Pinterest is an amazing platform for reaching a completely different demographic of users from most forms of social media. This is especially true when comparing it to platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Pinterest does not put up a fight with its pinners to keep its users on their site.
Instead, they allow them to find amazing pins and visit websites to solve their problems. Similar to search engines like Google, just in a picture format.
The picture format itself is also a defining feature on Pinterest, with vertical images being preferred. Unlike most platforms, in order to create popular content for Pinterest, you have to process it in some way, normally this means using some form of graphics software like Photoshop or Illustrator to create awesome images.
That does not, however, need to be the case.
Canva is a free graphic design website and a favorite of many bloggers, marketers, and all sorts of professionals.
What makes it especially great is that the drag and drop format means it is extremely intuitive to use and even complete newbies to the world of graphic design can create amazing pins. Did I mention it’s free?
Below I’ve gone ahead and put together a Canva crash course to create amazing Pinterest pins & included my 5 favorite resources for free stock images in case you need to find that perfect pic to make your pin stand out from the crowd.
- How to Create Amazing Pins for Free using Canva
- Getting Started
- A Quick Overview
- Using Templates
- Using templates with custom dimensioned designs
- How to Insert Images into your designs
- How to upload your own images onto Canva
- 5 Best Sites for Copyright-Free Images
- Using text in your Pin design
- How to insert graphics
- Downloading Your finished pin.
- Final Thoughts
How to Create Amazing Pins for Free using Canva
Before we start, you’re going to need to open a new tab in your browser.
From my experience, working from a PC will be the easiest… Although Maike can sometimes go through an entire workflow using only her phone… Maybe one day I’ll also develop that skill, but I like to see what I’m doing & so today we’re going to be going over the desktop PC tutorial.
Open Canva (or click here).
Go ahead and complete the quick signup & then sign in.
Now what you’re going to need to do next, and this is very important, is to read one of our previous posts.
Seriously though, our 10 tips to create the best viral Pinterest pins will highlight exactly what you need to include in your Pin design process and get your repins rolling.
Are you back? Great! Let’s get started.
Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be taken to your home screen on Canva. To begin, start by clicking the ‘Create a design’ button in the top left corner (in the image below, highlighted in orange). Once you’ve done that you will see this screen.
These are the starting blocks of your design. Here you can either choose a size template, from the examples provided (the area highlighted in red in the above image).
You can see the size of each image by hovering your cursor over the icon. By the Pinterest graphic, for example, you will see the dimensions 735 x 1102, which is the optimum image ratio of 6:9 that Pinterest recommends.
If you want to create an image with different dimensions, you can select the ‘Use custom dimensions’ box in the top right corner (highlighted in green, above). Here you can set the exact dimensions you’d like your image to be. This is useful when creating slightly longer pins.
Let’s go ahead and click on the Pinterest icon to get started.
A Quick Overview
Now that a graphic size is selected, we’re presented with the full beans. The workspace that is.
The large area on the right is your image, you can create multiple pins in one Canva project by clicking on the ‘add a new page’ button below the design. This is useful when you are trying to make multiple pins for a single post. Today we’re going to start off with one pin though.
At the top of the screen, you will see the header bar (highlights in yellow, above).
In the far-left sidebar (highlighted in orange, above) we have the category tabs. Here you can choose between different graphics, backgrounds, text, images, etc. to insert and use in your designs. Giving you control to edit just about everything in your pin design.
The sidebar just to the left of the work area (highlights in red, above) is the pull-out where all of the options that you can use and insert into your image will appear. When you select an example graphic to start off with, I.e. the 735 x 1102 Pinterest graphic, you’ll be presented with a range of templates that you can use as the building blocks of your design or as inspiration. You don’t have to, but it’s nice to have.
To start using a template, it’s as simple as clicking on the one you’d like. If you already have some form of imagery in your workspace you’ll receive the prompt to ‘replace page content’. This will replace everything on that specific page with the template design.
When selecting a template, scroll through the options on the left and pick one that will fit your design best. Don’t worry about details as you can alter and change just about everything on the template.
If you aren’t on the templates screen and would like to change or implement a template, you can find the templates under the ‘layout’ tab on the left.
One important factor to note is that some templates use free images on Canva and others use images that you will need to pay for. These are quite easy to notice though. The templates with free images have a ‘free’ marking on the bottom right corner of the template (highlighted in red, below).
Templates that include paid-for images or graphics won’t have any markings on when scrolling through the template options. For example, above, highlighted in blue, you can see a template with an image that would need to be paid for if you would like to use it. If you select that template the Canva watermark will show over the image that needs to be paid for, as seen above.
Pro tip: If you select the ‘i’ icon that appears in the bottom left corner when hovering over a design, you will be shown the information regarding the template, what graphics are paid for, and what is free to use.
A lot of the time it’s only the image that is paid for. This means that if you would like to use a specific template with an image that needs to be paid for, just replace the image with a free one from Canva’s library or use one of your own.
Using templates with custom dimensioned designs
You may notice that you aren’t given an option for templates when creating a design using custom dimensions. This is because the templates are all designed for a specific size. There is an easy workaround, however.
You’ll need to select one of the example graphics, like the 735 x 1102 Pinterest graphic. Now you can select a template as you normally would. Once you’ve settled one, you’re going to select all of the assets in the design. The easiest way to do this would be to hold in the control key & press the A key (Ctrl + A). Hold in the control key once again and press the C key (Ctrl + C). Now that you have copied the graphics to your clipboard you can either create the new design with the custom dimensions or switch to it if you already created it in a separate tab. Once you’re on the custom design screen all you need to do is hold in the control key once again and press the v key (Ctrl + V) to paste the template into your custom design.
All that’s left to do is move around and resize the template to fit your custom dimensions perfectly.
