108 – 9 Useful Canva Features

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Episode Summary

Canva is an online graphic design tool that can be used for anything from social media content to presentation slides, resource creation, and more. Here are nine special features that you’ll want to know about – many of which Amy wishes she had known about sooner!

 

Items Mentioned

Patreon

Canva

Workshop: Organize Your Life With Notion

 


Transcript

You’re listening to episode 108 of The Piano Pantry Podcast. This podcast is brought to you by me, your host, Amy Chaplin, with the support of some awesome backers over on Patreon. A special shout-out to Christine Bookman, one of my Patreon Insiders, for helping bring this content to you each week.

If you would like to join the cheering squad, you can do so for as low as $4 a month. If you would enjoy a couple of extra bonuses from me each month, you can join for just a few dollars more.

My Patreon Insiders have a couple of things coming up this week and next. This Wednesday is our monthly email-focused power hour, where I share one good tip for helping you manage your inbox, and next Wednesday, February 28; we’ll be doing the quarterly special – topics of which were voted on by members.

Last quarter, we spent an hour going over various tools for creating your own content, and this quarter will be the premier of a new 20-minute session I’m debuting at the upcoming 2024 Music Teachers National Conference called The Wow Factor: Crafting Winning Proposals and Engaging Presentations. If you’d like to get in on that, visit PianoPantry.com/patreon to join today.

Speaking of MTNA, I would love to see you at my session, which will be on Monday, March 18, at 2:55 pm. You’ll also be able to find me in the exhibit hall, where I’ll be helping Paula Dreyer out at the Little Gems for Piano booth.

Now, onto today’s show. Many of us are using Canva – an online graphic design tool – these days for all kinds of things related to social media and resource creation. If you’re not using it yet, I highly recommend it.

I had a look, and I’ve been using it since 2014. It has grown and evolved immensely since then, and there’s always something new popping up. Today, I’m going to share a few features that I wish I had known about sooner. Sometimes, you run across features by accident and sometimes by hearing others talk about them.

If you’re already a competent Canva user, I hope you’ll glean at least one new feature highlight that you’ll find useful today.

Also, stay clear to the end, as I have a random life tip to share.


Sometimes, when you discover a feature in a program you’ve been using for a long time, it’s hard to tell if you were so used to working in a certain way that you were just completely overlooking it and oblivious, or if it was actually a new feature.

Page Title

Anyway, this first feature is one for me that I think was there but I never really needed. One day, I remember looking at the greyed-out wording next to the page that said, “Add a page title,” and I was like….“Oh, OK…why did I never use this before?”

Honestly, it’s one of those things you don’t really need until you get a document with lots of pages anyway. To give you a specific example, recently, I started using the feature in a document where we create all of the informational snippets from each podcast episode to share on social media.

Some episodes have one page, and some are carousels with multiple pages, so I named each page by episode number, which made it a lot easier to keep track of when looking at the pages in grid mode. If you’re unsure what that is, grid mode is where you can view all the pages in the document in one view. It’s a 4-square icon in the bottom RH corner of the toolbar.

Embedding

The second item is the option to embed a design into a web page. I just probably started using this about 3 years ago when creating testimonials for my studio or product reviews on the Piano Pantry blog.

You create your image in Canva, and instead of downloading and then uploading the image to a website, you just embed the link to the design in Canva. It also works nicely for slide shows.

You could create a slide show of your students in action having fun in lessons, then embed it on a page of your website, and people can scroll through and look at photos.

Embedding uses code rather than a web link, so to get that code, you click share in the top RH corner of your design, the three little dots that say “more” at the bottom.

Scheduling Calendar

Third up is the scheduling calendar. Now, I was vaguely aware you could do this, but because I’ve always had an outside tool I used for social media scheduling, like Buffer, Tailwind, or Meta Business, so I never paid much attention when the scheduling tool rolled in.

I think it could be really good, though, for a lot of teachers to use simply your studio’s Facebook or Instagram page. You can schedule posts directly from a design through the share button or navigate to your full content calendar via the home page. On the home page, LH toolbar, select Apps and then Content Planner.

QR Code Generator

Fourth on my feature list is the QR Code generator.

I’ve been designing presentations for conferences in Canva rather than PowerPoint for 2-3 years.

It’s pretty well become the norm to use QR codes in presentations for handouts or links to session slides. I’ve always just used a free QR code generator online until I recently became frustrated with their free limits.

