Earn More Writing Online With These Easy Graphic-Creation Tips


How Writers Can Create Blog-Ready Graphics. Makealivingwriting.comOne of my goals as a freelance writer is to increase my monthly revenue and start building a sustainable income so I can get paid to write articles online.

I’ve accomplished a lot since I started. My rates have gone way up. I’m getting better clients. And I’m always thinking creatively about maximizing profits.

One day I submitted an article to a client, who let me know it would run as soon as his designer finished creating an accompanying image. That got me thinking: Couldn’t I provide comprehensive services, with an article and a custom image, for a higher rate? It would save the client time and money and increase my rate — benefiting both of us.

There was just one problem: I don’t know much about graphic design and have zero access to the industry-standard — but expensive — software programs Photoshop and InDesign.

Here’s how I got past that obstacle and learned how to earn more by creating blog-ready graphics:

How did I do it?

I found Canva, an online tool for creating graphics. You can sign up for a free account and access thousands of free elements to create web-ready images for blog posts, social media sites, and even your own website.

There are additional stock photos, templates, and icons you can use for $1 each. This is a significant savings; just purchasing one stock photo can easily run from $10-30 on other sites, so $1 is a bargain.

Most important, using Canva is extremely easy and intuitive. If you don’t have an eye for design, it has beautiful, ready-built images you can customize. If you want to be more creative, you can build unique images tailored to your clients’ needs. (This post is not sponsored by Canva. I’m a real Canva user.)

How does Canva work?

Canva is very user-friendly and you can build visually appealing images in minutes. Once you log-in, you can begin to create your graphic.

Choose your graphic size: At the top in the blue bar, you’ll see designated uses, such as a Facebook cover or blog graphic. These are pre-sized to fit each platform appropriately. If you’re designing an image for a blog, there is a pre-sized option for that, or you can create your own using the “Use Custom Dimensions” button at the top right.


Choose a template: To your left, you’ll see hundreds of templates. You can also search for specific photos, such as “woman at computer” or “writing.”

Templates, photos, typefaces, and other elements are clearly labeled whether they are free or premium.

Each template is completely customizable. You can change the pictures, colors and fonts to meet your client’s brand standards.


Customize your image: Once you’ve chosen your template, you can change out the images by simply searching for an appropriate image and dragging it over to your workspace.

If you change images, it will not affect the text or other elements, it will only replace the background. In this case, I searched for “desk” and selected a more colorful image as a backdrop.

Once you’ve dragged the picture over, you’ll notice that premium images will have a watermark over them — once you have completed and purchased the design, the watermark will be removed.


Reposition elements: To change the positioning of items, simply hover your mouse over each element—the circle, text lines, or the box—and hold down your mouse to move the items.

For this image, I wanted to move it up so it was clearer on the new background.

Recolor if necessary: If you don’t like the colors in the template, just click on the individual elements. A circle will appear on the toolbar that appears. If you click on the circle, you can choose another color. I felt like the pink in this image got lost with this background, so I switched the color to teal.


Edit your text: Once the colors are updated, you can change the text to reflect the contents of your blog post or article. Simply click on the text line you would like to edit, delete the current text and type your title in.


Download your image: Once you’re happy with how your image looks, click on “download” at the top right. You can choose whether it should be optimized for print or web use.


Purchase premium elements: Once you click download, if you have used any premium elements, a pop-up will appear notifying you of the cost and a prompt to enter your payment information. Once you complete the form, your image will immediately download and you can use your image as needed.


This is how the final image looks:


The new image is vibrant, professional, and can work alongside a blog post as well as on social media.

I now include custom images with articles for an additional $50. It gives my clients visual content they can use on their platforms without having to find another freelancer — so most are thrilled when I let them know I offer this service. This has been a great option to include while pitching to help me stand out from other writers.

What tools help you increasing your income? Tell us in the comments below.

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer in Orlando, FL specializing in personal finance and healthcare.


  1. Sylvie

    I absolutely LOVE Canva and it really helped me get top-notch rates when I was more aggressively going after blogging gigs. I’d usually mention in the initial LOI that I had some graphic design skills to create images for social media to go along with each post.

    If I got a nibble back and got a sense of their budget, I’d quickly throw a sample image together based on one of the ideas I mentioned in the LOI and send the client a mock-up (I used royalty-free stock images that I uploaded to Canva, to avoid the “Canva” branding on the mock-up).

    That takes an extra 10-15 minutes, but IMO that’s not a lot of time to nurture a quality lead — plus, the more images you make, the faster you’ll get at making them, and you’ll develop your “eye” for creating your own templates.

    I was able to upsell one client by $50 a post, on top of a great blogging rate. Since they bulk-ordered a dozen posts at once, I made an extra $600 for about 2 hours’ worth of graphic design work, it was awesome!

    • Kat Tretina

      That’s awesome! I’ve found that adding custom graphics is a big help to clients, so it’s a great marketing tool.

    • Carol Tice

      I feel like I have NO visual abilities, but I have heard a lot about Canva, and this sort of testimony makes me want to try it out!

  2. Steve Szubert

    Thanks Carol, that’s a fantastic detailed outline of Canva (and an example of why I’ve featured you on the AWESOME page of my website).

    I use Canva all the time and love it. One thing I would add – you can upload your own backgrounds and images, which then makes it totally free. I find that pictures taken with my smartphone camera work very well. If you take lots of photos based on a relevant theme, then that can be a part of your own “brand” image on your own blog or website.

    And for those who are inclined to still go down the Photoshop route…consider GIMP instead. It’s FREE open-source software that, as far as I can see, does everything that Photoshop can do. But it still involves a huge learning curve, unlike Canva which takes only minutes.

    • Kat Tretina

      Great point Steve-uploading your own photos into Canva, then using their free elements, shapes and text can be a great way to brand your images for free

      • Carol Tice

        That is an angle I did NOT know about…interesting!

    • Penny Taylor

      Steve, you idea of uploading your own photos is what I’ve been doing. I snap shots everywhere I go now and just stash them away in a folder I call “Graphics Grab.” It’s like a little gold mine I can go to. (Keep in mind, if you’ve got people in the image you’ll want to have model clearances on file.) So, horses, dogs, mountains, buildings… whatever… it’s in that folder.

      I use GIMP. It’s free and easy. I use layers so I can always delete a layer if I need to start over.

      It may sound simple, but I also use PowerPoint and MS Word. A photo doesn’t have to be a flat photo. You can put a frame around it, a beveled edge, give it a shadow and a little edge, change the color of the frame, make it a gradient. And in PowerPoint there’s a feature called “Remove Background.” Say you have a photo of a dog on a street, and you want the dog, but not the street and want to superimpose it on something else. I get rid of the street background in PowerPoint, SAVE the image, copy it to a transparent layer in GIMP. Then I can have say a city bus on another layer, and superimpose the dog layer over the bus layer… Now I have my out-of-control dog riding on top of the city bus. Add another layer of text… “And you think you’re dog is a problem?…”
      Actually, I really love some of the easy, but fancy attributes of PowerPoint and people don’t ordinarily think of it as a graphics program.

      • Carol Tice

        I know quite a few people who just use PowerPoint — I think writers should use whatever works for them. 😉

  3. Deevra Norling

    I love Canva! So simple and easy. $50 extra per blog article just to include an image is really good going!

    • Kat Tretina

      And it’s a win for the clients, too. They don’t have to hire another freelancer to do design; a one-stop shop service makes things simple for them.

  4. Robbie

    Been tinkering around with Canva to get a feel for it. Certainly an intuitive interface and fairly simple to use. Worth the time to learn how it works if you’re able to pull in an extra $50 on top of blogging rates.

  5. jean compton

    I’ve been using picmonkey to do the same thing–which sounds a lot like canva. But, I may try Canva for a change. I also use my iPhone to take lots of photos and edit them in PM.

    • Kat Tretina

      Canva is great because you can also upload your own photos, either from your photo or your computer. Then it’s completely free to use.

  6. Laurinda B

    Perfect timing! I’m finishing up an ebook and really don’t have the cash to pay someone to create a cover. I just looked at it, very easy to use. thanks!

    • Kat Tretina

      So glad it helped! Best of luck with your book.

  7. Paula Vallot

    Great post to start my week. Excited to give Canva a try! Very informative post and comments.

    • Kat Tretina

      I’m so glad you found it useful Paula! Have fun on there; they have lots of really dynamic templates and it’s awesome how professional they look.

