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PicMonkey Vs. Canva – What to Use When in your Handmade Business


Do you use PicMonkey or Canva? Have you tried them both and decided that one’s your ‘thing’ and you just don’t get the other one at all? And even though you love a whole bunch of things about the one you do use, there’s some tasks that you can’t do in it and it just frustrates you?

They’re quite different beasts for sure – and the difference really stems from their purpose. PicMonkey is aimed at everyday photo-editing – so it covers all your basic edits plus filters and overlays (including a few special tricks especially designed for correcting/enhancing photos of people), whereas Canva is aimed more at producing graphics that are suitable for a range of digital and print applications such as images for social media and blogs, infographics, special document layouts, letterheads, business cards, posters, etc.

In both systems, you can upload your own images, layer things, and alter their transparency to create interesting texture and effects. Both allow you to do basic edits to photos, adjusting qualities such as brightness, contrast, saturation and more, and both offer a range of pre-set filters.

But as you’ve no doubt discovered, each platform has its limitations.

So, have you ever considered using them in tandem?

PicMonkey to do the the things that Canva can’t, and vice versa? Their capabilities are quite complementary, if you’re looking for cheap/free image editing solutions. I’ve put together a summary of the best points of each, as well as some of things I find the most limiting/annoying.

Also, I’ll mention that in each system, the paid versions extend their functionality considerably, so you might want to consider that option too (PicMonkey Royale is $64AUD/year and Canva is $157AUD/year… although if you’re prepared to fork out moola, I’d probably get a sub to Photoshop CC instead as it’s around the same price as Canva for Work and has a huge amount more functionality).




Some things I love…

  • The huge array of perfectly pre-sized canvases for almost any application you can think of, from social media posts to e-books to desktop wallpapers to business stationery and a whole bunch more
  • Intuitive layout, easy to find your way around and get what you want
  • The great series of tutorials on design, as well as a fab blog on various aspects of graphic design
  • Some nice pre-made (and free) graphic templates, so all you need to do is alter the text and colours to suit your needs and you’re done
  • A fabulous ‘snap’ functionality, which helps you centre your work, or snap it to the edge of the canvas
  • A good range of preset filters, with a dialogue box that shows you what changes the filter has made to the image, and allows you to tweak aspects such as brightness/saturation/contrast/tint/blur/etc at the same time
    you can create a free account, which will always keep the graphics you’ve already made (AND they remain editable), as well as all of your own images that you’ve uploaded
  • Canva auto-saves your work as you go. Download it whenever you want


Some things I don’t like about Canva

  • You can’t stretch many of your elements; photos can be resized by holding down the shift key and dragging, and lines can be extended; but generally, the rest of the elements you can only resize them in their correct proportions
  • You can’t upload your own fonts in the free version (you can in the paid Canva for Work)
    you can’t make an image with a transparent background, so creating logos is not an option (you can in Canva for Work)
  • You can’t change the image size once you start (you can in Canva for Work), although you do have the option to save for either low quality (.jpg) or higher quality (.png), and in two different resolutions for PDFs
  • Making a text mask (where you have an image showing through text) is painfully slow, and you can only use the one block font they offer frames in





Some things I love

  • You can make overlays with transparent backgrounds for your brand which you can use for your images wherever you need them. You could also make a simple logo in PicMonkey which you can overlay onto any graphic you choose. Consistently branded images are great for blog posts, social media, etc
  • You can use your own fonts from your computer
  • Stretching anything to fit is easy – hold down the shift key while dragging a corner of the image or overlay
  • Making a text mask is a piece of cake, and you can use any font and any image you like
  • A MASSIVE range of filters and effects, so you can really make your images distinctive
  • A draw tool, and an eraser tool so you can do spot-editing, pixel by pixel
  • A good series of tutorials, written for non-designers


Some things I don’t like

  • You can’t save any of your designs into their system, and you can’t save editable images to finish later – when you save, the layers are automatically flattened before it’s downloaded to your computer
  • Update: you can now save editable files in their Hub, which is an add-on to PicMonkey Royale (the paid version)
  • It’s SUPER hard to centre anything (like text, or shapes) – PicMonkey doesn’t have any ‘snap’ function, nor any other easy way of figuring out if things are lined up (and that’s why I made this handy overlay grid a little while ago. You’re welcome)
  • It’s much harder to find your way around because you have to click in and out of the individual sections each time to test the effect of each one, and some effects and overlays are also hidden in the Themes section


What I’d use when


Creating logos

Firstly, I would definitely use PicMonkey to create any sort of logo, or other brand element that you intend to use as an overlay in your graphics, because it allows you to create a shape with a transparent background.

