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).




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.

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.



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!


[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.


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 for more information.
  • You can find Julie at her website, 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’.)

What does your customer think about your brand? Ask yourself these 5 questions and find out.

How does your customer see your brand-


Have you ever wished you could stand in your customer’s shoes and know what they’re thinking when they land on your site? Me too!

What is it that makes them stay, and what makes them turn off and click away?

Fortunately, with a good checklist and a bit of smart thinking, you can make some fairly accurate guesstimates.

I’ve got 5 questions for you to ask yourself today in order to get clear on what your customers think of your brand and business.



1. Ask yourself, who is your customer?


Is this a totally obvious question? It totally should be!

And unfortunately, many businesses only think they’ve answered this question. Sadly, I’ve come across lots of small businesses who’ve only got a super vague idea of who their customer actually is.

But knowing this is the essence of having a business, surely!? If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.

The more you understand specifically who your customer is and what’s in their head, the better you’re able to communicate with them and give them the exact product they’re looking for.

When I started on Etsy in 2009, my idea of my customer was fairly non-existent – if anything, I thought it was just like a mini-me – if I liked what I made, then of course they’d like it too. End of story…. {um…. no.}

Your customer can be a lot like you, but they’re not usually you. Perhaps they’re you from a year or two back, perhaps they’ve got more disposable income than you, maybe their work situation is different to you so that they have more time to themselves.

Focus hard on what makes them tick and get beyond the demographics – demographics are important to be sure, but you need to dig down deep into your ideal customer’s head. What hobbies and interests do they have? Do they have a similar world view to you? What motivates them? What are they currently worrying about? What makes them swoon?

The more specific you are the better – use your knowledge of what they like to appeal to them. Whatever you do, do it with your beautiful, ideal customer firmly in the front of your mind.

Seriously, the worst thing you can do for your biz is to try and be a generalist – to try and appeal to everyone. You KNOW you can’t, so don’t even try.



2. Does your site look neat and orderly?


Right, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

When people land on your site, they take SECONDS to decide whether you’re right for them, based purely on how you present yourself visually. There are a whole bunch of things that contribute to this, so let’s go through them one at a time.

  • Colour – Do you have a distinct colour palette that you use for all your graphics? A limited palette of 1 – 6 colours (not including black and white)  is great for making your visuals hang together. Not only are you sure that every time you make a new graphic that the colours work well together, but you save a bunch of time because you’re not scrabbling around in the colour charts, trying to find a workable combination. When it’s done well, colour can be one of the most important identifying factors when it comes to business branding (think Cadbury – think purple).
  • Fonts – Same goes for fonts – having a basic ‘wardrobe’ of no more than two fonts (OK, maybe three at a super-stretch) helps keep your text looking clean and orderly, and you save time because you’re not always choosing things afresh. More than three fonts starts looking very messy style-wise, but if you need to add variety, consider simply changing your font size, using bold and italics, or even changing the colour of the text (and any combination of these).
  • Image style – Think about the business personality you want to project. Is it slick and high tech? Down-to-earth and friendly? Childlike and fun? Whatever you choose, make sure your images match that personality. Generally, don’t try and mix impersonal stock photos on your site with casual snaps you’ve taken yourself – the style difference is glaringly obvious and looks unprofessional. Tie all your images together by mood and/or styling.
  • Alignment – This is the super-power of graphic design. Nothing looks messier than elements that aren’t all aligned – whether you choose centred, left- or right-justified, make sure the edges are all in a straight line!! Same goes for borders that don’t line up, or using lots of different sized things. I know it’s not always possible with everything, but if you’ve got a bunch of photos for instance, crop them all to the same size and put ’em in some kind of orderly grid.



3. How well can you solve their problem for them?


So, now you’ve got their attention, you have to deliver the goods. There has to be some substance behind the gloss or they’ll give up and go elsewhere. It’s here where you let them know that you understand exactly what their problem is, and that you’ve got the perfect solution.

Because customers have a problem to solve: that’s why they’re buying something – and their problem’s usually quite specific.

Perhaps they need new earrings to go with their wedding dress, or a small waterproof toiletries bag to take camping with them, or a casual wrap to keep their shoulders warm while they do the weekly shopping. When you customer comes to your handmade soap shop, what are they looking for? Something beautiful and luxurious to give as a thank you gift to their bestie? Or something super mild and allergy free for their sensitive skin?

There’s a story for every product that connects you to your customer – tell it.



4. Is it obvious what you want people to do? And how easy is it for people to ask you questions if they need to before they purchase?


The totally awesome Seth Godin once wrote about the problems he experienced in trying to navigate a particularly difficult-to-navigate website.

His message, as always, was spot on.

“Show me where to click.”

Whenever you set up a site, however you lay things out, always make sure that it’s obvious what you want your audience to do next.

They don’t know your site, they’ve not visited you ever before. And they don’t know you!  So, put your menu in an obvious spot.

Make your “Buy” buttons stand out (use contrast – it’s really that simple); put the link to your mailing list near the top of your sidebar; make your contact forms and your email addy easy to find.



5. How can they trust you?


Lastly, people need to trust you before they buy – and this is especially true of online transactions. People hesitate if the thing they want to buy has risk attached to it – “what happens if it doesn’t fit when I get it?” or “I’m not sure if that colour will look OK on me”, or even “I’m not sure if your coaching packaging is right for me and my biz”.

How do you build trust? Through social proof. This is simply other people who are unconnected with the business, recommending you – word of mouth is the best advertising you can possibly get (and you get them by delivering top quality product with top quality service, paying attention to every aspect of the customer’s experience).

Collect testimonials and put them up on your site.

What if you’re just starting and you don’t have testimonials? Your About page is the perfect place to start to building a connection between you and your customer – did you know it’s the second most-visited type of page on any site (next to the home page)? Tell your customers the story of why you do what you do – how you started and what it means for you. Make it personal, because people love connecting with people.

Offering guarantees is yet another way to inspire trust in prospective customers – 30 day money-back, exchanges, or extra bonuses are all ways to help lessen the perceived risk for customers.

So, take a step back from your site, and pretend that you’re encountering it for the first time.

Go through each of the 5 questions in turn and adjust your site accordingly, and you’ll be sure to end up with a site you customers will thank you for.


Now, I’d love to know – What are some of the worst, and the best sites you’ve visited, and why?

Your answers here will help everybody make their sites lovelier, so fire away!



Brand Your Craft Banner Wide Final


Want more help to craft a compelling brand that connects with your Ideal Customer, and helps them fall in love with your business?

Enrol in our self-study eCourse, Brand Your Craft – available now!

Click here to find out more.



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