Canva is a do-it-yourself graphic design tool that lets anyone create beautiful-looking social media graphics and marketing or sales collateral (slide decks, infographics, and print products) based on ready-made, highly customizable templates.
As you can tell by that description, Canva is essentially a design tool for non-designers who can’t afford—or don’t want to cough up the money for—a professional designer.
Lately, Canva has even been expanding into templated logo design and print on demand. By very definition, Canva is an anti-designer tool.
So, it has to be asked: do professional designers use it?
The short answer is, “it depends.”
Though design work itself is best done in Adobe’s Creative Cloud, a subset of entrepreneurial designers have started selling templates for Canva and creating custom templates for big companies in the tool.
There’s no doubt that Canva isn’t a good tool for professional design work. When someone hires you to create a logo and an identity, a web or app design, or advertising, marketing, and sales collateral for them, they expect you to create something unique in response to their brief.
Another area where Canva is weak when compared to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, for example, is designing and prepping for print. I don’t need to tell you that fine-grained controls over the size, guides, resolution, and color profiles of your work are essential, and you won’t get them in Canva.
With Canva, you don’t get the amount of precision and level of control that you need to do “real” design work. Plus, it’s a web app that relies as much on the cloud rather than your computer’s CPU and GPU, so good luck working with large project files right in the browser.
At the same time, if you’ve already done the hard, creative, identity-shaping, visual-storytelling work in Illustrator and InDesign—and now, you want to empower your client to create ad-hoc designs for their social media and blog—Canva can be a great way to achieve that.
When you think of Canva as a way to democratize design, a new market of products and services opens up for you as a professional designer.
Using Canva to Repurpose Content
Graphics for social media—Instagram stories and posts, Facebook covers and posts, YouTube channel art and thumbnails, LinkedIn banners—is and has always been this tool’s greatest strength.
So it’s not surprising that all kinds of content creators, from bloggers and Instagram influencers to podcasters and YouTubers, have been using Canva to quickly create images for their social accounts and posts.
Some professional designers have caught on, and they report using Canva to save time when creating images for their online presence, so that they can free up time for client designs and other things that make money or move the needle.
Designing and Selling Templates for Canva
For example, entrepreneurial designers look at Canva as a marketplace that lets them create and sell templates. If you’re good at design and you want some passive income on the side, marketplaces like Etsy and Creative Market allow you to capitalize on your skillset.
The competition, though, is tough. Templates take time to create, yet bundles of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of templates sell for $29 to $79 depending on the bundle’s size, contents, and target buyer.
Most of these Canva templates are aimed at solopreneurs and small teams who handle their design work on their own for the lack of a budget to allocate to working with professional designers.
Helping Others Set-Up Their Canva Brand Kits
Recently, Canva introduced a brand kit feature that lets you set your brand’s colors, logo, and fonts so that any design that you or a member of your team create in it is aligned to your brand’s style guide.
Clearly, this attracted the attention of bigger companies who’ve bought subscriptions to Canva Enterprise for their marketing and sales teams—and are saving significant money on ad-hoc design work by doing so.
Still, someone needs to take a brand style guide and translate the guidelines inside it to brand kits in Canva with correct colors, properly imported logos, and uploaded custom fonts.
So some Canva-savvy freelance designers and design agencies have expanded their portfolio of services to include the creation and set-up of brand kits that empower non-designers in companies to do design work in Canva.
That’s clearly a compelling offer when you consider that most companies don’t really know how to do this themselves (and are fine to pay a supersized fee so that someone else can do it for them).
Creating Custom Canva Templates for Big Brands
Big brands that use Canva also hire professional designers to create templates for them. That way, they can empower their marketing and sales teams to create graphics independently while ensuring their brand consistency across channels.
Depending on the number of teams and the roles that will use these templates, a project of this type can be relatively small or surprisingly big in terms of scope. Perhaps that’s why a subset of Canva-savvy designers have begun offering such services to the brands and corporations that can afford them (with a hefty P/L ratio).