No one disagrees with the importance of the visual in communicating. The problem usually is creating it. Most writers are great at wordsmithing, but not so good at matching colors, picking fonts and font sizes, and then laying everything out artistically. It’s much easier to leave the artistry for the artists. When Microsoft Publisher came out over twenty-five years ago, it was the first major desktop publishing effort to make it easy to blend layout, colors, and multimedia. Unfortunately, it was (and continues to be) an expensive piece of software not traditionally included in Microsoft’s Office Suite (though that changed with Office 365).
Say hello to Canva. It’s web-based (including apps available for iPads and Chromebooks) with a drag-and-drop functionality that makes the design process simple and intuitive. You can create professional presentations, posters, multi-page documents, marketing materials, social media graphics, and more using Canva’s more than 1 million photos, icons, and layouts, each with colors and fonts coordinated into attractive schema easily accessed by both beginners and reluctant designers. There’s no cost when using the thousands of free illustrations and images in the Canva library or uploading your own. For a small fee (usually $1.00), more than one million professional stock images and graphics can be used on a pay-per-use basis.
Once a template is selected, many projects can be completed in five minutes:
- edit text
- add relevant pictures
Here’s how it works:
- Sign in with your Google account or create a separate FREE Canva account.
- Select one of the over fifty-six categories such as presentations, posters, greeting cards, infographics, and cover pages.
- Select a category template that fits the project.
- Replace text and images.Optionally change colors, size, layering, and more.
- Extras include:
- themed elements
- more text
- more images
- your own uploaded images
If you have never designed graphically before, start with the free Design School with how-to instructions on many projects and skillsets.
Here are several projects that are perfect for writers:
Banners for social media, blogs
Create professional-looking banners for your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or lots of other social media. Here are examples I created. They took less than 15 minutes for each:
Cover pages for ebooks, novelettes, stories, or anything that doesn’t require a professional’s touch will benefit from Canva’s professionalism. Pick a Canva template and then edit text and image. This is easily done in five minutes once you know what you’re doing.
Fliers can be used to announce book signings, blog hops, or any other event related to the marketing of your writing. Canva provides a wide variety of templates with lots of fonts, colors, and image placement choices.
Resumes are a critical but oft-complicated requirement for job hunting. Canva makes it easy. All you do is pick a layout, enter data, and you’re done. Canva does the formatting, font selection, and attractive layout.
Overall, Canva is a fully-featured desktop publishing tool that is scalable to most workflows and rigorous enough for most projects. It levels the playing field for all Indie writers as we struggle to market our books after we’ve written them.
More marketing options for writers:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.