How People Make Money Using Graphic Design Tool Canva

  • Canvas’s popularity is exploding, bringing with it a boom in creators selling digital products.
  • Some have made creating templates, images or files to sell a full-time job.
  • The entrepreneurs tell Insider that the benefits are extensive despite varying financial success.

After a tech startup fired 31-year-old Shruti Pangtey from her head of product marketing gig, she took the opportunity to start her own digital product business—and she says she has no regrets.

Her online business, Digital Empires, sells digital marketing courses for entrepreneurs created on Canva, a popular graphic design platform known for its ease of use. Pangtey earns between $95,000 and $120,000 a year working at least 20 hours a week.

“I never want to go back to a nine-to-five,” Pangtey told Insider.

And she is not alone. Canvas’s popularity is exploding, bringing with it a boom in creators making real money selling digital products – templates, images or files for others to use – with some turning it from side hustle to full-time job. It gives creators the opportunity to work fewer hours, spend more time with friends and family, and for some, make more money.

By putting in anywhere from three to 84 hours a week, creators can earn between $1,000 and $10,000 a month, four Canva business owners told Insider. One creator made a total of $1.4 million in sales in about three years.

But “it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme,” said Meranda Dysart, an Arkansas-based Canva creator.

Dysart built a business that brings in about $3,300 every month. It allowed her to quit a full-time marketing position and become a stay-at-home parent. For her and other creators, starting a Canva-based business goes far beyond design.

Creators spend time on behind-the-scenes work like marketing, writing copy for sales landing pages, and sending emails to potential customers. The digital products the creators sell include Instagram and Pinterest post templates, custom YouTube profile banners, wedding invitations and printable daily planners.

These products are especially in demand among bloggers and small business owners, Rebecca Lake, a certified personal finance educator with a crowdfunding blog called Boss Single Mama, told Insider. By buying pre-made templates, they save time and money on the design work, Lake said.

Meranda Dysart

Meranda Dysart, a small business owner.

Meranda Dysart

How Canva works

Founded in 2012 and based in Australia, Canva uses a point-and-drag approach to graphic design, allowing users with little or no experience to create custom images.

More than 100 million users worldwide use the platform, and the firm surpassed $1 billion in revenue by 2022, a Canva spokesperson told Insider.

Entrepreneurs, who can use the site for free or subscribe to a paid version, select a template and then customize the design using the platform’s editing tools. After that, creators can export the design as an image file or PDF, and sell it on a third-party platform like Etsy or Amazon.

As independent creators, these digital shop owners may need to go the extra mile to get noticed. Creators who have successfully sold Canva products are finding a niche in the market to fill and creative ways to market their businesses, they told Insider.

Jennifer Singer, who is in her late 20s and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, doubled her salary to $4,000 a month by focusing on creating children’s picture books, workbooks and more. Creators like Singer found their niche by doing keyword searches on platforms like Pinterest, Etsy and Google Trends to see what products were popular.

Canva did not comment on how the rise of entrepreneurship on the platform affects its business model. But it supports “the huge range of ways people are using Canva to start and scale businesses,” Rob Kawalsky, chief product officer at Canva, told Insider.

Jennifer Singer

Jennifer Singer, an illustrator, author and entrepreneur.

Jennifer Singer.

Sales of digital products fluctuate, and not all Canva creators have seen financial gains

The market for Canva products has been flooded.

The independent seller site Etsy provides nearly 300,000 results for Canva templates. But the payouts are uncertain, and it’s not always clear which digital products will take off each month.

That means it’s been difficult for some creators like Raquel Kay, who is based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, to reap financial rewards. She took a massive pay cut to focus on the Canva digital product business, left a management consulting job at Accenture in 2020 that paid $94,000 per year. As of October 2022, she was making between $1,000 and $1,500 a month selling Canva templates and Canva coaching services for aspiring entrepreneurs full-time, she told Insider.

“The transition has been difficult,” Kay said. “I love it, but it’s very challenging.”

Raquel Kay

Raquel Kay, the founder of Tips and Templates, a digital marketing business built on Canva.

Raquel Kay

And that’s part of the reason money isn’t the only motivation for pivoting to full-time Canva content creation. Millions of people have quit their jobs at record levels over the past two years due to burnout, poor management, low wages and a lack of flexibility to work from home.

This is causing some full-time workers to rethink their career choices in search of work that fits their lifestyle preferences, such as creating a digital products store from home. It allows creators like Singer to have complete control over their time.

“My life has completely changed,” Singer said.

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