​I swallowed my designer pride recently and started using Canva instead of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator for my tutorial thumbnails…and I am never going back!

In this shortie, solo podcast episode, I’ll share some thoughts on this recent transition to using Canva and the lessons learned in swallowing my “designer pride” by using templates to speed designs up.

I hope some of the lessons and mindset shifts I’m currently going through myself can help you as you refine, speed up and level up your web designing ways!

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction
02:11 – Ill placed Canva view
03:31 – Why view changed
06:01 – #1 Design matters
08:20 – Importance of thumbnails
12:23 – #2 Using a template
14:30 – Save your brain
16:05 – #3 Saving time
17:26 – #4 Custom
18:14 – Custom pros and cons
20:43 – #5 Learn from others
21:36 – When it’s proven
24:18 – Recapping

Featured links mentioned:


Here’s the Facebook post I mentioned!

Episode #175 Full Transcription

Josh 0:00
If you’re looking to build your own online community, I use and recommend circle the all in one community platform for creators and brands. Circle is what I use for both my coaching community and my Student Support Center. It’s got all the features you’ll need as well to build your own successful online community, including live streams, events, paywalls, messaging, and group chats integrations with all the tools you use and a whole lot more. I am honestly so glad I chose circle as the home for my online communities. And I think you’re really going to like it too. In fact, you can try circle out for free if you go to my link at Josh hall.co/circle You can start a free 14 day trial. So again, if you want to try circle out for free, go to Josh hall.co/circle and give it a go.

Josh 1:03
Hello, Friends welcome into Episode 175. It’s just me with you in this episode, I’m actually just gonna take some time here to share some honest and transparent thoughts about a situation that I’m currently going through. But I’ve learned a lot in already and I wanted to share it with you. This is an episode that’s a little bit more freewheeling. I don’t have a detailed list of bullets or anything I’m going to cover. But more recently, especially for those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you may have seen this post. But I basically stated that I swallowed some of my designer pride. And I started using Canva.

Josh 1:43
Now, again, for those of you who are on social media with me, you may have seen this, if you’re not yet following me on either Facebook or Insta, wherever you hang out, you can just go to Josh Hall, co slash Facebook or Josh hall.co/instagram. And give me a follow there. I will link to this post below in the show notes for this episode of Josh hall.co/ 175 as well. But I posted about starting to use Canva. And I posted some before and afters. And here’s where I wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Josh 2:11
So I was familiar with Canva. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically an online tool that you can there’s a free version, but the pro version is awesome comes with loads of really cool features. It’s a design tool, and you can design thumbnails, brochures, anything business cards, graphics, you can add video clips, whatever, there’s all sorts of things you can do in Canva. Now, I’ve used Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop for all of my graphics for years. And I always felt that Canva was kind of like cheating. Or if it wasn’t like cheating, it was like if somebody wasn’t a professional designer, and they couldn’t get access to Illustrator or Photoshop, or they didn’t want to then they would you know, use Canva. That’s kind of how I viewed it.

Josh 2:58
And I know back in the day, actually somebody on the Facebook posts, when I posted about this said that can be used to be like clip art and some stuff that it was way different years ago. But now it’s really turned into this full fledged, awesome tool. And it’s really evolved. I say that to say I always felt like I had a bad image of Canva. And I think you might experience this as well. If it’s not Canva, maybe it’s another tool. Maybe it’s maybe it’s a theme, maybe it’s Divi, maybe you feel like I shouldn’t be using Divi I need to custom code my sites or something like that.

Josh 3:31
The reality is I have learned by starting to use Canva number one, my designs look way better. And I do have a few things I want to cover here on how Canva has impacted my world and my design chops. Now. It’s made my designs like way better. So again, I recommend checking out my social media posts about this because I share some before and afters. But it was interesting for me because I always felt like I should design my graphics from scratch. I mean, of course, I had some templates and some themes and some settings saved.

Josh 4:02
But I just I found myself spending a lot of time recently on thumbnails. And I just tested out Canva. And I spent a third of the amount of time in Canva using a pre built template and just mixing around some elements. And it looked 10 times better if not more than the designs that I you know, worked hard at in Illustrator in Photoshop.

Josh 4:27
So I learned there are so many benefits to using a tool or a platform that has a bunch of things that are already in place for you and I I know if you ever feel like if you use a template or a pre built layout, it kind of feels like cheating. But at the end of the day, clients don’t give a crap. If you start something from scratch or if you are starting something that is from something that is already pre built and it looks really good as long as they get the results and as long as it looks good and functions Good, and it’s done in a timely manner. That’s all that matters. And that’s exactly what I’ve learned and using Canva.