How to Insert Images into your designs
There are 3 ways to insert photos into your design.
You can use free photos from Canva’s library, these images are free to use and you can find them by selecting the ‘elements’ tab on the left and then selecting ‘free photos’ (Highlighted in orange, below).
Now you can scroll through a selection of free images that you can use in your design.
You can sometimes stumble upon an awesome picture, but generally, a better way of finding images is to use the search bar.
Type in whatever term you are looking for and then hit enter. You can then narrow your search down to only images, by selecting the ‘image’ tab that will appear below the search bar. (highlighted in red, below)
Here you will find a selection of images relating to your search term. Some of the images will need to be paid for and some are free. You’ll be able to tell the difference as free images will be marked ‘free’ on the bottom left of their thumbnail.
Once you have found an image of your fancy you can click on it and it will drop into the work area, as you can see below.
The dots at the corners can be used to change the size of the image. By default, images on Canva are locked to their aspect ratio, but by holding in your shift key, you can use free-form to change their size to whatever fits your design best.
If you have a template with an image in or a layout, you can drag the image you want to over an existing image and it will fill the layout space or replace the template image.
The best option for using images on Canva is often to upload your own.
How to upload your own images onto Canva
To upload your own images, click on the ‘Uploads’ tab in the far-left sidebar. Here you’ll find all of your uploads sorted by date, with the latest uploads at the top. To upload a new image, click on the ‘Upload your own images’ button (highlighted in orange, below).
Now select an image that you would like to insert into your pin design. Once selected the image will upload and you can then drop it into your image like any other image on Canva. Don’t worry, these images are not made public.
You also don’t have to be a professional photographer to upload images for your pins. If you don’t have any images on hand you can also download stock photos. Below I’ve listed 5 of my favorite websites to find great free stock photos.
5 Best Sites for Copyright-Free Images
Pixabay is a large public domain sharing platform. What that means is that they offer over 1.4 million royalty-free stock photos. These images can be used for both personal and commercial use.
These pictures can, however, be found directly in Canva.
Unsplash is another copyright-free image-sharing database with over half a million images. You can choose to give credit to Unsplash images, but it isn’t a requirement.
A lot of these websites allow you to either donate to the creator of the image or give them credit in a form of a link to their image, account, or the website itself.
PicJumbo contains another great expanding collection of free-to-use images.
I like the Negative Space site for its simplistic designs and a great collection of free interesting photos.
Lastly, we have Stokpic and another great collection of images. You can even sign up for their email list and they’ll send you their latest 10 premium images every 2 weeks.
There’s a wide variety of free image sites out there, just make sure to always check out the licenses if you haven’t used their site before.
Now that you know how to insert images into your pins, it’s time to move on to text & graphics.
Using text in your Pin design
To insert text into your design, click on the ‘text’ tab in the far-left sidebar. On the top you can select a range of different sizes (highlighted in orange, below), or beneath that you can choose a text template (highlighted in yellow, below).
If you choose the normal text option at the top, click or drag it into your image & then select it to edit it. Once selected you can type in whatever text you would like in your design. You will see a header bar appear with a range of options, see the image below.
From left to right, you can choose your;
- Text size
- Switching between upper & lowercase.
- Enabling bullet points.
- Adjusting the spaces.
On the far right;
- Copy the text with the select settings.
- Arrange the text behind or in front of other graphics.
- Adjust the transparency.
- Insert a link.
- Delete the text.
A lot of these options are also available for graphics and some even for images.
An important thing to note is that these setting are applied to the entire text block, you cannot individually set words or letters in bold, italicize, etc. You need to then insert separate text blocks into your design.
Text templates are just grouped versions of the normal text. You will see an option in the top bar named ‘group’ or ‘ungroup’ when selecting a text template or multiple options. The benefit here is that when objects are grouped, you can move them together in a group of course. If you increase or decrease their size by scaling them, the entire group increases proportionally as well. This is useful for fine-tuning your end design.
To separate grouped objects or texts, click on the ‘ungroup’ button in the top bar.
How to insert graphics
Inserting graphics is similar to inserting images and text. You can access the graphics by clicking on the ‘elements’ tab in the far-left sidebar. A set of options including frames, icons, shapes, lines, etc. will appear.
Now you can choose whatever graphic elements you’d like in your pin. You can also find these by using the search bar at the top. Once you’ve found a shape, line, icon, etc. that you would like to insert into your design, drag it over or click on it. Once dropped in, you can normally alter the color of the graphic like in the image below. & then resize and move it to make your design stand out. Remember to use the ‘arrange’ button to move your graphics behind or in front of the text or images.
Downloading Your finished pin.
Once you’ve finished designing the next viral Pinterest pin, it’s time to download your design.
You can adjust the file name by clicking on the area on the left of the share button at the top of your screen. This will usually auto-populate with the first word or sentence you write.
Once your file name is complete, click on the ‘Download’ button at the top left side of the header bar. A drop-down menu will appear with some options, I recommend using .png for the best image quality.
The last step is to hit the ‘Download’ button.
For creating incredible pins without needing any prior knowledge of graphic design and photo editing software, Canva provides a great, easy-to-use option. Because its prime functions are free, it’s accessible to everyone with an internet connection.
Like with most things though, you will only get better with experience. Don’t let any setbacks bother you. Keep going and you will start developing better designs skills, habits and become more familiar with Canva.
If you’re ready to take put these new design skills to good use and take advantage of everything Pinterest has to offer, check out this Pinterest course from Create & Go.
It covers everything you need to know about getting targeted traffic using Pinterest; how to set up your account, using group boards, which pins convert, plus much more that will take your Pinterest account to the top of the search results.
It’s called the Pinterest Traffic Avalanche, and if followed correctly, it will bring a windfall of traffic to your pins.