How to Get Started with Canva

This post was written originally for Cosmic and you can find the link here to the original article.

If you’re a small business or sole trader, you probably understand how important it is to have the right kind of branding and design across all your marketing – from your website to your social media, from advertising (print or digital) to your business cards, it’s all essential to align that design across every business element.

But we’re not all graphic designers, and you may not have the funds to employ one either. So, what do you do? How do you have the time or resources to create stunning graphics and printed designs that draw in your target audience?

If you haven’t heard of Canva yet, or if you have heard of it but haven’t checked it out, this is a great place to start. You don’t need to be a graphic designer – you just have a clear idea of your ideal fonts and colours (which you can create as part of a brand), and start designing with templates already set-up.

Canva itself is available not just as a website, but also as an app – so you can design both at home/office and on the go.

Here’s how to get started and some great tips to boost your design skills.

How to Get Started

  1. Sign-up to Canva

Go to:

You don’t need to have a paid account, though it’s certainly something to think about going forward if you want to stick with it.

Simply sign-up online with your email details and a password, and you’re in! Or you can sign-up with your social accounts if that’s easier.

With a free account, you’re limited to what templates you can use and photos you can include in your designs, as well as fonts, but it will certainly start you off in the right direction.

  1. Create a Design and Choose a Template

You have several options of layouts and templates on Canva. Whether you want a Facebook post, an A5 flyer, an email graphic, or even video graphics, there’s a design for that.

For whatever type of design you’re creating, there are also several different template designs to choose from.

When you are on the main Canva Screen, it will show up lots of options at the top of the page. You can select these options to drop down all the different types of designs, or if you already know what you want to create, simply type it into the search bar.

When opening your chosen design option, it will show several icons in the left-hand bar. Select the first icon – Templates.

Search for a Template name (or it may give you examples based on your chosen design) – it could be you’re creating website banners for an upcoming sale, an A5 flyer promoting your business, or even a logo, and the Templates section will bring up numerous ideas to choose from. Simply browse these ideas, and drag and drop the one you want.

For the free version, it’s easier to select the ‘filter’ option at the top of each icon section to ensure you only see the ‘free options’. Otherwise, if you have a premium subscription, you can view all the ideas, photos, and more.

  1. Change the Design for your Brand

There are a lot more tools and options in the Canva Design screen than you will need for just one design, but it’s good to know what Canva can offer.

If you have some idea on fonts, imagery, and colours, you can then select the different elements of the design and change them.

Want to add in illustrations or graphics? Go to the Elements icon and search for the types of graphics you want.

Want to search for free-to-use photography? Go to the Photos tab.

Want to add in text boxes? The Text icon tab has the choice of adding in Headers and general text.

You can also upload your own graphics and photography under the ‘Uploads’ section.

To change the fonts, select the Text boxes of the design and you can see along the top bar there are drop-downs for Fonts and font sizings, sections for selecting to underline text, change the colour, create effects, and more.

It really is a matter of being creative and spending the time to see what types of designs you like, determining your fonts and colours, and making sure your designs are consistent across the business.

  1. Downloading Your Designs

Once you’re happy with your design, simply go to the ‘Share/Download’ button in the top right-hand corner. It will give you a drop-down menu of options from sharing the designs on social media (if it is a social graphic), sharing links to the design (useful if there’s more than one person in the team and they need to see the design), and the option to download the design.

If you want to see all the options, simply select ‘More’.

  1. Manage all Your Designs

The Canva Design Programme can be a great way of easily designing business graphics and marketing materials. But don’t forget – after a while you’ll have created a lot of different graphics and designs, and you may want to go back to them. Not just to update them with relevant information, but you can also copy the designs for other projects or campaigns.

Because you’ll have so many designs, you might want to manage them all, and easily find old designs.

You can do this on the main Canva screen. Along the left-hand side of the page there is an icon ‘Your Projects’. Here you can create new folders to catalogue all your designs in, but also all your uploaded imagery.

Want more? Check out Canva’s Tutorials here.

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