I’ve come a long way from my earliest blog images. When I first started this blog over five years ago, I had very little knowledge of how to create effective, engaging, and click-worthy images. Even though I’m a visually oriented person, I felt daunted by learning Adobe Photoshop, which could be a costly mistake if I purchased the premier graphic design program and never learned how to use it. And since Photoshop was billed as the only option, creating great blog graphics seemed impossible—until I discovered that making images for blogs was a cinch with free graphic design websites like Canva. I’ve used a few blog image design websites over the years, but Canva is the best, and today, I’m going to share with you why. Since I started Canva, I have seen my blog traffic skyrocket, especially from Pinterest, a particularly image-driven site. Today, in this post, I’m going to discuss how you, too, can create professional-quality graphics for your blog using Canva.
This post will cover:
- What is Canva?
- Five Reasons Why Canva Is Great for Bloggers
- Five Examples of Images I’ve Made with Canva for Business and Blogging
- Is Canva Pro worth it?
Affiliate Link Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
What is Canva?
Canva is a free graphic design tool for creating stunning images for online and offline purposes. For example, through Canva, you can create a Facebook advertisement, and you can also design flyers for printing.
Canva‘s easy drag-and-drop style makes photo editing, collaging, and customization simple and easy to pick up. Founded in 2012, Canva has been around a while. I have personally been using Canva for my author virtual assistant business, as well as my blogging and creative writing, since 2018.
Five Reasons Why Canva Is Great for Bloggers
1 – The mobile app is a great companion to the desktop version
Canva also has a user-friendly app for iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile and tablet. I have downloaded the Canva app on my iPad and have used it to create images. It’s just as easy to use on mobile as on desktop.
Plus, your projects synch up on your account through Canva’s cloud storage, so you can seamlessly shift from workspace to workspace. I don’t know about you, but I can’t sink hours and hours of time into blogging each day—I wish I could, but I’m not there yet. That’s why it matters to me to be able to have blogging tools I can take on the go, meaning I can work when I’m able to…standing in line, waiting for an appointment, and stealing a few minutes at Starbucks.
2 – “There’s a template for that!” Canva has 50,000 free templates for every blog image you could possibly need
As shown above with my blog images, you can use Canva templates for just about every blog image you could ever need to create. In fact, Canva boasts over 50,000 templates you can use, with more being added every day.
If you’re like me, right now you’re wondering what the full list of templates entails. After all, I’m not satisfied until I know every detail of a feature.
Well, here you go… this is the exhaustive list of the 45 templates you can use through Canva. That includes social media graphic templates and so much more, like:
- Business Card
- Desktop Wallpaper
- Book Cover
- CD Cover
- Magazine Cover
- ID Card
- Social Graphic – includes: Instagram Post, Facebook Post, YouTube Thumbnail, Pinterest Graphic, Twitter Post, Facebook App Ad, Tumblr Graphic, Etsy Shop Icon, and Snapchat Geofilter
- Photo Collage
- Gift Certificate
- Class Schedule
- Media Kit
- Recipe Card
- Rack Card
- Report Card
- Lesson Plan
- Web Banner
- Web Ad
Yes, that’s right… 45 categories that have over 50,000 templates!
(FYI: Each one has subcategories, but I only broke the Social Graphics out because I figured those images are on the top of any blogger’s list.)
Do you see what I mean when I say Canva has you covered for every possible image you could need to create for your blog?
3 – Need a stock image? You can choose from a huge selection of stock images built into Canva without ever leaving the editing space
By now, you’ve probably used a free stock image site. Whether you’re a fan of Pixabay, Shutterstock, or a Google image search for free content, you know having stock photos are essential.
A totally awesome feature of Canva is the product comes pre-loaded with stock images. You don’t have to go into another tab or window and hunt through pages and pages of crummy stock images. In Canva, stock images are integrated into the editing space and fully searchable so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. Take a look at the editing space in this screenshot I took:
Canva boasts a ton of stock photographs, graphics, textures, and illustrations, but you can also purchase one that’s designated as a paid photo. These photos generally cost $1.00 each. All the billing is handled through Canva, so you don’t have to worry about multiple transactions across different sites. And once you own an image, you have it forever to reuse as you see fit.
4 – Designs are easy to tweak, replicate, and download in multiple image formats and sizes
With Canva, you can duplicate and edit a copy of any image. That means you can go into an image you already created and adjust the design. Or you can create an identical file if you just want to keep the general style of the image but need to switch out the text.
For example, in two of the blog featured/cover images you’ll see below in the next section of this post, you can see in my library of Canva images they use an identical style. That’s because I duplicated the dark fantasy book post cover image for the Goldfinch books image:
With Canva, keeping images on-brand and consistent is a cinch.
Plus, once you’re done working on an image, you can download it in multiple sizes and file types, including PNG, JPG, PDF, and more.