Josh 5:06
Now, I want to share some thoughts on Canva itself and what I’ve learned in all this. But I do want to say, I’m not canceling my subscription to Photoshop or Illustrator, I still use those for different reasons now, but I am now using Canva. For all of my YouTube thumbnails, I’m going to be using it for a lot of my social media graphics. And I even recently, as you heard in the beginning of this episode, if you’re listening to this when it came out, at the time of recording, this Circle is sponsoring the podcast. And I use Canva. To create like this little animated balloon graphic of the announcement, the circles the first podcast sponsor.

Josh 5:42
And normally previous to that I would have found emojis online and graphics online than I would have used ScreenFlow to create this video document and adding graphics. Well, now I’m able to use Canva. It’s such an all in one purpose tool for design that it was way more robust than I ever thought that it that it was.

Josh 6:01
So a lot of lessons here. But there they are kind of five main lessons I wanted to point out here. First off, design matters. design matters so much, particularly in my world with YouTube videos and social media graphics and YouTube, your you are you’re doing graphics and all sorts of things on your websites and in your marketing efforts. And I will tell you this design matters so much. The way I found about this practically was my YouTube thumbnails. And what was interesting, as you might wonder, you know, you might be saying yourself, what was the genesis of this, like, what made you want to start using Canva in the first place?

Josh 6:39
Well, I’ve always known that my YouTube thumbnails, in particular, for the podcast interviews, and some of my other graphics. Were just okay, they weren’t bad, but they weren’t great. Because the reality is, I’m very self aware. And I’m very honest, and saying that I am a good designer, but I’m not a great designer. In fact, with what I do now, with more high level strategy and coaching, I shouldn’t be an amazing designer. That’s not it, my time is much more worth helping people build six figure web design businesses, then being an amazing graphic designer. That’s what I’ve realized.

Josh 7:11
However, I still do all my graphics. For the most part, I do have Nathan, my editor who helps out now and I do occasionally hire some stuff out. But I say that to say I always knew my YouTube thumbnails were a little bit below average. But they weren’t bad, but they just weren’t great. I always thought about updating them, but I just was like, oh gosh, how long is that gonna take? I don’t know if I want to do that. But I saw a tutorial from my mentor Pat Flynn recently on his YouTube channel, I will link it below in the show notes.

Josh 7:39
This tutorial said how I created this thumbnail in less than five minutes. And it was perfect timing because I was kind of looking at my YouTube thumbnails. And I thought about maybe changing that up. And I was like, Okay, I’ll check it out. So I watched this tutorial, he used Canva. And I was like, wow, I didn’t realize Canva could do that. And that’s what got me that’s what sparked the idea for me to use Canva. I was really skeptical, I thought I might try it out. I think it would really be something I invested in and use frequently now. But as soon as I did that first thumbnail, I was hooked. And again, you can see this because this is a very timely, in the moment type of episode, you can see the new designs.

Josh 8:20
If you go to my YouTube channel, Josh Hall co slash YouTube, you will see very clearly the new thumbnail design versus the old thumbnail design because I’m currently going through a lot of the older episodes and I’m creating some templates, I’m going to start hiring that out. But if you look at this episode, you know quickly, you will see the difference. It’s night and day difference design matters so much. And here’s the proof. The proof is in the pudding as they say, let me pull up my YouTube channel right now. Okay, so I just started adding in some new YouTube thumbnails. Here is where it’s interesting from a result standpoint.

Josh 8:58
Most of mine, I’ll just be completely frank and honest with you most of my YouTube interviews because this podcast is audio. But my interviews go on my YouTube channel, if you didn’t know, most of them get anywhere between 250 and 500 views on average, within about the first three to four weeks. That’s pretty common. Some will get up to 1000 views depending on the episode in the title, but most of them hover in between, I guess actually, as I’m looking the average is anywhere between 250 and 750 views within about a month or so about a 90 day period. So I guess it’s fair to say just 500 Let’s average it out at 500.

Josh 9:37
Well, a lot of that is because of the thumbnails and I’m learning with YouTube in particular. And this is a good lesson for you with social media as well. The image of your graphics and especially if you’re doing a YouTube video, it is crucial. The design of that thumbnail is so important. I actually recently heard from a couple of youtubers that the thumbnails almost more important in the content law cases, because you can have the best content in the world. But if it doesn’t look great, no one’s going to click to watch it, you’ve got to get that click.

