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What is Canva, and How Can It Help Your Small Business?

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. i.e., if you sign up for their paid programs, I will get a commission, at no cost to you. Please rest assured that I only recommend software/ products I genuinely believe in, and trust to be good for you.

Visual content plays a crucial role in communication and creativity.

And Canva has been a complete game-changer in how that content is created, both for professional and business use.

What is Canva?

Canva is an online design tool that allows you to use prebuilt templates or customize drag-and-drop elements to create beautiful designs.

It was launched in 2012 but recently, has transformed into a design powerhouse by adding multiple, very helpful features for non-designers. It has made it super easy for individuals and small business brands to create stunning visuals without the need for extensive design expertise.

This comprehensive guide explores:

  • What Canva is
  • How Canva works
  • Canva features
  • Pricing
  • Comparison of Canva with other design tools
  • FAQ

Key components of Canva

1. Drag-and-drop interface

One of the things I love about Canva is its simplicity. The drag-and-drop interface lets you pick elements like text, shapes, and images, and drop them into your design. It’s so user-friendly that I think anyone can get the hang of it quickly, even if you’ve never touched design software before.

2. Photo editing capabilities

The photo offers a variety of tools to enhance photos, such as applying filters, adjusting brightness and contrast, and cropping.

This is great because it means you can manage all your visual editing in one place without the need for separate or advanced software like Adobe Photoshop.

3. Template library

Canva boasts an extensive library of templates that can kickstart your project. In my experience, these templates are a lifesaver when you need inspiration or are tight on time. They’re crafted by professionals and cater to almost any theme or industry you can think of.

Whether you’re putting together a flyer, a social media post, or a presentation for your business, Canva offers plenty of premade templates that you can quickly customize to meet your branding and business needs.

4. Extensive content pool

Beyond just templates, Canva offers access to a rich library of stock media, including high-quality photos, audio tracks, video clips, fonts, icons, and stickers. Most of Canva’s fonts are also available for commercial use.

Honestly, I don’t even search for images on Pexels or Shutterstock anymore, for my brand website. Why bother, when you can have them all in one place?

Most of my featured and other images for my website comes from Canva.

5. Branding

Maintaining a consistent brand identity is crucial, and Canva helps you achieve that with its Brand Kit feature.

Brand kits ensure that all your designs are aligned with your brand’s visual identity, which is essential for building brand recognition and trust.

Here are some brand kit examples, so you can see how they work.

I use the Canva Brand Kits (yes, multiple ones for my own businesses and of my clients) to store all my brand elements—logos, color palettes, and fonts—so they are readily available whenever I create a new design on Canva.

6. Collaboration

The ability to collaborate on Canva has transformed the way I work with my team. You can share your designs, Canva presentations, and whiteboards with colleagues and edit it in real-time, which is perfect for brainstorming sessions or when you need quick feedback.

This feature has streamlined our workflow and significantly sped up our project timelines.

7. Accessibility

As Canva is cloud-based, you can access your projects from any computer or device with internet access.

This is super handy for me as I often switch between devices depending on where I am, and it could be just as convenient for you. Remember, though, that Canva cannot be used offline.

Get access to all advanced Canva tools & content for 30 days

How does Canva work?

Using Canva is straightforward, even if you’re new to design. Here’s how you can get started and make the most out of the platform:

1. Getting started

1. Sign up for free.

First, create an account on Canva.com. It’s quick and just requires an email address or a social media account to get going.

To get a 30-day free trial of Canva Pro, you will have to enter your credit card information.

2. Explore the interface

Once you’re logged in, take some time to explore the interface. Canva is designed to be intuitive, but getting familiar with where everything is located can make your design process even smoother.

Canva dashboard

3. Choose a design type

Start with a template that fits your project. Canva offers categories ranging from presentations to social media posts, so you’ll likely find a template that suits your needs.

You pick a template for what you want to make, like a social media post or a poster.

Canva Templates

2. Design Creation

1. Customize your template

Once you’ve chosen a template, you can start tweaking it. Add your text, change fonts and colors, or upload your images. Canva also allows you to add free or premium elements directly to your design.

Pro tip:

You don’t always have to choose a template to get started with your design. You can create a design from scratch, or you can also upload your designs.

Related: How to upload a PPT to Canva

Canva offers a wide selection of free and premium aesthetic fonts to enhance your designs’ typography. You can also upload your own fonts to maintain brand consistency.

Then, you customize your template by adding your text, pictures, and colors – all with a simple drag-and-drop editor.

2. Use design features

Explore Canva’s design features like layering items, adding filters to images, and incorporating text effects. These can all help elevate your final product.

You can also add more videos, images, and audio from the Elements section.

