I have recently seen several questions posted on Facebook and been asked by two clients how to create graphics for social media posts and how they can achieve professional-looking images.
One of my favourite tools for this is Canva, a programme that allows you to create custom-made graphics and branded images for your social media posts.
Of course, there are loads of alternatives out there, and, whilst I love Canva and use it at least weekly, you may find another tool that suits you better. But here is my quick guide on how to create graphics for social media using Canva.
I will leave you to go through the usual account creation process, but if not prompted to do so, by clicking on “Your brand” on the left side menu, you can add in brand colours by their hex code (your logo designer will advise you of these), allowing you to employ your own colours in each graphic you make. You may also add others to your team from the side menu, allowing multiple – users to create and edit images.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Canva is that it’s free for life! Beware, that the free version does have some limitations, but if you are only creating a few graphics each month, then the free version should be fine.
Create a design
OK, so now we get to the fun bit! Click on “Create a design” and you will be taken to a full page of templates from Instagram posts to documents, book covers to brochures. If you cannot find a template, there is also the option in the sidebar to “Explore Templates”, which takes you to https://www.canva.com/templates/ where many more are available. Canva also offers the option to use your own custom sizes – great if you are creating an advert for a specific publication, for example. Remember that in order to make your social media posts look as engaging and professional as possible, you should always adhere to the size requirements for each individual platform. A guide to the different size requirements can be found here:
Unfortunately, the downside of the free version is that you cannot re-purpose one design to use on another platform – this feature is available on the paid versions. So, if you want to create a post suitable for Instagram and Facebook, you will have to create these as two separate designs.
Create graphics for social media – Instagram
For the purpose of this tutorial, let us create a post for Instagram. Click on the Instagram Post option and you are taken to your blank template. Now the fun begins! You may choose a design from any of the templates displayed and then set about editing, but the real fun comes from designing from scratch and this is where you should introduce brand colours, fonts and designs where possible to ensure continuity.
The first step is to click on “Background” on the left menu. You may choose from a pre-installed pattern, your own brand colour palette or the full spectrum of colours. Once your background is selected, you will need to add the elements of your graphic in turn.
Upload your images
My next port of call is the “Uploads” section. This gives me access to any images that I may have uploaded and I can simply click and drag that image onto my post.The image can be resized, repositioned or cropped in situ and generally played around with until I am happy with the result. Remember to only use images that are your own, free or that you have obtained a licence for. Free images are widely available from stock photo sites like Pexels or Pixabay.
Maybe you would like to add something else to your post? Maybe a frame, a shape, a line or something else? No problem! Click on “Elements” in the side menu, choose from the options available and again, simply drag the item onto your draft, repositioning as you go. Now, a word of caution; when positioning a frame, for example over the top of an image, you may find that the image is hidden behind the frame. This can be rectified by clicking on the “Arrange” button at the top of the screen. Canva works in the same way as many of the professional image editing software, by applying all elements to an image as a separate “layer”. Consequently, sometimes to edit text or an image you will have to set other elements either “forward” or “back” to allow editing. Canva also allows you to alter the transparency of an element; great if you want a photo as a background with a text overlay. Once you have mastered this, you should have no problem in getting your design just as you need it!
If you are designing an infographic and wish to display information in, for example, a chart, you can do this from this section. Great for blog posts or e-books.
Now, you should brand your post with your business name, web address or contact details. This can be added by clicking on the “Text” button and choosing whether you require adding a heading, a subheading or just a small bit of text. Be aware, that if you wish to add text where the lines have different fonts or sizes, you will have to add each line into a separate text box.
Again, when you click on the type of text you require, a text box appears which can again, be re-positioned on your draft. You may also alter the font, text size and even colour by choosing the options at the top of the page. Template text is also displayed if you want to adopt a particular style; great if you’re just not sure what you want!
Once you are happy with your draft, you may click on the header at the top of the page to rename your post and download it. I always include which social media platform the post is intended for so that I don’t post the wrong image on the wrong platform.
And there you have it. As you can see from my very simple Instagram post, it is quick and easy to create graphics for social media. Have a play around and familiarise yourself with what Canva can do, but also take a look at what sort of graphics others are using for inspiration and ideas. You really can create a graphic for social media that is a simple or as complex as you require.
If this all seems like too much hard work, then contact me! I offer a graphics creation service on an ad-hoc basis or as part of my social media management package. I am happy to advise you on any aspect of your social media that you may be struggling with in a no-obligation telephone call.