A client approaches you to write a blog, complete with images. Do you panic? Or are you prepared with your favorite reference library of stock images? Maybe you even have your own photos that would work for the piece. Now another client wants you to produce social media posts with captions – something new every day for two weeks. Are you going to find stock for EVERY post? Do you have enough material to pull from? (Unique photos, mind you) Or are you prepared to grit your teeth and handle some light graphic design? If the notion makes you sweat, it’s time to introduce you to Canva.
Starting Small: Stock Imagery
I get it: writers WRITE. We’re creative (no one’s going to doubt that), but we may not have the skill set to draw or paint. Our medium is WORDS, not pixels. The idea of crafting a composition of images makes us want to run screaming for the hills. (You’re reading the blog of someone who can’t draw stick figures)
However, the artistic aesthetic that allows us to craft unique content DOES give us a solid eye on what looks good and matches our brilliant sentences.
So finding imagery that pairs nicely with our work isn’t that difficult. Assuming you know where to look, at any rate. And, no, I’m NOT suggesting you need to invest all of your hard-earned freelancing money in subscriptions to Adobe or Shutterstock. (If your client wants those kinds of images, odds are they own a business license and can provide you with a login)
There are PLENTY of free-for-use images available around the internet if you’re willing to look. All it takes is that creative thought process when it comes to search terms.
This list is by no means thorough, but it can get you started (I don’t pay for ANY of the options these sites offer, and I’ve found dynamite images):
The contributing photographers/artists generally request a photo credit (and deserve one), but you don’t need to pay for the STOCK. I use these sites all the time for my blog posts here (when I’m not featuring the Minions) and other blogs I’ve written. And you can find ANYTHING (trust me).
Boom! Instant kismet between your genius words and a gorgeous photo.
Moving Up to Canva
But sometimes you need MORE, and that’s where graphic design like Canva comes in. Instead of throwing you into the deep end of generating your own artistic creations from scratch, the program provides access to stock imagery, gifs, and embellishments. It’s a step up from scouring those reservoirs, allowing you to design EXACTLY what you’re looking for.
And it’s the Holy Grail when it comes to building your brand.
You can create EVERYTHING in ONE place:
- Banners (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Medium, Substack)
- Posts (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter)
- Stories for Instagram
- Vision Boards
- Slide Decks
If you can think of it – and get lost down the rabbit hole – you can create it. There’s complete freedom on the project size, which is why it works for every platform you can think of, even if the program doesn’t have a template ready to go.
And that brilliant brain you’ve employed before to search for stock imagery? It’ll help you hunt down elements to pop into your designs. With an extra boost of “magic” as the program offers suggestions related to anything you select.
You can start from scratch or choose a pre-made template and make it your own. The possibilities are limitless. And it’s entirely drag and drop, with options to adjust fonts and colors, so you personalize EVERYTHING.
I promise: Within minutes, you’ll have something you love.
The Possibilities With Canva
You have several options for your budget when it comes to your graphic designs for your business. Obviously, you can hire a professional to handle everything for you – and that can run you anywhere from a little to a LOT. Or you can foot the work yourself and save those pennies.
Now, there ARE paid options on Canva, but you CAN function with the free version – WITHOUT losing any of the cool features. I know plenty of people who play around with the app and don’t pay a cent. (And if you go in for the full deal, I don’t make a cent)
I did spring for a subscription, but that’s because I wanted the business options: uploading a logo and color palettes. It allows me to keep all of my images consistent. And instead of needing to track down my business logos all the time, they live in one tab on the side – ready for me at all times. (Definitely worth it, in my book) Scroll down my Instagram feed, and you’ll see the posts MATCH. That’s the work of the program. (Makes my life SO easy, too)
I also made all of the graphics on Antihero Kreative within Canva. It took almost no time since I was able to copy one image and shift out the picture inside the “frame.” Edit the text (it stayed in place, and the size didn’t change), and everything stayed IN PLACE. And, again, I didn’t need to worry about color inconsistencies.
I’ve done the same with my banners across platforms. And, courtesy of the templates, they fit perfectly; nothing gets cut off. No matter where you look for my business presence, you see consistent imagery.
Not bad for someone who needs a ruler to draw anything approximating a straight line!
Use Your Entire Brain
Sure, you can set yourself up as STRICTLY a writer.
There’s nothing wrong with electing NOT to take contracts looking for photos or graphics. But if you have the tools in your kit, why wouldn’t you use them? Canva is EASY, and it’s FREE! If you set aside a little time each week just to play with it, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
And probably become as obsessed as I am (sorry about that).
I mean, that graphic at the top? Took me all of 5 seconds to create. My logo lives on my account, and I store around 10 blue card suit backgrounds. The program provided THEIR logo with a quick search and lined it up in the middle for me. Not difficult, but it looks nice.
Your brain will respond to the boost in creativity – trust me. It’s worth that little bit of time out of your schedule.
Now think of something to create and get to work!
(You’ll thank me later – once you curse me)