Canva: Let’s Get Visual!

Canva: Let’s Get Visual! introduces Canva as an easy-to-use graphics design site and why authors should use it for visual content on social media.

As you may recall in my post last week, Twitter: Let’s Get Visual!, I discussed why you should use visual content for Twitter and other social media content and promised to review a few options for producing graphical content. Today, I’d like to tell you about Canva.

Canva is a great site for designing custom graphics that you can use not only on Twitter but on other social media sites, offline reports and presentations, blog posts, and much more.

Easy to Use

Canva is very easy to use. If you can drag, drop and click with your computer mouse, you can design great graphics using Canva.

To Start Using Canva

  1. Sign up for an account or log in with Facebook.
  2. While a confirmation email is sent to your email address, you’ll have the option of watching a 23 second long demo video. Watch it. After all, it’s only 23 seconds long and most of us have an attention span that long still, don’t we?
  3. After the video concludes, you’re given the opportunity to try it out yourself and they provide several exercises to get you started. If you need help, click on the Hint button.

Premium images are watermarked and cost $1. All other images are free to use and there is a great selection.

Canva Design Graphic Options

  • Album / podcast covers 1400 pixels by 1400 pixels
  • Social media 800 pixels x 800 pixels
  • Presentations 1024 pixels x 768 pixels
  • Posters 42 centimetres x 59.4 centimetres
  • Facebook covers 851 pixels by 315 pixels
  • Facebook posts 940 pixels by 780 pixels
  • Blog graphics 800 pixels x 1200 pixels
  • Custom sized graphics in dimensions of your choice in either pixels, millimetres or inches

Canva Design Menu Options

  • Various design elements from the Search menu including:
    • lines
    • banners
    • shapes
    • text holders
    • frames
    • stickers
    • arrows
    • grids
    • speech bubbles
    • and much more
  • Numerous layouts from the Layouts menu
  • A huge assortment of text designs from the Text menu
  • Colours and/or textures from the Background menu

You can also upload your own images to use or you can buy from the premium selection of design elements offered by Canva for only $1 each.

Ways to Customize Canva Designs

  • replace the sample text with your own
  • change fonts
  • change font colours
  • change backgrounds
  • change background colours
  • upload your own photos

Canva will autosave your design.
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Made with Canva

Sharing Your Canva Designs

  • Share it on Twitter using the button provided at the top of the page
  • Share it on Facebook using the button provided at the top of the page
  • Click on Download or Link and:
    • Link to your design using the link they provide
    • Publish your design as an image
    • Publish your design as a PDF

When you publish your design, it’s downloaded to your machine.

Canva is fun to work with and the results can look very impressive with little skill or effort.

For More Information about Canva

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Photo credit: Apps Mill autumn 2010 |

Twitter: Let’s Get Visual!

Twitter: Let’s Get Visual! explains the basics of adding visual content, i.e. photos and video, to tweets on Twitter.

Remember that song by Olivia Newton John from the 80’s Physical? I can hear the chorus as I write this (Let’s get physical, physical…) and picture the cheesy outfits, the bouncing buns (check out 14 seconds into the video – link below – if you don’t believe me!), and the sweaty bodies. Perhaps I’m showing my age!

Apologies to those of you who are too young to even know who Olivia Newton John is, but if you want to see what I’m talking about here’s the youtube link.

Back in the day that song was way cool. My sister even wore a headband. Got the pictures to prove it but I think she’d kill me if I showed you!

So, if you know the song, or have just watched the video and it’s still playing in your head, hold that thought, and just for a minute think Twitter and then substitute the words “Let’s get visual!” Yeah I know, pretty lame but bet from this point forward you won’t be able to think of using visual content on Twitter without hearing that song or picturing the video! HA!

Perhaps it is because a picture is worth a thousand words (or so they say!) and Twitter is limited to 140 characters, but using visual content on Twitter is becoming more and more popular. It’s believed that our brains process visual content faster than written words so maybe that accounts for the current popularity of visual content on Twitter?

If you’ve ever watched your Twitter feed in real time, and you’re following a lot of people, that feed will often update faster than you can read it, but a picture or graphic stands out, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why visual content is so popular on Twitter?

Adding Photos to Your Tweets

Allowed and limitations

  • Image files can be up to 5 MB in size.
  • Acceptable file formats are PNG, JPG and GIF.
  • Animated GIFs can be used but they must not exceed 3 MB in size.

Not allowed

  • Images in file formats BMP and TIFF can’t be used on Twitter.

Photos can include snapshots, screenshots, infographics, memes and, of course, selfies if you’re so inclined.

For more information, log into your Twitter account and click here to learn how to add a photograph to a tweet.

Adding Video to Your Tweets

There are a couple of ways you can add video to your tweets:

  • Including the URL of your video in your tweet
  • Sharing your 6 second videos from your Vine account

For more information about adding video, click here.

For more information about using Vine, click here

Over the next few weeks, I’ll give you more ideas for sharing visual content on Twitter.

Photo courtesy of photostock |

What Scares You About Blogging and Using Social Media?