Josh 10:07
So anyway, I share that to say, as I’m looking at my YouTube channel right now, there are some recent episodes. Here’s one from a month ago that currently as I’m looking at this as 248 views, the one behind that was a month ago as well, that was 301 views. The one before that was 381 views, the one before that 326, the one before that was 435. That was, that was a pretty good one. So they’re all hovering, you know, around the 300 range. Now, bear in mind, those are all from a month ago.

Josh 10:38
Now let’s look at the episodes with new thumbnails that were done within three, what, three weeks, this one has 468 views. And again, I know this isn’t visual, but the one above that has 1,000.3 views. Well, that says 1.3k. But that’s 1300 views, the one before that now has 702 views. And the one I just released at the time of releasing this which is about pimping out your website photography, that one has 1.2 1000 views within three days. Now, some of this is topic related. But there is a common point to all these and that is the thumbnail, the thumbnail design has single handedly helped these episodes, double and triple in views.

Josh 11:26
So that is a practical reason why and showing you that design matters. It’s so important. The salsa sales tip for you, for your website designs, make sure clients know this as well. So that’s my first point in this, I wanted to make sure to articulate my thoughts on why design matters, how I use that to help me how I use Canva to help all this. And then also, literally, we looked at the numbers, the proof is in the pudding, the results are there already. And now that I’m going back through all of my thumbnails on YouTube, I’m doing a little case study. And I will definitely share some results with you as I let this sit for a few months.

Josh 12:02
But I want to see if I can grow my subscriber base and grow my views simply by changing the thumbnails. That’s my own little challenge. And it might be something you might want to consider too if you have some content with bad artwork. So that’s number one, I’ve got five points I want to cover here. As far as how Canva is helping me in my lessons with this.

Josh 12:23
Number two, as I mentioned, I used a template, which is really hard for me to do. Because even as a website designer, I hated using templates. Now, there’s a time and place for custom work from the ground up and templates. And a lot of times you can build a custom site, and then use a you can save that as a template and use it over and over. But the reality is, again, going back to what I said earlier, clients don’t give a crap. If you are designing from scratch or using a template. As long as it looks great. It converts it functions well. And it’s done quick, those are the metrics you want to hit. So however the heck you do that, do that. For me. In regards to thumbnails Canva is now the tool it’s helping me do that.

Josh 13:08
Now I say that to say, I’m basing a lot of my thumbnail designs off of templates. And again, I had to swallow my designer pride because I felt like oh, I feel weird effect. This is cheating. I’m using a template, save me so much time, it looks so much better. It really took me designing a few versions of a new template. And then looking at the old ones side by side to realize, Wow, this is so much better. And I tell you what I’ll do for you because you can see this live if you’re listening to this when it comes out. But for those of you who might be listening to this episode, maybe months or years later, what I will do is put a before and after of my podcast interview thumbnail on this post. So at Josh hall.co/ 175, you will see this you will see the before and after huge difference.

Josh 13:55
But it’s all because I use a proven design. And I found a couple templates on Canva that I looked nice. And I felt resonated or I thought looked nice. And I felt like that, you know, fits my style. So that’s what I started with. Now, I did play around with the colors. And I did move around some elements and mix a few different templates together. But it was based off a proven design. And the other aspect of the second point here is that by using a proven design, you use so much less brain power, you can save your cognitive load as the fancy scientific folks say, but it’s true.

Josh 14:30
Like imagine looking at a blank screen whether you’re building a website or doing a piece of design, and you just have to think of every aspect all by itself that and I know people some people don’t respect design, but you as designers here you know how how kind of draining it can feel to do design, right? I’m sure I’m not alone and feeling like that. When you do it from the from the ground up from scratch, it can be very draining. Whereas if you start with a proven design that even is just a starting point. It will save you so much cognitive load, and it will just, it’ll make your brain hurt less. Maybe that’s what I’ll title this episode make your brain hurt less.

Josh 15:08
The same thing is true for business and strategy. By the way, like, let’s say you’re starting your web design business and you’re like, Okay, I need to come up with my own contract, I need to come up with my own process, I need to come up with my own designs, I need to come up with my own process for revisions, I need to come up with how I’m going to collect content, you can come up with that all yourself goodbye, by all means, go for it. Talk to me in 10 years, when you lost all your hair, and you’re miserable. That’s not the way to go. follow a proven path.

