just a few easy steps:
Save and upload a stock photo to Canva (or use one of your own). Make sure the photo has a computer, iPad, iPhone, etc. in the shot because that’s what you’re going to use to display your website or product on in your final design. Creative Market has a lot of really great options for mockup stock photography, such as this set of feminine tech images.
Take a screenshot of your website, service page, or product and upload this to Canva as well. You can also use an image of an eBook or PDF that you’ve already designed in Canva. Just download the image of your eBook and upload this to Canva. This is what will be displayed on the screen of the iPad or phone in your finished design.
Create a new Canva design and pop your stock photo into it. Click the first photo insert option under “Grids” then drag your stock photo onto the photo insert.
Under “Uploads”, click your screenshot of your website (or eBook/PDF image) you just took. Your screenshot or image will pop up on your canvas on top of your stock photo. Now, the goal here is to get your screenshot into the screen of the iPad, phone, or other device in the photo so that it looks like it belongs there. In the image below, I’m inserting a photo of a mood board I made for Tendril Wild onto a stock photo with an iPad.
Use the “Rotate” feature on your screenshot and the “Crop” option on the Canva toolbar to resize and fit your image onto the device screen. A few tips when you’re working on your design:
—This process can take a little while because you want to be precise so the end product will look clean and professional.
—All devices have a black border around the screen. To make your screenshot/image look like it’s actually on the device screen, make sure you leave a black border around your screenshot.
—You may need to crop off from both sides of your image so that it looks centered. Also, crop very small sections as you go—you can always crop more if you need to, but you can’t add anything back once it’s gone!
You can see my process for cropping and resizing below:
6 | Manually save your designs.
When you’re working in Canva, your designs aren’t automatically saved every few minutes like when you’re working in Google Documents or WordPress. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a project only to have your computer crash for some unknown reason…and you lose half your work.
Ew. Been there.
So, I’m a crazy person, and I basically like to save my designs every 17 and a half seconds like a maniac. Whenever you go to download your design, if your work isn’t saved, it automatically saves it before downloading it to your computer. But I don’t like to wait until the last moment to save my work. Also, sometimes I work on designs for multiple days, and I’m not ready to download just in order to save them. This is where the manual save comes in handy.
To manually save your design, just click the “Make Public” button at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Then, click the button again to set your design as private once more (if you want your design to be private).
UPDATE: Canva recently shared with me on Twitter that you can also save by hitting CTRL + S key to save. Yay for learning new things! 🙂
7 | Create foil text designs.
Unless you’re using Canva for Work, you won’t be able to use your own fonts for this or create a foil text design with a transparent background; that will have to be done outside of Canva. However, you can still create foil text using some of Canva’s ready-made photo insert letters and numbers (see the video below).
First, type “alphabet” into the Canva search bar. The only type of letter that will work for this foil design are the letters that double as photo inserts (they have clouds and grass on them). Think of them like the grids but letter versions. Find and place each letter you will need for your text onto your canvas. I’ll be creating the word “hello” in foil letters.
Save a foil pattern and import it into Canva. I’ve chosen a rose gold foil that goes well with my Tendril Wild branding. The foil doesn’t have to be any particular color or pattern. Just choose something that you like—do you, boo.
Insert the foil pattern into each of your letter grids, just like you would a photo. I like to crop the foil pattern differently in each letter so that it creates more depth and interest in the final design.
Ta-da! Ooooh, so fancy.
8 | Display Canva’s built in grid lines.
One of my favorite features of Canva is that the website has built in lines to help keep your designs centered and looking good.
To display the built in grid lines, click on your canvas and then press CTRL + colon key. Gray, vertical lines will automatically pop up, and you can easily align your various graphic elements. To hide the grid lines, simply hit CTRL + colon key again.
9 | Merge and move elements together.
Sometimes it’s handy to be able to merge two elements together and move them as if they are one solid piece, rather than separately. This can help you move things around faster or center them easier.
You can merge graphic elements together two ways:
Drag and hold your mouse over several elements to highlight and merge them. Place your cursor on your canvas. Drag the cursor across your design, over the elements you want to merge. Once you let up the mouse, the elements will be merged, and you can then move them together as if they are one whole element.
Use the Shift key to merge elements. Tap one element, such as a text box, hold down the Shift key, and then tap another element, such as a shape. The two graphics will be merged. To keep adding to the merged group, just tap another element (still holding down the Shift key). To un-merge any elements, just click anywhere on the screen.
10 | Create your own lines.
Sometimes all a design needs to be complete is a small, minimal element added for effect—my go-to graphic element is a basic line. Canva provides several different line graphics, but I usually just prefer a solid, black line in my designs. For this reason, I create my own. In Canva, there are a few different ways to create a line. Here are my two favorite ways:
Create a line using the square shape. Select a square under Elements > Shapes. Resize the square until it’s really thin by drawing in on the top and bottom of the shape. You’ll need to adjust the length of your line first; if you make the square too thin at first, you won’t be able to adjust the length. You’ll have to then thicken the square before adjusting the length. It saves time if you go ahead and adjust the length first!
Create a line using text. Bring up a new text box. In your box, type this element: “|”. Next, depending on how big you need your line to be, adjust your font size. For a really big line, you’ll need a fairly large font, such as 75. Finally, using the “rotate” arrow on the text box, rotate the box until your “line” is completely flat or horizontal. This way of creating a line can get a little iffy because the quality and size of your line really depends on which font you choose, so you’ll need to do a little experimenting. Some fonts (usually the thinner ones, such as Aileron Thin or Raleway) make better lines than others.Take your @Canva designs from boring to bomb.com, yo.Click To Tweet
More of My Favorite Resources for Design
Canva for Work—Canva for Work is basically regular Canva on steroids. If you upgrade to Canva for Work, you can:
- gain access to 300,000 free photos and illustrations
- organize your uploads and designs with unlimited folders and share with your very own team
- resize your designs with Magic Resize for any social media platform or design type
- and save your brand colors, logos, and fonts all in one place.
Note: I haven’t upgraded to Canva for Work because I don’t yet need all of the advanced features. So everything explained in this tutorial is available with the free version of Canva. #bless
Google Drive—Getting my photos from my computer to my phone (to use on Instagram) can be a lil’ tricky, but using Google Drive is the best way I’ve found of doing it so far. I first upload my photos to Drive in my “Photography” album. From there, I go into the Drive app on my phone and save them to my photo album on my phone as well. I then edit the photos and re-upload them back to Google Drive so that the pretty, edited versions of my photos can be accessed on my computer (see below).
VSCO—I use VSCO to edit all of my own photography on my phone. Since I don’t have Photoshop, I’ve found that VSCO is the next best thing. I also love to use Snapseed for those photos that need a very bright white or if I just feel like getting a little bit more technical (read: nerdy). Once I’m finished editing the photos on my phone, I pop them back into Google Drive (in my “Edited Photos”) album so that they’ll be available for my designs.
Note: Even though the websites above (excluding Creative Market) provide free stock photos for both personal and commercial use (i.e. on your blog), you’ll still want to check the licensing for the photos you decide to download and use in your designs, just to make sure. I’m not trying to bail my fellow bloggers out of jail for using the wrong photos, ‘aight?
Want more blogging resources?
- How to Save Money While Blogging as a Twenty-Something
- How to Build Your Blogging Audience and Expand Your Brand
- The Blogging Tool I Used to Double My Subscribers
- How to Start a WordPress Blog (the right way!)
- How I Tripled My Blog Traffic in Two Weeks
- Why Blogging is the Perfect Hobby for Introverts
Holy dang. That was a lot. *wipes brow*
What do you use to create your blog and social media graphics? Got any Canva tips and tricks of your own? If this post was helpful, I’d love for you to share which tip I mentioned that was your favorite and let me know how they worked for you! 🙂