A Big Thank You to Canva Pro, from a Self-Proclaimed Non-Artist

I’ve never been much of a visual artist. I mean, I did secure a spot in my elementary school art gallery expo when I was 8 years old, but only because the container of paint I dropped onto my construction paper made a cool-looking blob resembling a bear in the forest. But aside from the fast-fading buzz of my paint splatter glory, I averaged a C in art classes until I got to high school, where I embraced the full band kid experience while the aesthetic-powered students relished the drawing and painting courses down the hall.

I got super cozy in my “not an artist” identity, committing to a life of stick figures and relying heavily on other people, and luck, for all things visual. I had a good system going for a while! If I wrote the presentation script, someone else would make the poster board. If I organized the content, someone else would make the PowerPoint. If I wrote the social post, someone else would make the graphic. This strategy got me through school and my internships, but eventually the tables turned against me.

I chose a career in PR just as digital media flourished – social media graphics, infographics, web design, and more were suddenly my problem. And holy smokes, did that throw a wrench in my “2-cool-4-art” persona.

Scrambling to build my resume after dismissing visual art for years, I attempted to learn the insane complexities of Photoshop and InDesign. I hated every minute of it, with each click leaving me baffled that some folks choose careers in graphic design on purpose. Luckily, Caster didn’t include graphic design in their job description or test out my design skills during my interview (thank you Kim), and I kicked off my career here with a sigh of relief.

Most of my clients in my early days had extremely talented graphic design teams and plenty of marketing assets I could snag, which saved me a lot of headaches for the first year or two. But eventually, the dreaded day came when I started flying solo more often and was tasked to begin making compelling social graphics and visuals – and just like that, the convergence of PR and design left me to fend for myself.

In a last-ditch effort to save my sanity, I dug through Casters’ inventory of resources and platforms. And to my surprise and relief, I found a receiver to my Hail Mary: Canva Pro.

Let me be super clear: Becoming a Canva advocate (or a Canva Stan-va, if I may), did not come instantly by any means. I had attempted to fall in love with Canva in college – but the original free version was pretty cheesy and temperamental back then. It reminded me a bit of Kid Pix – which was never really my jam as a self-proclaimed non-artist (Side note to fellow 90s babies – this is back to haunt us in a browser version, sound effects and all).

Thankfully though, Caster sponsors a Canva Pro account for employees – which unlike the free subscription, packs a seriously unsuspected upgrade to the design experience. It’s designed for small teams (like us!) looking to create with more professional and intricate features, and less fancy software learning curve. As I jumped into Canva Pro for the first time, my mind was blown. A portfolio of resources and functions that have come an impressively long way from the platform’s humble roots – images and video, an expansive font collection, branding tools, plug-and-play design features, and so much more. Canva Pro proved to be a holy grail for un-artsy folks like myself.

Here’s just a handful of the features that made my life easier – and helped me transition from my fear of creativity to my new unofficial title of Caster’s “Canva Master.”

Content for anything you’re working on

A dynamic collection of over 75 million stock images, videos, audio, and more are all made available with a Canva pro subscription – and if you’ve ever dealt with the struggle of purchasing, saving, and naming stock images one-by-one, you’ll know that’s a beautiful thing. When you begin a design in Canva, you can browse through a huge collection with just a simple keyword search, or categorically, and incorporate visuals nearly instantly. If you’re curious about content license limitations, they outline the rules for different content in a super transparent and easy-to-understand agreement here.

Plug-and-play hits the digital design scene 

No vision? No problem. Canva has mastered the plug-and-play trend with pre-saved, ready to use templates across different types of media – Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, blogs, newsletters, case studies, business cards, invitations – I could keep going for a while, but I think I have a word limit. Across the board, it’s easy to edit and swap in your own colors, fonts, photos, and messages.

Brand kits assure visual unity

The real time saver for PR pros looking to make a client-ready design, Canva introduced brand kits to Pro accounts last year. Upload all of a company’ branding guidelines — fonts, color hex codes, logos, and more – from the device to Canva’s internal storage. It’ll be ready to use right in the editor when you need it and can be auto filled into those beloved templates via a single click. So yes, you can make client-branded images without squinting at a color wheel trying to match hex codes or digging through 6,000 fonts.

Photo editing – but make it simpler

Stop using that sketchy website to make your PNGs transparent. Your IT guy will thank you for doing it in Canva Pro instead of downloading another virus in your browser. You can also resize photos with just two clicks (a social media pro’s dream!), adjust colors, brightness, shadows, filters, and more, or if you want to get snazzy, make smart mockups to place your images on photos of electronic devices, t-shirts, and more. Check out this example here – aren’t we cute?!

These are just a few of my most-used features, but Canva Pro can do so much more. The creators have done a fantastic job at aligning the platform with the needs and functions of companies using the editor for all sorts of different purposes. Teams can organize content in folders, save templates for future use, upload their own photos for truly tailored visuals, and even maintain a social or content calendar right in the platform. It’s less-so an editing platform and more an extension to our existing business software, and I can honestly say there’s nothing quite like it.

So, I guess this is just as much an overview as it is a thank you note to Canva. If you had told me a couple years ago that I’d spend an hour and a half of Caster’s All-Team conference teaching a team of PR pros graphic design, I would have laughed in your face. But truthfully, Canva has made great graphic design accessible to PR pros like me. I wouldn’t call myself an expert or choose to do it for a living (nor can I do it as well as actual graphic designers – I’m convinced those folks are actual wizards), but with the help of Canva, I’ve learned to make some neat-looking graphics. And, if I’m being honest, I kind of have fun doing it.

*Insert stubborn eye roll here*

Follow me on Twitter @lexie_gardiner and @CasterComm for more sentimental success stories, client news, and other fun stuff!

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