Josh 15:34
That’s why side note why I’m teaching and why I have all my courses to help you fast track every one of these areas. And in the case of design, my encouragement in this point is to empower you to use a template to help you start, especially if you’re beginning and you have a bad eye for design. And I don’t mean to cast judgment on you. But it’s true. If you’re getting into design, you’re probably not very good, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that we’re all terrible designers at first. So learn from what looks good, and use a proven design and then go from there. So that has helped me out so much.

Josh 16:05
The third part to this point number three here is that it saved me so much time, like I mentioned a little bit ago, I was spinning and honestly probably upwards of at least a half an hour to an hour creating thumbnails for my YouTube videos. And I knew I really shouldn’t be doing that. But I still kind of enjoy designing. And it’s fun for me to do that. And I still do that occasionally. And but when I started using Canva, I did some of these thumbnails in like 10 minutes, one of them I did and literally like three minutes, I was like holy crap, that literally took me less than five minutes in this other one I’ve been working on for an hour, and it looks 10 times better.

Josh 16:42
So the time saved again, same principle, whether you’re building a whole website out, whatever you’re doing, if you can use something that is a starting point, or has proven processes and designs or whatever in place, it can save you so much time. So for me, the time saved is huge. It’s also big for my team, Nathan, my editor who is doing all the YouTube thumbnails now for the podcast. Now I created a new template for him and a new system that’s actually while it’s using Canva, it looks more intricate, it’s actually going to save time, because there’s less he has to do, we got a nice little template worked out in Canva. So gosh, time saved is huge. So that’s the biggie number three, you want to do that in every area of your business that you can.

Josh 17:26
Number four here, before we hit the last one before I let you go on this kind of rant, randomly rambling episode. Number four, is that again, Custom doesn’t always mean better. This is a big mindset shift that I’ve dealt with, I guarantee I’m not alone in this, you are probably listening to this. And I guarantee there’s a ton of aspects in your business that I’m challenging you with right now you’re probably like, Josh is right, I spend way too much time customizing something, because I don’t want to use a starting template, whether it’s a full website, whether it’s a graphic, whatever. But I want to challenge you just to try it out, try starting from a starting point that has a proven design or proving something in place. Custom does not always mean better.

Josh 18:14
Look at it like this. Let’s say you for the case of just we’ll stick with thumbnail design. If I were to hire out a designer to build me a new thumbnail design, if they got back to me in two weeks, and said, Okay, I finally have the design for you. Here you go. I custom did everything. Here it is. This is you know, this is custom. It took two weeks, but it’s custom. And then there was another designer who got back to me one day and said, Yeah, I use some templates and created this based off some of the best practices. What am I as a customer going to prefer something that took two weeks in his custom that may or may not look as good or something that took one day, it looks awesome. And it’s going to be totally fine for what I’m looking for? I’m going to choose the ladder, I want the person like custom, I say that to say custom does not mean better.

Josh 19:03
Same thing for web designers. If you are working on a website for a client, and it takes you one week because you’re using you know templates or layouts are designs that you know work well whether they’re your designs, or whether you pull from templates or you know elsewhere, if you’re using Divi like some of the layouts, they might help, though they’re not all my favorite, quite honestly. But anyway, let’s say you you get something done in a week. Whereas a custom design you’re working on might take you a month to get to a client. Again the client is so going to prefer the week option because it took way less time and it looks great and as long as again it looks great fits your style functions well.

Josh 19:43
That’s all that matters. If you take forever and you make it really costly, but you say don’t worry client this took so long and it’s extra expensive because it’s custom. That is not going to resonate. The only time you want to go custom custom custom is if it is a high value You project that needs absolute custom things. And I’m telling myself this even as simple as a thumbnail design, the only reason I would custom do it now is if I really need for some reason which for thumbnails, it really doesn’t matter, for some reason to have an absolute custom look, or if it’s like, brand assets that are copyrighted or something, but again, Canvas fine.

Josh 20:21
So anywho custom does not always mean better. And clients, they’re not going to say this. But they feel this because they would rather have a website that’s based off a proven template that looks really damn good, and is done in a week than something that’s custom and may actually not be best practice. And that took a month and is more expensive, they don’t want that number for customers not always better.

Josh 20:43
And then finally, the last point on this that I wanted to kind of share with you is based off of how I started doing this, and that was by learning from other people. So you want to learn from folks who are ahead of you, particularly when it comes to using a template or layout meaning if you’re gonna choose a template, a layout, a child theme, a plug in design, whatever you want to make sure whoever designs that or wherever that is in a marketplace is ahead of you and is really good and has best practices in place.