  8. Angela Tague

    I’m a “real” Canva user also, and love that service! It’s so easy and the graphics look great! ~Angela

    • Kat Tretina

      I’m so glad there are other Canva devotees!

  9. Michele Mathews

    I love Canva. I learned about it from a writing group on Facebook. I’ve done tons of graphics for my blog posts and novels. It’s a great and easy tool to use!

  10. ShawnTe Pierce

    I heard about Canva from another blogger. I used it once and forgot about it. I think I will revisit the site as I am redesigning one of my blogs. The graphics look really clean and professional.

  11. Lauren Steinheimer

    Yes yes yes! Thanks for the tip! I hadn’t heard about Canva until now, and this is exactly what I need.

    • Kat Tretina

      Have fun and good luck Lauren! It’s a really powerful, simple tool.

  12. Rhonda

    Beginner here – thank you, thank you, thank you for #1 answering my “where do they do that?” question and #2 alleviating my angst about having to learn photoshop… I’ve only found pixlr so far which has been helpful, but I need easy peazy. 😉 THANKS!!!

    • Kat Tretina

      I saw the same image a few times on different blogs, and wondered where they were getting them…then I saw it was a pre-made template Canva had created. That’s why i always customize it to my own specifications, so I don’t match everyone else!

  13. Rahela

    Hi, I love Canva. It s very easy to use and It has amazing graphics. I tried with Pickmonkey as well, but wasn’t really impressed. Pixlr online editor and mobile app are great.


    • Kat Tretina

      Yeah, I’ve tried PicMonkey, but to me, it just isn’t as intuitive. Canva makes it really really easy, even for the tech-challenged 🙂

  14. Rebecca

    I also started using Canva lately. The only thing I don’t like is that I can’t use it on the browser I use-Opera. But on the iPad, it’s great!

  15. Jeremy Delancy

    Never heard of this programme before. I’ve Evernoted the article and will experiment with it on my next blog post.

  16. Ciaran McEneaney

    And thanks again for reminding me of another thing I haven’t tackled yet.

    Canva has been on my to-do list for months now but I can never find the time to get to it.

  17. Rebecca L. Weber

    I use Canva a lot too, usually with my own pics and their fonts. I find it’s most effective to batch these and do a small series of related images in one go.

    • Carol Tice

      I am ALL about batching client work — I used to write the 4 blog posts for a typical business blogging client I’d have each month in a single day. I didn’t include that tip here just because I think it’s been out there, and I wanted to go with a few more counter-intuitive things.

      But if you’re NOT writing client work in batches…it will change your life.

  18. melinda crow

    I use Canva for my social media headers for a professional look, but had not thought about offering it to clients. Thanks for the tip!

  19. Barb Morris

    This post with comments is a gold mine of useful information. Thank you all!

  20. Elise Forsyth Mort

    This is fine if my business is myself and my “advice”. What if I have a product to sell? I don’t want to spend all day talking about my products. On top of that, I don’t have any knowledge that could possibly interest anyone else, at least at this stage of my career. The most I could do is talk about a small business start up or writing books (my speciality). I’ve read a few of your posts and they’re informative but they seem to be geared more for individuals who want to basically start these sole proprietership businesses where they are the product and the ones offering the service. If you have any tips, I’d love to hear it. I’ll need to blog for my business anyway.

    • Carol Tice

      I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking of me, Elise — there are certainly plenty of blog-based businesses that revolve around physical products. Food blogs, sex toy blogs — these aren’t about setting up a sole proprietorship. You might want to read some in other niches, to get more of a sense.

      But yes, blog posts should not be all “buy my product,” as that will send readers away. Posts need to provide useful information related to your products or industry.

      You might want to check out my Small Blog, Big Income ebook (see the ebooks tab up top) — it could walk you through the process of envisioning what your blog could cover that would help you monetize those products.

  21. Carrie

    Love Canva, but very annoying to have to scroll forever to use their images. I suggest using it only when you upload your own. Also, quite a few tech glitches–site is always down when I need it, and you can only embed hyperlinks if you’re designing a pdf. Who uses pdfs in social media?

  22. Karen Briggs

    Thanks soooooo much for the tips about batching work and Canva! They will definitely be used!

  23. Elise Forsyth Mort

    What a great post. Making money online is not that really easy. The methods you have shared is really useful specially for those who are just starting to make money online. I have applied some of your methods and it really help me alot.

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