The thing that you need to remember when you’re saving your shape with its transparent background is that it needs to be saved as a .png file – if you try to save it as a .jpg, it will automatically convert your transparent background to solid white – which means that it becomes completely useless as an overlay.

With this example, there are two steps – first creating the separate shape file so you can use it again and again; and then creating a new file for your chosen image including the overlay.

In the first step, I used PicMonkey’s Design option to create a canvas with a transparent background, then into Text. Click on ‘My Own’ at the top of the side panel, before choosing the fonts you want (I used a combination of Goblin, Times New Roman, and Helvetica Neue). To do this, you’ll need to load up three separate text boxes so that you can make them different colours, change their sizes slightly, and layer them up. After moving them around, then I simply save (remember, it has to be a .png to preserve the transparent background).

Once you’ve saved your logo, every time you need to use it on an image, you can simply go into Overlay / My Own, and choose it from your files (but you’ll have to load it up again, every time you need to make a new graphic).

EVEN BETTER, switch over to Canva now, and upload it into your Canva account – that way you’ll always have it handy for every graphic you want to produce!


Image editing

PicMonkey every time. Canva will only add filters or change simple aspects such as brightness, contrast, tint, and blur to a WHOLE image; there’s no “Draw” tool to add in your own bits.

PicMonkey has a “Draw” tool in Effects; you can change the size and colour of the tool, and you can alter things as small as 1 pixel. It also has an eraser so you can erase parts of one layer or effect so that the original image shows through. Clever use of the eraser and the pencil together can create elements that look like they wrap around each other.



Always, always in Canva for this! For two reasons:

1. It always keeps your files editable, so all you need to do is make a copy of your original template (from the main page that shows all your designs, click on the little arrow in the top right of the image you want, and “Make a copy”).

2. Good graphics need good alignment, and I LOVE their snap tools to help you get everything centred/justified. Perfect for when you need to change text and other elements around frequently.



As I pointed out earlier, once you’ve chosen your canvas size in Canva, you’re stuck with it. If you want to resize things, or start with a flexible size because you’re not really sure what you want to end up with (like when you’re creating a logo) use PicMonkey, every time.

These are a few of the specific situations I’d choose one over the other. There are many, many other specific situations where the flexibility of one outweighs the flexibility of the other – it’s up to you to choose what suits you best. Hopefully the list of likes/dislikes above will help you figure that out.


Have you used the two in tandem? Have you only stuck to one and now you want to try the other? If you have combined them already, I would LOVE to hear what you’ve made and why. Pop a comment below!


[70] How to Organise a Professional Photo Shoot with Christina Lowry

In this episode, I chat with Christina Lowry about how to organise a professional photo shoot for your handmade business.

Christina is a jeweller who began her creative journey via a silversmithing course. She then secured a jewellery apprenticeship, which led her to work in the traditional world of retail jewellery for a number of years. It wasn’t smooth sailing though, and eventually Christina realised she should start her own business. She jumped in the deep end and it took off from there!

One of the things that Christina has done differently to many of us was to organise professional photo shoots of her jewellery collections, almost from the very beginning of her business a few years ago. She has organised many of these shoots now, and has a lot of wisdom to share on how to do the same for your business without breaking the bank.

We discuss the ins and outs of creating a professional ‘look book’ for your products, the challenges you might come up against, and the nitty gritty details of things like: ‘how do I find a photographer or model in the first place’?

There are so many decisions to be made to ensure you get the most out of a professional shoot and lots of little details that need to be considered. We talk about how to get all this done economically and so that all parties benefit!

If you are a C&T email subscriber, there is an awesome downloadable photo shoot checklist that Christina has put together for you waiting for you over in the Handmade Business Toolkit!

