How blog graphics help Canva average 60k sessions per month [with free templates for you to do the same]

Let me guess — you want more people visiting your website?

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. You’d be downright mad if you wanted less eyeballs visiting your site or blog. But it’s not exactly easy to achieve, is it?

The Canva blog was officially launched way back in 2013 and has grown quickly from 0 to 1 million sessions a month. That’s pretty huge, and we shared part of that story in another article.

We did a ton of things to increase the traffic to the blog, but in 2015 we realized that we were neglecting Pinterest as a legitimate traffic source. After all, it has 100 million active users and is utilized by some of the biggest companies on the planet to build awareness, drive traffic to their websites, and sell.

After some brainstorming, we realized how obvious the solution was: To grow Canva’s blog with the help of Pinterest, we needed to be including tons of share worthy blog graphics in our articles.

So we did. Each article we produce now has at least 20 incredible graphics in it, and the results are in: Pinterest now contributes 60,000 sessions to the Canva blog every month. That’s free traffic. That’s traffic we don’t have to work for after the article goes live.

Now, our achievements might seem difficult to replicate, but they’re not. The key to it all is to just start. In this article, we’ll give you the basics on how to start creating impactful blog graphics — with bonus free templates in between lessons.

Part 1     Create a Style Guide for Your Visual Content
Part 2     Determine Which In-Post Graphics You Will Use the Most
Part 3    Build A Set of Easily Customizable Templates
Part 4    Put Your Newly Designed Assets to Use

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01. Create a Style Guide for Your Visual Content

Before diving into creating a cool header image or in-post graphic, it’s important for you to take a step back and define which visual elements — typefaces, colors or patterns — you’ll be using as building blocks to create any and all graphics for your blog. Essentially, you’ll define a visual style for your graphics and create a style guide to safeguard its integrity.

Ugh, sounds like a ton of work. Why bother? Creating a style guide for your blog graphics — and sticking to it — will ensure consistency across all your posts, develop a brand for your blog, and will help you create graphics faster in the long run.

To get going on developing a style guide today, select:

Typefaces

Decide which typefaces you will be using and for what you’ll be using them. In other words, what typeface should your post titles be set in? What about supporting copy?

I always have a hard time narrowing down my choices. With so many great typefaces out there, it’s always tough for me to remember to select just a few and not a dozen. As tempting as it may be, try not to work with more than 4 typefaces. Featuring too many different typefaces won’t let you build a cohesive look.

As you select typefaces, be mindful of the associations that come with each. If you write about modern architecture, for example, selecting a slab serif with a vintage western feel might not be the right call.

In practice, using a set of typefaces consistently can translate into something as lovely as the example below:

Notice how in both images, the same typeface is used for the same purposes. The blogger behind the images didn’t mix up typefaces across posts and in not doing so, achieved a consistent, professional look.

You can learn how to do this yourself by reading up on font pairing, or you can always use the templates below from Canva and get a headstart at creating graphics similar to the examples above. For the first layout, simply select an image that offers a top view of the items featured and drop in text with details.

Colors

Build a color palette for your blog graphics. If you’ve been working with one already throughout your blog, apply it to your graphics. If you have not, check out the tools below. I love to use them when I am working on defining colors for different projects.

Colordot
Material Palette
Coolors

So what will using colors consistently across graphics do for you? Below, I’ve shared examples from 2 great blogs I really dig: The Everywhereist and Nomadic Matt. If you click over to them, you’ll notice how the same colors are used not only on graphics but throughout the entire blog. Makes it feel professional, doesn’t it?

Want to build upon the layouts you see above? Use one of the Canva templates below that provide a similar foundation for similar messaging:

Visual Elements

Define the role of textures, shapes, patterns or any other kind of visual element you will be using. Will you use patterns as backgrounds? Should text be placed inside shapes? Will you be framing text?

From time to time, posts on awesome blog Vintage Revivals will feature borders, like you see below. If you wanted to use this kind of visual element, you’d want to make a note of when and how you will be using them.

image14

Light borders are pretty popular these days. If you want to give one a shot, check this great Canva template out:

Photography Style

Just like with everything else, you’ll want to aim for consistency among the photographs you use in your graphics or on your blog.

This doesn’t just mean using the same filter. It means aiming for consistency in lighting, composition, and editing among all your images. If you are laying text on them, be sure to set it in similar ways and naturally, using one of the typefaces you’ve selected before.

Check out the two sets of images below. The images in both sets were featured on different posts but still feel like they belong together because they both feature similar compositions, colors, and lighting.

