When you head out on the exciting journey of building your very first online business, you’ll quickly realize how important it becomes to have nice, good-looking, and most importantly unique and relevant images on your websites and social media outlets.
You may have come across stock image websites. There are many of them out there, and they are great. That is one very good resource to get ahold of relevant images for your website. Another one you may have heard of is Canva – But what is canva.com? And how does it work? What sets it apart from the average stock image site? In this article, I want to answer those questions and also give you my very personal advice on whether Canva is worth it – or not.
Why Relevant Images Are So Important
Whether you want to start a small blog in a niche you are excited about, create a website to back up your brand identity as an Amazon FBA seller, or build an Instagram portfolio to start an influencer business: Good, unique images are one of the many keys to success!
Why? Because it helps your audience to digest the written information on your page much easier. It helps them to organize information and allows their eyes to relax. A website with well designed visual elements will always attract more customers than a “wall of text”, which rather scares readers away! Hence, images and infographics (and the likes) are so important.
Put Yourself In Your Reader’s Position
At the end of the day, a blog article (or an Instagram story, etc.) is never written for the author:
You should always write and edit with your audience in mind.
Do they come to stay? Or does your “wall of text” scare them away?
Images, as part of your content you create for your audience, are just as important as the message of your written article. The whole “package” has to resonate with your audience.
And that makes images and other visual content (such as info graphics etc.) as part of your “overall strategy so important!
Why Should You Care About THIS Review?
I know: It’s likely that this isn’t the FIRST review you’re reading about Canva – But chances are that it’s the most important one 🙂 Tough claim, huh?
But let me back it up a bit: I’ve been working with Canva for years, personally and hands-on, and used it a lot for my various blogs and associated social media outlets, as well as other online activities. Be it YouTube, blogging, or even streaming video games on twitch (which I did for fun, no serious business intentions there).
Check This Out
The following is just a small excerpt of my portfolio on Canva.com:
Personally, I think it looks quite good. Bear in mind: I’m not a designer! Not even close! But Canva empowers me to build upon the work that other designers have done, and then customize it to my personal needs. That’s pretty cool!
What I Am Trying To Say
I’m not the person who just signed up to a shady affiliate program and now tries to shove a product down your throat that won’t help you solve your problem. Instead, I’ve personally used Canva myself for years. And it helped me a lot! I want to share with you my honest experience. And will also give you what I DO NOT like about Canva!
Then you decide if it is worth trying yourself or not. And THAT is why you should care about THIS review!
Canva.com: A Quick Product Overview
To get that out of the way right from the beginning: Canva is one of my go-to tools when it comes to finding and designing visual content for my own websites and social media pages. It’s simple enough to use for everybody, and it delivers exceptional results within minutes. It won’t make you a professional designer. But it can make your visual content appear as if it was designed by a professional designer. How?
Canva gives you access to a simple to use toolset. You pick a design that you like and that firs your purpose; let’s say an infographic. Pick one that you like! Now you can start customizing it by changing the text, moving icons around, adding shapes, etc. You can take it pretty far. In most cases, especially when you want to create a banner or just add some text to an image, it’s done in seconds! Even for absolute beginners. That’s the beauty of Canva!
Plus: It runs 100% online and in your browser window, which means that you can design ANYWHERE, even on your tablet. Leave your work, pick it up on a different machine. Everything is possible!
To sum this little overview up, let’s take a look at the Canva “data sheet” and by peaking at my final opinion:
- Product Name: Canva
- Product Type: Web Application
- Website: https://www.canva.com
- Features: 9 / 10
- Ease of Use: 10 / 10
- Motivation and Fun Factor: 9 / 10
- Community: 9 / 10
- Support: 8 / 10
- Price: FREE or $12.95 (Pro Features, price is for individuals and teams of 2-5 people)
- Trial: There is a FREE 30-day trial available for all Pro Features
- Overall Rank: 9 / 10
Who Canva.com Is For
So you’re an online creator looking to spice up your content and want to get ahold of some relevant images quickly. I’d say you basically have three options
- Stock photos: Chances are that stock photos are your go-to solution. They were mine for a very long time. Stock photos are great, and there are tons and tons and tons of them out there. However, they come with two major issues: First, using stock photos can become pretty expensive quickly, as they aren’t cheap (with a SINGLE photo costing several dollars already).