Also, you can adjust the size and image quality when you’re downloading your masterpiece.
5 – Level up your skills for free with Canva’s Design School
Sure, it’s nice to have all these templates, but what if you want to learn more about the fundamentals of graphic design? That way you could understand how to use theory and tech skills to achieve blogging success with your own creations from scratch. To that end, one feature I’m so excited about with Canva is the newly launched Design School.
Anyone can enroll in these free courses, which cover everything from design basics to visual branding to best practices for creating share-able, click-worthy, viral images for social media. Since Canva has made a big effort to partner with teachers, there’s also a class on using Canva in the classroom. Canva Design School is a nice bonus with comprehensive depth that I’m definitely planning on using more in the future.
Five Examples of Images I’ve Made with Canva for Business and Blogging
I jumped in head first with Canva. I was first introduced to the program through an author who I worked with on social media. She had a Canva account and asked me to create Instagram posts for her. Once I got started, I was hooked! Here are a just a few of the images I have created for this blog and beyond. Since I started working on professionalizing my blog’s image, my traffic has grown substantially, especially through Pinterest pins. It’s thanks to Canva that I’ve gotten there.
1 – Featured / Cover Images for Blog Posts
I love featured or cover images that really pop against the white background of my blog. I usually go for bold typography, clean lines, and minalmist designs. No cluttered pictures here, if I can help it.
For Canva, I usually start with a template I find as “Blog Banners.” You get there by going to Canva Templates, typing in “Blog,” and selecting: “Blog Banners”:
You’ll then be taken to a huge collection of featured images (“Blog Banners”) you can use for your own blog.
Just pick a design and get customizing. Jump in—Canva is really that easy!
Here are a few of the featured images I have create for Broke by Books using Canva.
First of all, the cover image for this very post was made using Canva:
From my article “Books about Bipolar Moms”:
From my article: “Books to Read If You Loved Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch'”
Here’s a featured image I designed with Canva for my article “12 Dark Fantasy Books That Are Pure Magic.”
You’ll notice this one looks similar to the featured image for the article before it, about The Goldfinch. That’s because it’s important to create a cohesive brand. Eventually, as you develop your own style as a graphic designer for your blog images, you’ll repeat similar templates to keep things looking on-brand.
Here’s another featured image, this one with book covers. As a book blogger, I often need to highlight book covers from the books I’m talking about in my post. It’s so crucial to have a graphic design program that allows for collages and other assorted ways to feature book covers. Here you can see the featured image for my post on childhood favorites: “My Top Ten Childhood Favorites”
Now let’s look at one more featured image. This featured image is from my post: “How to Create a Reading Pivot”
I love the font and color scheme for this image. It looks classy and professional, if I might say so myself.
I can’t stress this enough: the featured image is so important to getting good blog traffic. It has to work in several roles: first, as the image you see at the top of a blog post; second, as smaller image you see on your blog’s homepage; third, as the “preview” image when you share the link on Facebook or social media; fourth, as the image that shows up next to your article in a Google search result; and fifth, as the primary Pin for Pinterest. As you can see from these posts, Canva makes it easy to crate a great design that will catch your reader’s eye, hook them, and reel them in to read and share your blog post.
2 – Social Media Posts
Every blogger knows how important visuals are to getting more engagement on social media. You can be the best writer in the world, crafting the most interesting information in your articles, but if you’re not pairing it with visually attractive images, you’re unlikely to pull in an audience.
With Canva, you can put together blog images for social media in minutes. Here are just a few examples of how I’ve used Canva to create sharable, clickworthy images on social media and seen big results with traffic, views, and shares.
Here’s a stack of Instagram images I created for the popular monthly recap reading check in that other readers and bloggers do on “bookstagram”
Go ahead, click through it! And notice how, when paired with the right hashtags, I saw pretty decent engagement for a blog of my size.
I’ve also used Canva to create Instagram posts for my author clients. Here’s a quote and picture post that I made for Willie Dalton, a writer I’ve consulted with for social media.
Notice how clean and cohesive the quote post looks. It was so easy to just slide a new quote into the template and swap out the original image for this one.
Canva is also great for creating social media graphics that encourage a sense of urgency. With Luke Chmilenko, one of my author clients, I developed a series of Instagram posts to promote a special promotion for his Patreon. Take a look at how these four posts all look visually cohesive, as if they are part of the same series. That’s because Canva made replicating the original design and swapping out the text so simple to do:
As a result of these flashy, visually attractive and engaging Instagram images I made through Canva, Luke saw a big surge in signups, exactly what we hoped for.
If you’re a blogger, no doubt you have similar social media needs. Creating social media images for your blog is intuitive and stress-free with Canva.