What Scares You About Blogging and Using Social Media? by Shelley Sturgeon addresses common concerns people have when they start blogging and using social media.

Authors are advised to create an author platform, an online presence which includes blogging and using social media, to help them to network with others and build an audience for their books. But, many find themselves suffering from paralysis by analysis when they think about starting out online. So, I’ve attempted to list a few of the worries and concerns I’ve heard and attempted to put things in perspective.

You’ll make a mistake and EVERYONE will see it!

Newsflash! EVERYONE makes mistakes so of course you’re going to make mistakes! Even seasoned bloggers and social media experts screw up from time to time. I’ve received numerous emails that were missing attachments or links. I’ve clicked on links that go nowhere or go to the wrong place. I even once accidentally clicked on the Publish button on a blog post instead of the Save Draft button. This of course meant that a half finished post was suddenly out there for the world to see! That was a big oopsie that required some pretty quick back peddling to fix it. But nothing ventured, nothing gained!

You don’t know what you’re doing.

We’ve all had to learn the ropes and at first we don’t know what we’re doing. Research and read. Create an account and observe what others are doing. Take baby steps but do take them. Before too long you’ll be confident and will have it mastered.

No one will see your efforts and you’ll be wasting your time.

It takes time to build an audience or following with any social media platform. Be patient. Offer quality information. Share your sparkling personality with the world. Learn how to attract people to your blog, find followers on Twitter, etc. It will happen if you work for it and research how to find your audience. Don’t just shrug your shoulders after a week and walk away because no one is acknowledging that you’re there.

You won’t know what to blog about, tweet about, comment on, etc.

Do research on the social media platform for ideas, observe what others with big followings are doing, promote others and share their information, don’t try to sell your product or service, at least not until you have a significant following and have built trust with those followers. Sign up for my newsletter for more ideas.

Your work won’t look polished enough.

Sometimes we are too critical of our own work because we want it to be perfect. Relax. Do your best. Your blogging and social media efforts don’t have to be as polished as published books. Books need to be professionally edited. Blogs are more like newspapers, often with a very short time between idea to publication. In time, you will be more at ease, more confident and your efforts will reflect that.

It’ll take too much time to maintain.

Yep, blogging and social media can take a bit of time. Won’t sugar coat that. But, if you’re marketing a book or business you most likely need the exposure that they provide, and for the most part these platforms are free. It’s always an option to hire some help. Virtual assistants can build you a mean WordPress site, format and schedule your blog posts, schedule your tweets, etc.

It keeps changing and you can’t keep up with it.

Yeah, this scares me about blogging and social media, too! LOL We don’t like change, do we? And, yes, there seems to be continual change in functionality within social media sites sometimes it seems just for the sake of change without apparent benefit, new social media sites, old ones falling out of favour, and so on. The more you learn, the more fluent and comfortable you are with blogging and using social media, the less this will bother you. Sure, you might still grumble about it (I do!) but you won’t be shaking in your shoes. It’ll be more of an annoyance than something that will keep you up at night – promise!

Agree or disagree with me? Did I leave any of your worries off the list? Let me know in the comments.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici |

Twitter: 7 Decisions You Can Make Before Creating an Account

Twitter: 7 Decisions You Can Make Before Creating an Account by Shelley Sturgeon explains what decisions you can make before you actually open your Twitter account including which photos to use, the criteria for a Twitter username and more.

What’s that expression? Forewarned if forearmed? If you haven’t already created an account, here’s a few decisions you can make ahead of time so that you’re better prepared and not left in a panic when you’re bombarded with questions when you set up a Twitter account for the first time.

  1. Decide on your Twitter username.
    When you create a Twitter account, Twitter will suggest some possible Twitter usernames for you to use, but you are also welcome to come up with your own.

    Your Twitter username, a.k.a. Twitter handle, is comprised of up to 15 characters excluding the “@” symbol which will prefix it. Twitter usernames are unique, in the same way and for the same reasons that email addresses and phone numbers are unique.

    You can change your Twitter username at any time by logging into Twitter and going to your account settings. Carefully consider whether you want to / need to change your Twitter username because this could confuse your followers.

    When you create a Twitter username, you will most likely want to associate this with your name or the name of your business. So, for example, my Twitter username is @ShelleySturgeon and, just to confuse you, I’ve associated my Twitter username with *drum roll please* TAH DA — Shelley Sturgeon!

  2. Select an image for your header.
    The header is the long image that goes across the top of your Twitter account page that other people see.

    This image should be 1500 pixels by 500 pixels and no more than 5 MBs in size. The resolution for your header image can be as low as 72 dpi (dots per inch). The lower the dpi, the smaller the file size.

    Acceptable image file formats include JPG, GIF and PNG. Animated GIFs won’t work as header images.

    Select something that represents you or your brand, or failing that, find something interesting or just plain nice to look at.

    To add or change your header image file:

    1. Log into your Twitter account.
    2. Click on your profile picture, or if you haven’t loaded one yet, the egg photo in the upper right corner of your Twitter page.

      Finding Settings

    3. Click on Settings.
    4. Continue reading “Twitter: 7 Decisions You Can Make Before Creating an Account”