If you’re not a subscriber, click here to get access to the free Toolkit.


Great photos are SO super important for your business, so make sure you listen to this episode for all the right pointers on how you can organise a photo shoot to show your products off in their best possible light.



Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Good quality photographs are a must for small business.
  • ‘If you are producing things that are high quality then you want to be imparting that image of your brand.’ {Christina}
  • You can reach a broader audience with professional photographs.
  • The investment really pays off for the long term as the photos can be used across all mediums.
  • It can be very important to have a collection in order to have a vision.
  • You can find photographers and models who may be interested in bartering as a cheaper and collaborative way of getting great photos.
  • Look to your friends and family who may have great locations for photo shoots.
  • Going on location scouts can be heaps of fun too!
  • The location needs to offer amenities such as a place for the model to change. Make sure you check permissions and also see if there are any fees involved with using the space.
  • Make sure you give yourself plenty of planning time and also a back up plan in case the weather turns.
  • Make a list: you may need more than you realise so take whatever will be useful or could be useful.
  • Write an itinerary so that all people are on the same page with how the shoot will run.
  • Have a shot list to ensure you are getting the pictures you want.
  • Pinterest is a great resource for inspiration on the style, ideas and props.
  • Set out an agreement so that every party knows what usage rights they have with images.
  • It is so important to attribute the work to those who put in the hard yards. It is so great to collaborate and celebrate each others skills.
  • ‘It’s lovely how being a creative person attracts other creative people to you and opens up a world of  possibilities.’ {Christina}
  • Don’t make it too complicated to begin with. Use what you have and work from there. You can start small.
  • Head to the Create & Thrive Product Photography Guide for further reading.
  • EXCITING NEWS: Set Up Shop will be running again starting October 3rd, 2016!


Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

[69] How to Run an Effective Giveaway


In this episode, I outline how to run an effective giveaway.

Giveaways pop up all the time on social media – and for good reason. If delivered in a well-planned, well-executed way, they can be a very effective marketing tool for small business.

Giveaways can be a great way to engage and build your audience. They are also a great way to celebrate something – such as a launch or new product – and, if done right, they can be very rewarding for all involved.

So before you decide to go ahead and start gift giving – make sure you listen to this episode to ensure you get the most out of your giveaway!




Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Set your goal.
  • Is your goal to make more sales, build up buzz for a new product launch, or build more followers and subscribers?
  • 2. Decide on a prize.
  • Make sure the prize is not onerous for you to create and make sure it is something people want.
  • 3. Set some Terms & Conditions.
  • You need to put these in place to protect you.
  • It is also important to check terms and conditions of the platform you wish to use. They may have certain rules you need to abide by.
  • What date will the competition close?
  • Who is the competition open to?
  • How do people enter?
  • You need to make this clear and as easy as possible. If it is too hard people won’t bother.
  • 4.What is your method of delivery?
  • You should decide what platform you will use to host the giveaway.
  • You need to know how you will keep track of entries.
  • There are some online platforms such as Rafflecopter you can use to make this easier.
  • 5. Decide on how you will promote the giveaway.
  • It really should promote itself but you should always be helping it along.
  • Sharing amongst your social networks is a great way to promote it.
  • Don’t be afraid to post the giveaway multiple times and ask friends to share.
  • ‘Shout it far and wide and tell people.’ {Jess}
  • 6. Consider a collaboration.
  • Get in touch with others to see if they are interested in being involved.
  • ‘Make new connections with people and build your networks.’ {Jess}
  • 7. How will you choose a winner?
  • Is the decision random, skill or effort based?
  • is great for helping pick random winners.
  • Make it clear when the winner will be announced. Generally 24 hours is a good starting point.
  • Be mindful of the winners privacy and don’t publish their details.
  • Always contact the winner first.
  • Will you need a back up winner? Have it in your T&C in the case you can’t get hold of the original winner.
  • 8. Providing the prize.
  • Provide the prize with great thought! Make it fun and celebratory and don’t forget to say thank you.
  • Ask your winner if they will share a photo.
  • ‘It’s another piece of content you can share with your audience, another story you can tell.’ {Jess}
  • Analyse how the giveaway went. What worked and what didn’t? This is important info for the next one!


Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

[68] The Future of Online Selling with Jonathan Peacock of Zibbet

In this Episode I discuss all things SEO, website creation, and online marketplaces with Jonathan Peacock of Zibbet.

In the beginning, Jonathan developed Zibbet as an online sales platform for friends of his who were fine artists, as there wasn’t really an appropriate online sales platform for them at the time.

Over time, Zibbet has grown in scope. and now focuses on helping makers get their work into the world. They also offer their own website builder and have been working on some other pretty exciting things, which we discuss in this podcast.

We also chat about the future of social selling and the benefits of selling on an online venue as well as your own website – and how to best make these venues work for you.

This podcast includes some really great tips for both beginners and those with a little more experience. Jonathan has a great mind for business while keeping the particular needs of creative entrepreneurs squarely in his sights, and he and I are definitely on the same wavelength regarding how to be successful in business, as you’ll hear at the end of the ep!.



Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • ‘If you do the work you WILL be competitive’ {Jess}
  • If you have a hobby you can sell in any online marketplace that is easy and works.
  • If you are creating a brand then you need to have your own website and domain name.
  • ‘If you are trying to build a real business and you don’t have your own website then you are doing it wrong’ {Jonathan}
  • You need to make sure that all links lead to your website not an online marketplace.
  • Sending traffic to an online marketplace could ultimately end up with you losing the sale to another maker.
  • Online markets should be used for extra sales and extra exposure.
  • You need to be competitive online, everything should be top notch.
  • Zibbet have their own website builder which is also integrated with their online marketplace.
  • Currently Zibbet are developing a platform that integrates a whole range of channels to make sales and inventory control even easier for sellers.
  • SEO is super important and stands for Search Engine Optimisation.
  • There is on-page SEO which includes title tag and meta description (your welcome message).
  • Fill these on-page SEO tools with great keywords and word it in a way that is enticing to people.
  • There is also off-page SEO which is all about creating back links to your website for example being a guest blogger.
  • Make sure all online appearances such as guest blogging link back to your website and keep creating these external link backs.
  • Google yourself to see what comes up. This are what you need to work on. It has to be good stuff.
  • Do your research with website builders as features and cost can vary greatly.
  • Jonathan notes three things that are really important for building a business.
  • 1. Consume a lot of great content because that is how you learn and grow.
  • 2. You need to work really hard, there are no short-cuts.
  • 3. You need to have lots of patience as this journey takes time.
  • ‘Constantly learn, work very hard, and be patient’ {Jonathan}
  • You can find and explore Zibbet here or head over to the Create & Thrive facebook page to enter our giveaway!


Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

[67] Ignite your Creative Spark with Katy McCullough

In this Episode I discuss finding your creative spark with Katy McCullough, who runs a business helping others find their creativity.

Katy realised there were many people who wanted to be more creative and to live a more creative life but didn’t know where to start, so she set out to help people re-ignite their creativity (or find it if they never had in the past). If you’re here, I’m guessing you are a creative person – but what happens when you hit a creative block, where you just seem to lose your mojo? You can apply what we talk about in this episode to light your spark again.

We discuss how creativity is a skill you need to practice, and the 5 steps you can take to reignite your creativity.


Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • ‘Creativity doesn’t necessarily equal art’ {Katy}
  • Step 1 – Acknowledge your creativity.
  • Think about the different aspects of your day where you use your creativity.
  • Step 2 – Reflect on your creative past.
  • This could be going back to your childhood or even more recent reflection.
  • Step 3 – Find inspiration and ideas.
  • Pinterest is great for finding inspiration and sparking ideas.
  • You might discover what inspires you just through pinning posts that interest you!
  • ‘Don’t be limited by who you think you are or what you think you like’ {Jess}
  • Step 4 – Make sense of it all.
  • Things will become more clear and patterns will emerge.
  • Ask others what creative strengths they see in you.
  • It can be scary following a new creative path but you need to remember that there is nothing to lose in doing so.
  • Step 5 – Start living it.
  • Figure out how to make time for creativity in your life.
  • Courses and classes can be a great kick start and a way of meeting like minded people.
  • Want to learn more? Katy has some free email courses on creativity which you can check out at Greens & Blues Co.


Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)