3 – Promotional Advertisements for Facebook
Are you feeling held back because you’re not sure how you’d design an advertisement for your blog to run on Facebook?
Fortunately, Canva has a template for social media advertisement posts, including Facebook App ads, Facebook ads, and Instagram ads, plus all the regular full slate of social media posts that can become your advertisement.
Let’s look at a series of ads I created for Luke to promote new merchandise in his store:
Here’s the second one:
And here’s the third:
These Facebook ads were so simple to create in Canva.
As a blogger, I know I’ve got Canva ready to go the next time I want to advertise on Facebook. In the last few years, I’ve experimented more with promoting my blog on Facebook. It’s so cheap and simple to do, starting at $5, and if you have a Facebook page for your blog, you know that Facebook is constantly giving you free credit to advertise your blog. There’s no harm in doing a quick campaign and getting some extra page likes, post engagement, or link clicks. By the end of the campaign, you’ll have data points you can build off of to create your next ad and better understand your blog’s current and potential audience.
4 – Newsletter Images
A ton of bloggers have newsletters. I’m personally working on reviving mine, as I haven’t sent one out in a while, but when I do, I’ll be using MailChimp. I love how easy it is to customize a MailChimp newsletter, tweaking what sections you want to add or take out, and then make a template you can just keep using over and over.
The ideal newsletter has attractive, clean graphics that work to support the information in the newsletter. Because it’s a newsletter going to fans, you might also be highlighting a sale or special offer. And certainly all bloggers with a newsletter know that you want to take good care of your mailing list subscribers and not produce a newsletter that’s cluttered, disorganized, and useless.
For that reason, it’s important to use images that are on-brand, meaning they use the same text, colors, imagery, and layout. Someone reading your newsletter wants to sense some visual continuity over the months. And you probably know what I’m going to say by now, right? Yep. You can create all the blog images you need through Canva.
Let’s look at one example.
As an author virtual assistant, I’ve helped several writers with their newsletters. For Luke, I’ve created graphics to highlight different books he wants to feature, plus a recurring newsletter header, and many others.
Here are three Canva graphics I made to advertise a flash sale for one of his books. These were set to go in his newsletter, all he had to do was pick which one to include in our MailChimp newsletter’s featured image space:
With Canva’s easy-to-create newsletter image templates, I could generate several mockups that were ready to plug into the newsletter. If you’re a blogger who has a newsletter, definitely consider using Canva for your image needs.
5 – Book Covers
This Canva feature is probably my favorite one. I love that you can create book covers! As an indie author, I know how important a book cover is to hooking a reader and getting that all-important click. But I don’t have hundreds, if not thousands, to spend on buying a custom-made cover. Besides, as a control freak, I want to have complete control over what the cover looks like.
If you’re a blogger who is thinking about one day publishing an eBook, believe me, you’ll love what Canva can do.
Through Canva, I’ve been able to design the book covers for four of the books I published last year.
Let’s take a look at the two books in my Political Passions novellas. Check out the cover of book 1: Our Perfect Fantasy
And here’s the second book, Our Perfect Secret. Notice how cohesive the book looks visually… similar fonts, similar text-to-image balance, and so on:
I’ve also used Canva to create the covers for two of the quote books I published last year.
First there’s A Reader’s Library of Book Quotes:
Thanks to Canva, I can pull together polished book covers without having to pay for an outside cover artist or choose a pre-designed cover ready to download. I get to make sure my indie book covers look professional and classy, not just on the cover of the book but in thumbnail images for advertisements. And I think it’s working, with my eBook sales getting higher each month.
Is Canva Pro worth it?
I’ve shown you just how far you get with a basic, free account on Canva, but what if you’re looking for more features? You’ve come to the right place if you’re wondering: is Canva Pro worth it?
Why I subscribe to Canva Pro for blogging and business
Personally, I am a Canva Pro subscriber and have been since winter 2019. Normally I stick with a new subscription of a product for a few months and then end up cancelling because it’s not a good use of my money. Not Canva Pro.
Why Canva Pro is an essential tool for my blog and business needs
In the past year, I’ve put myself on a strict budget, and part of that meant slashing most of my paid subscriptions. I had to say goodbye to some of my favorite products and services—like The Washington Post, a Patreon I supported, and personalized email addresses for my business I bought through Google’s G Suite, and more.
But one subscription I never for a minute thought of cancelling was Canva Pro.
I use Canva all the time, several times a week on average, and I knew that the upgrade from Canva to Canva Pro was more than worth it considering the value you get for your money.
Plus, let’s not forget, you can totally count a subscription to Canva Pro as a business expense on your taxes.
And if you’re working towards making your blog more than a hobby but a profitable business, let me tell you, after years of wasting money on paid memberships I never use, Canva Pro is one that’s worth its cost and more given the immediate upgrade in quality that you’ll see in your visual blog graphics.