So, when you’re just starting, and don’t have much money to purchase paid stock photos, you’ll probably end up downloading and using free stock photos, which is fine in the early stages of your journey. However, when you start browsing the internet with your eyes wide open, you’ll quickly realize how many website owners use the same images to back up their content. That’s because there are only so many free stock photos, and all the bloggers and content creators out there are using them.
- Create your own images: Making your own photos is great! It makes your content stand out and scores 100 points for individualism and creativity. Plus, you own all the rights, and nobody can get after you and dispute that! However, making your own photos for each and every blog post can become pretty challenging and time-consuming. Plus, you have to go through the process of editing these images (and learn the tools to do so).
Most content creators (if their niche isn’t taking beautiful photos) are better off focusing on their core business which most likely would be writing blogs, writing scripts, recording video material or podcasts, and the likes. And not “waste” their precious time by taking pictures for their blog.
- Use Canva: That’s where Canva.com steps in as a very powerful alternative. It basically combines the two options above, by giving the simplicity of getting your hands on thousands of brilliant stock photos and combining it with the versatility of a full-fledged, but still simple to use and easy to learn editor to customize these images to your needs. And if you don’t want to spend time customizing, Canva will even help you here by giving you access to thousands of designs made by professional designers that you can then customize with your own images and text.
So Canva is out there to help us content creators, who may not have tons of experience in using Photoshop, GIMP, etc., and rather want to focus on their core business of actual content creation, by giving us quick and simple access to thousands of professionally created designs. For us to customize in minutes with the ease of just clicking a few buttons. That’s pretty cool!
What’s In The Box?
If I had to break down Canva into its individual components (which I have tasked myself with to do for the sake of this review 🙂 ) I’d say that it consists of four major components that it offers to us users: Designs, Templates, Stock Photos, and the Editor. Let’s take a look at those…
The Designs section is probably the “box” that most new users will open first. Here you’ll find thousands and thousands of designs, made by professional designers for you to customize and use in your content! For Free!!! That alone is pretty powerful already.
What makes it even better is that all those designs are properly curated and tagged, so that you can search for a specific topic or theme that you want to find a design for. Want to find a design for Christmas? Just search for it and Canva will do its thing:
Those designs are not meant to be downloaded as they are. They are meant for you to open inside Canva (no need to download anything to your desktop computer) and customize to your needs. And while we’re at it: Let’s take a look at the editor next…
When we’re talking about customizing, we should also talk about the editor. Because it’s pretty powerful and so simple to use. While image processing applications like Photoshop or GIMP require their user to really build up knowledge, even take courses to understand how to use them properly, Canva gives you “just” a selection of the most used tools. That sounds like Canva is limiting you, but in fact, it empowers you by doing so. Because it is very accessible that way, and everybody can use it without feeling overwhelmed! And interestingly enough, these tools are pretty much everything you need to customize the available designs (or even start from scratch and design everything yourself) to create something really unique and good looking in minutes, not hours. With little to no preparation!
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to “bash” Photoshop and the likes. Not at all. They are powerful tools! But they are tools for professionals. They are expensive, and they need a properly trained artist to really benefit from what they have to offer. They have a completely different target audience. And that’s why they are both great tools and build for their respective audience in mind.
Templates are somewhat similar to designs. While designs are more centered around themes, templates are rather centered around “formats”. On Canva, you’ll find thousands of templates for
- Video messages
- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter posts, etc.
- And many, many more…
Templates basically give you designs that are already laid out in the proper dimensions and with the proper styling in mind. And Canva offers many, many different templates. I can’t remember a single situation where Canva didn’t have me covered!
The cool thing is that once you realize how many different templates Canva covers and how it all works, it quickly becomes your go-to solution far beyond your online business efforts. Want to design an invitation? Or this year’s Christmas card? Or even a T-Shirt??? Canva has you covered!
