Step Away From Canva


And PicMonkey. And Piktochart, Stencil, etc.

Step away from all these “tools” that are designed to help non-graphic designers be graphic designers. Why? Because they aren’t working, that’s why.

I have two confessions:

  1. Prior to last week, I used to recommend Canva to people all.the.time.
  2. I’m a small business owner on a budget. Sometimes that makes it hard to follow my own advice. (So yes, if you were wondering - that blog graphic was created in Canva.) 

If you’re wondering what’s with the contradictory advice, I’ll be happy to tell you.

I designed my own website, built it from scratch, and didn’t hate it. Until I really sat down a few months ago and thought about what I wanted to do. And that’s when I realized that the services I said I did, and those I wanted to put my time and energy into weren’t exactly lining up. That’s when I knew it was time for a refresh.

Could I have done it myself?

Of course. I built it once before, I could have done it again. But it would have been bland and boring, and would not have featured this guy:



And that guy (and all of his friends!) is what makes my new website stand out.

When I decided to re-build my own site, I contacted a graphic designer/website developer whose work I love, and walked her through what I was looking for. I paid a fellow Mompreneur to do the work on my site – so I could spend my time focusing on what I do well: social media marketing for my clients (and my own content development for the site).

As she was finishing up on my site, I started to turn my attention to updating my own social media presence, as my pages have often felt the plight of the cobbler’s children. While doing that, I happened upon another Mompreneur who does similar work. I visited her Facebook page – to find the EXACT SAME COVER PHOTO I had, with teal instead of orange.

I cringed.

And then I emailed my graphic designer friend and had her start another job for me, this time redesigning some social media graphics.

I’m sure you can figure out where this is going – yes, that cover photo was stock from Canva. I’d had mine up for two years; her page was newer. Do I think she was trying to copy me? Nooooooooooo, I think we just both had the misfortune of buying into the hype about Canva and these other free/low-cost “graphic design” services: that they can make non-designers, designers.

Newsflash: they can’t.

Just like having a personal Facebook page doesn’t make you a social media consultant, having a Canva account won’t make you a graphic designer. It can help you look better than people who don’t use any properly-sized graphics, but it will not take the place of a unique design.

So my advice is to stop trying to do everything, and instead, pay for custom services. Small businesses supporting other small businesses – isn’t that what it’s all about? That and monocle cat illustrations make the world (wide web) go round.