What features do you get with Canva Pro and do you actually need them?
In short, yes! I have been a Canva Pro subscriber since winter 2019 and have never dropped it for a month. Let’s go through the differences between the free and paid subscription and whether they’d be helpful to you as a blogger:
As you can see from this article, the free version of Canva gives you plenty of horsepower to create blog and business graphics.
If you want to upgrade, here’s what $9.95/month* will buy you:
1 – You can design anything from the templates or from scratch—both paid and free version
2 – You have over 4 million stock photographs and design elements (like circles, frames, grids, lines, animated GIFs, images, patterns, icons, and more)—Canva pro only: I use these all the time!
3 – You get more than 1,000 fonts, or you can upload your own—Canva Pro only: This is a great feature. I have only begun to dip into the huge library of fonts. Why is this important? Because if you want to keep your blog image consistent and cohesive, you can play around with different sizes and styles of a font, rather than just stick with only a few fonts to choose from. It’s so nice that as a Pro subscriber I get multiple versions of one font, for example, here’s a screenshot from within Canva Pro. You can see that you get three variations on Abhaya Libre.
4 – You get the super sweet “Brand Kit”—Canva Pro only: The Brand Kit is such an awesome tool, and if you don’t have a graphic designer on staff like I’m guessing, it’s nice to have.
When you create your Brand Kit using Canva Pro, you can create a style bible so that you use the same fonts, colors, logos, and more. I make a ton of blog and business images through Canva Pro, and it’s nice to be able to keep things neat and organized so I don’t go off brand.
5 – Unlimited folders – Canva Pro only: This is one of those under-the-radar great features that you might not think of as an advantage at first, but let me tell you, having unlimited folders definitely comes in handy when you need to keep your images organized. For example, if you’re working on an epic blog post that has a ton of graphics, you can corral them in the same place and easily access them. Or let’s say you’re designing social media images…with Canva Pro’s unlimited folders, you can sort them into one space.
6 – Resize to any format – Canva Pro only: This feature is huge. Of all the upgrades that Canva Pro offers, resizing to any format is the most important and worth upgrading for this feature alone. If you’ve ever had to resize images across social media spaces, you know what a hassle it can be to convert a graphic designed for Instagram, then to Facebook, then to Pinterest, then to Twitter, and so on. I’m personally not very confident in my resizing abilities. That’s why it’s so great that Canva Pro makes it simple to resize your image to any other format in just a few clicks: no more guessing!
Here, you can see in my screenshot how it takes only four clicks to resize my blog cover/featured image for the post about recommendations for Goldfinch fans that I showed you earlier in this post:
See what I mean? In just a few steps, you’ve got a set of images to promote your blog post across social media.
7 – Create animation and GIFs – Canva Pro only: Honestly, I haven’t used these features yet, but one day I certainly might! Animated social media is important for companies and brands looking to DIY their graphics without hiring an outside firm. Even though this isn’t a feature I use, I know it’s amazing that Canva Pro offers it.
8 – Priority support – Canva Pro only: As I mentioned in my post about starting a WordPress blog on Bluehost, it’s so, so important to have good customer service when you’re a blogger. Let’s be honest… lots of bloggers like me are operating solo. That means you have to wear many hats, like web master, graphic designer, social media scheduler, accountant, and so much more. Having high-quality customer support is something I value above all else. It’s priceless to be able to talk to another human who can help you through a tech glitch or when you get stuck on something. Yep, priority customer support is an undeniable perk of Canva Pro.
Now let’s go ahead and wrap up this blog post about why Canva Pro is worth it. I’m sure you’re eager to get started with creating awesome graphics for your blog!
Last but not least… Canva Pro pricing
With Canva Pro you have two pricing options:
- Canva Pro costs $9.95/month if you bill annually.
- If you purchase Canva Pro month-to-month, it costs $12.95.
This is the first year that I’ve switched from month-to-month to paying for all 12 months at once. Why? It’s simple. You save a lot more money that way:
If you buy Canva Pro for one year, it’s $119.40.
If you buy Canva Pro for one month at a time for a whole year, it’s $155.40.
Do the math… if you buy for a year at a time, you save $36. You can get a lot of mileage from saving $36 a year. Put that money back in your blog, and you can buy yourself other upgrades and professional services. If you’re reading this blog and you still aren’t self-hosted with your own domain, check out my guide to starting a WordPress blog on Bluehost. Take the extra $36 you’d save by billing annually and re-invest it in your blog that way.
Not sure? Try Canva Pro for free with a 30-day trial
If you’re still not sure if you want to upgrade to Canva Pro, there’s no harm in taking it for a spin with the 30-day free trial you get when you sign up. I really believe that each blogger has unique needs, so you might get a lot of value out of Canva Pro like I do, or you might want to just stick to the free version.