For small businesses, Canva can be a very powerful tool. It allows you to make professional looking social media posts, posters, menus (and lots more) in a few minutes. And it’s free! There is a pro account (which I use) but for most, the free version is more than enough.

This is a shortish guide on how to use Canva. I’ve tried to make it as simple as possible. If you have any questions, drop them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

In this guide, we’re going to make an Instagram post for an imaginary business called Fab Florals. I’m using a brand new account on the free version.

  1. Go to
Your Canva Dashboard
  1. Sign up using email, Google or Facebook
  2. Set up brand kit by clicking on Brand Kit on the left menu. This is totally optional but can help add to the cohesiveness of your brand across your social media platforms.
    • Add logo colours (If you have a logo designed by a graphic designer, they would have sent you brand guidelines with your logo’s colours and fonts listed.)
    • A pro account allows you to add a logo, more colours and fonts to your brand kit.
  3. Back to Home
  4. In the search box, search for Instagram. You can also search for things like ‘Mother’s Day’, ‘Easter’, ‘Sale’ etc
  5. Click on Instagram post
  6. Choose a template
Choose from the range of templates.
  1. The design dashboard will open
Your design dashboard
  1. Change the colours of the template (or set you colours to your brand colours (optional))
    • Click on a section of the design
    • On the top bar, you’ll see a small coloured square.Click on this to change the colour of that section.
    • Choose from your brand colours or from the default colours. You can also search for colours by their name or hex code. Clicking the ‘New Colour’ square will bring up a colour palette where you can choose a colour from the colour spectrum.
    • At the bottom of your screen, you might see an option to change all instances of that colour to the new colour. Click this (optional)
Left hand menu
  1. To change the background colour, click on Background.
    1. You can choose from patterns, textures and block colours for your background. 
  2. Add your photo
    1. Click on uploads
    2. Click Upload an image or video and find your image
    3. Try to ensure that your photo is good quality
    4. Drag your photo to your image
    5. You can resize your image by clicking on it and dragging the corners or sides of the image.
    6. There are hundreds of free images included with the free version of Canva. Just search in the Photos section of the left hand menu to find what you’re looking for.
  3. Edit your text
    1. Click on the text you want to edit.
    2. On the top menu, you can change the font by clicking on the font name. (changing the font is optional!)
    3. Scroll through the fonts to find a font you like or search for your logo font using the search box. Click on the font name to update the font. 
    4. To change the size of the font, drag from the corners. (You may need to ungroup the elements. To do this, click on ‘Ungroup’ on the top right of the menu.
    5. You can move the text around too. Red lines will appear to help you line everything up. 
    6. You can resize the text box by dragging the vertical bar at the right hand side of the text box. 
    7. Check your spelling and grammar!
  4. Add more text by clicking on Text on the left hand menu.
    1. Choose from the top three options if you are only wanting to add a small bit of text.
    2. Edit, move and resize the text as described above. 
  5. Add your logo (optional)
    1. Click on uploads
    2. Find your logo and upload it.
    3. Move and resize your logo if necessary.
Top menu
  1. Save and download your design
    • Your design automatically saves every few seconds. Just make sure you can see ‘All changes saved’ in the top menu.
    • Change the name of your design by clicking on the name on the top right of the menu. Use something descriptive. 
    • Click on Download on the top right of the menu.
    • Choose PNG as your file type and click Download.
The finished design

Images that you upload will be available for future designs, you can find them in the Uploads section of the left hand menu

You don’t have to use the pre-made templates, just click on the Blank option instead of a template

  1. Adding elements to you Canva design
    1. Click on Elements on the left menu.
    2. There’s lots here to choose from: shapes, lines, clipart, animated stickers, letters and numbers, figures, animals and plants…too many to list. The best way to find what you’re looking for is to use the search box. 
    3. If you see a Euro symbol beside an element, this means that you have to pay to use it (avoid these). Elements with a crown beside them are only available to Pro account users.
    4. You can move and resize the element as described above. 
    5. For some elements, you can change the colours. (See above)
    6. Use the red guidelines to make sure everything lines up.
  2. Add text
    1. There’s lots of pre-made text templates that you can choose from. 
    2. Edit, move and resize your text (you may need to ungroup the text elements. See above)
  3. You can add as many elements and text as you want as well as change the background.
  4. Once you are happy with your design, download and save it. 
The finished design

For special occasions, like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Canva will usually have a selection of pre-made templates on the front page so you won’t have to search for them.

Other bits and pieces:

  • All Canva’s social media templates are optimised to display perfectly on that social media platform.
  • You can share directly to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in you link your accounts.
  • There is an option to schedule your posts on the Pro account.
  • You can use custom dimensions if you need.
  • If you want to learn more, Canva also has a free ‘Design School‘ with tutorials on how to get the most out of it.

If you don’t have a computer, you can get the app on the Play Store and the App Store.

  • Search for templates using the search box or scroll through the designs
  • Select a design and then tap on edit.
  • Tap on an element to edit it and use the + icon to add elements
  • Once you are happy with your design, tap on the upwards facing arrow on the top right hand side.
  • You can choose to share your design on your chosen social media platform.
  • If you don’t want to share it straight away, your design will be saved to your gallery for future use.
  • These screen shots are from the Android version so will probably be different on iPhone.

Like I said above, if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

If you’ve found this helpful, please consider sharing!

Thanks for reading.


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