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Canva: the best thing to happen to non-graphic designers since ever

Canva is the newest design tool to hit the market, and looks to be any professionals’ leg up in the competitive market, as it can set anyone apart either via presentation or business card. Genius!

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Canva – design tool loaded with tons of pre-designed elements

Do you remember the first time you used PowerPoint and were amazed by all of the creative themes it came loaded with, or the colors, or layouts? Do you remember that invincible feeling that you could go into any situation armed with a sexy presentation and knock the socks off of anyone? Well maybe you weren’t as nerdy as I was in my childhood, but you get the point – once upon a time, PowerPoint was the most creative and powerful suite of tools around, but business professionals adopted it and pillaged the potential awesomeness and turned presentation time into an hour of animated clip art that makes you want to stab yourself in the eyeballs.

Enter Canva, the newest design tool that has given me the same butterflies in my stomach as PowerPoint did 20 years ago, and after reading this, you’ll rush over to Facebook and ask if anyone you know has an invite to share with you since it is currently invitation-only and each new user is given five invitations to share.

UPDATE: Canva has provided AGBeat readers with a VIP pass to Canva so you can jump the waiting list!

First, watch this quick video below, and then I’ll tell you why it doesn’t do the tool justice.

Why Canva is awesome and I love it

First, I should note that I don’t know anyone at Canva, and hadn’t heard about the tool until recently (and yes, I begged for an invitation just like you will).

When you get into Canva for the first time, you’ll be able to create any of the following:

  • Documents (A4)
  • Presentations
  • Blog graphics
  • Facebook cover photos
  • Social media graphics
  • Cards
  • Photo collages
  • Posters
  • Invitations
  • Business cards

Each of these types of creations comes with tons of free templates, and while I usually hate templates because they reek of 1993 PowerPoint presentations, these templates are extremely modern, beautiful, and clearly designed by actual designers.

Once you’ve chosen what you’re going to create, you can select a layout (template), add some text in the pre-designed spots or on your own, change the background, and even upload pictures or have it pull from your existing Facebook photos (hence the benefit of logging in your first time with Facebook). If you want people to collaborate with you, even that is an option!

It’s loaded with a bajillion high-quality photos and images – there are plenty of free elements, but if you want a giant lion or a paisley background, you might shell out a dollar, which we believe to be pretty dang inexpensive (although we’d prefer a “here, take my $9.99 per month and give it all to me for free” model). But hey, they’ve got to keep the lights on!

Then, when you’re done, you can download your new image or share it on social networks right from Canva. Genius! The video is beautiful, but nothing beats tinkering with Canva yourself. Nothing.

Real life example

So after I stopped drooling, I challenged myself to make a quick graphic for an event we host in Austin every month. In 60 seconds, no joke, 60 seconds, I created the following:

bashh

It basically did all of the work for me – I just typed in a couple of words, changed the background color, and added a ribbon and the URL. Easy as pie.

The designs are all gorgeous, so easy to use, and a must-have for any professional who is ever going to have to put together a presentation, graphic, or otherwise. Really, truly, this is the most exciting thing to happen to non-graphic designers, and actual designers can use the tool without throwing up!

Quick photo tour:

So right now, I’m going to challenge myself to make a gorgeous Facebook cover photo in under 60 seconds, let’s see if I can do it (click any image to enlarge and get inspired):

canva-step-1

canva-step-2

canva-step-3

canva-step-4

canva-step-5

canva-step-6

It worked! Although I changed my mind during the process, you can see that the design elements are all drag and drop, and it even helps you with guides to keep everything centered. And now, if I wanted to use Ron Burgundy as my Facebook cover photo, I can – it’s even customized with a stupid catch phrase.

So go check out Canva and show us in the comments what you have created!

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Don Reedy

    October 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Inviting. Pleasing it would be. 🙂

  2. Brady Pevehouse

    October 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I requested my username, verified my email, and immediately got an invite directly from the website!

  3. JoeLoomer

    October 22, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Holy Crap! Check out their pintrest page too – requested my user name, but didn’t get what Brady got – hopefully I will soon!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  4. Brady Pevehouse

    October 22, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Darn “Chief”, when I get lucky I hope it is for winning the lotto…
    instead I simply get the Canva invite..
    I just sent one at you.. It is interesting and worth some looking at and trying out, the thing the article doesn’t tell you is, …. you do still need some creativity. The right tools only get you so far and while this has quite a few, it doesn’t come with a personal designer who can snap 3 times and it’s done.

  5. Lani Rosales

    October 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Hey friends, if you check out the update in the story, there’s a VIP link you can share with friends so they can bypass the waiting line!

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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