Remember your color palette? Whenever possible, try to incorporate it into photographs for your graphics too. Can you throw in props that are the same color as those in your palette? What about backgrounds? Tying in your own color can help you create lovely details.

As you work with photographs, be mindful of the copyright status of any images you are using. Unless expressly stated, all images you find online are copyrighted.

Not sure which image is or isn’t copyrighted? No worries, Canvas got you covered. As you build graphics within Canva, you’ll find plenty of free images for you to use.

Below you’ll find 2 easily customizable templates from Canva. To feature just photographs, browse through Canva’s free image options, remove the text over both of the templates and pop in any free images you like.

To achieve the same consistency among the photographs you choose to use in Canva, select images with similar compositions, shot from the same or similar angles, and with similar lighting.  Once you’ve selected images, bring them into your Canva templates. If you are going to use filters, be sure to make note of filter which you are using to be able to use it again.

Others

Using anything else in your graphics, like small gif animations? Be sure to make note of these and how they should or should not be used.

After you’ve defined everything we’ve covered above, build a style guide to use as a reference to build your blog graphics. Not only will it streamline your design process and help keep it safe from unwanted changes, it will help you communicate how graphics on your blog should look to anyone you hire to help expand your blog empire.

To learn about creating a style guide for your blog graphics in further detail, check out Caitlin Jordan’s article on the subject.

So how does a style guide work if you’ve decided to develop blog graphics only within Canva? Pretty much the same way.

As you select typefaces, visual elements, or photo styles, head over to Canva and check out all the different excellent options the platform has to offer. Make your choices based on what you see, make note of them, and consistently use your choices as you produce great graphics in Canva.

02. Determine Which In-Post Graphics You Will Use the Most

Armed with your brand new style guide, define what your graphics content is as it will inform your design. Seek to understand exactly what you wish to communicate or accomplish with each graphic and let that knowledge drive your blog graphic’s design. With that in mind, chose the best way to communicate.

To better understand this, think about a title graphic and a graphic sharing data collected from a survey.

A title graphic, for example, aims to introduce the post by sharing its title. Its content is usually simple: one line of text.  It might benefit from beautiful, large typography set over a solid color or photo background or tidy type over a shape, as shown below.

Aiming to create a title graphic similar to the example we showed above from Wanderluce? Check these Canva templates out:

An in-post graphic sharing data from a survey on the other hand, aims to share a more than just a title. It will require that you construct a more complex layout to accommodate all the different bits of information (possibly using a grid) and pay close attention to information hierarchy. In this case, you might want to work off of templates that look like this:

Using the same design layout and strategy to create all the graphics in your blog won’t yield the results you want. Let the content of each of the graphics you create inform their design.

03. Build A Set of Easily Customizable Templates

With time, you’ll begin to notice certain pieces of content often translate into the same kind of graphic. Every time you get ready to publish a new post, for example, you might want to build a beautiful title image to go with it.

If you know that you’ll always be designing graphics around quotes, a post title, or data, save yourself some work and spend time developing an easily customizable set of templates you can build on.

Make sure that these templates are flexible, though. Constructing templates that leave little room for creativity can bore your readers, or worse yet, have them thinking they’ve already been through whatever you’re sharing because the image is so darn similar to something they’ve seen before.

The guys behind Design For Founders always use title graphics to introduce their posts. In it, they include the blog post title, author, and a nice image that ties into the post’s content.

To build something as slick as what you’ve seen above by Design For Founders, try building on one of these awesome templates from Canva:

Developing a set of customizable templates is a breeze if you work with Canva. Canva automatically saves everything you produce and stores it in your account. You can tweak existing graphics quickly and collect all your templates in one place. All you have to do is sign up for an account, define your visual style, and you are good to go. Pretty sweet, right?

04. Put Your Newly Designed Assets to Use

Begin designing your graphics using your style guide as a reference and your set of templates whenever you can. Start by laying in the typography or text content, build hierarchy adding colors, and add other visual elements or photographs as final touches. Remember, let your content inform its design.

Export your graphics, upload them to your blog, and watch as the compliments flood your comment section.

Feeling ready to tackle designing graphics for your blog? Head over to Canva, sign up for an account if you haven’t already, and apply everything you’ve learned. You’ll be pushing out beautiful graphics for your blog that feel polished and professionally designed.

Already using Canva to produce graphics for your blog? We’d love to check out your blog and see what you’ve been up to. Feel free to share you blog adventures with us in the comment section!

Maria is a professional designer and social media devotee. After a few years of working in boutique agencies in New York and Boston, she decided to trade in her morning runs for morning dives and moved down to the warm Caribbean. She is currently working on becoming a scuba instructor in order to find a way to merge her two loves: design and the ocean.