Should You Pay For Canva?

As I sit here creating an image in Canva for my newest blog post, I find myself thinking about the other images I need to create, and suddenly I’m jotting a whole list down: Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin… YouTube thumbnail… Instagram carousel… the list goes on.

For those of us running small businesses, online marketing has turned us all into designers. 

For me, the paid version of Canva is a lifesaver, but it's not for everyone. So, how do you decide whether to pay for Canva?

I think the real question here is: Would you benefit from the features that Canva Pro offers? If so... how?

To help you get a clearer picture, I’ve listed below the features in Canva Pro that I use regularly, plus some detail about how I use them and how they might help you.

If you think that they’d help you in the same way, then the paid version would be a good call! And on the flip side, if these features don’t sound like they’d be useful, then the free version might be the way to go.

Resize Images Quickly and Easily

Looking back to the list of all the images I need to create, the ability to resize an image in Canva Pro is incredibly helpful. I can design the image I want for my blog post header, and then with the click of a button, I can turn it into the size I need for Instagram.

To be clear – after the file is resized, we still have to edit it to fit the new dimensions. But the process is still much easier than without this feature, especially when I’m creating multiple versions of the same image.

Can you create multiple sizes of the same image in the free version of Canva? Yes, you can. You'll just have to walk through many more steps to do so. So the benefit here is not the ability to resize, but the ease and speed that this Canva Pro feature brings to the process.

Background Remover

Have you seen those images where the background is cut out? This feature has been a game changer for my images! 

You can also add lines and shadows around the images to help them pop or to integrate them in really interesting ways. Especially if you are doing anything in YouTube or Instagram, these features can really enhance your images in ways that are in line with current styles and help you stop the scroll.

progression from original image to background removed to layered into thumbnail

Transparent Downloads

The other day, a client sent me an image that she wanted to use on the sales page for her upcoming workshop. It was a logo on a gray background. I asked her if she could send me the transparent version… and that’s when we ran into a key difference between her free version of Canva and my access to the Pro features. Though she could change the background to white, she couldn’t remove it altogether. 

This isn’t a feature that I use a lot, but in cases like with logos, it can really uplevel the professional look of an image and increase its flexibility. A transparent background means we can put it on any color page and we won’t see that big white square around it; instead, we'll see the color of the background coming through around the image.

More Images… Way More

Canva Pro gives us access to an extensive library of photos and graphics that free accounts don’t get. 

How many? According to their pricing page, the free version offers “hundreds of thousands” of free photos and graphics, while the paid version offers “100+ million premium stock photos, videos, audio and graphics.” 👀

This is one of the features I use the most. It has saved me a ton of time that I used to spend searching through various other free graphics websites for the perfect image and in my experience, the quality of the premium images in Canva Pro is higher than those free sites.

To make sure I’m taking advantage of this feature, I filter my searches in Canva Pro so that I only see the images and graphics available to Pro accounts. This increases the quality of the images I am searching through and it reduces the “I’ve seen this elsewhere” photo experience.

If you find yourself regularly looking for images and graphics, and you struggle with finding something new and different that you haven’t already used or seen someplace else, then this is a key feature that you would benefit from.

Brand Kits

Honestly, this is probably my favorite feature in Canva Pro. It’s really easy to set up a brand kit in Canva pro: You bring in your logos, set your brand colors, set your fonts… and then it’s easy to apply those to any design you’re working on. Bonus: You can create multiple color palettes, bring in as many logos as you want, and upload up to 100 fonts. 

The Brand Kits have been helpful to me in a number of ways… I have two brands within my own company, and also the brands for my clients. I’ve been able to bring them all in to Canva and it’s easy to switch between them when working on designs. 

I rely on this feature so much that whenever I’m in a situation where I need to know the hex codes of my brand colors (so like if I’m working on a webpage or in my email platform), I’ll pop open Canva and grab the hex codes from there.

Folders

I’ve created enough projects in Canva that things got chaotic and I wasted too much time trying to find things. The folders that Canva Pro includes have been incredibly helpful with this because I can move things out of my way. I don't have to filter through them in search for what I need and then it’s easier to find them when I need them.

Here’s something they don’t tell you: You can use folders for images AND for projects. 

For example:

  • I have a folder filled with one of my client’s headshots, logos, and other brand images. 
  • I have another folder filled with the projects I’ve built for that same client. 

I could have everything for this one client in one folder, but it’s easier for me to keep them separate. With the paid version of Canva, I have an unlimited number of folders so I can use them the way I want.

The free version of Canva does give you two folders. If you don’t use it a lot and organization isn’t key, then the free version might be all you need. But if you use Canva enough that getting organized would help you streamline your experience and reduce wasted time and frustration, leveling up to the pro version would probably be helpful. 

Social Media Scheduling

This is one feature in Canva Pro that you should know about… but to tell you the truth, I only use it periodically.

In CanvaPro, you can post a design directly to your social media. No more downloading from Canva so you can upload elsewhere.

But here’s why I tend not to use it: Once I’ve scheduled a post in canva, the design that it came from is “locked” until after it publishes. That’s actually just fine as long as you know it's going to happen so you can work with it intentionally.

Here’s how to work with it:

  1. Separate the design you want to publish into its own project within Canva. That way it’s sitting on its own.
  2. Then publish that new stand-alone project.

Easy-peasy!

That being said, if you’re already using another platform to schedule your social media and it works for you, I’d recommend sticking with it for now. Canva is always updating its features and I suspect they’ll change the way this posting system operates in the future.

Still not sure?

It might be useful to take advantage of the 30-day Canva Pro trial and experience it for yourself. Take some time to play with it and see if it's a good fit for you. Honestly, I used the free version for a very long time. I switched to Canva Pro when it made sense in my business, and I haven't looked back.

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