Josh 21:17
That’s exactly how I came to finding this Canva tutorial. And again, changing my mindset with all this, like I mentioned, I saw my mentors Pat Flynn’s his his tutorial, I watched that. And Pat is a guide of mine, a mentor of mine in my entrepreneurial journey. So I thought you know what, what’s working for Pat will likely work for me, this looks really good. Let me try it out. I learned from him. And I am not afraid to step out of my own pride and what I think is best and learn from people who are ahead of me, whether they’re one step ahead or 100 Step steps ahead.

Josh 21:53
Also, the reason this was more kind of top on my top of mind for me recently was I’ve invested in a couple trainings so far in 2022 for myself. Yes, yes, I’m a course creator, and a community builder. But I also invest in courses and communities that helped me. And there was a cup there was a couple summits I’ve been a part of one was well, one was a workshop and what was the summit, but this one summit was particularly about live streaming, because that’s one thing I’m really working on getting better at and 2022 doing more of and just being more professional. And this particular presenter for this livestream Summit. Who the heck was it? Frick, Frick, frick Frick, I forget who it was. It’s going to come to me, it’ll I promise it’ll come to me by the end here.

Josh 22:43
But anyway, this LIS presenter was talking about YouTube thumbnails and how important they were when it came to getting clicks and getting views. And I went ahead was like, Okay, I’ll, you know, I’ll I’ll listen to some of this. And then as I got to thinking about it, I realize because he was sharing about how just updating some of his thumbnails, boosted his subscribers and boosted his views. And then Pat Flynn actually had shared one of his stats on one of his videos, on the moment when he changed his thumbnail. And the numbers went up, like, you know, tenfold. So those are the kind of things that I was thinking about and learning about, that helped me shift my mindset. And it goes back to this point of learning from the people who are ahead of you,

Josh 23:29
It is so crucial. It really is. Gosh, it’s so important to not only do this in every aspect of your business, but when it comes to making things easier on yourself, it is oh my gosh, it’s a big, it’s huge. It’s really it’s everything.

Josh 23:42
So those are kind of my main thoughts. Roberto Blake, that’s what it was, I knew it would come to me, here we go. So the the speaker, I saw on that, that, that workshop that I was in, excuse me, that that entire livestream type of workshop thing. It was Roberto Blake, who was a YouTuber. And anyway, he just shared how impactful this was. And I learned from him and thought, if it works for him who has over half a million subscribers, it will probably work for me. So I’m going to implement it. By golly, if somebody who was way ahead of you tells you to do something, should probably do it, or at least give it a serious thought.

Josh 24:18
So there you go, quick recap. And I’ll let you go here. Number one, design matters. So important. So so important. And again, you can the proof is in the pudding, you can look at the numbers when you try something out. Number two, proven design equals less cognitive load for you and less brain work and less burnout because you can use something already works and go off of that. Number three, swallow your pride in that case. Number three, it’ll save you so much time by using something that’s already in place that’s going to help you for the custom does not mean better. Custom does not equal better and clients don’t care. I don’t care if it’s custom or not as long as again, looks good performs. Well that’s it. And then five, learn from folks who are ahead of you

Josh 24:57
Because they are going to know how to speed up your Time and in this case, I learned from Roberto Blake, I learned from Pat Flynn. Canva is a really good tool when I should take my thumbnail seriously, and it’s already literally paying off. So there you go, friends, for all the links we covered for the show notes and to see the social media posts. If you didn’t already see these, you can go to my post for this episode of Josh hall.co/ 175. I’ll see you over there. And I would love to know, do you use Canva? Let me know your thoughts. Even if you hate it, maybe you have a better solution?

Josh 25:29
Let me know, drop a comment at Josh hall.co/ 175. And if you think this would help somebody, my request from you is that you would share this share this episode with somebody you can share the entire link of Josh hall.co/ 175. Or you can grab the link on Spotify or Apple wherever you’re listening or watching this. Actually, it’s not a video, it’s just audio. But share this with somebody it means a lot to me and I really hope it helps somebody out as well. So check that out. Have some fun, if you use Canva give it a go.

Josh 25:59
Last note, if you want to try Canva out and you’re not yet using it, you can go to my affiliate link, Josh hall.co/canva. And if you do upgrade to the pro version, I’ll get a kickback. I’d much appreciate that. That way I can continue to provide some free content for you. Alright, everybody, keep on doing what you do. I hope this helps. I hope you enjoyed this kind of open free casual thought episode I’m actually thinking about doing more of these. So if you if you like these where it’s just me sharing some thoughts with you, I’d love to know if you did that. And if you don’t Sorry, I’m gonna keep them coming. Alright, see on the next episode.


Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts: