One of the regular tasks for today’s small business owner is social media, and one of the truths of social media is that you’ll get a lot more engagement if you have an image attached to your post. You could just pop up a photo and add the text in the post, but a more powerful approach is to present your message visually.
There are many different ways to create simple graphics for social media. Of course there are the high-end options like Photoshop and Illustrator, but there are also plenty of free options for desktop or mobile, programs like PicMonkey , Quote Maker, Word Swag and LiveCollage. There’s also Pixlr from my old company, Autodesk, and if you have MS PowerPoint or MS Publisher you can use those. My personal favourite, however, is Canva.
Canva is a free online solution, available for desktop, and to download as an app for iOS. It’s very easy to use, requires no graphic design experience at all, in fact, they claim it takes only 23 seconds to learn! I don’t know about 23 seconds, but if you’re intrigued then read on and I’ll give you a quick overview, and talk you through how I created the image for this post.
Go to www.canva.com to get started. You’ll need to sign up for a free account so you can save your designs, but don’t worry, they don’t spam you. There’s a premium option too, for around £10 per month, the biggest advantage to that being that you can resize your designs, which is a limitation of the free version, but see how you get on.
Once you’re signed in, you’re presented with different sizes of template. It’s not just for social media, you can create flyers, cards, presentations, infographics, anything visual really. Be aware, as mentioned above, you can’t change the size of your design once you’ve chosen it, so pick carefully. You could, of course, resize the completed piece in a separate program, such as MS Paint, but if it’s tall and you want it square, e.g. you create an A4 poster, which you want to re-work as a Facebook post, you’ll need to start again from scratch, so keep it simple.
For the purpose of this blog post I’m going to choose Facebook Post, which I know will work on both the blog and Facebook.*
You’re presented with a blank template. If you’re feeling inspired you can start here and design your own image from scratch using the options on the left-hand column. Elements contains stock photos, illustrations, shapes and all sorts of other fun things. Text has preset text combinations and layouts. Everything is editable by simply clicking on the element, and changing the colour, size font, etc in the menu bar. You can add your own photos or logos into Uploads and combine it all together to make your very own unique branded visual. Nice!
But perhaps a little ambitious for a first attempt? Let’s take a little shortcut.
Select Layouts from the left-hand column. In there are stacks of ready-made graphics which can be quickly edited and adapted to suit your needs. Find one you like and dive in.
I’m going to pick this flower one. I like the white frame, the text is clear and central, it’s not too fussy. That’ll tie in with other images on my site nicely.
The flower image has diagonal lines across it, this is because it’s been created with a stock photo. You can pay $1 to use it, or switch it for another, perhaps one of your own. I’m going to switch it for this free picture of raspberries I found under Elements > Photos. I drag the raspberries across the image and if I hover in the right place it’ll switch with the flowers. The colours are quite strong, though, I want it to look faded so I reduce the transparency.
Now I need to change the words. I click on the text boxes (there are three separate ones in this example). I change the words and also change the font to a script (handwritten style) for the upper and lower text boxes. It’s visually more appealing and again, that ties in with other images on my site.
I resize the text box using the handles that appear on the sides when I click, and I change the font using the options on the menu bar. Once I’m happy with that I click on the white box behind the text and resize it to fit the new text.
Notice how when you move and resize boxes faint vertical and horizontal lines appear temporarily across the element? These show the alignment of the element relative to other things on the page. I made sure to keep everything centred for this piece.
Finally, I want to add my web address to the bottom. If you’re advertising your services or products with an image, always add your web address to the image, then people will be able to find out more. I do this by going to Text in the left-hand column, and Add Subheading. It appears centrally, but I move it lower right. I change the font to my standard one, make it white and left justify it.
Et voilà! The finished article – how to create simple graphics for social media. A little longer than 23 seconds, but not much.
Once you get into Canva you’re limited only by your imagination (and time)! Dive in and start playing. Let me know how you get on, I’d love to see your creations! If you have any questions or suggestions, or if you need a helping hand and would like a one-to-one tutorial, or, if you simply don’t have time to do it yourself and want me to create it for you, then please do get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The eagle-eyed among you will notice that for the purpose of this article, I’ve actually created three versions of the finished image. The first is the squarish one that is demonstrated in the script. If I was simply creating a Facebook post, this would be all I’d need, but since I’m also publishing it on my blog then I need a letterbox version as the featured images on my blog page are shallow and wide. And, since I’m also going to publish it as a Facebook note, I need a slightly deeper format, as shown below. So while it is simple to create a single image, don’t underestimate the effort required to create a full suite of images for every medium.