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

PicMonkey vs. Canva

 

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).

 

Canva

 

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

 

 

PicMonkey

 

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 (This site/resource is no longer available.) 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.

simple logo example

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).

2016 aug - 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.

 

Templates

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.

 

Resizing

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!

 

[59] 10 Tips for Established Handmade Sellers {Part 1}

Ep 59 - Create & Thrive Podcast

 

This episode (and next week’s!) are aimed at handmade business owners who’ve been around for a while – because once business is growing, you’ll start coming up against a whole new set of challenges.

If you’re still new to handmade business, don’t skip these eps, though! While the tips might not yet be relevant to you, they might help you avoid some common pitfalls in the future, and set you up with good habits that will stand you in good stead as your business grows.

This ep got long – so I split it into two parts! Tips 1-5 this week, and tips 6-10 next week.

If you have any tips for fellow established sellers, share them with us in the comments below!

 

 

Ep 59 quote - Jess

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • I often focus on people transitioning from hobby to business – this episode is for those who have been running their businesses for a while.
  • 1. Streamline your order processing.
  • This will save you time and stress, as if you have a rock-solid system in place, you won’t make mistakes (like sending the wrong order to the wrong person!).
  • I share our system in this post.
  • 2. Reduce & simplify your inventory.
  • When you’ve been in business a while, you often have ‘old’ products that might not fit with the direction your business has taken.
  • It’s scary to let go, but it can be a huge weight off, and can actually result in MORE sales as your shop is more cohesive, professional, and easier to navigate for your customers.
  • 3. Get strategic with social media.
  • It’s time to stop wasting time and faffing about on social media.
  • Pick 2 to focus on, and do them really, really well!
  • 4. Hire help!
  • You will eventually hit the upper limit of what you can do on your own.
  • If you want to grow, you need to get help – either in your business, or in other parts of your life, so you have the time to focus on growth.
  • 5. Schedule breaks.
  • This is crucial to avoid burnout and maintain your passion and enthusiasm.
  • Work breaks into every day, or focus on having a chunk of time off each week, with longer breaks when you can.
  • Stay tuned next week for the second 5 tips!
  • P.S. I introduce something pretty epic I’m working on for you at the end of this episode…

 

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’.)

[54] 5 Ways to Increase Your Profits

Ep 54 - Create & Thrive Podcast

You could be eating away at your profits without even realising it. However, there are lots of ways you can make little tweaks to your handmade business in order to increase your profit margin.

I ran a week-long free course a few years back on this topic, and I thought it was time to bring these ideas to you in the podcast.

By following these five steps you will be able to cut out wasted time, reduce your expenses, and therefore increase your profit margin.

For more detail on each point, the links to the course lessons are in the show notes below.

If you have any other ideas for ways that we as makers can cut expenses and increase our profit margins – while still maintaining the integrity of our business – please share them below!

 

Ep 54 quote - Jess

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Streamline and organise
  • Disorganisation will eat into your profits.
  • Decrease the time spent to make the same amount of money by being streamlined in your work practices.
  • This includes organisation of your digital life.
  • Work out what you can do today to become more streamlined and organised.
  • Pinterest is a great resource for finding ideas to create a more organised space.
  • 2. Plan your packaging.
  • ‘Packaging can put a huge dent into your profits.’ {Jess}
  • You need to make sure you account for your packaging costs in the cost of your postage or the item itself.
  • Make sure you always have what you need on hand and try and buy in bulk.
  • Don’t forget to add in the time it takes to package the item.
  • 3. Do your calculations and price your work properly.
  • ‘You don’t want to be leaving money on the table.’ {Jess}
  • It is important to get realistic about how much it is costing you to make your products.
  • You need to cover the time you spend marketing and planning not just making.
  • 4. Can you make it reproducible?
  • This is especially important when selling work online.
  • Can you recreate your item?
  • If you can it will increase your production capacity saving time on each item.
  • These items can then become your bread and butter range.
  • Make sure you keep detailed notes so you can easily reproduce work.
  • Think about minimising materials used across your product range.
  • 5. Buy in wholesale or buy in bulk.
  • This will usually involve planning ahead.
  • Do your research, are there things you can cut out?
  • ‘We always have to place our creative and business integrity above our profit margins.’ {Jess}
  • Only you can decide where you can reduce expenses and save money.

 

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’.)

[50] 5 Steps to a Better Brand with Julie Gibbons

Ep 50 - Create & Thrive Podcast

Welcome to the 50th episode of the Create & Thrive Podcast!

 

This week I’m chatting with my friend – and our teacher for the new C&T course Brand Your Craft – Julie Gibbons from Tractor Girl.

Julie opened her Etsy shop in 2009 without putting any thought into her branding, and as a result her shop was not as successful as she hoped.

Julie went on to start her blog in 2011, and by interviewing other artists she quickly realised she wasn’t the only one who didn’t have good branding – and that a lot of people’s businesses were suffering from not having a strong, clear brand. Julie has gone on to specialise in visual branding – helping makers to craft strong brands for themselves.

In this episode she gives you 5 steps you can implement to make strides towards creating a stronger, better brand for your handmade business.

Enjoy!

Ep 50 quote - Julie Gibbons

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Graphic Design is important.
  • Alignment – don’t make things messy or in different sizes as it can be distracting.
  • You want to present something neat and easy to look at.
  • Think about contrast especially for important links.
  • Negative space is your friend – don’t feel you have to fill every space with content.
  • 2. You don’t need a logo.
  • Your logo is not your brand – your brand is about conveying a mood.
  • You don’t even need to think about a logo until you have your branding sorted.
  • ‘A logo is not the basis of your brand.’ {Julie}
  • 3. Set parameters. 
  • You need to set yourself a game plan and some parameters.
  • ‘If you have too much choice it can stop you from doing anything because you just don’t know which direction to go.’ {Jess}
  • Who are you and what do you want to project?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What is your product?
  • Once you have these fundamentals you can find the mood you want to encompass in your brand.
  • 4. Give yourself time.
  • Your brand will evolve over time and develop naturally.
  • ‘Don’t be afraid to take people on the journey and tell them the story of why.’ {Jess}
  • 5. Learn your brand back to front.
  • In order to be able to explain your brand to people you need to know it inside and out.
  • Get your peers to look at your visual branding and provide constructive feedback.
  • ‘Everyone has the ability to learn good design basics.’ {Julie}
  • FURTHER LEARNING: Julie and I are running an eCourse on this very subject! Visit Brand Your Craft (This site/resource is no longer available) for more information.
  • You can find Julie at her website (This site/resource is no longer available), Facebook or Instagram.

 

Download/Listen to this Episode

 

 

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

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