Finally, stock photos. There are close to 100 million(!!!) photos in Canva’s database for you to use, and almost 800,000 of them are FREE! Just like designs, those photos are curated and tagged, so you can simply type in a search term and Canva will go out and find photos for you that match your search.
Give me something, completely random… Uhm… How about “Bathroom”?
Canva has 362,253 pictures for “Bathroom” in its database, 1703 of them being available to you FOR FREE!!! Come on: That’s incredible, isn’t it?
Canva.com – Support
To be honest. I cannot really say much about Canva’s support, as I never needed it so far. The tools are simple to use, the web application always worked reliably.
They do, however, have a “Help” icon in the bottom right of the screen, that hovers there and is available to you all the time. As with many web services these days, it tries to walk you through troubleshooting the problem yourself first and take you to an FAQ section first. But if you click through it, there is also an option to contact the Canva team in person.
Full disclosure: I cannot offer you any experience on how long it takes them to get back to you, though. I’ve never tried it, as I never had to. Have you? If so, please share your experience in the comments below!
The Good & The Bad Of Canva.com
Canva is a pretty decent tool. It shouldn’t come to you as a surprise when I tell you once more that I really like it. To wrap this review up, I do want to point out a few pros and cons, though, before I leave you with my final verdict 🙂
- Very Beginner-Friendly: The tools Canva offers are easy to learn and the results that even beginners can achieve in minutes are stunning!
- Amazing Results in Minutes: Whether you are just starting or are a pro already. The results you get with Canva are incredible! And they allow you to focus on what matters most: Your content! Without having to hire freelancers to do your design work.
- Easy To Navigate: The website as well as the editor are very clear to navigate. Even beginners will find their way around instantly!
- Fair “Freemium” Model: Even if you are a free user, Canva is incredibly powerful. There isn’t really much you will miss. However, if you decide to upgrade, you can try all premium feature yet again FOR FREE for 30 days.
- No “Hidden” Premium Features: This one goes hand in hand with the one before… Canva doesn’t surprise you! They will let you know straight up what you get for free and what you’ll have to pay for. There are no hidden premium features or upsales!
- FREE means FREE: You DO NOT need a credit card to sign up! Free is really free. FOREVER!
- No “Free-Features”-Filter In The Editor: One of the very few things I would probably wish for would be a filtering option where I could say: “Hey Canva, please show me only free features/images”, especially when browsing the images section INSIDE THE EDITOR (there is a free filter when browsing the images in the stock photos section outside the editor, though).
It can be a bit frustrating when you’ve finally found that perfect background image and fell in love with it, just to realize that it’s not available to free users. However, I can understand that they won’t add this filter, as it adds an incentive to upgrade to a paid plan, obviously.
My Final Opinion Of Canva.com
With all that being said, let’s wrap this review up. The verdict probably won’t surprise you, and I didn’t really make it a secret from the beginning:
I really like Canva. It has helped me a lot over the years. I’ve been using it for a long, long time, and would probably have left years ago if Canva wouldn’t be as convincing as it is!
Even for non-premium users, Canva has a lot to offer. I myself was a free user for ages. And I didn’t really miss much. I created a truckload of designs for my blogs back in the days when I just started out and didn’t make much money; all without paying a dime.
Yes, I remember that every now and then I would run into premium features that I couldn’t use without subscribing to a paid plan, and then Canva shows you what is possible behind the paywall. But that’s okay, after all: Canva is a great tool and it deserves many paying customers.
But all in all, the “freemium” model is a really, really fair deal. It allows you to get your hands on pretty much all of the features. And it’s honest enough to tell you upfront what you can and can’t do with a free plan. It’s not like you spend hours designing something, just to realize in the end that you need a paid plan to export your work or so.
Hence, my suggestion would be to give Canva a shot. If you’ve made it here, chances are that you are looking for an easy to use design tool that will give you quick, good looking results. That tool is, without a doubt, Canva. Sign up for free and give it a shot! You won’t regret it. And even if you don’t like it, you won’t have wasted a lot of time, as it is so simple to use!
Why are you still here? 🙂