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Canva 101: the FREE social media tool

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

Watch the video below or scroll down to read the recap

The Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority (BEDA) hosts workshops to provide local and regional business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs resources to aid their development and success. BEDA staff Savannah Carabin and Faith Blackwell co-led this workshop as they walked attendees through the basics of using Canva, a free, easy to use, graphic design platform.

BEDA Executive Director Jim Spencer opened the workshop up with a welcome and comments on how Canva can be used for so much more than simply developing flyers or presentations as he showed a “wooden nickel” that he designed and created using Canva’s simple design platform. The possibilities are endless within Canva.


Some key notes from Canva 101 include:

Canva is a free, easy to use, graphic design platform that you can access on your desktop or smartphone. This web-based software includes a simple drag-drop editor that allows you to design various web and print materials for your business in-house. Don't sweat if you're not sure how you want it to look... you can choose from thousands of Canva's pre-set templates and modify them to make it your own.

1. Why Canva?

  • Canva makes it easy with pre-sized ready to go templates

  • Gives you access to stock photos and icons to streamline the design process

  • Increases your overall appearance and helps you look professional

2. What can I make in Canva?

  • Social Media Graphics

  • COVID-19 Information Flyers

  • Mobile Landing Page Graphic

  • Graphics for Reels or TikTok

  • Others include pamphlets, posters, logos, postcards, business cards, t-shirt designs, menus, and more

3. Why you shouldn't grab generic stock photos from online (i.e., from Google)

  • Using a stock photo with watermarks or someone else’s logo makes you look unprofessional and is illegal unless specifically stated otherwise.

  • Other businesses could use the same images that you google online, making your content look less original.

  • Developing your own graphics gives your business its own unique feel.

4. If you have a printer, you have limitless possibilities:

  • You can design and print Menus, Greeting Cards, Flyers, Business Cards, Certificates, Labels, Calendars, Programs, Coupons, Rack Cards, Letterheads, Envelopes, and more

5. Design for your Facebook/Instagram/Website or other web content:

  • Instagram Stories, Logos, Facebook Covers, Important Announcements, Presentations, YouTube Thumbnails, Zoom Backgrounds, E-mail Marketing Templates, and more

Faith proceeded to show viewers how to navigate on the home page of Canva, as she walked attendees through the navigation bars, the drag-and-drop editor, how to search for templates, and some of the basic tips and tools of using Canva as listed below.

Helpful Tips and Tools:

  • Team Share Feature – This allows you to share your work and collaborate with other user accounts (i.e., a coworker who is helping you create content).

  • Content Planner – You can create graphics and schedule posts in advance to social media by utilizing this feature.

  • Canva’s Learn Tab – Canva offers free tutorials and resources through their “Design School” on topics like learning Canva, social media marketing, basics of design, and more.

  • Tip – Change a template you use just enough to be more unique to your business (adding logos, changing colors, changing the font type, switching stock photos for your own original business photos, etc.)

Savannah walked attendees through how to design a Facebook post and mock Instagram story in Canva, showing attendees the basic elements of the editor. As Savannah concluded, Faith also jumped back on to show attendees what tabs were included in the editor and how to use them.

6. Tabs in the Editor (located on the left side on desktop | located at the bottom on mobile)

  • Templates – This tab holds various templates you can choose from.

  • Uploads – This tab allows you to upload your own photos, videos, or logos to place within your graphics from your desktop or smartphone.

  • Elements – Elements are the many items you can use to add to your design such as icons, shapes, stock photos, backgrounds, graphs, and more.

  • Photos – This tab holds tons of free high-quality stock images you can use within your designs.

  • Text – This tab allows you to place text within your graphic.

  • Styles – This tab allows you to look through color and font schemes to help you create more cohesive and consistent designs.

  • Audio – This tab allows you to add audio to your graphics.

  • Note: There are additional tabs that you can add to your editor. These are found by clicking the “more” button at the bottom of your editor on desktop, or all the way to the right on mobile.

7. Canva Versions

  • Canva has 3 different subscription types: Free Version, Pro Version, and Enterprise Version.

  • Free Version gives you access to thousands of templates, photos, and elements, allows you to collaborate on a team, and has 5GB of storage.

  • Pro Version gives you everything the Free Version includes plus even more templates, features, and 100GB of storage.

  • Enterprise Version (not mentioned in this workshop) sets everything in place if your business needs to have a larger team collaborating on your visual and print materials. This version includes everything in the Free and Pro Versions plus allows you to have team workflows, unlimited storage, and more.

  • Note: Savannah and Faith recommended starting out in Canva Free to get familiar with it, then upgrading if you choose.


Additional Resource: BEDA has an Entrepreneur's Bootcamp program that is free, self-paced, and fast-tracked. This program includes a marketing course to give you even more insight on how to properly market your business through various mediums.


Let's Get in Touch!

Jim Spencer, Executive Director Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority | | (304) 902-2332 x 1

Savannah Carabin, Business Operations + Marketing Manager Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority | | (304) 902-2332 x 2

Faith Blackwell, Administrative + Marketing Assistant Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority | | (304) 902-2332

Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority Logo (The words "My Bluefield" underneath an outline of the Bluefield, West Virginia Skyline)

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