Related: Best keywords to find Canva elements

Canva Elements - Photos and Videos

You can further boost your design with shapes, stickers, and other graphic elements.

Canva Elements - Graphics and Stickers

  • If you’re working with others, Canva for Teams lets you edit together in real time, just like Google Docs.
  • If you’re creating digital content, consider adding animations to your design. Canva lets you animate text and elements, which can be particularly engaging for social media.
  • You can also create videos with Canva, and there is a big library of existing videos to help you get started.

3. Save and share

After you’ve created your design, you can download it in various formats. You can share it online and on social media with Canva’s content planner.

You can also print it directly through Canva’s printing service.

Advanced features that save you time and effort

Besides the simple design creation, Canva is an intuitive tool that lets you speed up your design creation, and also create stuff that you thought only pro designers could do.

Here are a few of the coolest features of Canva.

1. Custom Brand Kits

Consistent branding is very important for businesses, and Canva’s Brand Kits are perfect for this.

You can store your brand’s colors, logos, and fonts all in one place. It’s a lifesaver for ensuring that every design aligns with your brand identity.

Design with Canva Brand Kit Add logo   Design with Canva Brand Kit Add brand font

Design with Canva Brand Kit Add colors

2. Background Remover

I have used the Background Remover more times than I can count. It allows you to remove distracting backgrounds from both images and videos, which is perfect when you need your subject to stand out.

Trust me, it’s a feature you’ll want to use.

3. Resize & Magic Switch

This tool is a game-changer. I use Resize & Magic Switch to quickly adapt my designs for different platforms without starting from scratch.

Canva Magic Switch

Whether you need a post for Instagram, Facebook, or a banner for your blog, Magic Resize makes it incredibly easy. Without this feature, you would have to create a new document every time and copy-paste to adapt your designs across different sizes.

4. Instant animations

Adding animation can significantly boost engagement. I use Canva Animations to animate elements in my social media posts and ads, which makes them more eye-catching.

Canva Animated and Moving Elements

You should try it—animate text, or a call to action, and see the impact for yourself.

5. Transparent images

One of the features I always had to use Adobe Photoshop for before, was downloading images with transparent backgrounds. Canva would let me download PNGS, but it always added a white background, and it was almost like a JPEG.

Annoying 🙁

But now, it’s possible! I can download images with transparent backgrounds.

I use this feature especially for logos and overlay images that need to blend seamlessly with different backgrounds.

6. Social media content planner

This is a feature I use at least weekly, if not daily. You can schedule posts directly from Canva to your social media platforms. It’s a huge time-saver and helps me keep my content consistent without having to juggle multiple tools.

7. Video Background Remover

I have tried the video background remover for several projects, and it works pretty well, I’ve got to say, most of the time It’s perfect for creating professional-looking video content where you want your message to be the focus.

8. Magic Studio (AI tools)

Magic Morph Magic Eraser Magic Edit Screenshot 2024 02 15 222532

The Canva Magic Studio is one of the latest Canva additions, and I absolutely love it.

It gathers all of Canva’s AI-powered tools in one user-friendly interface, making it incredibly easy to bring your ideas to life.

From my experience, features like Magic Design, which crafts custom content from brief descriptions, can help you create unique content quickly.

Besides, Magic Studio’s advanced editing capabilities, such as Magic Edit and Magic Eraser, greatly simplify the refining of visuals, allowing you to focus more on creativity and less on the tedious aspects of design.

Read my post on how to erase in Canva to know how the Magic Eraser works.

Get access to all advanced Canva tools & content for 30 days

How much does Canva cost

Canva offers various pricing options to cater to different needs. Canva had three primary pricing tiers: Free, Pro, and Teams.

Canva Free

The free version of Canva gives you access to Canva’s basic design tools and templates. However, it gives you limited storage for your designs and offers no collaboration features.

The Free plan is ideal for individuals and small businesses with basic design needs. It’s a great way to start with Canva and explore its capabilities without any financial commitment.

Canva Pro

Canva Pro of course, includes all the free plan features, plus more, like the Background Remover, One-Click Resizing, Video Background Remover, etc.

Besides, it offers 200x more design storage space, access to millions of templates and elements, and 4 more brand kits than the free version.

You can get Canva Pro for a monthly price of $12.99 or an annual fee of $119.99.

Canva Pro is designed for more serious or professional users. It offers a significant upgrade over the free plan, making creating high-quality designs easier, collaborating with team members, and maintaining brand consistency.

However, the access is limited to only one member.

Check out my list of Canva coupons for the best discounts and deals on Canva.

If you want to add your team members for better collaboration, use Canva for Teams.

Canva for Teams

Canva for Teams fosters better collaboration and brand management between different stakeholders. It also offers more design storage.