Thanks to a quick Facebook ask, multiple people pointed ME toward the QR Code generator in Canva. Again, this is one of those things that’s kind of right in your face under the share button, but if you’re not looking for it or if your eyes follow similar steps a lot when downloading, it can be easy to overlook features that are right there.

Brand Kit

The fifth feature you might find useful is the brand kits.

I started trying to become more consistent over the past couple of years with my Piano Pantry brand and color scheme – which, let’s face it – is still prone to change a bit here and there at my own whims, but that’s another story LOL – I started using the Brand Kits feature though, and it has been great.

I should probably mention at this point that some of these features are only available with Canva Pro, which is around $120 a year but is 100% worth it, in my opinion. You can access thousands of more images, elements, templates, and tools like this.

You can set up more than one brand kit, too. Each kit can be customized with colors, fonts, and font sizes.

I have one for my studio, one for Piano Pantry, and one most recently for the upcoming Organize Your Life With Notion event that’s coming up, as we’re using all of the Notion colors in our social posts.

Styles

This takes me nicely to the sixth item you might want to know about if you don’t already, and that’s style palettes.

If you don’t have your own brand color kit and you want to have some fun with colors, Canva has built-in color palette styles that, with one click, can change the entire color scheme of your design. It’s a fun tool that can help make the design process easy and yet customizable.

Find this in the design tab at the top and then under Styles. Once you select a style, if you hover over the top of that color set, you’ll see an option to “Shuffle.” Clicking Shuffle will keep the same color palette but change up which element is assigned which color so you can play around with the color scheme and layout without actually changing your color palette. Kinda cool.

Change All

Seventh up is the “Change All” button. This apply-all feature has to do with color changes. If you click to change an element in a template and what to change that color across the entire range of the document, it will apply the new color to every instance with one click.

This is a sneaky little tool one because when you’re changing colors, your eyes are at the top of the page and this pops up clear at the bottom of the page.

The first time I noticed it, I was like, “Ah, what the heck, that’s awesome – how long have I not noticed that?!” LOL, Because you just never know again if you’ve overlooked things for a while or if they’re new features.

Background Tools

Alright, we’re coming into the last couple of items here. Eighth is background image tools. First is the BG remover, which is fabulous for taking a photo and getting rid of everything else except one part of the image.

For example, say you have a picture of a glass hourglass with a gray background. You want a photo of an hourglass, not a cartoon element, but you don’t want the grey background; you want to overlay it on a blue background. This is where you use the background remover.

Click on the photo, select “edit photo,” and then it’s called BG Remover. BG for background, of course.

The other background tool allows you to stretch a photo to the full size of the background in one click without having to manually stretch it out to fit the page.

If you right-click on the image, you’ll see a list of actions like copy, paste, delete, and so forth. Clear at the bottom will be an option to “Set image as background,” and it will snap in place. The reverse works as well. Right-click, then select “Detach image from the background.”

Apply Colors to Page

Number nine and the last feature on my list is somewhat tied to style palettes I was talking to you about earlier. Right underneath the “set image as background button” is an option to “apply colors to page.”

Choosing the option to “Apply colors to page” will extract a series of 6 colors from that image and will create a Style set for that document based on the colors of whatever photo you’re using. So cool!

If you right-click and make that selection but don’t see anything happen – no worries – it did it; you just might not be inside the styles section to have seen it happen. Simply navigate to the Design TAB at the top of the page and then select the Styles tab next to the templates. You’ll see your new color palette based on the photo.


Gosh, you guys, there are so many great features in Canva – it was hard picking out this list. I thought at first I would just give you 3 or 4, but as I started building it, I had to mention them all. There are several of these that once I learned about them, I really wish I had known about it sooner. I hope in turn, I can save you a bit of time and that you discovered a great new tool you haven’t tried out yet in Canva.

As promised at the start of the episode, I have a quick tiny tip for you.

While I love our modern-day dishwashers, the things can get gosh darn gross if you don’t clean them once in a while. I have found over the years that little cleanings more frequently help stave off a worse situation.

We had an old dishwasher in a rental house years ago, and there came a point when, no matter how much I took it apart and cleaned the parts, dishes were coming out dirty every time.

Even with our current good-quality dishwasher, though, I’ve finally resorted to this routine: every time I unload it, I take a paper towel and wipe down the inside of the door and around the crevices. Once a week, the filter comes out for a quick scrub, and once a month, the toothbrush comes out for the gaps and crevices in the pull-out gears.

It gets a cleaning tablet once a month.

It’s kind of like a lot of things in life. Small little habits can add up to a more manageable and healthy situation in the end.

That’s my tip. See you next week!