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How to Create and Use Free Canva Templates

Have you heard about Canva? Canva is a free, online app that has the ability to create nearly any type of digital file - social media, flyers, brochures, posters, documents. One of my best productivity hacks is using Canva as a template. (There is also a paid upgrade. I am currently using the free version).

By using templates. I don't have to constantly recreate the wheel. I can come up with a consistent look and feel for social media posts. Templates save a ridiculous amount of time and are also a great way to help reduce overwhelm and decision fatigue.

Keeping Track of Templates

As you use Canva, you will notice that it becomes difficult to sift through all of the graphics that you create. I like to keep a list of brief descriptions and the related URL in Google Sheets or in a Trello board. For instance:

Pinterest List Pin Template

URL (copy and paste from browser)

Instagram List Template

URL (copy and paste from browser)

Facebook Blog Post Template

URL (copy and paste from browser)

I always start by creating my blog graphic. Then I create my Pinterest graphics, Instagram graphics, and Facebook/LinkedIn graphics. I use the same graphic for Facebook and LinkedIn.

Canva Template Examples - blog, pinterest, instagram, facebook

Introduction to Canva

Canva Home Page

Canva's home page displays free, pre-made templates that you have access to as well as the designs that you have recently created. You can also create your own templates.

Canva Workspace

Canva also has a workspace. The workspace consists of a background, photos, text, and elements (which are shapes, arrows, icons, etc).

canva workspace - photos, backgrounds, text, elements

Think of the workspace as a poster board where you arrange pictures from magazines, cut out letters and shapes. When you use a poster board, you can arrange things in front of or behind each other in different layers that overlap each other. Canva works the same way. You start with a background and add on pictures, shapes, or text and then move it around. In fact, that is all there is to Canva!

Using the Canva Homepage

Once you login to Canva, you are greeted with the homepage. You can explore the pre-made templates or you can create your own. This tutorial focuses on creating your own templates. I create a blog post graphic (which is just a blank template). Then, I walk you through creating and using a Pinterest template, an Instagram graphic, and a Facebook graphic. I also use the Facebook graphic on LinkedIn.

STEP 1: Create the Blog Post Graphic

I use the blank, built-in blank blog banner template, so there is no need to create a blog post template. If you don't have a blog, feel free to skip to step 2.

  • Search for the term blog.

  • Choose Blog Banner from the drop-down menu.

canva home page - search for blog banner
  • Select Blank.

canva selecting the blank blog banner template

You are presented with a blank background.


  1. To add an image, click Photos from the left-hand menu.

  2. Search for an image category. In this example, I searched for "desk".

  3. When you find the photo you want, add it to the workspace by clicking and dragging the image to the background.

Use the photos tab of canva to search for a picture and add to the workspace

NOTE: The photos with a crown in the lower right-hand corner are the ones that are available in the paid version. If you use them in the free version, it will create a watermark across the image. There is a wide assortment of free images, though.

Resize the image by clicking and dragging the corners of the image on the little circles located at the corners. Canva resizes everything like most Microsoft, Google products - click and drag the corners to resize. If you need to crop, click and drag the lines on the sides of the image.

If the image extends beyond the background, only the part that is on the background will save.

I like to save the graphic with a name that will be meaningful to the article. For example, if the post is about motivation, then the image is named motivation.png as well. The image will autosave, so to name it with something more descriptive, simply type the desired name where the generic name is (in this example "Untitled design - Blog Banner". When you are finished, click the Download button to download the graphic as a .png or a .jpg.

Canva file name and download

Step 2: Create the Pinterest Graphic Template

  • From the menu at the top, click File > Create New Design.

  • Search for the term Pinterest and select "Pinterest Pin".

A new tab should open with a blank template and a perfectly Pinterest-sized workspace.

Give the template a name (e.g., Pinterest Template - Image & Text)

This time, we are going to add 2 elements (shapes and frames) as well as some text.


  1. Click the Elements tab from the left-hand bar.

  2. Search for frames. Frames do just what the name suggests - they provide a frame for your image. Frames crop your image into the shape of the frame.

  3. Drag the frame to the workspace and move it into position. Resize it using the corners.


  • While still on the Elements tab, search for square. The square can resize into a rectangle.

  • Drag the square into your workspace.

canva adding square element
  • Click on your square. This activates the colors.

  • Choose a color for your square. I find it simplest to use built-in colors. You can add your own colors but you will need to continually add in the hex code with each new creation in the free version.

  • Resize the square into a small rectangle and reposition. I use this rectangle as a "button" with text that is a call to action ("click here for more info", "get your guide", etc.)

canva elements - changing color and resizing


  1. Click the Text tab.

  2. Add in a subheading and reposition. Add in a paragraph text and reposition.

canva adding text

Both of these text sections are in a text box.

canva choosing a font

  • To change the font, select the text, go to the font section and select the desired font.

  • A note about fonts: if you are looking for a certain style like handwritten, type handwritten in the font search bar, press the enter key or click the magnifying glass. Canva will display all of the fonts it considers handwritten.

Step 3: Use the Pinterest Graphic Template

Once you have created the template, you can use it.

  • Click File > Make a Copy.

  • Rename the template. I use the theme or topic from the blog post (e.g. motivation pinterest).

  • Select the Photos tab and add the photo to the template.

  • Select the heading text box and add in your own the heading.

  • Select the paragraph text box and update it with your own text.

Here is an example of how I used one template to create three different Pinterest pins. The pins took less than one minute each to update thanks to the template!

using canva templates to create multiple images

Creating Additional Canva Templates

  • You can create additional template variations for Pinterest or create Instagram, Facebook, etc.

  • From the menu at the top, click File > Create New Design.

  • Search for the term Pinterest or Facebook or Instagram.

There is a little work upfront to create templates. You will save yourself so much time in the long run once you create these! More importantly, templates are a great way to reduce overwhelm!

One Additional Note

Since I wrote this post, I have purchased the paid version of Canva. The process is still the same, I just have access to more images and fonts.


Looking for more?

Check out my Online Program Move the Dial on Your Productivity | Nicole Soer

I like to call this Productivity for Real People – it’s for people who don’t have an executive assistant to delegate to. Or for people who are juggling aging parents and children. Or for people who feel like everyone else has it all together. Or for people who find their motivation in last-minute, sometimes-frantic project deadlines. It’s for people who have read all of the productivity books and found them interesting to read and are still searching. It’s for people who are changing their season of life (sending children to school or to college, empty nesters, retirees). It's for people who want to start a business but aren't sure how to manage the time commitment.

It's not about overhauling everything about your productivity. It's figuring out what works (because there are things that are working okay for you) and asking if we can make it work a little better for you. it's figuring out what you might be struggling with and applying systems and processes. I've used the very systems that I teach in this program. I used to think "I need a deadline to get motivated (and, wow, I'm so focused when that happens)"! I also used to keep Post-it notes stuck to my monitor as reminders of what I needed to do. Now, I've learned a less stressful way to get stuff done. And I'm so excited to share it with you!

Check out my Online Program Move the Dial on Your Productivity | Nicole Soer


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