You can add 3x more brand kits than Canva Pro and get priority customer support.

The pricing of Canva for Teams is based on the number of members, and of course, whether you go for a monthly or annual plan. It starts from $12.49 per month per team member.

Each pricing tier offers different features and benefits, allowing users to choose the plan that best suits their specific needs.

The choice between Free, Pro, or Teams depends on your individual or team requirements and the scale of your design projects.

Updated Canva Pricing 2023

Related: Read my full post on Canva pricing for a detailed overview.

Get access to all advanced Canva tools & content for 30 days

Canva Lifetime Deal

The Canva lifetime deal offers various ways to access Canva Pro and Canva for Teams on a lifetime basis.

There are options for regular subscriptions, access to educational and nonprofit organizations, and a free version with limited features.

The deal includes discounts for annual subscriptions, significantly saving over monthly billing.

Specifically, a Canva Pro lifetime subscription gives a 16% annual discount, reducing the cost to $119.99 annually.

Similarly, Canva for Teams offers a discounted annual rate. Additional options for students, teachers, and nonprofits are available, providing free access to Canva’s premium tools.

Canva pros and cons

I have been using Canva for years now, so let me share the quick pros and cons of using Canva.

Pros of using Canva

  • User-friendly: Canva is a drag-and-drop editor with millions of templates you can customize to suit your needs. This is the biggest plus of Canva, which anyone can use with little to no design experience.
  • Saves time and money: Not only can anyone use it, but you can also use it to create designs creatively quickly, which is a big advantage if you are a small business owner with a business to run. Besides, this saves you the cost of hiring a graphic designer.
  • Collaborative: Collaborating with team members for real-time editing is super easy.
  • Versatility: You can create almost any design project, from social media graphics to business presentations.
  • Innovative: One of the parts I love best about Canva is that they constantly add new design features to keep up-to-date with their users’ needs. Features like the Canva Whiteboard, Magic Studio, and Canva Docs make collaborating easy for small businesses.

Cons of using Canva

  • Limited advanced features: Canva Pro unlocks many advanced features, but Canva is still not as powerful as industry-standard design software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. It is meant for simple designs, not high-level, complex designs.
  • Internet dependency: Canva primarily operates online, requiring an internet connection, which can be limiting in offline environments.
  • Limited collaboration with Canva Pro: Earlier, you could have multiple team members with Canva Pro, which was helpful if you wanted to limit your costs. Now, you can only do that with Canva for Teams, which makes it a bit more of a hassle.

How can Canva help your small business?

Here’s a few direct ways Canva helps you in your small business.

1. Affordable design solutions

If you’re like many small business owners operating on tight budgets, hiring graphic designers or purchasing expensive design software might not be feasible.

Yet you need to ramp up your marketing, and this makes Canva the most cost-effective solution. You can use Canva for free if you have simple needs or extensive design tools with Canva Pro to create great-looking visuals relatively quickly.

2. Easy content creation

Whether you’re creating social media graphics, flyers, or even animated videos, Canva’s user-friendly drag-and-drop interface means you don’t need to be a design expert to produce professional results.

You or anyone on your team, regardless of their graphic design skills, can jump in and create a lot of great-looking material relatively quickly.

Besides, it also enhances team collaboration without requiring extensive training or oversight.

3. Consistent branding

For small businesses, establishing a strong and consistent brand identity is vital.

Canva’s Brand Kits help you apply the same brand attributes like brand colors, fonts, and logos across all your marketing materials easily.

This consistent branding helps build trust and recognition with your customers.

Pro tip:Remember that  Canva is just a design tool, and is great to translate your brand story and brand positioning into visual expressions.

It cannot help you develop a brand strategy or brand messaging.

4. Versatile and quick content creation

Canva allows you to create a diverse range of content, from social media posts and flyers to newsletters and email headers.

Having the ability to produce various content formats in one platform simplifies your marketing efforts and ensures you can reach audiences across different channels.

You can simply create one design and use Magic Switch to apply it across different formats for different social media.

Design with Canva Brand Kit

I’ve used Canva to craft everything from quick Instagram posts to detailed promotional materials, and it’s simplified my marketing efforts immensely.

5. Enhanced collaboration

Canva’s collaborative features- Canva for Teams allow your team to work together on designs from anywhere.

This can be a lifesaver if you are a small business looking to maximize productivity without requiring everyone to be in the same room.

6. Scaling with business growth

As your small business expands, the demands on your marketing and design resources will inevitably increase.

However, no matter how big your business gets, Canva is remarkably adaptable and can grow alongside your business, making it an ideal solution for evolving needs.

1. Asset management

Canva offers solutions like increased storage space and better organization capabilities, including unlimited folders and subfolders, which help manage an extensive library of designs and assets.

