Every blog needs a slick featured image to make it pop. While the content of your blog is important, it’s just as vital that you create a beautiful featured image to make it stand out when shared across email, social, and beyond.
But it’s easier said than done. Read on to discover how to create featured images for your blog using Canva that are head-and-shoulders above the rest.
Create a canvas to work with
Like any great artist, firstly you need a canvas to work with. While there is a wide range of designs for you to choose from, from Facebook ads to YouTube thumbnails (and even Pinterest Pins!), it’s the quickest and easiest to just create a custom design from scratch.
The size you go for will vary depending on the content management system. WordPress featured images are 1024 x 800 pixels, so let’s go with that in this example.
Click on Custom dimensions in the top right-hand corner of the Canva homepage and enter your spec as required:
This will present you with a nice fresh canvas, ready for you to make your own.
Set your background image
The trick to a beautiful featured image is to work from the background to the foreground. This gives you greater oversight over the various elements that make up your featured image.
If the screen is your canvas, then the sidebar on the left-hand side of the screen is your palette.
Here, you can customize your canvas with preset templates, individual design elements (shapes, grids, charts, and so on), and upload your own images too.
There are a number of pre-installed backgrounds you can use, and these are fine for playing around with and getting used to the feel of Canva. But you want your featured image to look and feel unique, so it’s worth looking further afield.
In an ideal world, every featured image would include an original, high-quality image that no-one else has used. But unless you’re running a photography business, this isn’t likely. Instead, lean on stock photos.
While there are countless photo sites available, most of these offer generic, uninspiring stock images. But it is possible to find high-quality images that eschew this tepid content. Sites like Burst provide high-quality, unique images completely free of charge. Just remember to download the highest resolution version to get the best quality for your blog.
Once you’ve found the perfect background image, click on Uploads, then Upload an image. Select the snap from your drive and upload, then resize or reposition it as necessary. The photo should automatically fit the layout too — look out for the pink line that appears to help keep your image centered.
Add a translucent overlay
Now you’ve got your background, it’s worth adding a translucent layer over the top of it. This makes your overlay text more legible, increasing your readers’ focus on your blog title tagline, rather than the image behind it.
Click on Elements, then Shapes. Select the Square shape and resize it so it covers the entire canvas. Change its color (using the button on the top left of the canvas) to a dark gray, and then change its transparency. This is the checkered icon to the right of the Position button at the top right of the canvas.
As a rule of thumb, 30 is a good level of transparency to go for. However, depending on the image you use and the vibe you want to give your featured image, you can play around with anywhere from 20 to 40.
Add your text
By now, you should have a slick-looking background image of a cool photo with a classy subdued overlay. You might be happy to stop right there and use this alone as your blog’s featured image.
But adding text to your featured image gives it that extra edge, serving as a beautiful placeholder for your blog’s title, tagline, and even your author name.
To add text to your featured image, click on Text. This lets you choose one of two options: either use one of Canva’s premade text templates, or create your own text box.
Canva’s preset templates are beautiful and professional-looking, although they’re not always perfect out-of-the-box. Consequently, you might find you need to experiment a little with the preset templates to make it work for you.
But it’s perfectly possible to create your own custom text box that looks good and feels professional. Click on Add a text box and draw where you want your text to go on your canvas — don’t worry if it’s not perfect, as you can always reposition this later.
Using the toolbar above, customize your text with fonts, sizes, colors, and more. As you’re creating a featured image, a font of 42 or higher is best. It works well on both laptops and mobile devices, so it’s readable across multiple devices.
Similarly, the color you choose should contrast with your background — play with the color gradient tool to find the perfect shade for you. This is found by clicking the + icon in the font color field.
There are hundreds of free fonts for you to choose from with Canva. But whichever one you choose should have one key element: legibility. A sans-serif font is the best choice, and big, bold fonts are naturally more readable than thin, more intricate options.
When you’ve found the perfect font, size, and color, experiment with the position and alignment of your text box. Center-aligned text works best, although as your skill in Canva grows, you might wish to play around a little to find a way that suits you.
Brand it with a logo or graphics
The steps above will help you create an attractive featured image for your blog. But if you want to take it that bit further, why not add some graphics or a logo to really make it your own?
Add your logo in the same way that you added a background image by clicking on Uploads, and then selecting the image from your computer. A thumbnail of your blog’s logo in the corner of your featured image gives it a professional feel and reinforces branding throughout all of your blog posts.
To add graphics, click on Elements and then select Graphics. There are plenty of free graphics that are grouped by theme to help you find the best one. Don’t overuse these though — you want a featured image, not a child’s birthday invitation.
Add your featured image to WordPress
By now, you should have a slick new featured image for your blog, ready for upload. But the work doesn’t stop there. It’s important that you optimize your featured image, both for viewing online across different devices and for SEO too (click here for an in-depth guide on how to achieve this).
It’s also worth compressing your featured image too using a service such as TinyPNG. This reduces the amount of time it takes to load your web page, which can in turn negatively impact your SERP ranking and even your conversions as a result.
So what size is best for your featured image? Ultimately, this will vary depending on the theme you’re using. It’s worth experimenting a little to find the one that best fits your blog. This might take a little effort initially, but it will save you time and stress further down the line.
As a good rule of thumb, a square featured image will suit most blogs. This safeguards them against any errors that might arise during resizing or social sharing.
Once you’ve resized your featured image, you can upload it to your blog post. Simply open your blog post in Edit Post mode and click on Set featured image at the bottom right of the screen.
Creating a featured image for your blog doesn’t need to be taxing. With a little time and effort, you can create an eye-catching image that gets your next blog post the attention it deserves.