Our Dirty Little Secret


Let me start by saying that no one—not even Canva—is paying me to write this review. I just feel that if I have discovered something that I think is as helpful to your creative process as it was to mine that I should share it, which is why I am doing this.

It is my daily goal to get as much stuff done as quickly as possible, but have it be as beautiful as possible. –After all, time flies; I’m getting grayer by the minute; and I need to make my mark as strongly and as quickly as possible. –Therefore, when I find tools that help me do that—and are free—I feel that I must shout from the rooftop about them. That’s that place from which my Canva.com review flows.

Want to know how we get so much done? Check out our planning method.

Let me assure you that I am a former Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop user. The problem is that, although I spent a mint on what I thought would be top-notch, professional tools, I found the learning curve too fucking steep. –Again, I don’t have the time to futz with things like I used to and, further, my patience is shot. –I know I’m old, because I still fawn over GeoDraw—a tool that allowed me to design curved text and combine interesting fonts (that I used to design our vinyl record labels back in 1992). When that $10 software program was discontinued, I will admit that I was lost. For the past twenty-something years, I have been using a variety of graphic design platforms and had settled on Adobe PhotoShop Elements as my software of choice (that provided that ease-of-use, while still allowing me to do advance functions like adding filters and saving in a variety of file formats). All that changed when—on a whim—I discovered Canva.com.

My first Canva.com creations; the first logo for this zine

Last year—when I began my quest for worldwide internet musical and blog domination—I was looking for ways to create social media posts quickly, but cutely. (—Is that a word?!) Anyway, I was watching every YouTube video from here to Cucamonga with tips and tricks for doing this blogging/vlogging thing better. That’s when I discovered recommendations from Christine Arhu for Canva.com.

The newer logo for this zine

At first, I was skeptical. I assumed that these folks were simply getting paid to say glowing things about this website—and I can’t promise that they weren’t. It was only actually trying it that I began to say, “Damn! That was quick and easy and it looks good!” that I knew that I should stop holding out and share with you my joy in using Canva.com.

Here's one of our subscribe graphics.

What I like most is:

1. IT’S FREE. I’m sorry, but though I am spending a ton of money to get my infrastructure up and running—domain name (GoDaddy.com), paid website space (Wix.com), and paid ads (on Facebook and YouTube) to spread the word that I even fucking exist (“Sow for where you want to go” is what my former Pastor suggests.), I need SOMETHING that is free. This is free, so that helped me to try it.

2. IT’S BEAUTIFUL. It took a minute to learn to navigate the site—but, because the results were beautiful, I was willing to be more patient than usual—and I found the results beautiful. –I apologize for being shallow, but beauty keeps me coming back (especially when I know that the content is good). One of the goals of any design is to captivate folks with “first impression” beauty and this site delivers just that. From my first design, I realize that what I design looks agency-worthy, but only requires a minimal amount of time (compared to Adobe PhotoShop Elements).

Here's the cover graphic for our first talk show episode.

3. IT’S ONLINE. I like that no matter what device I log in on—phone, iPad, or laptop—I can edit a design. –The only problem is that the options on each device differ, so while I can start a design on any device and see it on others, I cannot edit with certain features across all platforms. Bummer. But just the opportunity to start a design in line at the bank when all I would have been doing is waiting, helps move my empire along, so I appreciate that ability.

4. IT’S SHAREABLE. While it does restrict some of the file saving options, it allows you to save the ones most useable, including PDF, PNG, and JPEG. This makes using it more of an asset than a liability.

Soundcloud Podcast Banner

5. IT PROVIDES TEMPLATES, BUT FLEXIBILITY. What I liked is that moving from Internet platforms (like Twitter and Instagram to print mediums, like t-shirt designs and album covers), Canva.com provides a place to start with templates from social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to presentation (PowerPoint) to print platforms (like magazine layouts). The dimensions are provided; a user must simply choose which to use before beginning to design. However, if there is no template available that fits your design needs—like a t-shirt design—you can input your own size and resolution for a customized file.

T-Shirt graphic

What I don’t like:

1. PREMIUM ACCESS IS EXPENSIVE. The premium subscription is expensive (at roughly $10 per month). For a fledgling blog, that cost is excessive. I only use them once or twice for a campaign that last a few months, so more than $5 a month is a lot for me. I have to keep costs down, so that I can afford to pay for ads to grow my brand. (—My goal is for my blog/vlog to replace my meager income and to do that, I must keep all blog-related costs down.)

2. PREMIUM ACCESS IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO THE WAY I WORK. While I would like to save in PNG formats—which is one of the things that premium access allows—premium access is catered to working in groups—which I have no interest in at the moment, but does not allow me, say, unlimited file folders and/or having an unlimited amount of file folders on the website. That’s what I need. My empire is an army of one, two, and maybe four, at the most, so I only need us to be able to collaborate, but more than that, I need unlimited file format saving and unlimited file storage. (—I use Canva.com for YouTube thumbnails and everything else.)

Gearfest 2017 YouTube Video Thumbnail

3. CROSS PLATFORM EDITABILITY. While this certainly seemed like an asset (see above), the only problem is that if I pull up a design (on my phone, iPad, or laptop) and either accidentally delete something or change it in a way that cannot be undone—the “Undo” function is limited—that change overrides the file. This means that whatever you had is lost (unless you remember to duplicate the page you’re messing with just in case you are not satisfied with the changes). –This has happened to me more than once and it is crazy-frustrating to have to try re-create what you had before you began fucking with it! Ugh!

Needless to say, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, which is why I’m coming out of the closet and spilling my dirty, little graphic-making secret.

Since I started doing beaucoup graphics on the regular—and have been getting major compliments on my thumbnails—I have decided to spread the love (and the wonderful graphic-making tool) that is Canva.com.

Finally, it probably doesn’t hurt that I have a designer’s eye, but I know that I wouldn’t look this good this quickly without Canva.com.

I know that everyone has a secret weapon—a tool, a website, or an app they swear by that makes whatever the job is seem easier, so...

Spill it! What is your go-to tool? Drop that link in the comments below. Don’t be stingy; share the love.

Until next we meet, here’s wishing you love, peace, and chicken grease!

Here's our latest subscribe graphic.

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