This feature can been so incredibly helpful for me to keep track of ongoing and past projects. And I don’t even have to download them!

2. Adapting to new markets

Canva supports a wide range of languages and cultural customization options, allowing you to tailor your marketing materials to diverse audiences.

3. Flexible pricing

Canva for Teams does not have a fixed pricing. As your business grows, you can decide how many members you want to add for access to Canva, and the pricing will adjust automatically. You can use the Canva for Teams pricing calculator to estimate your costs.

Screenshot 2024 02 21 210533

Get access to all advanced Canva tools & content for 30 days

Canva vs. Other Design Tools

How does Canva compare to other popular design tools? Here are some comparisons:

Adobe Express vs. Canva

Adobe Express is a simplified, web-based version of Adobe’s professional design software. It offers advanced design capabilities but may be more complex and feature-rich than Canva.

Canva is known for its user-friendliness and a broader array of templates.

Read the full post: Canva vs Adobe Express

Canva vs. PowerPoint

Canva excels in creating various visual content, including social media graphics and marketing materials, while PowerPoint is designed specifically for presentations.

Canva offers a broader range of templates and is more suitable for digital and print media, whereas PowerPoint is tailored for creating and delivering slideshows.

Read the full post: Canva vs PowerPoint

Canva vs. Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a professional vector graphics software with extensive capabilities for illustration, logo design, and complex graphics.

Canva, on the other hand, is more user-friendly and suited for a wide audience, including non-designers. Canva emphasizes templates and ease of use.

Read the full post: Canva vs Illustrator

Canva vs. Figma

Figma is a collaborative design tool emphasizing teamwork and UI/UX design. It offers real-time collaboration and prototyping.

Canva while supporting collaboration, is a simpler tool with lesser control on design features. However, it has a broader focus on various design types, making it a better choice for marketing materials and social media content.

Read the full post: Canva vs Figma

Visme vs Canva

Visme and Canva both offer intuitive interfaces and a wide range of templates. While Visme excels in data visualization and interactive content creation, Canva is renowned for its user-friendly design tools and extensive graphics library.

Visme’s templates are also more corporate in nature, while Canva’s templates are more diverse.

Read the full post: Visme vs Canva

Envato vs. Canva

Envato Elements is like a giant library of stock media, including images, WordPress templates, and graphics, while Canva is an easy-to-use design hub with teamwork features.

Canva is more suitable for creating original designs, while Envato is ideal for accessing a wide range of stock resources.

Read the full post: Envato vs Canva

Piktochart vs Canva

Piktochart stands out for its strong infographic design features and user-friendly templates. At the same time, Canva offers a versatile platform suitable for creating various visual content types using intuitive drag-and-drop tools.

Read the full post: Piktochart vs Canva

Kittl vs Canva

While Canva is a versatile graphic design tool with more templates, design elements, and collaboration features, Kittl is a design platform focused on print-on-demand offering simpler licensing, better text features.

It also has high-quality templates for merchandise.

Read the full post: Canva vs Kittl

Get access to all advanced Canva tools & content for 30 days

Mastering Canva – Specific How-Tos

We’ve already seen that Canva offers a wide range of design possibilities. Here are some specific things you can do with Canva.

1. Wrap text: With Canva, you can easily wrap text around images and shapes, creating visually appealing designs. Read the step-by-step guide here: Wrap text in Canva

2. Group and ungroup: You can group items together for easier handling and then ungroup them to fine-tune your design. Learn how to do this effectively and efficiently: How to group in Canva

3. Draw: Canva’s drawing tools allow you to draw freehand to create custom designs. Read more on how to draw in Canva,

4. Curve text: Adding curved text to your designs adds an elegant touch. Read more on how to create curved text in Canva.

5. Add superscript: While Canva does not have a superscript tool, you can use Canva to add superscript to your text.

6. Add page numbers: You can add page numbers in your Canva document both manually or by using the Bulk Create app. Know the full details in my post on adding page numbers to Canva.

7. Spell check: Canva does not have a spell-check feature, but you can use tools like Grammarly to help you identify and correct spelling errors in your Canva text. Know how in my post on can you do spell check on Canva.

What is Canva –  Summing up

Canva is like having a graphic designer for your business and other design needs.

While it may not replace heavyweight design software, Canva’s easy usability, versatility, and affordability make it a go-to choice for creating stunning visuals relatively quickly and easily.

But it’s not just a design tool anymore. I’ve seen how Canva has evolved to be more than just a design tool—it’s a comprehensive solution for anyone looking to produce professional-quality graphics easily.

Whether you’re a hobbyist or a small business owner, I am very sure that Canva’s features can help you achieve your creative and business goals.

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