How to create eye-catching travel pins with Canva

This is the follow up guide to How to use Pinterest to make your travel blog a success - read it now if you haven’t already because creating a polished Pinterest profile is just as important as the pins. Despite being a part of 20 or so group boards with thousands of followers, it’s my own boards that have the greatest re-pin rates of my content.

Canva is the best free site for creating images for social media. I’ve tried out a few of the other platforms that offer a similar service but I find Canva so much easier to use.

First of all, open Canva in Chrome – other browsers just seem to crash it. If you’re new to Canva I suggest spending some time looking around. There’s a great tutorial that includes everything from features to the fine points of design that can be found in the side bar called ‘learn to design’ – but in this post I’m going to focus on creating travel pins for Pinterest.

Getting started

When you're signed in and ready to go, click ‘create a design’ and then the Pinterest Graphic 735px x 1102px. It’s worth noting that you can find some great layouts in Poster, Blog Graphic and eBook that offer workable dimensions for when you’re in need of new layout inspiration.

While there are plenty of ready-to-go layouts available on Canva, I’m going to walk you through creating your own quick and easy unique pin layout. There’s nothing wrong at all with using the pre-designed pins, but you see many similar pins popping up on Pinterest all the time and you really want your pins to standout.

Uploading your photo

Head to ‘upload’ at the bottom of the left menu bar and choose a bright photo or two that are as closely related to your topic as possible. The photo doesn’t have to be in portrait format, you can just drag the photo to fill the space. Try to pick a photo that makes people go ‘ooh, where’s that!’ but if possible has a large stretch of sky, or undetailed space to clearly overlay text - if you don't have a photo like that then there are ways to make your text stand out.

Studies show that photos of faces see less re-pins, but that’s not too much of a problem for travel pins. Also if you can, use only your own photos, stock photos are everywhere on Pinterest and you want to promote your brand.

Drag the uploaded photo over to the blank canvas to resize and reposition it. When you’re happy, click the photo and select ‘filter’ from the menu that pops up above. IGNORE ALL PRESET FILTERS ON OFFER and create your own by choosing ‘advanced options’ and dragging the bars across just a little to brighten and define your image. The pre-set filters are all either far too washed out or too dark, they’re not what you want for a travel photo.

Feel free to have a few pins going at the same time with ‘+add new page’ below the template to compare ideas.

Adding an element

If you’ve uploaded a photo with an undetailed section to overlay text then skip to the next paragraph, if not, add a transparent banner to the photo. Select Elements from the left hand menu, then Shapes. Choose Square, then alter the transparency with the icon on the upper left (next to arrange) – anything between 30-70% works. You just want your text to stand out against the photo. Resize the square to more of a thin rectangle so you don’t overshadow your photograph.

(Here I copied the square and overlapped one on top of the other to create a little detail to the pin - I also needed to darken the pink so it better matched the photograph)

Play around a little with colours and sizing to find what works best with the image. Either you want white text on a black banner or black on white, or you’ll pick a colour that matches the predominant colour of your photo like I did in the above screenshots.

Adding text

I always add the text manually with ‘add heading’ (under text on left menu) and I always choose two to three fonts. If you have too many fonts going on and you’ll confuse the reader and just one font is boring to look at. Do this by clicking ‘add heading’ twice, type the focus of your guide in one (e.g. 5 reasons to visit-) and type the destination of your blog post in the other (e.g. Bangkok or a country name).

For destination and country words I’ll usually pick a handwriting/loopy/dreamy typeface (one that communicates exotic lands unexplored) and for words like ‘tips/budgets/how to/reasons to visit’ I’ll go with a font that’s bold/formal – fonts in capitals work well here. Make sure all your texts are legible – some fonts are a little too curly to be read in a glance.

Resize the fonts so they fill the pin and assign each font a different size. I think having the destination word as the larger font works best for grabbing attention and feel free to go really big and fill the space. Position the two fonts close together – large gaps between the text are wasted space.

Don’t forget to change the colour. For a background of deep blue skies go for white text, for grey/white skies I’ll go dark charcoal grey text, when there’s a bright colour in my photograph that pops I’ll colour the text to match that colour. I find black text a little harsh and I’ll often pick a dark grey or blue instead. Whatever you choose, make sure it stands out without looking garish.

Ensure you have arranged the text to the front, so it’s not lost behind the square element.

How to word pins

Keep the text short and sweet. It doesn’t have to be exactly as the blog title is, but keep it relevant all the same. Remember your Pinterest audience may not have an in depth knowledge of locations so I almost always put the country name as well as the city on the pin. Also, they’re often not your regular readers and text that reads ‘My day in Paris’ won’t do as well as ‘how to spend a day in Paris’.

Lastly, put your blog address on every pin – small and at the bottom (ideally, but can be at the top if it works better with the photograph). You can use a logo if you’d like, but just typing your blog address in the same font each time is sufficient.

The finished pin

Design ideas

Play around with shapes – overlay semi-transparent circles or rectangles on top of each other, or rotate the rectangles to sit on an angle. Add borders around the pin or around important words.

Under ‘elements’ you’ll also find ‘lines’, use them to bring attention to numbers or Important words.

You can create shadowed text adding the same text again in a shade darker and positioning it underneath.

Resize numbers so they are much larger than the other words.

Whenever you come across an eye-catching pin, save it to a secret board so you can study the format of the pin when you need inspiration.

If you have a photo that’s not fitting to the pin dimensions, consider putting two or three photos in the same pin.

Important extras

You can add your pin to the bottom or top (or both!) of your blog post and have your readers pin to Pinterest for you.

Change the file name of your downloaded pin to include keywords before uploading to Pinterest – it just adds descriptive metadata that helps in the Pinterest search ranking – e.g. 1084.JPG to 10tipstravelcambodia.JPG.

Learning design is a process, it takes time and I’m a little embarrassed about some of my early pins - I’ve had to remake many of them but we all have to start somewhere.

At first, it’ll seem like a long time spent on creating pins that could be spent elsewhere, but you’ll get faster. Sometimes, I’ll spend up to an hour playing around creating a pin if I think the pin will do well on Pinterest, otherwise I’ll just knock it out in 15 minutes.

Investing in a decent camera will help here and second-hand cameras are just as good for bloggers on a budget. I use a five-year-old Nikon D3000 DSLR and then run my photographs through Adobe Lightroom’s auto tone feature.

Any questions? Let me know in the comments!

Click to pin it to your blogging board:

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The Travel Natural

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Hey, I'm Emma

Fuelled by wanderlust, curiosity and a little restlessness, a natural at budget travel, so naturally, a travel blogger. An experienced chef, a proud kiwi, and a burgeoning photographer. And my old friends reading and writing? We go way back.

All content is copyright of The Travel Natural and cannot be used, reproduced or manipulated without my express consent.

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